Harrer PhD on productive resources in secondary school students' discourse about energy

Identifying Productive Resources in Secondary School Students' Discourse About Energy

Benedikt Walter Harrer

A growing program of research in science education acknowledges the beginnings of disciplinary reasoning in students’ ideas and seeks to inform instruction that responds productively to these disciplinary progenitors in the moment to foster their development into sophisticated scientific practice. This dissertation examines secondary school students’ ideas about energy for progenitors of disciplinary knowledge and practice. Previously, researchers argued that students’ ideas about energy were constrained by stable and coherent conceptual structures that conflicted with an assumed unified scientific conception and therefore needed to be replaced. These researchers did not attend to the productive elements in students’ ideas about energy.
To analyze the disciplinary substance in students’ ideas, a theoretical perspective was developed that extends Hammer and colleagues’ resources framework. This elaboration allows for the identification of disciplinary productive resources—i.e., appropriately activated declarative and procedural pieces of knowledge—in individual students’ utterances as well as in the interactions of multiple learners engaged in group learning activities.

Using this framework, original interview transcripts from one of the most influential studies of students’ ideas about energy (Watts, 1983. Some alternative views of energy. Physics Education, 18/5, 213-217) were analyzed. Disciplinary productive resources regarding the ontology of energy, indicators for energy, and mechanistic reasoning about energy were found to be activated by interviewed students. These valuable aspects were not recognized by the original author. An interpretive analysis of video recorded student-centered discourse in rural Maine middle schools was carried out to find cases of resource activation in classroom discussions. Several cases of disciplinary productive resources regarding the nature of energy and its forms as well as the construction of a mechanistic energy story were identified and richly described.

Like energy, resources are manifested in various ways. The results of this study imply the necessity of appropriate disciplinary training for teachers that enables them to recognize and productively respond to disciplinary progenitors of the energy concept in students’ ideas.

Recommended Citation:

Harrer, Benedikt Walter, "Identifying Productive Resources in Secondary School Students' Discourse About Energy" (2013). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 2065.


Levi Lucy MST on energy knowledge of students and teachers

Levi Lucy

Correlations Between Students Performance on Assessments and Teachers’ Knowledge of Students and Energy

Research in energy education is important due to increased attention to energy in recent standards. Within education research, looking at the different knowledge teachers have and use while teaching is also a growing area. This study was a pilot study in looking at whether and if so, how, the different knowledge teachers have and use correlates with student performance, in an effort to help focus professional development and pre-service teacher programs. A single survey was used to measure two different types of teacher knowledge: knowledge of common content, and knowledge of content and students, as well as student performance. The results show that where correlations between teachers knowledge and student performance could exist, they did. Students of teachers who gave more detailed responses in a free response question performed better after instruction, than those that were not. Additionally, students of teachers who were able to predict and explain student misconceptions on the same questions used on the student performance assessment, performed better after instruction. Modifications to the teacher assessment are needed tools to investigate teachers’ knowledge of energy more deeply, and to engage teachers more in the assessment tasks.

Recommended Citation

Lucy, Levi, "Correlations Between Students Performance on Assessments and Teachers' Knowledge of Students and Energy" (2013). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 2010.