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of this interview, any relevant issues that arose from participants’ concept maps would be
discussed. If considered appropriate and if time allowed, this would be supplemented by
the following:

More precision with the term ‘heat’ – after participants had talked spontaneously about
heat, e.g. through the ‘Heating a Room’ situation (see Appendix 11), I may have asked
them to define heat. Anticipated answers were ‘a form of energy’, ‘that which a hot body
possesses’ or ‘that which moves during conduction, convection or radiation’. Then, if it
was considered appropriate, I would consciously explicate and ask for comments on the
fact that it was a different thing to speak of ‘that which a hot body possesses’ and ‘that
which moves’. My underlying intention was to see if the distinction between U (internal
energy) and Q (energy transferred by heating) as clear at A-level physics (e.g. Duncan,
1995, p412) was common knowledge with physicists and non-physicists. Furthermore,
whether or not teachers felt it was important to make such a distinction earlier on – as
advocated by e.g. Mak and Young (1987) and Ellse (1988).

The fuel-oxygen system – the concept maps on combustion, human and plant respiration
provided superficial statements in this topic area. Towards the end of a PSTS interview,
the following line of questionning would be engaged, with reference to participants’ prior
maps:
• Where does the energy released in combustion / respiration come from?
• Is it correct to say the fuel / food contains all the energy?
• What about the oxygen?

The intention was to see if it was common knowledge that a better description of the
processes involved acknowledging the energy role of oxygen, as advocated by e.g.
McClelland (1989) and Ross (1993). Focusing solely on the chemical energy of foods and
fuels and then the evolved heat was thus put under scrutiny. If considered appropriate, the
questionning would extend further to asking participants to reconcile a KS3 fuel-oxygen
type explanation with a more precise KS4 type explanation involving exothermic
reactions, the shuffling of bonds and energy level diagrams.

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