• Hanno Michel
  • Irene Neumann
Besides viewing knowledge about the nature of science (NOS) as important for its own value with respect to scientific literacy, an adequate understanding of NOS is expected to improve science content learning by fostering the ability to interrelate scientific concepts and, thus, coherently acquire scientific content knowledge. However, there is a lack of systematic investigations, which clarify the relations between NOS and science content learning. In this paper, we present the results of a study, conducted to investigate how NOS understanding relates to students’ acquisition of a proper understanding of the concept of energy. A total of 82 sixth and seventh grade students received an instructional unit on energy, with 41 of them receiving generic NOS instruction beforehand. This NOS instruction, however, did not result in students having higher scores on the NOS instrument. Thus, correlational analyses were performed to investigate how students’ NOS understanding prior to the energy unit related to their learning about science content. Results show that a more adequate understanding of NOS might relate to students’ perspective on the concept of energy and might support them in understanding the nature of energy as a theoretical concept. Students with higher NOS understanding, for example, seemed to be more capable of learning how to relate the different energy forms to each other and to justify why they can be subsumed under the term of energy. Further, we found that NOS understanding may also be related to students’ approach toward energy degradation—a concept that can be difficult for students to master—while it does not seem to have a substantive impact on students’ learning gain regarding energy forms, transformation, or conservation.

An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2015 biennial meeting of the European Science Education Research Association (Helsinki, Finland).
Original languageEnglish
JournalScience & Education
Pages (from-to)951-975
Number of pages25
StatePublished - 12.2016

    Research areas

  • Development of competencies and transitions

ID: 566490