Michael, Adam, Carolina, Josh, and Laura publish on survey questions about energy

Using multiple survey questions about energy to uncover elements of middle school student reasoning

M. Wittmann, A. Rogers, C. Alvarado, J. Medina, and L. Millay
Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings 2017, Cincinnati, OH, 2017.

One power of middle school physics teaching is its focus on conceptual understanding, rather than mathematical modeling. Teaching energy in middle school allows one to focus on the conceptual ideas, metaphors, and analogies we use to make sense of the topic. In the Next Generation Science Standards, energy is both a core disciplinary idea in the physical sciences and a crosscutting concept. In this paper, we provide several examples of seeming contradictions in student responses to similar questions. For example, students think differently about energy flow to the air or the ground. They also think differently about energy flow in cold and hot situations, though not necessarily as expected. Analyzing these results carefully, in particular when comparing and contrasting seemingly similar questions, may help both researchers and teachers listen for ideas, target instruction, and recognize learning more effectively.

Physics Education Research Conference 2017
Part of the PER Conference series
Cincinnati, OH: July 26-27, 2017
Pages 440-443

DOI: 10.1119/perc.2017.pr.105

Link at UMaine PERL article archive: Wittmann Rogers Alvarado Medina Millay on survey questions about energy