This study used descriptive survey design to find out Senior High School students’ perceptions of energy and examined influences of gender and geographical location on students’ perceptions of energy. Data from 720 students in 18 Senior High Schools in Ghana was collected using a questionnaire comprising seven frameworks of energy. The collected data was analysed using frequency counts and percentages. Chi-square and multiple comparison tests were used to examine any significant differences of gender and geographical location on students’ perceptions of energy. The result shows that Senior High School students in Ghana perceive energy as anthropocentric, depository, an ingredient, an activity, a product of processes, functional and flow. In general, no significant differences exist between female and male students’ perceptions of energy except for energy as depository. No significant differences exist among urban, semi-urban and rural area students perceptions of energy as ‘depository’, ingredient, process and functional. However, students’ perceptions of energy as anthropocentric, activity and flow of fluid differ significantly between urban and semi- urban as well as urban and rural. In the physics or science classroom, when teaching energy, a better strategy is to build on what students perceive of energy and try to help them modify their perceptions in the appropriate manner rather than simply contradicting their perceptions.
Anderson, R.D. and J.V. Helms, 2001. The ideal of standards and the reality of schools: Needed research. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 38(1): 3-16.
Ault, C.R., J.D. Novak and D.B. Gowin, 1988. Consturcting vee maps for clinical. Interviews on energy concepts. Science Education, 74(4): 515-545.
Barak, J., M. Gorodetsky and D. Chipman, 1997. Understanding of energy in biology and vitalistic conceptions. International Journal of Science Education, 19(1): 21-30.
Boylan, C., 2008. Exploring elementary students’ understanding of energy and climate change. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, 1(1):1-15, [Accessed October 2008].
Cal?k, M. and A. Ayas, 2005. A comparison of level of understanding of grade 8 students and science student teachers related to selected chemistry concepts. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 42(6): 638-667.
Chambers, S.K. and T. Andre, 1997. Gender, prior knowledge, interest and experience in electricity and conceptual change text manipulation in learning about direct current. Journal of Research in Science teaching, 34(2): 107-123.
Clemison, A., 1990. Establishing an epistemological base for science teaching in the contemporary notions of the nature of science and how children learn science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 27(5): 429-445.
Confrey, J., 1990. A review of the research on student conceptions in mathematics, science, and programming. Review of Research in Education, 16: 3-56.
Fraenkel, J.R. and N.E. Wallen, 2003. How to design and evaluate research in education. 5th Edn., New York: McGraw-Hill.
Gelman, S.A., 1988. The development of induction within matural kind and artifact categories. Cognitive Psychology, 20(1): 65-95.
Gilbert, J. and M. Pope, 1986. Small group discussions about conceptions in science: A case study. Studies in Science Education, 10: 61-98.
Grayson, D.J., 1994. Concept substitution: An instructional strategy for promoting conceptual change. Research in Science Education, 24(1): 102 -111.
Gunstone, R.F., 1994a. The importance of specific science content in the enhancement of metacognition. In P. Fensham, R. Gunstone & R. White. The contents of science. London, England: The Falmer Press.
Hart, C., 2002. Framing curriculum discursively: Theoretical perspectives on the experience of VCE physics. International Journal of Science Education, 24: 1055-1077.
Kishore, P. and J. Kisiel, 2013. Exploring high school students’ perceptions of solar energy and solar cells. International Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 8: 521-534. DOI 10.12973/ijese.2013.216a.
Lavoie, D.R., 1997. Using a modified concept mapping strategy to identify students’ alternative scientific understanding of biology. Paper Presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Education, (Chicago) Il.
Ministry of Education Youth and Sports (MOEYS), 2012. Teaching syllabus for (SHS 1-4), Accra, Ghana: Curriculum research and development division (CRDD).
Nicoll, G.A., 2001. Report of undergraduates bonding misconception. International Journal of Science Education, 23(7): 707-730.
Osborne, J.F., P. Black, J. Meadows and M. Smith, 1993. Young children’s (7-11) ideas about light and their development. International Journal of Science Education, 15(1): 83 -93.
Pedro, M.H., 2000. Conceptual change: A study of the concept of photosynthesis in pre- service teachers. Paper Presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Association of Research in Science Teaching, New Orleans, L.
Southwell, B.G., J.J. Murphy, J.E. DeWaters and P.A. LeBaron, 2012. Americans’ perceived and actual understanding of energy (RTI Press Publication No. RR-0018-1208). Research Triangle Park. NC: RTI Press.
Trumper, R., 1990b. Energy and a constructivist way of teaching. Physics Education, 25(4): 208-212.
Trumper, R. and P. Gorsky, 1993. Learning about energy: The influence of alternative frameworks, cognitive level, and closed mindedness. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 30(7): 637-648.
Watts, D.M., 1983. Some alternative views of energy. Physics Education, 18: 213 -216.
This study received no specific financial support.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
All authors contributed equally to the conception and design of the study.