Fundamental thermal concepts: an evaluation of Year 11 students’ conceptual understanding in everyday contexts

Hye-Eun Chu, Daniel K. C. Tan, Lee Choon Loh, David F. Treagust

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contribution


This research was conducted to investigate students' understanding of fundamental thermal concepts in everyday contexts. The 19 multiple-choice items in the questionnaire used in this study required written justifications for students' choice of responses. The items involving fundamental thermal concepts about heat, temperature, heat transfer and conduction were based on a previously developed questionnaire and from students' alternative conceptions derived from the research literature. The items which were entirely based on everyday contexts with scientific terminology avoided were administered to 80 Year 11 Singapore students. Four or five students from each class were interviewed in order to obtain additional information about their conceptual understanding and to probe the reasons they gave. Analysis of students' responses revealed several alternative conceptions of thermal concepts. Also, even though they held several acceptable scientific conceptions, many students had difficulties in applying thermal concepts in everyday contexts. The findings imply that classroom teaching needs to provide opportunities for students to make connections between scientific concepts and everyday contexts and to develop teaching strategies to help students better understand the related science concepts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of International Science Education Conference 2009
Subtitle of host publicationScience Education: Shared Issues, Common Future
EditorsMijung Kim, SungWon Hwang, Aik-Ling Tan
Place of PublicationSingapore
PublisherNatural Sciences and Science Education, National Institute of Education
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9789810810566
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational Science Education Conference 2009 - , Singapore
Duration: 24 Nov 200926 Nov 2009


ConferenceInternational Science Education Conference 2009


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