The European Educational Researcher

Students’ Difficulties in Applying the Law of Conservation of Mechanical Energy: Results of a Survey Research

The European Educational Researcher, Volume 4, Issue 2, June 2021, pp. 171-192
OPEN ACCESS VIEWS: 300 DOWNLOADS: 266 Publication date: 15 Jun 2021
ABSTRACT
The purpose of this study was to explore the effectiveness of the conventional high school instruction about conservation of mechanical energy in Canton Sarajevo. To that end we tested 441 high school students from six different schools in Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina) for their competence to apply the law of conservation of mechanical energy. Concretely, students were expected to solve 5 open-ended tasks that covered conceptually different situations. In each task we asked a set of sub-questions to check whether the students possess all the prerequisite sub-competencies for systematic reasoning about conservation of mechanical energy. In addition, we investigated how students’ ideas about conservation of mechanical energy were affected by the choice of the physical system, as well as by the choice of the observed time interval. Data analysis was performed on the level of individual tasks. The students’ written answers were analyzed and the frequencies of most prominent student responses were reported. Generally, it has been shown that most high school students from Sarajevo fail to identify and distinguish internal, external, conservative and non-conservative forces. Also, many students think that applicability of the conservation law does not depend on the chosen physical system and its evolution over time. We could conclude that high school students’ use of the conservation law is mostly based on remembering similar problem solving experiences, rather than on relevant strategic knowledge.
KEYWORDS
Conservation of mechanical energy, Energy analysis, Systems approach, Survey research.
CITATION (APA)
Halilović, A., Mešić, V., Hasović, E., & Dervić, D. (2021). Students’ Difficulties in Applying the Law of Conservation of Mechanical Energy: Results of a Survey Research. The European Educational Researcher, 4(2), 171-192. https://doi.org/10.31757/euer.423
REFERENCES
  1. Abasbegović, N., & Musemić, R. (1998). Fizika za 1. razred gimnazije [Physics textbook for the 1st year of secondary school]. Svjetlost.
  2. Aviani, I., Erceg, N., & Mešić, V. (2015). Drawing and using free body diagrams: Why it may be better not to decompose forces. Physical Review Special Topics-Physics Education Research, 11(2), Article 020137. https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.11.020137
  3. Bryce, T. G. K., & MacMillan, K. (2009). Momentum and kinetic energy: Confusable concepts in secondary school physics. Journal of Research in Science Teaching: The Official Journal of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, 46(7), 739-761. https://doi.org/10.1002/tea.20274
  4. Chen, R. F., Eisenkraft, A., Fortus, D., Krajcik, J., Neumann, K., Nordine, J., & Scheff, A. (Eds.). (2014). Teaching and learning of energy in K-12 education. Cham: Springer International Publishing.
  5. Chi, M. T., Feltovich, P. J., & Glaser, R. (1981). Categorization and representation of physics problems by experts and novices. Cognitive science, 5(2), 121-152. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15516709cog0502_2
  6. Čolić, A. (2001). Fizika za 1. razred srednjih škola [Physics textbook for the 1st year of secondary school]. Harfograf.
  7. Crundell, M, Goodwin, G., & Mee, C. (2014). Cambridge International AS and A Level Physics. Hodder Education.
  8. Duit, R., & Häußler, P. (1994). Learning and teaching energy. In P. Fensham, R. Gunstone, & R. White (Eds.), The content of science (pp. 185–200). The Falmer Press.
  9. Etkina, E., Gentile, M., & Van Heuvelen, A. (2013). College physics. London: Pearson Higher Ed.
  10. Giordano, N. (2009). College Physics: Reasoning and Relationships. Cengage.
  11. Goldring, H., & Osborne, J. (1994). Students' difficulties with energy and related concepts. Physics education, 29(1), 26-31. https://doi.org/10.1088/0031-9120/29/1/006
  12. Grimellini-Tomasini, N., Pecori-Balandi, B., Pacca, J. L., & Villani, A. (1993). Understanding conservation laws in mechanics: Students' conceptual change in learning about collisions. Science Education, 77, 169-189. https://doi.org/10.1002/sce.3730770206
  13. Halilović, A., Mešić, V., Hasović, E., & Vidak, A. (2021). Teaching upper-secondary students about conservation of mechanical energy: Two variants of the system approach to energy analysis. Journal of Baltic Science Education, 20(2), 223-236. https://doi.org/10.33225/jbse/21.20.223
  14. Herrmann-Abell, C. F., & DeBoer, G. E. (2011). Investigating students’ understanding of energy transformation, energy transfer, and conservation of energy using standards-based assessment tasks. In NARST Annual
  15. Conference/Orlando,FL. Retrieved from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/265148820_Investigating_Students%27_Understanding_of_Energy_
  16. Transformation_Energy_Transfer_and_Conservation_of_Energy_Using_Standards-Based_Assessment_Items
  17. Hertel, I. V., & Großmann, S. (2016). Physik in der Schule: Hauptteil mit Anlage Basiskonzepte. Bad Honnef:
  18. Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft.
  19. Jewett Jr, J. W. (2008). Energy and the confused student II: Systems. The Physics Teacher, 46(2), 81-86. https://doi.org/10.1119/1.2834527
  20. Jewett Jr, J. W. (2008). Energy and the confused student IV: A global approach to energy. The Physics Teacher, 46(4), 210-217. https://doi.org/10.1119/1.2895670
  21. Kim, E., & Pak, S. J. (2002). Students do not overcome conceptual difficulties after solving 1000 traditional problems.
  22. American Journal of Physics, 70(7), 759-765. https://doi.org/10.1119/1.1484151
  23. Krause, E. (2013). Das Erhaltungsprinzip in der Physik und seine Anwendung im Physikunterricht (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Universitaet Siegen, Siegen, Germany.
  24. Lawson, R. A., & McDermott, L. C. (1987). Student understanding of the work‐energy and impulse‐momentum theorems. American Journal of Physics, 55(9), 811-817. https://doi.org/10.1119/1.14994
  25. Lindsey, B. A., Heron, P. R., & Shaffer, P. S. (2009). Student ability to apply the concepts of work and energy to extended systems. American Journal of Physics, 77(11), 999-1009. https://doi.org/10.1119/1.3183889
  26. Lindsey, B. A., Heron, P. R., & Shaffer, P. S. (2012). Student understanding of energy: Difficulties related to systems. American Journal of Physics, 80(2), 154-163. https://doi.org/10.1119/1.3660661
  27. Muratović, H., & Gabela, N. (2011). Fizika VIII: za osmi razred osnovne škole [Physics textbook for the 8th grade of elementary school]. Grafex.
  28. Neumann, K., Viering, T., Boone, W. J., & Fischer, H. E. (2013). Towards a learning progression of energy. Journal of research in science teaching, 50(2), 162-188. https://doi.org/10.1002/tea.21061
  29. Papadouris, N., Hadjigeorgiou, A., & Constantinou, C. P. (2014). Pre-service elementary school teachers’ ability to account for the operation of simple physical systems using the energy conservation law. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 25(8), 911-933. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10972-014-9407-y
  30. Pride, T. O. B., Vokos, S., & McDermott, L. C. (1998). The challenge of matching learning assessments to teaching goals: An example from the work-energy and impulse-momentum theorems. American Journal of Physics, 66(2), 147-157. https://doi.org/10.1119/1.18836
  31. Sang, D., Jones, G., Woodside, R., Chadha, G. (2012). Cambridge International AS and A level Physics. Cambridge University Press.
  32. Seeley, L., Vokos, S., & Etkina, E. (2019). Examining physics teacher understanding of systems and the role it plays in supporting student energy reasoning. American Journal of Physics, 87(7), 510-519. https://doi.org/10.1119/1.5110663
  33. Van Heuvelen, A., & Zou, X. (2001). Multiple representations of work–energy processes. American Journal of Physics, 69(2), 184-194. https://doi.org/10.1119/1.1286662
  34. Van Huis, C., & Van den Berg, E. (1993). Teaching energy: a systems approach. Physics Education, 28(3), 146-153.
  35. https://doi.org/10.1088/0031-9120/28/3/003
  36. Vidak, A., Erceg, N., Hasović, E., Odžak, S., & Mešić, V. (2018). Teaching About Rolling Motion: Exploring The Effectiveness Of An Extreme Case Reasoning Approach. Journal of Baltic Science Education, 17(3), 511. https://doi.org/10.33225/jbse/18.17.511
  37. Wiesner, H., Schecker, H., & Hopf, M. (2015). Physikdidaktik kompakt. Hallbergmoos: Aulis.
LICENSE
Creative Commons License