for Conceptual Change: Confronting Children's Experience
Bruce and Richard Kopnicek.
Phi Delta Kappan
May 1990, pp. 680-684
winters, experience had been the children's teacher. Every
hat they had worn, every sweater they had donned contained
heat. "Put on your warm clothes," parents and teachers had
told them. So when they began to study heat one spring day,
who could blame them for thinking as they did?
are hot," said Katie.
put a thermometer inside a hat, would it ever get hot! Ninety
degrees, maybe," said Neil.
it there a long tune, and it might get to a hundred. Or 200," Christian
O'Brien had begun her lesson on heat in the usual way, she
might never have known how nine long Massachusetts winters
had skewed her students' thinking. Her fourth-graders would
have learned the major sources of heat, a little bit about
friction, and how to read a thermometer. By the end of two
weeks, they would have been able to pass a simple test on
heat. But their preconceptions, never having been put on
the table, would have continued, coexisting in a morass of
conflicting ideas about heat and its behavior.
like a growing number of educators at all levels, O'Brien
periodically teaches science for
"conceptual change." Her students, allowed to examine their
own experiences, must confront the inconsistencies in their
theories. In the process they find the path toward a deeper
understanding of heat, have a great time with science, and
refine their thinking and writing skills.
began with the simple question, "What is heat?" Using journals
and the chalkboard to record their ideas, the students, with
O'Brien's help, wrote down their "best thinking so-far"
on the subject of heat. Heat came from the sun, they wrote.
And from our bodies. But when Owen spoke about the heat in
sweaters, everyone else agreed. Sweaters were very hot. Hats,
too. Even rugs got "wicked hot," the children said. Sensing
the first of many naive conceptions, O'Brien stopped them and
said the magic words in science, "Let's find out."
whole days the testing went on. Experience, that most deceptive
of teachers, had to be met head on. With their teacher's
help, Christian, Neil, Katie, and the others placed thermometers
inside sweaters, hats, and a rolled-up rug. When the temperature
inside refused to rise after 15 minutes, Christian suggested
that they leave the thermometers overnight. After all, he
said, when the doctor takes your temperature, you have to
leave the thermometer in your mouth a long time. Folding
the sweaters and hats securely, the children predicted three-digit
temperatures the next day.
ran to their experiments first thing the next morning, the
children were baffled. They had been wrong. Now they'll change
their minds, and we can move on, O'Brien thought.
is an effective, if fallible, teacher. The children refused
to give up. "We just didn't leave them in there long enough," Christian
said. "Cold air got in there somehow,"
said Katie. And so the testing went on.
Change And How It Grew
late 1970s, the notion of "conceptual change" has been a
pedagogical football among science educators. Arguing that
reading and observing scientific principles will not alone
move the mountain of" alternative frameworks" about science
that children bring to the classroom, that even hands-on
activities allow such thinking to go undetected, teachers
are beginning from square one, helping children construct
their own models of scientific principles.
base their thinking on what they have seen and felt, then
their experience must be structured to challenge their erroneous
beliefs. If alternative views of scientific principles are
not addressed, they can coexist with "what the teacher told
us" and create a mishmash of fact and fiction. When studying
astronomy, for instance, if one brings up the common belief
in astrology, children can learn every available fact about
the planets and still go away thinking that Venus somehow
controls their destiny. But if each child is given a chance
to test his or her own model of the universe and find its
limits, then a deeper understanding, without the naive conceptions,
as the 1920s John Dewey emphasized science as inquiry, and
Gerald Craig in his landmark dissertation spoke eloquently
in favor of teaching science as investigation.1 Yet
the texts and curricula of the 1950s told a different story.
Science texts were reading books, punctuated by predigested
demonstrations of various facts embedded in such obvious
questions as, "Does air have weight?"
orbiting Sputnik I beeped to the world that the U.S. space
program was second best, the golden age of science education
began. Millions of dollars were made available for writing
and implementing new science curricula. The National Defense
Education Act (NDEA) of 1958 provided matching federal dollars
for equipment purchased by schools. Probably most important,
the new emphasis on science education gave scientists, psychologists,
and educators the opportunity to combine efforts on a single
task: improving science and mathematics education for all
on the world of such psychologists as Jerome Bruner, Robert
Gagne and Jean Piaget,2 the emphasis in science
education finally caught up with what Dewey, Craig, and others
had been saying since the 1920s. Science is an inquiry-oriented
subject; subjects should be taught and ultimately learned
according to the structure of the discipline; children and
how they learn should be at the center of the teaching of
early 1960s science educators have tried to follow these
tenets through times of financial feast and famine. The plethora
of programs --- from the 1960s: Science A Process Approach
(SAPA), Science Curriculum Improvement Study (SCIS), Minnesota
Mathematics and Science Teaching ProJect (MlNNEMAST), Elementary
Science Study (ESS), from the 1970s: Conceptually Oriented
Program in Elementary Science (COPES), Science 5/13, Nuffield;
and from the 1980s: Great Explorations in Math and Science
(GEMS), TOPS, Activities in Integrating Math and Science
(AIMS) --- all subscribe, with mild variations, to the basic
philosophies described above. Children are the focus, and
science is viewed as a combination of content, process, skills,
attitudes, and values.
programs, later published by commercial firms, made a modest
impression on the market. Their ideas and activities were
incorporated into such commercial texts as Space, Time, Energy,
and Matter (STEM), but even these books have made no more
than a ripple in the ocean of school science. The latest
generation of texts once again pays lip service to science
as an inquiry-oriented discipline, but the books themselves
resemble their ancestors of the 1950s more than they do those
produced during that brief "golden age." Today's texts, which
have the greatest influence on how science is taught in American
schools, have come almost full circle, and teachers who rely
primarily on them are little closer to teaching science as
inquiry than were their counterparts in the 1920s. In too
many classrooms across the U.S., science is skill taught
as a cohesive set of facts to be absorbed, and children are
viewed as blank slates on which teachers are to write.
the last 20 years such people as David Ausubel, Joseph Novak,
Rosalind Driver, John Clement, and others have begun to ask
different questions about children's learning.3 Cognitive
psychology and neo-Piagetian philosophy agree that knowledge,
for both children and adults, grows and changes in very interesting
ways. Learners bring their idiosyncratic and personal experiences
to most learning situations. These experiences have profound
effect on the learners' views of the world and a startling
effect on their willingness and ability to accept other,
more scientifically grounded explanations of how the world
works. Teachers who take a personal, adaptive view of knowledge
are known as constructivists because their model of learning
posits that all knowledge is constructed by the individual
in a scheme of accommodation and assimilation.
is such a teacher. Her students, actively constructing their
conceptual understanding of heat and its behavior, eagerly
tackled their surprising data with yet another experiment.
Investigation Heats Up
shock of the room temperature readings on the bundled-up
thermometers wore off, the children went at it again. If,
as they insisted, cold air had seeped inside the clothes
overnight, what could they do to keep it out? While O'Brien
would have preferred to focus on one variable at a time,
the children's discussion brought out other naive conceptions.
Remembering attics and cars, some of them said that closed
spaces were hot. "How could you test that?" O'Brien wondered.
Neil decided to seal the hat, with a thermometer inside,
in a plastic bag. Katie chose to plug the ends of the rug
with hats. Others placed sweaters in closets or in desks,
far away from the great gusts of cold air they seemed to
think swept through their classroom at night. With their
new experiments snugly in place, time-that old heat maker
-was left to do its job.
morning the children rushed to examine their experiments.
They checked their deeply buried thermometers. From across
the room, they shared their bewilderment. All the thermometers
were at 68 degrees Farenheit. Confused, they wrote in their
cold are sometimes strange," Katie wrote. "Maybe [the thermometer]
didn't work because it was used to room temperature.
know what to write, and Christian wrote simply, "I don't
O'Brien kept her own journal. This was one of her first attempts
at teaching through conceptual change, and she wondered how
long she should let these naive conceptions linger.
are holding on to and putting together pieces of what they
know of the world. But the time we are taking to explore
what kids think is much longer than if I told them the facts." If
she told her students that hats didn't make heat, she knew
that most would parrot her statement just to please her.
Lacking the evidence to prove that fact, however, they would
continue to prefer their own conceptions of their teacher's
await the teacher who expects children to give up their conceptions
at the first sign of a discrepancy. Stubbornness, a trait
not limited to children, causes students to grasp at straws,
O'Brien found. When the temperature inside a sweater rose
even one degree, the students cheered and shouted, "Finally!" And
if, as was more often the case, the thermometer stayed at
room temperature, well, then, perhaps the thermometer was
broken. Or perhaps the cold air got in somehow. Or maybe
they just hadn't let the sweaters sit long enough. Christian
wanted to seal a hat and thermometer in a metal box and leave
it for a year. Then the temperature would be sure to rise.
she tell them the difference between holding heat and emitting
heat, O'Brien wondered. Should she devise her own experiment
on insulation? She decided to let the conceptions linger
through one more round of testing. And so the sweaters, hats,
and even a down sleeping bag brought from home were sealed,
plugged, and left to endure the cold.
Sleep of Reason
often assume that reason is the guiding light of science,
the history of scientific thought shows otherwise. When confronted
with contradictory evidence, scientists are sometimes as
puzzled as children. Through further testing, they seek additional
evidence. If the results continue to disprove what they once
thought, scientists often behave very much like children:
they argue among themselves, they cling to their old theories,
and they devise experiments that will reinforce the traditional
way of thinking. As Thomas Kuhn showed in The Structure
of Scientific Revolutions,4 scientists are
capable of holding contradictory theories about scientific
concepts. Scientific communities, such as O'Brien's classroom,
can take this a step further by dividing into camps that
simultaneously believe several different explanations of
the same event, often for many years' duration. When it comes
to confronting the errors in one's thinking, scientists of
all ages seem equally susceptible to certain barriers.
at least, when confronted with-evidence that contradicts
existing assumptions, rational observers will accommodate
their thinking to fit the latest observations. A theory,
says the philosopher of science Irme Lakatos, is judged on
how well it solves problems.5 If a theory generates
problems that it can't solve or explain, Lakatos says, it
is rejected in favor of a new theory that solves those problems
and offers promise of further investigation. Even fourth-graders
seek answers that can be explained by their theories. But
the substitution of one theory for another is not as easy
as erasing the chalkboard. Certain preconditions for conceptual
change must exist if the barriers in the path to understanding
are to be overcome.
several barriers to conceptual change, barriers strong enough
to laugh in the face of discrepant events. Among schoolchildren
the strongest of these obstacles is likely to be stubbornness,
the refusal to admit that one's theory might be wrong. Children
who are not often asked their opinions are especially reluctant
to admit the errors in their thinking and will find ways
to adjust old ideas before assimilating new ones.
cites the varying strengths of scientific concepts as reasons
why some beliefs are changed and others are not. "Hard-core
ideas" take precedence over "protective-belt ideas,"
Lakatos posits. In the face of discrepant evidence, believers
will change their
"protective-belt ideas" in order to protect their hard-core
beliefs, much-as astronomers devised endless variations on
cosmological theories, adding epicycles, altering distances,
and so on just to keep the earth at the center of their cosmos.
Katie was willing to believe that "hot and cold are sometimes
surrendering her belief in the consistency of temperature in
order to build walls around the idea of "warm clothes." When
children are unable to call on scientific knowledge to explain
a piece of contradictory evidence, they will often call the
discrepant event "magic." As many teachers know, tenacity in
children makes scientists look downright flexible.
barrier to conceptual change is language. A teacher seeking
conceptual change should be cautious about vocabulary. The
difficulty of mastering new terms in addition to a new way
of thinking about a concept can cause children to cling even
more tenaciously to their old beliefs. Even the vernacular
usage of nonscientific terms, such as
"warm clothes," can cause confusion. There must be a reason
why everyone calls them "warm," O'Brien's students conjectured.
itself can block conceptual change as well. We tell children
that "seeing is believing," but in science that often isn't
true. Touch is an even more deceptive sense. Though O'Brien's
thermometers had stayed at room temperature, each night the
children kept warm beneath their blankets, just as each winter
they had put on warm hats and sweaters and actually felt
the warmth that the thermometers refused to register. A few
days of surprising results in the classroom are not likely
to change such deeply "felt" thinking. Teachers and students
learn firsthand the inadequacy of empiricism as a theory
of knowledge. As Eleanor Duckworth so aptly put it,
"The critical experiments themselves cannot impose their own
meanings. One has to have done a major part of the work already,
one has to have developed a network of ideas in which to imbed
the experiments." 6
and some of her abler students could have imposed their findings
on the class saying, "Look at the thermometer. Room temperature!
Now do you believe that sweaters don't make heat?" Textbooks
attempt to do just this, presenting events and critical experiments
from the history of science up to the present day. But, to
paraphrase Louis Pasteur, understanding favors the prepared
mind. If the learner has done a major part of the work already
and has developed Duckworth's "network of ideas in which
to imbed" the new idea, an enlightened view is more likely
to evolve. If not, the experience may mean nothing.
and adults face many of the same barriers to learning, a
few of the obstacles to conceptual change are developmental.
Children in the middle elementary grades are only beginning
to use concrete operations. As Piaget's research showed,
when confronted with new evidence, children in these grades
tend to revert to the earlier stage --- in this case the
preoperational stage, characterized by an inability to conserve
concrete properties, such as size and weight, and by difficulties
in measurement and logical reasoning.
at this stage of development swear by their feelings in the
face of the evidence and, having limited experience with
the scientific method, trust their lifelong convictions more
than they trust a thermometer. They particularly susceptible
to what researcher Judith Tschirigi calls "sensible reasoning" .7 Such
reasoning Tschirigi says, often takes precedence over Piaget's "concrete
reasaoning in." Children will modify their experiments to
accommodate their beliefs long before they will change their
beliefs to fit the evidence.
children's minds are still "under construction," they must
be treated with care where conceptual change is concerned.
As O'Brien learned, expecting students to exhibit conceptual
change after having observed a few discrepant events is bound
to be frustrating for both teacher and students. A teacher
who chooses to let students tackle their own misconceptions
is well advised to consider Lev Vygotsky's "zone of proximal
development," .8 also known as a child's "construction
Such developmental factors as memory, skill acquisition, and
reasoning ability affect a child's capacity to incorporate
new knowledge into existing schemes of thought, Vigotsky said.
encompasses what a child is developmentally ready to consider.
Any new information or skills needed for conceptual change
may lie outside the zone if the child is developmentally unprepared
to learn them. O'Brien's students who cheered when the temperature
inside the "warm" clothes rose a single degree evinced such
unpreparedness. They failed to recognize that the single degree
was an insignificant rise and may even have resulted from a
misreading of the thermometer. Conceptual change can take place
only within the "construction zone." Since children's scientific
skills are constructed more slowly than many buildings, conceptual
change in science will not happen overnight. Unfortunately
for teachers, there are no prefabricated units to be assembled
in mental constructions , though many science texts would seem
to suggest otherwise.
science itself has "critical barriers" to understanding,
which present difficult hurdles to children and adults alike,
according to David Hawkins. 9 Along with the seemingly
innate problems involved in understanding size, volume, weight,
and elementary mechanics, Hawkins identifies the concept
of heat as containing some of these critical barriers. The
perception of things as "hot" and "cold"
conflicts with the scientist's conception of heat as a measurable
quantity contained by all objects, Hawkins says. Since scientists
held misconceptions about heat for hundreds of years, Hawkins
reminds us, understanding heat is a hurdle that will not be
cleared by students in a single two-week unit.
The Good Fight
many obstacles standing the way, conceptual change in science
might seem not merely difficult to achieve, but impossible,
especially based on a few measly discrepant events. Yet certain
teaching strategies have been devised that can help teachers
overcome these obstacles.
between children's thinking and the evidence are laid on
the table, the teacher assumes a crucial role. Far from being
a passive observer, the teacher can actively promote new
thinking patterns through a variety of methods.
relevance. Because children so frequently assume new information
to be "stuff we learned in school," the teacher must connect
new concepts to the child's everyday life. In the case of
heat, O'Brien asked her students about times when they had
felt heat coming from an object. She asked them if they could
think of anything that trapped heat, that kept things warm
without heating them. She asked them to think about animals
that have "warm coats" and to consider whether those coats
make heat. She asked them whether a handful of fur would
stay warm if removed from the animals. Unless children appreciate
the relevance of their experiments to their everyday life,
they may just brush off a discrepant event as "some weird
thing we saw in science."
predictions. Children who are asked to predict the results
of their experiments are more willing to change their thinking
than are children who function as passive observers. This
neglected aspect of elementary-science instruction is essential
because it asks students to link their new knowledge with
what they already know in order to form hypotheses. Through
ample writing in journals, O'Brien's students predicted temperatures
and gave reasons for their predictions. Even though they
were often wrong, they had the chance to incorporate yesterday's
thinking into today's task. The use of journals in O'Brien's
class also facilitated what Piaget called
"reflective abstraction"10 --- the chance to reflect
on one's thinking, without which development does not occur.
consistency. Although nearly everyone lives quite comfortably
while embracing a wealth of ideological and political contradictions,
a teacher should encourage children facing new patterns of
thought to be consistent in their thinking. A child can state
categorically that the thickness of a sleeping bag "causes
the heat inside and that pressure "causes the heat inside" a
rolled-up rug. Yet that same child can maintain that hats,
which are neither thick nor compressed, will be hot for no
reason at all.
The teacher should tactfully draw attention to the inconsistencies
in children's thinking and ask them to consider how two contradictory
statements could both be true. While some children will blithely
ignore the illogic of contradictions, many will confront inconsistencies
and change their thinking as a result. The development of logical,
consistent thought is thus a by-product of teaching aimed at
conceptual change, and developing an orderly view of the world
can prevent the compartmentalization of knowledge that occurs
when students think that nature works one way at home and another
way at school. Katie reflected such inconsistency when she
wrote that "hot and cold are sometimes weird." If she is encouraged
to seek consistency, however, she will not be satisfied until
she has seen some order in the world around her.
If one concept is to replace another, then certain conditions
must prevail.11 First, the old way of thinking must
be challenged by direct observation, by a discrepant event.
Next, a new explanation for the phenomenon in question must
arise, an explanation that is understandable (take care with
vocabulary) and plausible. Finally, the new explanation must
lead to further testing. If these conditions can be created
in the classroom, conceptual change can occur.
It All Back Home
resistance to conceptual change in children is clearly an
ongoing struggle. Children will not easily surrender their
carefully constructed schemes of thought to the onslaught
of new evidence, no matter how convincing it seems. Dedicated
teachers using a variety of strategies, including infinite
patience and the willingness to let children swim upstream
toward an elusive understanding, can help their students
overcome these barriers. But reluctance to change one's way
of thinking is not limited to scientists and students.
massive evidence suggesting that students learn by doing,
by manipulating, by experimenting, the great bulk of science
teaching is still based on textbooks. Some independent teachers
have pursued conceptual change in their science classes,
but doing so presents a number of monumental questions to
curriculum builders, school administrators, textbook authors,
and anyone whose-job description includes monitoring the "coverage" of
curriculum in any subject area.
- Is mere "coverage" of
curriculum material-a viable or reasonable goal?
is "growth. in science, and how will we assess it?
content should teachers know in order to be able to recognize
and then challenge children's naive conceptions?
can teachers adapt texts and curriculum to meet the constructivists'
challenge about how children learn?
there appropriate grade levels for various science topics,
and what content areas are appropriate at which levels?
who has really tested his or her effectiveness by checking
students' understanding of concepts faces a startling dilemma.
Teaching science in a constructivist mode is slower and involves
discussion, debate, and the recreation of ideas. Rather than
following previously set steps, the curriculum in a constructivist
classroom evolves, depends heavily on materials, and is determined
by the children's questions. Less "stuff" will be covered,
fewer "facts" will be remembered for the test, and progress
will sometimes be exceedingly slow. It is definitely a process
of uncovering rather than covering.
is to cover the prescribed material, knowing full well that
the students may be masking their lack of conceptual growth
by solving the teacher rather than learning the content.
In order to survive, students learn to give teachers what
they want, whether memorizing and regurgitating book definitions
of terms, completing lab reports in a certain format, or
filling in the correct blanks on an exam.
students have always done these things, and we suspect that
they always will. It is their path to survival in schools.
Nevertheless, their doing so presents teachers with an age-old
dilemma: Do we cover the material, knowing full well that
what we cover will be understood superficially at best ---
accommodated, but not assimilated? Or do we forget about
coverage and work to help children test their untutored conceptions
against the real world through challenging questions, predictions,
and experiments, knowing that we will be sacrificing breadth
for the sake of depth? We suspect that these questions will
be central in the coming decade. Moreover, further study
is needed to find out more about the social aspects of learning,
about how students use their conceptual understanding outside
the classroom, and about how their experience grows into
scientific models that they find satisfactory.
is certain. We need to study more deeply the views held by
children, to learn the purposes they serve, to learn their
innate structures, and to learn how they are formed and used.
Perhaps then we will be better able to understand role as
Students In The Hot Seat
third day in a row in O'Brien's classroom, the children rushed
to their experiments as soon as they arrived. The sweater,
the sleeping bag, and the hat were unwrapped. Once again
the thermometers uniformly read room temperature. O'Brien
led the disappointed children to their journals. But after
a few moments of discussion, she realized that her students
had reached an impasse. Their old theory was clearly on the
ropes, but they had no new theory with which to replace it.
She decided to offer them a choice of two possible statements. "Choose
statement A or statement B,"
she told them. The first stated that heat could come from almost
anything, hats and sweaters included. In measuring such heat,
statement A proclaimed, we are sometimes fooled because we're
really measuring cold air that gets inside. This, of course,
was what most children had believed at the outset. Statement
B, of O'Brien's own devising, posed the alternative that heat
comes mostly from the sun and our bodies and is trapped inside
winter clothes that keep our body heat in and keep the cold
down what you believe,"
O'Brien told the class. "Then stand in this corner if you believe
A and in that corner if you believe B. If you're not sure,
stand here in front."
went to lips, and eyes studied the ceiling. Finally, after
much thought, the statements were recorded in the journals.
Students approached the chalkboard, ready to turn right or
left. Katie turned left toward the B corner. Owen stood in
the center for a moment, then followed Katie. Neil turned
right and dung to his "hot hat" theory. Christian stood in
the middle. One by one, the students took a stand. And when
the cold gusts of approaching recess blasted through the
class room, O'Brien counted noses. A few children had joined
Neil. Stubborn, perhaps, but O'Brien had to admire the strength
of their convictions. Christian and one other child stood
undecided in the center, while the rest of the class stood
proudly with Katie and Owen, convinced by their own testing
that "warm clothes" aren't really warm and that the heat
that seems to come from them actually comes from the warm
bodies they envelop.
we test this new theory?" O'Brien asked. Immediately, Neil
said, "Put the thermometers in our hats when we're wearing
them." And so the children went out to recess that day with
an experiment under their hats. As Deb O'Brien relaxed during
recess, she asked herself about the past three days. Had
the children really changed their minds? Or had they simply
been following the leader? Could they really change their
ideas in the course of a few class periods? Would any of
their activities help them pass the standardized science
test coming up in May? O'Brien wasn't sure she could answer
any of these questions affirmatively. But she had seen the
faces of young scientists as they ran to their experiments,
wrote about their findings, spoke out, thought, asked ques
tions --- and that was enough for now.
Dewey, How We Think (Boston: Heath, 1910); and Gerald
S. Craig, "Certain Techniques Used In Developing a Course
of Study in Science for the Horace Mann Elementary School"
(Doctoral dissertation, Columbia University, 1927)
S. Bruner, The Process of Education (Cambridge, Mass.:
Harvard University Press, 1960), Robert M. Gagne, The
Conditions of Learning (New York: Holt, Rinehart
& Winston, 1977); and Jean Piaget, "Cognitive Development
in Children: Development and Learning," Journal of Research
in Science Teaching, vol. 2, 1964, pp. 176-86.
P. Ausubel, Joseph D. Novak, and Helen Hanesian, Educational
Psychology: A Cognitive View, 2nd ed. (New York: Holt,
Rinehart & Winston, 1978); Rosalind Driver and J. A.
Easley, "Pupils and Paradigms: A Review of Literature Related
to Concept Development in Adolescent Science, Studies
in Science Education, vol. 5, 1978, pp. 61-84; and John
Clement, Students Alternative Conceptions in Mechanics: A
Coherent System of Preconceptions?," in H. Helm and Joseph
D. Novak, eds., Proceedings of the International Seminar:
Misconceptions in Science and Mathematics, N.Y.: Cornell
University Press, 1983).
Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1962).
Lakatos, Proofs and Refutations: The Logic of Mathematical
Discovery (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976).
Duckworth, Inventing Density (Grand Forks, N.D.: Center
for teaching and learning, University of North Dakota, 1986),
"Sensible Reasoning: A Hypothesis About Hypotheses," Child
Development, vol. 51, 1980, pp. 1-10.
S. Vygotsky, Thought and Language (Cambridge, Mass.:
MIT Press, 1962).
Barriers to Science Learning," Outlook, vol. 29,
1978, pp. 3-23.
Piaget, Structuralism (New York: Harper & Row,
I 1. George
J. Posner et al., "Accommodation of a Scientific Conception:
Toward a Theory of Conceptual Change," Science Education,
vol. 66, 1982, pp. 211-27.
a former elementary science teacher, is a freelance writer living
in Amherst, Mass. RICHARD KONICEK is a professor of science education
at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Funding for the
research on which this article is based was awarded to the Five
College, Inc., Amherst, Mass., by the National Science Foundation.
The Partnership in Elementary Science provided inservice education
for 100 teachers from 1987 until 1990.
Phi Delta Kappan, Inc.
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