TI-AIE: Probing understanding: work and energy

What this unit is about

There are some topics in science that many students find difficult. It is possible for students to hold ideas about a topic that a teacher would consider to be ‘wrong’. This does not necessarily stop students memorising work in the short term, or getting the answers to questions correct. However, it does make it difficult for them to develop the sort of deep understanding they need to remember a large amount of material and do well in examinations. It will also be difficult for your students to progress if they continue to hold these ideas. Over the years, as a result of research, people have built up a list of common misunderstandings for many topics.

As a teacher you will need to help students to undertake conceptual change – some form of restructuring of what has been previously learned. Your role is to make the new approach seem more logical, coherent and sensible so that, in time, it becomes the student’s preferred way of thinking and they no longer use their initial ideas. In this unit the focus will be on work and energy, which is a difficult concept for students (and some adults) to understand properly. The strategies and techniques that you will learn in this unit will apply to other topics as well.

What you can learn in this unit