• Marcus Kubsch
  • Jeffrey Nordine
  • David Fortus
  • Joseph Krajcik
  • Knut Neumann
In the sciences, energy is an important idea to get insight into phenomena, as energy can help to reveal hidden systems and processes. However, students commonly struggle to use energy ideas to interpret and explain phenomena. To support students in using energy ideas to interpret and explain phenomena, a range of different graphical representations are commonly used. However, there is little empirical research regarding whether and how these representations actually support students’ ability to use energy ideas. Building on common ways of representing energy transfer, we address this issue by exploring whether, and if so how, a specific representation called the energy transfer model (ETM) supports middle school students’ interpretation of phenomena using the idea of energy transfer. We conducted an interview study with N = 30 8th grade students in a quasi-experimental setting and used qualitative content analysis to investigate student answers. We found evidence that students who construct an ETM when making sense of phenomena consider the role of energy transfers between systems more comprehensively, i.e., they reason about hidden processes and systems to a larger extent than students who do not construct an ETM. Graphical representations are commonly used to support students in learning about energy. Those representations are designed to be actively constructed by students to support their reasoning and as anchors for collaborative sensemaking (e.g., Scherr et al., 2016). In contrast to other central science ideas such as force, there is no consensus representation for energy, and there is little empirical research regarding the actual effectiveness of energy representations in supporting students. While existing representations of energy often emphasize energy as manifest in different forms (Gray, Wittmann, Vokos, & Scherr, 2019), researchers have repeatedly questioned whether forms-based energy instruction is responsible for students’ difficulties with energy (Brewe, 2011; Quinn, 2014; Swackhamer, 2005). We investigated whether, and if so how, a specific representation – the energy transfer model (ETM) – that emphasizes the unitary nature of energy instead of forms supports middle school students in using energy ideas to make sense of phenomena in a physical science context.
ZeitschriftInternational Journal of Science and Mathematics Education
PublikationsstatusElektronische Veröffentlichung vor Drucklegung. - 12.2019

ID: 1034696