Evaluation of students’ energy conception in environmental science

Mihwa Park, Joseph A. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


While significant research has been conducted on students’ conceptions of energy, alternative conceptions of energy have not been actively explored in the area of environmental science. The purpose of this study is to examine students’ alternative conceptions in the environmental science discipline through the analysis of responses of first year college students in the U.S. (N = 86) to an environmental science energy test. Each item in the test consists of a multiple choice question followed by an open-ended question asking students to justify their choice for the multiple choice question. Students’ written responses were analyzed using an open-coding method. Results showed several alternative conceptions regarding each of the various energy aspects within the environmental science discipline. The findings of this study can potentially guide the development environmental science curriculum, particularly in regard to teaching the energy concept.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5572-5590
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental and Science Education
Issue number12
StatePublished - Aug 13 2016


  • Alternative conceptions
  • Energy
  • Environmental science
  • Test


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