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Investigating network coherence to assess students’ conceptual understanding of energy
S. Podschuweit, S. Bernholt

Investigating network coherence to assess students’ conceptual understanding of energy

Education Sciences, 10(4), 1-20. [103]. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10040103

Conceptual knowledge is a crucial tool for students to understand scientific phenomena. Knowledge about the structure and function of mental concepts potentially helps science educators to foster the acquisition of this tool. Specifically, the coherence of students’ mental concepts is an intensely discussed issue within the related conceptual change discourse. While former discussions focused on the question of whether these conceptions are coherent or not, recent approaches describe them as dynamic systems behaving more or less coherently in different situations. In this contribution, we captured this dynamic behavior of individual concepts by means of network analysis. Transcribed video data of 16 pairs of students working on four subsequent experiments on energy were transformed into weighted networks, which in turn were characterized by standardized coherence parameters. These coherence parameters and more basic network parameters were correlated with students’ pre-post scores of a multiple-choice test on the energy concept. We found that the coherence parameter is significantly related to the students’ test scores. Even more intense relations are indicated if networks are calculated solely based on conceptual key terms. Implications as well as methodological constraints of this approach are discussed.