AP Annual Conference Submission
Director, WVU Center for Excellence in STEM Education / Professor of Physics
West Virginia University
Energy and systems are fundamental, crosscutting science concepts; physics can provide students deep conceptual understanding. Common simplifications of work and energy can generate misconceptions. A single approach to solving a variety of problems becomes compartmentalized into special cases to be memorized. What we mean is clear to us “in the club” so assessments aren’t always designed to elicit the incorrect models students may hold. In Learning and Understanding (2002), the National Research Council presented design principles vital to improve effectiveness of AP and intro college courses. One perfectly served by a more careful approach to energy and systems is focusing on key ideas and exploring them in depth. Four examples of common wording that can generate incorrect models and how to help students develop a coherent conceptual model that greatly impacts their ability to use more robust problem-solving approaches and to describe and model physical situations will be discussed.