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Describing and Analyzing Learning in Action: An Empirical Study of the Importance of Misconceptions in Learning Science
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Naturvetenskapsämnenas didaktik. (Naturvetenskapsämnenas didaktik)
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Naturvetenskapsämnenas didaktik. (Naturvetenskapsämnenas didaktik)
2008 (English)In: Science Education, ISSN 0036-8326, E-ISSN 1098-237X, Vol. 92, no 1, 141-164 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Although misconceptions in science have been established in interview studies, their role during the learning process is poorly examined. In this paper we use results from a classroom study to analyze to what extent nonscientific ideas in electrochemistry that students report in interviews enter into their learning in a more authentic setting. We audio recorded talk between eight pairs of Swedish upper secondary students during a practical on electrochemical cells. Learning was operationalized on a discursive level as a description of what students do and say when taking part in an activity. This enabled an analysis of how encounters with misconceptions influenced the development of students’ reasoning, compared to other encounters during the learning experience. Misconceptions did not constrain the development of students’ reasoning. Rather, their reasoning developed in response to the contingencies of the specific situation. When misconceptions were encountered, they appeared as alternatives and questions not actively defended. Sometimes, encounters with these misconceptions were generative of the students’ reasoning. The results indicate that demonstrating misconceptions in interviews is not enough to assume that they interfere with learning in other contexts. Educational implications and future lines of research based on these findings and on the methodology applied are discussed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Wiley Interscience , 2008. Vol. 92, no 1, 141-164 p.
Keyword [en]
Learning, misconceptions, pragmatism, electrochemistry
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Science Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-13352DOI: doi:10.1002/sceOAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-13352DiVA: diva2:179872
Available from: 2008-03-20 Created: 2008-03-20 Last updated: 2017-12-13Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Contingency in high-school students’ reasoning about electrochemical cells: Opportunities for learning and teaching in school science
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Contingency in high-school students’ reasoning about electrochemical cells: Opportunities for learning and teaching in school science
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The thesis takes its departure from the extensive literature on students’ alternative ideas in science. Although describing students’ conceptual knowledge in many science areas, the literature offers little about how this knowledge enters into the science learning process. Neither has it focused on how particulars and contingencies of curricular materials enter into the learning process. In this thesis I make high-resolution analyses of students’ learning in action during school science activities about real or idealized electrochemical cells. I use a discursive mechanism of learning developed to describe how students become participants in new practices through slow changes in word use. Specifically, I examine how alternative and accepted scientific ideas, as well as curricular materials, enter into students’ reasoning. The results are then used for producing hypotheses over how a teacher can support students’ science learning. Alternative ideas in electrochemistry did not necessarily interfere negatively with, and were sometimes productive for, students’ reasoning during the activities. Students included the particulars and contingencies of curricular materials in their reasoning not only when interacting with a real electrochemical cell but also in a more theoretical concept mapping activity about an idealized cell. Through taxonomic and correlational investigations students connected the particulars and contingencies of the real electrochemical cell to the generic knowledge of electrochemistry. When actively introduced by the researcher, such investigations had consequences for how single students framed their explanations of a real electrochemical cell. The results indicate ways in which teachers may encourage the productive use of contingencies to promote learning within the science classroom. However, this may require consideration of what students say in terms of consequences for their further learning rather than in terms of correct or incorrect content.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Mathematics and Science Education, Stockholm University, 2010. 68 p.
Keyword
electrochemistry, laboratory work, concept mapping, high-school, learning, teaching, pragmatism, practical epistemology analysis, contingency, discourse, misconceptions, alternative ideas, curricular materials
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Science Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-32303 (URN)978-91-7155-986-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2010-02-12, Dahlströmsalen, Campus Konradsberg, Hus D, Rålambsvägen 26 D, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
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Hur kan lärare hjälpa elever att resonera naturvetenskapligt
Note
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3:Manuscript; Paper 4:ManuscriptAvailable from: 2010-01-21 Created: 2009-12-07 Last updated: 2010-01-20Bibliographically approved

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Publisher's full texthttp://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/abstract/115806896/ABSTRACTLink to doctoral thesis

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