Conceptual Change


The present study used the Cognitive Reconstruction of Knowledge Model (CRKM) model of conceptual change as a framework for developing and testing how key cognitive, motivational, and emotional variables are linked to conceptual change in physics. This study extends an earlier study developed by Taasoobshirazi and Sinatra (J Res Sci Teach 48:901–918, 2011) by providing a more comprehensive test of the CRKM. The variables included in the model tested in this study included emotions: boredom, enjoyment and anxiety; approach goals, need for cognition, motivation, deep cognitive engagement, course grade, and conceptual change. Results of a path analysis conducted on 117 introductory-level college physics students indicated that enjoyment was linked to students’ motivation, deep cognitive engagement, course grade, and conceptual change. Motivational variables were linked to cognitive engagement, course grade, and conceptual change. Finally, students’ course grade was linked to their conceptual change. Need for cognition, boredom, and anxiety played no role in the model. An alternative, revised model was presented excluding these three variables. Theoretical and practical implications of the study are discussed.



This investigation employed a longitudinal design to examine the influence of a one-shot growth mindset intervention on ninth-graders’ implicit beliefs about intelligence and related achievement goals in four different samples. The intervention conformed to characteristics of ‘wise interventions’. Participants’ incremental beliefs about intelligence and achievement goals were measured prior to the intervention and at several subsequent points in time following the intervention. Our results provide modest evidence that the one-shot intervention can promote incremental views of intelligence and reduce the prevalence of performance goals when used at scale.

The purpose of this study was to explore whether conceptual change predicted emotional and attitudinal change while learning about genetically modified foods (GMFs). Participants were 322 college students; half read a refutation text designed to shift conceptual knowledge, emotions, and attitudes, while the other half served as a control group. The results suggest that the refutation text effectively facilitated change in conceptual knowledge, emotions, and attitudes. The hypothesized relationship among the variables was explored using structural equation modeling. The analysis showed that when participants experienced knowledge change toward more scientifically accepted conceptions of GMFs, their emotions became more positive and less negative, which predicted a subsequent shift toward more-positive attitudes. The results suggest that change in emotions mediates the relationship between conceptual and attitudinal change. Several theoretical and practical implications are discussed including the impact that these findings may have on science education.

Conceptual change (CC) occurs when learners move from a misconception to a scientifically accepted conception (Heddy et al., 2017). Many researchers agree that deep cognitive engagement is integral to facilitating conceptual change (Sinatra, 2005). Although conceptual change has been explored in great depth, a valid and reliable instrument to assess the type of engagement that occurs during the change process is lacking in the field. In the present study, we designed an instrument meant to assess cognitive engagement during conceptual change. Our measure is modeled after Dole and Sinatra (1998) model theorizing that learners consider message and personal factors when learning new concepts. We used exploratory factor analysis to assess the structure of the Conceptual Change Cognitive Engagement Scale (CCCES) with participants recruited from the M-Turk survey recruitment tool. The CCCES will be beneficial for theoretical understanding related to conceptual change and engagement.

Conceptual change can be a challenging process, particularly in science education where many of the concepts are complex, controversial, or counter-intuitive. Yet, conceptual change is fundamental to science learning, which suggests science educators and science education researchers need models to effectively address and investigate conceptual change. Consideration of the current research and extant models of conceptual change reflect a need for a holistic, comprehensive, and dynamic model of conceptual change. In response, we developed the Dynamic Model of Conceptual Change (DMCC), which uses multiple lines of research that explore the variables influencing conceptual change and the dynamic interactions that take place during the conceptual change process in science teaching and learning. Unique to the DMCC is the potential for iterations, regression, enter and exit points at various stages of the conceptual change process, and the influences of message recognition, message engagement and processing, and the nature of the resulting conceptual change. The DMCC contains elements from extant models along with previously un-emphasized influential conceptual change variables such as culture, society, attitude, practices, and personal epistemology. We constructed the DMCC to provide science educators and researchers a more holistic framework for exploring conceptual change in science instruction and learning.

The purpose of this study was to explore the impact of authentically based instruction using the 5E model as the structure for lesson delivery on student emotions and the extent to which the students perceived that the teacher was facilitating mastery goals. Participants were 241 sophomore and junior biology students in three urban high schools in a large city in the Midsouth region of the United States. Two conditions occurred: a lesson designed using authentic 5E model, while the other was a text-based lesson on the topic of photosynthesis. The results suggest that the authentic 5E instruction increased interest and enjoyment and decreased anxiety, hopelessness, frustration, confusion, and boredom as compared to the text-based instruction. Furthermore, the students in the authentic group perceived that the teacher facilitated more mastery goals than the comparison group. Finally, we found that the change of student perception in teacher mastery had a predictive relationship with change in positive and negative emotions. Implications of this study are that authentic instruction can lead to positive academic outcomes and that perceived teacher mastery can have a positive influence on student emotions, which in turn can generate motivation and achievement in high school science courses.

Recently, many states passed laws requiring pre- and in-service teachers to receive professional development in dyslexia awareness. Even though misconceptions regarding dyslexia are widespread, there is a paucity of research on how to effectively remove misconceptions and replace them with accurate knowledge. The purpose of this study was to determine whether a researcher-created refutation text grounded in conceptual change theory could produce significant conceptual change in preservice teacher knowledge of dyslexia when compared with a control text about dyslexia (Dyslexia Basics, International Dyslexia Association; IDA, 2018). A sample of preservice teachers (n = 97) were randomly assigned to either the Dyslexia Basics text (n = 48) or the refutation text (n = 49). A one-way repeated ANOVA was used to identify if growth rates from pretest to posttest were differential across conditions. Results suggest while both texts affect conceptions, the refutation text outperformed the Dyslexia Basics text (n = 97), η2 = 0.33. Effects were maintained at a delayed posttest (n = 75), η2 = 0.175. Interaction effects suggested the amount of reading coursework did not moderate conceptual change. Implications for facilitating conceptual change of dyslexia will be discussed.