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ERIC Number: EJ1057135
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 16
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 59
ISSN: EISSN-1554-9178
Productivity of "Collisions Generate Heat" for Reconciling an Energy Model with Mechanistic Reasoning: A Case Study
Scherr, Rachel E.; Robertson, Amy D.
Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research, v11 n1 p010111-1-010111-16 Jan-Jun 2015
We observe teachers in professional development courses about energy constructing mechanistic accounts of energy transformations. We analyze a case in which teachers investigating adiabatic compression develop a model of the transformation of kinetic energy to thermal energy. Among their ideas is the idea that thermal energy is generated as a byproduct of individual particle collisions, which is represented in science education research literature as an obstacle to learning. We demonstrate that in this instructional context, the idea that individual particle collisions generate thermal energy is not an obstacle to learning, but instead is productive: it initiates intellectual progress. Specifically, this idea initiates the reconciliation of the teachers' energy model with mechanistic reasoning about adiabatic compression, and leads to a canonically correct model of the transformation of kinetic energy into thermal energy. We claim that the idea's productivity is influenced by features of our particular instructional context, including the instructional goals of the course, the culture of collaborative sense making, and the use of certain representations of energy.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Secondary Education; Middle Schools; Junior High Schools; High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Washington
Grant or Contract Numbers: 0822342|1222732