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ERIC Number: EJ1011736
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Jan
Pages: 8
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 21
ISSN: ISSN-0047-231X
The Many Metaphors of Energy: Using Analogies as a Formative Assessment Tool
Lancor, Rachael A.
Journal of College Science Teaching, v42 n3 p38-45 Jan 2013
Energy is one of the most important unifying themes in science. Yet the way energy is conceptualized varies depending on context. Asking students "What is energy?" generally yields textbook definitions such as "energy is the ability to do work." Rote responses such as these tell instructors little about how students understand energy. Here, student-generated analogies are shown to be an effective means of eliciting ideas about energy in systems from biology, chemistry, and physics. Six substance metaphors for energy were identified in the student responses: energy as a substance that can be accounted for; can flow; can be carried; can change forms; can be lost; and can be an ingredient, a product, or stored in some way. Each of these conceptual metaphors highlight and obscure various characteristics of energy and provide a set of frameworks that each afford a different understanding of the energy concept. (Contains 2 tables and 3 figures.)
National Science Teachers Association. 1840 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22201-3000. Tel: 800-722-6782; Fax: 703-243-3924; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A