Possibilities and challenges in trying to help science teachers change their alternative conceptions and problem areas of inter-conversion of energy

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (M. Ed.)


Institute for Educational Development, Karachi


Alternative conceptions of science teachers regarding different scientific concepts influences students understanding, and as a result teaching and learning processes in science remain unproductive. Traditional rote methods of teaching and learning are one of the factors which do not allow the teachers, as well as students, to bring about any change in alternative conceptions and understanding with regard to scientifically accepted knowledge. Many research studies in this area provide a baseline for finding out alternative conceptions and trying to bring the learners closer to the scientific points of view. This study was conducted with two teachers of a government school to find out the possibilities and challenges in trying to bring possible change in their alternative conceptions of inter-conversion of energy, which is an abstract scientific concept. Qualitative paradigm along with the design of action research was used, and were assumed to be helpful in describing the whole process of the study and providing a chance for professional development, both for the researcher and the sampled teachers accordingly. Selected activity cards, handouts and interviews were used to elicit ideas from the teachers. Discrepant events (DEs) along with the Predict-Explain-Observe-Explain (PEOE) strategies were used to challenge teachers' prior knowledge about the topic by providing them with the related materials to do the activities by themselves. Certain activities were also demonstrated to provide the teachers with a chance for observation and to obtain the feeling of the phenomenon. I found out that demonstration and discussion (at the same time) are useful strategies to bring teachers closer to the scientific point of view as it provided them with the chance to observe and reflect on the phenomenon Some of the alternative conceptions of sampled teachers were identified regarding potential energy, kinetic energy, mechanical energy, internal energy, and melting process as these conceptions were confused with each other. The problem areas of teachers' understanding as investigated, were about the phenomenon of dissipation and considering some' as all' as they responded shortly/incompletely. According to the tasks of the study, in different stages, I played different roles. For example, in the elicitation stage, I was a complete observer, interviewer and facilitator; in the intervention stage, I played the role of participant observer, demonstrator and facilitator; and in the evaluation stage. I was a facilitator and evaluator. Though there were logistical as well as procedural challenges faced during the study, the approaches used proved to be successful by overcoming those challenges through the collaboration of the faculty and the sampled teachers.

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