Year 3 Students’ Conceptions of Heat Transfer

Year: 2016

Author: Fitzallen, Noleine, Watson, Jane, Wright, Suzie, Duncan, Bruce

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Many children and adults have problems differentiating between heat and temperature. As a consequence, intuitions developed about the transfer of heat do not align with the well-established scientific explanations of the phenomena. These intuitions are formed as alternative conceptions, which are resistant to change and persist as children progress through school, in turn impacting on their ability to grasp concepts of thermodynamics at the tertiary level (Niaz, 2000). In order to develop teaching interventions that challenge children’s thinking it is necessary to determine the potential alternative conceptions developed early in life.Research on young students’ understanding of heat transfer is limited. It is mostly based on students’ responses to survey-style questions that do not explore how students express, form, and make sense of the scientific conceptions within authentic learning contexts (e.g., Paik, Cho, & Go, 2007). Providing opportunities to use scientific materials, tools, and activities are essential to draw out students’ emergent ideas about heat transfer (Rosebery, Ogonowski, DiSchino, & Warren, 2010). Rosebery and her colleagues also suggest that it is beneficial to create learning experiences that encourage “children to bring scientific and everyday perspectives into contact” (p. 351).The study reported in this paper identified Year 3 students’ conceptions of heat transfer evidenced as they worked through an experiment that required them to collect data to determine the effect of insulation on the transfer of heat. The study employed an interpretive qualitative research approach (Creswell, 2013) that captured the data on video as the students worked through the experiment and discussed their thoughts. The audio data from the videos were transcribed and interrogated to identify the instances when the students commented on aspects of temperature, heat, insulating properties, and heat transfer. The aim was to determine the way in which the students described their conceptions of heat transfer, and related their ideas to the context of the experiment and every day experiences. Excerpts from the video transcripts are used to illustrate the range of ideas expressed by the students. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications of the findings for classroom practice.References Creswell, J. W. (2013). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Niaz, M. (2000). A framework to understand students’ differentiation between heat energy and temperature and its educational implications. Interchange, 31(1), 1-20.Paik, S., Cho, B., & Go, M. (2007). Korean 4- to 11-year-old student conceptions of heat and temperature. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 44(2), 284–302.Rosebery, S. A., Ogonowski, M., DiSchino, M., & Warren, B. (2010). “The coat traps all your body heat”: Heterogeneity as fundamental to learning. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 19(3), 322-357.