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Refining a Learning Progression of Energy
Yao, J., Guo, Y., Neumann, K.

Refining a Learning Progression of Energy

International Journal of Science Education

This paper presents a revised learning progression for the energy concept and initial findings on diverse progressions among subgroups of sample students. The revised learning progression describes how students progress towards an understanding of the energy concept along two progress variables identified from previous studies – key ideas about energy and levels of conceptual development. To assess students understanding with respect to the revised learning progression, we created a specific instrument, the Energy Concept Progression Assessment (ECPA) based on previous work on assessing students’ understanding of energy. After iteratively refining the instrument in two pilot studies, the ECPA was administered to a total of 4550 students (Grades 8–12) from schools in two districts in a major city in Mainland China. Rasch analysis was used to examine the validity of the revised learning progression and explore factors explaining different progressions. Our results confirm the validity of the four conceptual development levels. In addition, we found that although following a similar progression pattern, students’ progression rate was significantly influenced by environmental factors such as school type. In the discussion of our findings, we address the non-linear and complex nature of students’ progression in understanding energy. We conclude with illuminating our research's implication for curriculum design and energy teaching.