Teaching About Energy
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In this article, we draw upon the Conceptual Profile Theory to discuss the negotiation of meanings related to the energy concept in an 11th grade physics classroom. This theory is based on the heterogeneity of verbal thinking, that is, on the idea that any individual or society does not represent concepts in a single way. According to this perspective, the processes of conceptualization consist of the use of a repertoire of different socially stabilized signifiers, adjusted to the context in which they occur. We start by proposing zones of a conceptual profile model for energy, each zone being characterized by its own commitments and identifiable by certain modes of talking about energy. Based on classroom evidence, we claim that teachers and students negotiate meanings that interpenetrate the domains of everyday and scientific knowledge. Being inevitable and necessary, this heterogeneity of conceptual thinking needs to be considered in teaching design in order to allow its awareness on the part of the students. We argue that students’ conceptual development goals should be considered in terms of general goals of science education, which points to the need of overcoming the encapsulation of scientific school knowledge. We show that the Conceptual Profile Theory provides a basis for science education that can promote the crossing of cultural boundaries, seeking relations between science and the spheres of everyday life.
The authors are grateful to the teacher, codenamed Terra, who welcomed OA into her classroom to observe and interview her students and her.
Funding that supported this work was provided to the first and second authors (OA and HS): United States National Science Foundation award DRL-1621228, first and third authors (OA and CE-H): the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico, CNPq) for Productivity in Research Fellowships (309361/2016-8 and 303011/2017-3, respectively), and third author (CE-H): research funding for the National Institute of Science and Technology (Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia, INCT) project by CNPq award 465767/2014-1 and a Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior, CAPES) award 23038.000776/2017-54.
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Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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