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only successful for some of the pupils. This inevitably reinforces the question of whether
there is a ‘holy grail’ of science teaching based on constructivist principles. Fraser et al.
(1992) asks this question with respect to learning science with ‘understanding.’ Indeed,
their ‘tentative’ (self-admitted) conclusions leave more questions than answers and
arguably only serve to wallow in the myriad sea of variables which permeate any
educational situation.

Additional work has focused on the design and evaluation of new and novel materials and
resources to be used in the teaching of science topics as demonstrated. This has probably
been necessary because of a demand on educational research (such as summarised by
Bennett et al. 2000) to produce useful materials, rather than indulge in only theoretical
discourse. For example, Stylianidou (1997) undertook a classroom evaluation of the
‘Energy and Changes’ curriculum materials (described in Boohan and Ogborn, 1996).
Three pupils were observed for eight months. ‘Every single kid gets something out of it,’
is reported in the conclusion (class teacher’s remark). ‘With the aid of the pictures they
seemed to achieve a higher level of generalisation,’ is a positive outcome of using the
materials.

The theory of tacit knowing (Polanyi, 1969a) is perceived here to extend constructivism
and possibly provide an explanation for the apparent hidden process of conceptual
acquisition. Tomlinson (1999a) asserts that new skills can only be acquired and applied if
learnt tacitly. Perhaps the same view applies to concepts? Perhaps a concept can only be
genuinely acquired when an act of tacit knowing links subordinate concepts? Possible
links between constructivism, tacit knowing and knowledge about energy will be revisited
in the conclusions.
2.4.5. Summary and Statement of the Place of this Study
This section has demonstrated some of the prior field research on energy in school
science. At the first level are documentations of participants’ existing conceptualisations
of energy, to include those from:
♦ pupils (e.g. Watts, 1983);
♦ primary teachers (e.g. Kruger, 1990);
♦ primary student teachers (e.g. Trumper, 1997).

At the next level are examples where participant’s conceptualisation has been charted
before and after instruction or intervention. This has often been done in the spirit of action
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