Factors Underlying Conceptual Change in the Sciences and Social Sciences

AbstractLearning in the sciences is difficult for students from elementary school to university due to misconceptions, or incorrect prior knowledge, interfering with the acquisition of new knowledge. The process of replacing previously incorrect ideas with new and accurate ones is referred to as conceptual change. Which factors and to what extent they facilitate the conceptual change is debated. This study primarily investigates two key components to conceptual change in scientific knowledge: text style and epistemic beliefs. We also explored additional contributions of individual differences in prior knowledge, reading ability, and working memory. 157 college students completed a two-part, within subjects design study in which they completed pretests, read passages addressing a misconception, completed posttests, and were assessed on a battery of the individual difference measures. We noted conceptual change on the posttest, but individual readers appeared to respond to the text differently.

Return to previous page