History of science based dialogues on sound waves: From sound atoms to phonons

Alexander Volfson, Haim Eshach, Yuval Ben-Abu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Sound is one of the most commonly used physical phenomena that most of us use without considering its nature. Moreover, students often face difficulties in understanding acoustic phenomena, the most frequent one of which is the substance-based view of sound instead of a process of pressure and density differences. The current study introduces sound to the physics class through a combination of history of science (HOS) and dialogic teaching, which, although research in science education shows that they both may benefit students for a variety of reasons, are frequently absent from traditional science classrooms. We present four HOS-based whole class dialogic discussions (WCDD): the first and second are about the nature of sound; the third is about sound amplification in a stethoscope; and the fourth is about sound propagation in a tight string of a "lovers' telephone."The WCDD were held with a group of 27 university students. We further examine students' concepts regarding acoustical phenomena as expressed in these WCDD, show how insights and perspectives learned from HOS could be used to structure WCDD in order to guide students' thinking, and analyze the conceptual flow patterns of the discussions. Finally, we discuss the possible contribution of HOS to dialogic teaching and the parallelism of historical and students' misconceptions today that often appears.

Original languageEnglish
Article number010123
JournalPhysical Review Physics Education Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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