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Concept Formation in Environmental Education: 14-year olds’ work on the Intensified Greenhouse Effect and the Depletion of the Ozone Layer
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
2005 (English)In: International Journal of Science Education, ISSN 0950-0693, E-ISSN 1464-5289, Vol. 27, no 8, 891-908 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A case study is presented describing the work of three pupils in the upper level of compulsory school. The pupils were learning about the intensified greenhouse effect and the depletion of the ozone layer. In their work, the need for certain domain-specific knowledge becomes apparent; for example, understanding such concepts as photosynthesis, radiation and catalyst. The results show that the pupils experienced difficulty in distinguishing between the different meanings attached to individual concepts in their theoretical and practical contexts. They are often unable to identify the meaning relevant to the specific environmental problem that they are working on. The pupils' difficulties are seen here as a problem of differentiation between concepts denoted by the same term as well as between different aspects of the same concept, a view that is then related to the question of appropriate conditions for conceptual change.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2005. Vol. 27, no 8, 891-908 p.
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-23002DOI: 10.1080/09500690500038264ISI: 000230130800001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-23002DiVA: diva2:189879
Available from: 2006-11-16 Created: 2006-11-16 Last updated: 2013-12-10Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Begreppsbildning i ämnesövergripande och undersökande arbetssätt.: Studier av elevers arbete med miljöfrågor.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Begreppsbildning i ämnesövergripande och undersökande arbetssätt.: Studier av elevers arbete med miljöfrågor.
2006 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines how pupils in the upper level of compulsory school learn about environmental issues and related theoretical concepts in an instruction employing an investigative approach and thematically organised content. The results of the study give reason to question some central arguments supporting these designs of instruction. Additionally, and primarily, these results contribute to research on concept formation. An understanding of pupils’ difficulties in learning theoretical concepts as a problem of contextualization is derived, representing an alternative to the influential view in which pupils’ difficulties are seen as a problem of conceptual change.

Three case studies carried out within the pupils’ regular instruction are presented. The empirical material consists of recorded conversations, observational notes and the pupils’ own written material.

The first study shows that the pupils experience difficulty in distinguishing among the different meanings attached to individual concepts in various conceptual contexts. This implies that pupils are often unable to identify the meaning relevant to the specific environmental problem on which they are working. The second study shows that the pupils do not make the connection between theoretical concepts and practical activities, as intended in instruction. Instead, they interpret the concepts within separate practical contexts, i.e. interpretative contexts other than the theoretical contexts. Finally, the third study demonstrates that the context for a pupil’s investigation changes as the pupil’s values concerning the environmental issues are brought to the fore. Thus, the outcome indicates that contextualization is a main factor in pupils’ learning of theoretical concepts. It is shown that the pupils’ understanding of theoretical concepts is dependent on their contextualizations of these concepts, both with regard to different conceptual contexts and with regard to different levels within a context. It is also demonstrated that emotions play a part in pupils’ learning by determining into which context pupils choose to enter.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Pedagogiska institutionen, 2006. 75 p.
Keyword
concept formation, conceptual change, contextualization, thematically organised instruction, investigative approach, environmental issues, theoretical concepts
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-1321 (URN)91-7155-331-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2006-12-08, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 8 C, Stockholm, 10:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2006-11-16 Created: 2006-11-16Bibliographically approved

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