This special issue is focused on some extensions of the standard theoretical concepts in gravity and cosmology. It includes state-of-the-art research contributions in the following areas: coupled dark energy models, occurring as a q-deformed scalar field, spinor quintom dark energy models with intrinsic spin, in the framework of Einstein-Cartan-Sciama-Kibble theory, black hole solutions in 1 + 1-dimensional Horava-Lifshitz gravity, the study of the dark sector of the Universe by considering the dark energy as an emerging q-deformed bosonic scalar field, which is not only interacting with the dark matter, but also nonminimally coupled to gravity, and the comparison of the galactic rotation curves with the observations in the Bose-Einstein Condensate dark matter model.
In this study, we investigated if freshman student's participation in small group discussions in the tutorial sessions would influence their score of the Lao version of the Force Concept Inventory test (LFCI). We used the LFCI version to test 188 students'' understanding of mechanics concepts before and after they studied mechanics at university. In three classes the students used group discussions when they solved the end-of-chapter questions in the textbook during tutorials and they also used group discussions to answer the LFCI. We video recorded three groups when they solved end-of-chapter questions. In two classes the students both solved the problems and answered the LFCI individually. A questionnaire about advantages and disadvantages of cooperative group and individual problem solving were handed out to the students. The questionnaire was supplemented by interviews with four students and three groups. We found that almost all students would like to work with group discussions; only 3% of them were negative. Students that worked with group discussions obtained an average score of 26% correct answers to the LFCI which was slightly higher than the average score of 23% for students that worked individually. The improvement from the pre- to the post-test in average score was 7 percentage points for classes with group discussions and 6 percentage points for classes with individual problem solving. It is not possible to claim that one of these ways of study will result in a larger improvement in the LFCI-score. Apparently, the group discussions did not help the students to improve their theoretical understanding of mechanics concepts as it is tested by the LFCI. However, it was observed in the video analysis that group discussions helped students to better understand mechanics concepts in the context of solving the end-of-chapter questions in the textbook. This observation was also supported by the students' answers to the questionnaire and the interview.
Two laboratory courses in the natural sciences which emphasize the scientific procedures employed in the development of the theoretical structure of science. See restrictions described below. Courses that fulfill this requirement have the designation N/ in their titles. The General Education courses in Natural Sciences allow students to study factual information and the theoretical structure of the natural sciences and also engage them in the scientific process through which discoveries are made. Lectures emphasize fundamental concepts in the natural sciences while laboratory assignments address the techniques used to collect, analyze and interpret data. Given the powerful and constantly growing impact of science upon current society, these courses serve the important purpose of allowing all students to have a basic intellectual understanding of natural science and the scientific process. 59ce067264