A new Approach to Energy Teaching: Looking at Transfers and Fields instead of Forms and Transformations

Authors: 

Sebastian Opitz, Joseph Krajcik, Jeff Nordine, Knut Neumann, David Fortus, Israel Touitou, Yaron Lehavi, and Marcus Kubsch

Even though energy is a key concept in science education, there are few empirical insights into how different instructional strategies impact students’ learning of the energy concept. The ELEVATE project will contribute to the field by presenting the development and evaluation of a novel middle school energy unit. The project is supported by curriculum development and assessment-focused researchers from the US (MSU), Israel, and Germany.
Unlike traditional approaches to energy teaching that focus on different forms of energy and their transformations, our new energy unit uses project-based pedagogy and focuses on systems and the processes happening in them, fields, and energy transfer.
A central element of our project is the development, piloting and evaluation of the new energy unit. Learning in this new approach is compared to students' learning in the more traditional IQWST-curriculum energy unit, which focusses less on fields and systems, but speaks about energy form and transformations between them.
Another element of this project is the development and application of innovative, 3-dimensional assessment instruments that explore students’ learning of energy in the new unit. The findings are deepened by analyzing student interviews conducted throughout the unit, which probe students’ use of energy in their explanations of everyday phenomena.

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