NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1057128
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 15
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 64
ISSN: EISSN-1554-9178
Energy Conservation in Dissipative Processes: Teacher Expectations and Strategies Associated with Imperceptible Thermal Energy
Daane, Abigail R.; McKagan, Sarah B.; Vokos, Stamatis; Scherr, Rachel E.
Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research, v11 n1 p010109-1-010109-15 Jan-Jun 2015
Research has demonstrated that many students and some teachers do not consistently apply the conservation of energy principle when analyzing mechanical scenarios. In observing elementary and secondary teachers engaged in learning activities that require tracking and conserving energy, we find that challenges to energy conservation often arise in dissipative scenarios in which kinetic energy transforms into thermal energy (e.g., a ball rolls to a stop). We find that teachers expect that when they can see the motion associated with kinetic energy, they should be able to perceive the warmth associated with thermal energy. Their expectations are violated when the warmth produced is imperceptible. In these cases, teachers reject the idea that the kinetic energy transforms to thermal energy. Our observations suggest that apparent difficulties with energy conservation may have their roots in a strong and appropriate association between forms of energy and their perceptible indicators. We see teachers resolve these challenges by relating the original scenario to an exaggerated version in which the dissipated thermal energy is associated with perceptible warmth. Using these exaggerations, teachers infer that thermal energy is present to a lesser degree in the original scenario. They use this exaggeration strategy to track and conserve energy in dissipative scenarios.
American Physical Society. One Physics Ellipse 4th Floor, College Park, MD 20740-3844. Tel: 301-209-3200; Fax: 301-209-0865; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education; Secondary Education; High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Washington
Grant or Contract Numbers: 0822342|1222732