• Sören Podschuweit
  • Sascha Bernholt
Context-based learning has become a widespread approach in science education. While positive motivational effects of such approaches have been well established empirically, clear results regarding cognitive aspects of students’ learning are still missing. In this article, we argue that this circumstance might be mainly rooted in the definition of context itself. Based on this argument, we shift from the issue of if contexts are cognitively beneficial to focus on the question of which composition of contexts is, at least by tendency, more effective than another. Based on theories of conceptual change, we therefore conducted a small-scale intervention study comparing two groups of students learning in different sets of contexts focusing on the same scientific concept—the cross-cutting concept of energy. Results suggest that learning in a more heterogeneous set of contexts eases transfer to new contexts in comparison to learning in a more homogeneous set of contexts. However, a more abstract understanding of the energy concept does not seem to be fostered by either of these approaches. Theoretical as well as practical implications of these finding are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch in Science Education
Pages (from-to)717-752
Number of pages36
StatePublished - 08.2018

    Research areas

  • Development of competences and transitions - Conceptual change, Context-based learning, Energy, Transfer

ID: 684203