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ABSTRACT

The purpose of the study is to investigate Turkish elementary school students’ misconceptions and errors in circle and circle theorems .  It is necessary to design specific study to determine and examine Turkish elementary school students’ misconceptions and errors in circle and circle theorems.  In this research, elementary students’ misconceptions and errors  in circle and circle theorems while teaching geometry will be examined and some suggestions may offer to the teachers according to finding results. Thus, qualitative descriptive research will be designed for this study.  The target population of this study will be all seventh grade students in Sultanbeyli which is town of İstanbul.  The sample of the study will consist of  randomly selected aprroximately 50 seventh grade students in Mevlana Ortaokulu located in Sultanbeyli which is town of İstanbul.  The research application will be carried out in 2016-2017 academic year second semester in this middle school. A descriptive methodology and student interview will be used in the study to analyze and interpret the results.  The results from this study may show that seventh grade elementary school students have some misconceptions arising lack of background knowledge or mistakes resulting from reasoning and basic operation at circle and circle theorems. Data will be collected through an instrument that will developed by the researcher.  The instrument will be a test consisting open-ended questions related to circle and circle theorems.The test shows that what is elementary students’ misconceptions and errors of circle and circle theorems in geometry. The test will be  prepared in line with the objectives of seventh grade Turkish National Middle School Mathematics Education Curriculum related to circle and circle theorems.And content analysis will be employed in data analysis to determine misconceptions and errors in circle and circle theorems.

Keywords: elementary school students, misconceptions, errors, circle and circle theorems

1. INTRODUCTION

    This study is a research assigment  about seventh grade students’ misconceptions and errors in circle and circle theorems while teaching geometry. The reason of doing this study is that although researchers conducted the study of seventh grade students’ misconceptions in geometry, they didn’t detailed address seventh grade students’ misconceptions and errors in circle and circle theorems. So, it was determined to conduct this study which focuses on the circle and circle theorem in seventh grade students and analyze the misconceptions and errors related to this topics in seventh grade students.

   Mathematics is one of important fields in the human life and also it has an important place in education of people. According to NCTM, it can be seen as a tool which provides opportunities and options that affected to people’s futures (NCTM,2000).Because of this importance of mathematics in  human life, teaching mathematics has been gained an importance from pre-school to high school education in all levels of education. And also it can say that mathematics is divided into different areas such as geometry. (Yılmaz, 2015).  

 Geometry is a branch of mathematics that deals with the measurement, properties, and relationships of points, lines, angles, surfaces, and solids and so it is one of the important fields of mathematics. When the history of geometry examined,  geometry has accepted a important discipline since 2000 BC. Throughout the history, it has great importance in people’s lives with its origin in the need for human beings to specify quantities and to measure figures and lands. Nowadays, geometry still maintains its importance in mathematics curriculum. In order to make sense and solve problems in other topics of mathematics and in daily life situations, geometry knowledge is necessary. In addition to this, students begins to see, know and understand the physical world around them with learning geometry from early age and they continue their education with high level geometric thinking developing in deductive and inductive system towards older ages. Also, most of the goods and structures in our physical environment are geometric shapes and objects. According to National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM, 2000), geometry helps to describe, analyze and understand the world around us. In addition to this, Van de Walle (2001) stated that geometry helps us understand the world since it can be placed everywhere.  Moreover, he stated that it is inevitable parts of world where humans construct have elements of geometric forms such as architecture, machines, cars, art and engineering (p.308). Similarly, geometry provides opportunities not only solving mathematical problems but also understanding important issues in different areas such as science, art and daily life (Aktaş & Cansız-Aktaş, 2012). For these reasons, geometry occupy an important place in school education as a part of mathematics education from preschool education to higher school education (Ubuz,  Üstün, & Erbaş, 2009). The aim of geomery education is not just learning the definitions or the properties of geometrical shapes but also to have the ability of applying these properties in real-world problems. And also this education should provide that students develop spatial reasoning and  geometrical thinking by participating discussions related to geometry.

Although geometry has an important place in human life; Ubuz, Üstün and Erbaş (2009) stated that Turkish students’ geometry achievement level is lower than students’ geometry achievement level in other countries when examined the repeat of Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS-R) and Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). The reason of this stuation is that students have some problems in geometry learning.These problems result from  that students have some problems in perceiving geometric concepts.  

   In order to think more detailed and correctly, students have to apperceive what they have learned. Concepts are the abstract ideas representing the fundamental characteristics of objects, events, ideas and behaviors which have common specifications. Concepts reduce the complexity by simplifying the environment that students live. They help them in describing  and expressing  the situations and objects in their  environment. Learning concepts cannot be determined only by defining objects or by classifying objects but also it provides interpreting, translating and transition of objects and situations . So, while teaching new knowledge to students , it should be made sure that the concepts are formed correctly and appropriately. In recent years, students’ understanding of the mathematical concepts is one of the subjects that researchers and teachers give importance to. The reason of this situation is that students have some problems   in understanding mathematical concepts. In mathematics education, some terms use to explaning  students’ these problems in mathematics learning. These problems are called as difficulty which is a outcome which  results from lack of attention or knowledge of students’ in any mathematical topic. However, this term reflects to be general expression to understand students’ learning problems. Therefore, the terms “error” and “misconception” uses to express students’ problems in more detailed.

    According to Luneta and Makonye (2010), although errors are closely associated with misconceptions, in fact they are completely different. For example, an error is a mistake or inaccuracy and a deviation from accuracy. Riccomini ( 2005) stated that errors are divided into two groups  such as unsystematic and systematics errors. Unsystematic errors occur just once and unconscious such as calculation errors, whereas systematic errors are incorrect answers occurring repetitiously. Smith, diSessa & Roschelle (1993) pointed out that misconceptions are systematic errors in students’ learning. Misconception means “systematic error in students’ conception” (Keşan & Kaya, 2007, p. 27). Students’ conceptions consist of their beliefs , theories, explanations and meanings related to any topic.When in students’ mind there is a complication related to these conceptions, then a misconception has occurred (Osborne & Wittrock, 1983).According to explanations above , error and misconception are related, but they are different. Misconceptions are systematic errors occuring regulary incorrect answers. Therefore error could be accepted as the result of the misconception (Keşan & Kaya, 2007). According to Eryılmaz and Sürmeli (2002) all misconceptions could be accepted as errors; however not all errors could be accepted as misconceptions.Above mentioned, there are many factors that affect the learning process of students and their performance in educational settings. One of the major factors is that are the misconceptions of students. For effective and meaningful learning, describing the origins of misconceptions  and finding ways to prevent them are important.Also, although geometry a important subject in human life, students have some misconceptions in learning geometry.So, conducting a study related to misconception in geometry can shape future of education world.Although there are some studies related to misconceptions in geometry, there are not enough studies related to misconceptions of circle and circle theorems in geometry.Whereas, circle is a difficult concept for both students and teachers.Because of these reasons, it is necessary to focus on misconceptions of circle and circle theorems in geometry.

     Özerem ( 2012 ) conducted a study called as “Misconceptions in Geometry and Suggested Solutions for Seventh Grade Students” which aims to  determine the performances of 7th grade college students at geometry and to show the conceptual difficulties they face while learning. By doing this , the study tried to identify the misconceptions which arouse during the learning process of geometry. She studied 28 seventh grade students consisted of 12 males and 16 females at Turk Maarif Koleji in Cyprus. In this study, she used the descriptive methodology and student inteview to analyze and interpret the results.According to this study, seventh grade students have some misconceptions due to lack of knowledge in geometry subject. Although students don’t have any difficulties in examining, comparing, and analyzing properties of geometric figures, they have some difficulties in describe some concepts and remember formula related to geometry.In conclusion, due to lack in knowledge related to geometry subject, there are many misconceptions in seventh grade students.

Kaygusuz and Özerbaş (2012) conducted a study called as “Determining Misconceptions on  ‘Circle Sub-learning Area ” In Primary School Mathematics Course Syllabus” which aims to determine the misconceptions on “circle sub-learning area” in primary school mathematics course syllabus. They studied 582 fifth grade students consisted of  298 female and 284male students studying primary schools located in Ankara. In this study, achievement test developed by reseracher was applied to 582 fifth grade students and it was analyzed the misconceptions in circle sub-learning area with definitional research. According to findings in this study, it can say that students have most misconceptions on radius and least misconceptions on center concepts on circle sub-learning area. Also, it stated that female students have fallen into error less than male students in circle concept. In addition to this,  number of read books have meaningful effects on concept signification and increasing success on mathematics increases the significations of concepts.

 Kemankaşlı and Özsoy ( 2004 ) conducted a study as “Misconceptions and Main Errors of Secondary Education in Circle Subject” which aims to examine and analyze secondary school students’ misconceptions, their main errors and their learning levels. Kemankaşlı and Özsoy studied 70 eleventh grade students selected from high school. According to this study, it stated that students are not able to make contact with the concepts of interior, exterior, center and inscribed angles in a circle because they have confused definitons and properties of center and inscribed angles in circle. Furthermore, students have difficulty in applying properties of angle concepts on different regions such as trangular region into circle.

Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study is to investigate seventh grade students’ errors and misconceptions in circle and circle theorems while learning geometry. In other words,  interest of this study is to examine how students understand the circle and circle theorems in geometry and also what misconceptions students have understanding of circle and circle theorems.

1.1. Research Questions

The following research question is in this study :

1. What are Turkish seventh grade students’ misconceptions and errors in circle and circle theorems ?

1.2. Significance of the Study

The significance of this study is that it provides to determine the errors  and the misconceptions experienced by students during the learning of the subject of circle and circle theorems  as well as the reasons for such mistakes and misconceptions, and to reveal the importance of taking into consideration these mistakes and misconceptions while giving a mathematics lesson.

Also, although  there are the studies focusing the misconceptions and errors about geometry in Turkey, there are not enough studies focusing the understandings of circle and circle theorems and so nobody have enough knowledge related to misconceptions and errors of circle and circle theorems. Although there are some interpretations related to misconceptions and errors of understanding circle and circle theorems, there are not adequate knowledge related to misconceptions and errors of circle in Turkey. Also, when examined the literature in world, there are not enough studies related to misconceptions of understanding circle and circle theorems.So, this study aims to explore the patterns of the research articles about circle and circle misconceptions in Turkey and to reveal general tendencies in this area.It is hoped that this review will inform educators, teachers, pre-service teachers and curriculum developers about themes and patterns in misconception research. This collection of articles and reviewed literature provides information about the following:

• What kind of misconceptions students have

• How teachers can handle the misconceptions of students

• Which methods are preferred for correction of misconceptions

Definitions of the Important Terms

Turkish Elementary School Students; are the students who were in 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grades in a public school.

Misconceptions; is defined “the perception of concepts by students in a different way than their scientifically accepted definitions” (Keşan & Kaya, 2007, p. 27).

Errors; is defined as “a mistake or inaccuracy and a deviation from accuracy” (Luneta & Makonye, 2010).

Circle;is defined as a round shape consisting of a curved line that completely encloses a space and is the same distance from the centre at every point.

2. LITERATURE REVIEW

The Importance of Geometry

  Geometry have a important role in mathematics curriculum and it has been common heritage for all countries from past to present. Geometry teaching in schools allows students to give  insight to understand other significant concepts and ideas in different disciplines of mathematics (Mammana & Villiani, 1998; Muschla & Muschla; 2000; NCTM, 2000). In addition to this, it is helpful to the students realize unforseen properties of mathematics (Serra, 1993). Furthermore, geometry knowledge is very useful to solve everyday life problems like measurement of lengths, drawing, reading maps, etc. (Bussi & Boero, 1998; Kenney, Bezuszka, & Martin, 1992). For example, when studying how strong a building\'s support will be, architects must use geometric reasoning. Similarly, geometry allows airplane designers to measure how aerodynamic a particular design is. Therefore geometry knowledge is very useful not only inside the school but also outside the school. As NCTM (2000) stated that while students engage with the topics of geometry, they have an understanding about other topics in mathematics and in art, science, and social studies.

     In mathematics education, concept is important issue  because mathematical concept underlies students’ mathematical understanding. Kaptan (1999) defined concept as common name that was given to ideas, events grouped according to some properties.When examined the meaning of concept, it is said that is an abstract idea indicating the fundamental properties of what it typifies. Concepts arise as abstractions or generalisations from experience or the result of a transformation of existing ideas. If concepts are different from scientific thoughts they are referred to as misconception. In other words, while students have some difficulties in understanding the mathematical concepts, misconception as barries to understand mathematics may occur. Therefore, in this paper, it is necessary to define the meaning of misconception.One of the definitions of misconception is ‘a student conception that produces a systematic pattern of error’ (Smith, diSessa & Roschelle, 1993, p.118) .According to Swan (2001), a ‘misconception’ is not a wrong thinking but is a concept in embryo or a local generalization that the pupil has made.In fact, it may be a natural stage of development.Also, the reasons of misconceptions are that students’ wrong and deficient perception of the background knowledge, language problems, no suitable teaching environment, no relationship between concepts and real life, and no determination of students’ misunderstandings.

Studies on Misconceptions of Geometry

 There are many studies on misconceptions in geometry.These studies are examined in this part of the paper.

 Ubuz (1999) conducted a study called as “10th and 11th Grade Students’ Basic Mistakes and Misconceptions in Geometry” which aims to investigate students\' understanding of angle concept in geometry according to their errors, misconceptions and gender. She studied 67 high school students consists of 10th and 11th grade students in a public school located in Ankara. She collected data through a test consisting 11 open-ended questions. The findings showed that male students were more extreme than female students in terms of approaches in questions. Also, although female students more succesful than male students, male students gave less incorrect answer than female students. Since instead of giving incorrect answers, male students didn’t answer the questions in this test.Also,female students gave more incorrect answers than male students since they are enterprising persons. In addition to this, there was an increase in achievement level of the students due to educational level. Also, students do not know the meaning of a triangle and the properties of its exterior and interior angles. In addition to this, students focus on geometric figures rather than their properties.

   Dağlı (2010) conducted a study called as “Misconception of Elementary School Students in 5th Grades About The Perimeter, Area, and Volume Concepts” which aims to investigate the 5th grades’ content knowledge about the perimeter, area and volume of the geometric shapes and objects, and also was to determine their misconceptions about these concepts. She studied 262 students included 5th grades at the seven elementary schools in Uşak city center. In this study, it used survey method which have one instrument with 40 items, the perimeter-area-volume test collected data. The findings showed that students can easily solve the problems asked the perimeter, however they can not do problems which require more geometric thinking. Also, although students do not have difficulty in problems included applying properties of the geometric figures, they do not exactly know the properties  of some geometric figures. Some students are also confused by perimeter and area calculations. In addition to this, students have difficulty with questions about standard and non-standard measuring units, and have difficulty converting the measuring units to each other.

Başkurt (2011) conducted a study called as  “The 6 th, 7th and 8th Grade Students’ Perceptions and Misconceptions on Point,Line and Plane Concepts ” which aims to determine the perceptions of 6th, 7th and 8th grade students on point, line, and plane concepts.He studied with 461 students included 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students in primary schools located in  the Eastern Anatolia Region.Data were collected with a measurement tool of 12 open-ended questions. According to results of this study, it was discovered that some of the students cannot perceive point as a region on a plane, that they confuse line with line segment, ray with line and draw finite geometric shapes such as a square or rectangle to define a plane.

 Ayyıldız (2010) conducted a study called as “ An Investigation of the Effect of Learning Logs on Remedying Students’ Misconceptions Concerning Mathematics Lesson” which aims to investigate the effect of learning with diaries on overcoming students’ misconceptions in mathematics classes. For this study, it studied with 78 sixth grade students in 2009-2010 academic year. Ayyıldız compared misconceptions of students who keep a diary of their learning and those who don’t in this study. Data were collected through a Two-phased Open Ended Scale developed by the researcher for identifying misconceptions. The findings showed that the application of learning with diary have positive effect on overcoming students’ misconceptions In other words,students who keep a diary of their learning had less misconception than other students. It has also been found out that learning with diaries have been more effective to reduce female students’ misconceptions when compared to those of male students’.

Özerem ( 2012 ) conducted a study called as “Misconceptions in Geometry and Suggested Solutions for Seventh Grade Students” which aims to  determine the performances of 7th grade college students at geometry and to show the conceptual difficulties they face while learning. By doing this , the study tried to identify the misconceptions which arouse during the learning process of geometry. She studied 28 seventh grade students consisted of 12 males and 16 females at Turk Maarif Koleji in Cyprus. In this study, she used the descriptive methodology and student inteview to analyze and interpret the results.According to this study, seventh grade students have some misconceptions due to lack of knowledge in geometry subject. Although students don’t have any difficulties in examining, comparing, and analyzing properties of geometric figures, they have some difficulties in describe some concepts and remember formula related to geometry. Inother words,she stated that students get confused at recognizing the shapes and the reason for this is human perception. In conclusion, due to lack in knowledge related to geometry subject, there are many misconceptions in seventh grade students.

Circle and Circle Theorems

  Circle is defined as closed plane curve every point of which is equidistant from a fixed point within the curve .And also it is a difficult concept for both students and teachers alike. Therefore, students may face with many difficulties in learning circle and these difficulties may cause that students fail at learning circle. Similarly, circle theorems is one of important subjects that most students have many difficulties. According to Strutchens, Harris & Martin (2001), students learn geometry particularly circle theorems, by memorizing the properties rather than by exploring and discovering the underlying properties.Theorems are foundation of geometry. However, students learn theorems with memorization method rather than identify what theorem fits a particular geometric situation. Geometry knowledge learned in this way is limited and sketch knowledge. Students can draw on their own prior knowledge, but some of the more complicated theorems require students to explore and be creative. Due to being creative is necessary for complicated theorems, some of students may be unsuccesful in circle theorems because understanding correctly concepts in circle and circle theorems helps to be creative student.

Studies on Misconceptions of Circle  and Circle Theorems in Geometry

  Kemankaşlı and Özsoy ( 2004 ) conducted a study as “Misconceptions and Main Errors of Secondary Education in Circle Subject” which aims to examine and analyze secondary school students’ misconceptions, their main errors and their learning levels. Kemankaşlı and Özsoy studied 70 eleventh grade students selected from high school. According to this study, it stated that students are not able to make contact with the concepts of interior, exterior, center and inscribed angles in a circle because they have confused definitons and properties of center and inscribed angles in circle. Furthermore, students have difficulty in applying properties of angle concepts on different regions such as trangular region into circle.

   Kaygusuz and Özerbaş (2012) conducted a study called as “Determining Misconceptions on  ‘Circle Sub-learning Area ” In Primary School Mathematics Course Syllabus” which aims to determine the misconceptions on “circle sub-learning area” in primary school mathematics course syllabus. They studied 582 fifth grade students consisted of  298 female and 284male students studying primary schools located in Ankara. In this study, achievement test developed by reseracher was applied to 582 fifth grade students and it was analyzed the misconceptions in circle sub-learning area with definitional research. According to findings in this study, it can say that students have most misconceptions on radius and least misconceptions on center concepts on circle sub-learning area. Also, it stated that female students have fallen into error less than male students in circle concept. In addition to this,  number of read books have meaningful effects on concept signification and increasing success on mathematics increases the significations of concepts.

       Erol (2008) conducted a study called as “Research of 8th Grade Students Mathematical Skills Related to Circle Subject” which aims to examine  the 8th grade primary school students mathematical skills related to circle subject in geometry.She studied  196 students included 8th grade students selected from three public and one private school located in Ankara.In this study, problem solving skills related to circle subject in geometry of  students in state schools and private schools have been compared. In this study, two tests have been developed; the first one was a multiple-choice “Knowledge test” to evaluate the students\' knowledge about circle topic, and the other test was “Performance Test” to evaluate their problem solving skills. According to findings, when the results of knowledge test examined, there was no significant difference between female and male students in terms of conceptual, procedural and problem solving skills. However, when the result of performance test examined, female students were more succesful than male students.Also, it was concluded that the visual and conceptual skills of students were better than their operational skills. The students were concluded to tend more to solve problems by drawing and depending on visuality and therefore to be more successful. In addition to this, students studying in private school were more succesful than students studying in public schools.

    Wu and Ma (2005) conducted a study called as “The Geomtric Concepts of Elementary School Students at Van Hiele Level One” which aims to explore the geometric concepts of the elementary school students at the first level of van Hiele’s geometric though.For this study, they studied 5,581 elementary school students, randomly selected from 23 cities in Taiwan. They used the instrument called as  Wu’s Geometry Test (WGT), was specifically designed for this project, in this study. They concluded that students evaluated the figure according to their appearance.Also, the circular concept is the easiest for students; onthe other hand, the concept of quadrilateral is the most difficult to students.

As the result of the study made by Clements et all (1999) with middle-class children, it was concluded that the circle was easily recognized but difficult to describe for these children. Because most children described circles as \"round”.

   

                                                          3.METHOD

       The purpose of the present study is to investigate seventh grade students’ understandings of circle and circle theorems and to examine most common misconceptions and errors  in this topic. The other specific interest of the study is to examine what are the reasons of these misconceptions and errors of circle and circle theorems in geometry.

3.1. Design of the Study

     In order to the investigate research questions, qualitative research methods will be used.The main purpose of this study is to analyze Turkish seventh grade students’ understandings of circle and circle theorems. While analyzing Turkish seventh grade students’ understandings of circle and circle theorems, their misconceptions and errors of circle and circle theorems will be examined.  The descriptive methodology and student inteview will be used in the study to analyze and interpret the results. The descriptive method will be used since the main purpose of this study is to clarify an existing situation.

3.2.Population and Sample

   The target population of this study will be all seventh grade students in Sultanbeyli which is district of İstanbul. Moreover, the accessible population of the study will be all seventh grade students in Mevlana Ortaokulu located in Sultanbeyli. The subjects of the study are 50 seventh grade students studying two classes randomly selected from ten classes in Mevlana Ortaokulu ( one public school ) located in Sultanbeyli which is district of İstanbul.

   Specific characteristic of the sample is that they are educated in classrooms which included large number of students and which are  least equipped in terms of instructional materials such as technological devices and manipulative. Further, the school is placed in a low socio-economic level district; and parents are mostly primary school graduates, and some with secondary school  graduate. The convenience sampling method will be used in this study since convenience sample is a class of readily available individuals (Fraenkel & Wallen, 2006). Because the researcher is a mathematics teacher in that school and she is able to reach the sample conveniently. There will be approximately 50 seventh grade students in the school at the time of the study.

3.3. Data Collection Methods and Instruments

       In this study, data will be collected through an instrument that will developed by the researcher. The instrument will be a achievement test which shows that what is students’ misconceptions and errors on circle and circle theorems in geometry . The test will be  prepared in line with the objectives of seventh grade Turkish National Middle School Mathematics Education Curriculum related to circle and circle theorems were identified.  Furthermore, the objectives of fifth and sixth grade Turkish National Middle School Mathematics Education Curriculum will be investigated  in order to define students’ previous knowledge related to circle, circle theorems and area of perimeter in circle.After the test, ten students randomly selected  will be interviewed to identify their misconceptions and their reasoning. In the interview process, students will be asked to explain their thinking while they will do the same problems again.

3.4. Data Collection Procedure

     After the pilot study, the tests may prepare for the actual study to implement if neccessary. The study will be conducted in a public school which has approximately 50 seventh grade students which study in two classes randomly selected from ten seventh grade classes.The test will implemented to students in their mathematics lessons. The aim of research and the other some details such as time duration for the tests will be explained to the principle, and permission from the school administration will be gathered. After appyling the test, 10 students randomly selected from these 50 students will be interviewed.

Table 1: Tentative Schedule of the Present Study

In addition, there is a Table 1 above which shows tentative schedule of this implementation process.

Tentative Schedule of Implementation

Creating a test by researcher Being Started on First Week of February in 2017

Pilot study Being Started on First Week of April in 2017

Collecting Data for  Actual Study Being started 10-16 May 2017 and

Being Finished 06-10 June 2017

Organizing Collected Data 10-15 June  2017

Analyzing Data 15-30 June 2017

Interpret Data 01 July 2017- 20 July 2017

3.4. Data Analysis

 In this study, data will be analyze according to the research questions which will be designed to examine 7th grade students’ understandings of circle and circle theorems and to analyze their misconceptions and errors related to this topic. To analyze students’ understandings, misconceptions and errors related to circle and circle theorems , the content analysis method will be used by examining students’ documents which includes some questions related to the topic.

Content analysis is a research tool focused on the actual content and internal features of media.  It is used to determine the presence of certain words, concepts, themes, phrases, characters, or sentences within texts or sets of texts and to quantify this presence in an objective manner.

This study used descriptive content analysis method, conducted according to following procedures defined by Fraenkel and Wallen (2009):

1. Determine purpose

2. Select units of analysis

3. Develop coding categories

4. Code the material

5. Analyse and interpret the results

Data analysis methods were explained according to Fraenkel and Wallen (2009)’s procedures:

Determine purpose: Content analysis begins with determination of specific objectives concerning what the researcher want to study.

Select units of analysis: The relevant units to be used for conducting and reporting the analysis should be selected before the researcher begins the analysis (Fraenkel &Wallen, 2009).

Develop coding categories: Categories might orient from research question and should be anchored in a review of relevant literature and similar studies (Prasad, 2008).

Code the material: Coding the unit of selected studies into categories is called coding and individuals who do coding are called coders (Prada, 2008). Careful training of coders is essential to reliable coding.

Analyse and interpret the results: The end product of the coding process must be numbers to visualize general patterns and characteristics of the studies (Fraenkel &Wallen, 2009).

Validity and reliability

In content analysis, reliability and validity are paramount to the integrity and strength of the research (Neuendorf, 2002; Sarantakos, 1998). Validity is checked by comparing expected and acquired results while reliability is ensured by comparing the results of two independent coders. In order to ensure valid and reliable classification, a code book was created for the study and more than one coder conducted the coding. Fraenkel and Wallen (2009) define the term validity, in research to indicate the usefulness, meaningfulness and correctness of any instrument used by a researcher to access and interpret. Neuendorf (2002) states validity aims to answer “Are we really measuring what we want to measure?”(p.12). The term reliability has been defined by Fraenkel and Wallen (2009) as “The consistency of scores or answers provided by an instrument” (p.154). A coding tool is reliable if it produces consistent results at different times, even when used by different researchers (Krippendorff, 1986; Sarantakos, 1998). Bauer (2000) defines reliability as “agreement among interpreters” (p.143).

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