ERIC Number: EJ1163319
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2018-Jan
Abstractor: As Provided
Investigating a Learning Progression for Energy Ideas from Upper Elementary through High School
Herrmann-Abell, Cari F.; DeBoer, George E.
Journal of Research in Science Teaching, v55 n1 p68-93 Jan 2018
This study tests a hypothesized learning progression for the concept of energy. It looks at 14 specific ideas under the categories of (i) Energy Forms and Transformations; (ii) Energy Transfer; (iii) Energy Dissipation and Degradation; and (iv) Energy Conservation. It then examines students' growth of understanding within each of these ideas at three levels of increasing conceptual complexity. The basic level of the model focuses on simple energy relationships and easily observable effects of energy processes; the "intermediate" level focuses on more complex energy concepts and applications; and the "advanced" level focuses on still more complex energy concepts, often requiring an atomic/molecular model to explain phenomena. The study includes results from 359 distractor-driven, multiple-choice test items administered to over 20,000 students in grades 4 through 12 from across the U.S. Rasch analysis provided linear measures of student performance and item difficulty on the same scale. Results largely supported a model of students' growth of understanding that progresses from an understanding of forms and transformations of energy to energy transfer to conservation while also progressing along a separate dimension of cognitive complexity. An analysis of the current state of students' understanding with respect to the knowledge identified in the learning progression showed that elementary level students perform well in comparison to expectations but that middle and high school students' performance does not meet expectations.
Descriptors: Energy, Science Instruction, Concept Formation, Energy Conservation, Multiple Choice Tests, Elementary Secondary Education, Test Items, Difficulty Level, Knowledge Level, Elementary School Students, Middle School Students, High School Students, Scientific Concepts, Learning Processes
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Sponsor: Institute of Education Sciences (ED)
Authoring Institution: N/A
IES Funded: Yes
Grant or Contract Numbers: R305A120138