Structural characteristics of university engineering students' conceptions of energy*

Authors

  • Xiufeng Liu,

    Corresponding author
    1. Faculty of Education, University of Prince Edward Island, 550 University Avenue, Charlottetown PEI, Canada C1A 4P3
    • Faculty of Education, University of Prince Edward Island, 550 University Avenue, Charlottetown PEI, Canada C1A 4P3.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Jazlin Ebenezer,

    1. University of Manitoba, Department of Curriculum, Faculty of Education, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3T 2N2
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Duncan M. Fraser

    1. University of Cape Town, Department of Chemical Engineering, Private Bag, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa
    Search for more papers by this author

  • *

    The data presented, the statements made, and the views expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors.

Abstract

This study examined structural characteristics of university engineering students' conceptions of energy elicited through paragraph writing and their relations with categories of their conceptions specific to energy in solution processes identified through interviews. We found that structures of students' conceptions are characterized primarily by characteristic, example-of/type-of, and lead-to types of relations, and these relations correspond with categories of students' conceptions. More specifically, categories of students' conceptions are exclusively related to energy transformation, and students failed to apply the notion of energy conservation demonstrated in structures of their conceptions to explain the temperature change in solution processes. It is concluded that although paragraph writing and interviews solicit different student conceptions, the conceptions identified from the two sources are related and paragraph writing tends to provide a more holistic picture of students' conceptions. This conclusion has clear implications for science curriculum development and instruction. © 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 39: 423–441, 2002

Ancillary