Epistemological and didactic dimensions of the curriculum construction processes: The case of the didactic transposition and learning of the energy concept

University of Patras, Greece

Supervisor: Ravanis, K.

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Abstract

The aim of this study is to investigate the possibility of designing an introductory teaching program in low secondary education, such that students can lead to effective learning of the concept of energy. We can distinguish three methodological levels: (a) the analysis level which serves as input information for the next level and contains (i) an epistemological analysis of the concept of energy which can ensure the epistemological validity of the object to be taught, (ii) an analysis concerning the cognitive representations of students before teaching which can ensure the psychological compatibility of the object to be taught with the students' cognitive needs and competencies) and (iii) an analysis of the educational context in which the object to be taught will function which can ensure the possibility of the program to be applicable to real teaching conditions, (b) the design level that operates as the developmental phase of the study comprising (i) the formulation of the educational aims and the specific instructional objectives of the program and (ii) the creation of a "hard core" of the new program content and (c) the application level that works as the evaluation phase of the program in order to determine if the new program leads students in meaningful learning about the energy concept under the existing teaching conditions.

The correlation between the different kinds of analysis shows that it is possible to set up a teaching program with organizational principles radically different from those of traditional energy programs. These principles refer to (a) the adoption of a conceptual model compatible with the field of macroscopic thermodynamics (‘energy chain’ model), (b) the emergence of 'pre-energy' mental representations of students based on the linear causal reasoning ‘source - action – recipient’, as the privileged field of students’ alternative conceptions to be transformed into the school knowledge about energy and (c) the implement of an inquiry-based teaching framework which it is compatible with the constructivist approach of teaching and learning and, at the same time, ensure the feasibility of the new program.

The previous organizational principles are transformed and specialized in a teaching sequence applied to pupils aged 13 to 14 years old. The results of the evaluation of the proposed conceptual content of the program show that students who followed the proposed teaching sequence (a) improve their original pre-energy representations, constructing both qualitative and quantitative aspects of the ‘energy chain’ model, and (b) their cognitive progress is much more meaningful than other students who followed the traditional teaching program.

Key words: energy teaching and learning, secondary education, didactic transposition

Thesis full reference:

Koliopoulos, D. (1997). Epistemological and didactic dimensions of the curriculum construction processes: The case of the didactic transposition and learning of the energy concept. Unpublished PhD thesis. Department of Educational Science & Early Childhood Education, University of Patras, Patras, Greece.

References

Koliopoulos, D. & Ravanis, K. (2001). Didactic implications resulting from students’ ideas about energy: an approach to mechanical, thermal and electrical phenomena. Themes in Education, 2(2-3), 161-173.

Koliopoulos, D. & Ravanis, K. (2000). Réflexions méthodologiques sur la formation d’une culture concernant le concept d’énergie à travers l’éducation formelle. Revue de Recherches en Education : SPIRALE, 26, 73-86.

Koliopoulos, D.& Ravanis, K. (2000). Elaboration et évaluation du contenu conceptuel d'un programme constructiviste concernant l'approche énergétique des phénomènes mécaniques. Didaskalia, 16, 33-56.

Correspondence

Dimitris Koliopoulos

University of Patras

Department of Educational Sciences and Early Childhood Education

Rion, Patras, 26500, Greece

Tel.: + 302610969819

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
http://dkoliopoulos.gr/en/

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