The persistence of students’ alternative conceptions in wave propagation


  • A. Tongchai
  • K. Arayathanitkul
  • C. Soankwan


This research investigates the persistence of students’ conceptions between two groups of students, on the topic of wave propagation. The first group consists of 55 grade 12 students who had already learned mechanical waves by traditional teaching in school. The other consists of 83 grade 10 students who had never learned this topic. These two groups are at the same school. The research instrument used is a series of open-ended questions dealing with basic concepts of wave propagation. The results show that students’ alternative conceptions between these two groups are nearly identical. The most fundamental common alternative conceptions are: a. sound waves of higher frequency moves faster than those of lower frequency; b. sound waves of higher volume move faster because they have higher energy; c. waves with greater amplitudes have more energy, hence they move faster; and d. the speed of a wave on a string can be changed by changing the movement of the instructor’s hand. These research findings will be a guide for the development of a conceptual diagnostic test on the topic of mechanical waves.