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Naive Knowledge and Science Learning

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Naive Knowledge and Science Learning

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Naive Knowledge and Science
Learning
Leopold E. Klopfer c , Audrey B. Champagne a & Richard F.
Gunstone b
a University of Pittsburgh
b Monash University
c University of Pittsburgh
Published online: 03 Aug 2006.
To cite this article: Leopold E. Klopfer , Audrey B. Champagne & Richard F. Gunstone (1983)
Naive Knowledge and Science Learning, Research in Science & Technological Education, 1:2,
173-183
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Research
in
Science
&
Technological Education,
Vol. 1, No. 2, 1983 173
Naive Knowledge
and
Science Learning
AUDREY
B.
CHAMPAGNE,
University
of
Pittsburgh
RICHARD F. GUNSTONE,
Monash University
LEOPOLD
E.
KLOPFER,
University
of
Pittsburgh
One
of the
most striking recent developments
in our
understanding
of
science
learning
has
been
the
discovery
of the
extent
and
persistence
of the
naive concep-
tions about
the
natural world that students bring with them
to the
classroom.
It all
began with
the
observation that,
in
physics
and
other sciences, even students
who do
well
on
textbook problems often
do not
apply
the
principles they have learned
to
predicting
and
describing actual physical events. Further investigations revealed
that these students' failures were
not due to an
absence
of
theories,
but
rather
to the
persistence
of
naive theories that they brought with them
to the
science class,
theories that stand
in
marked contrast
to
what students
are
expected
to
learn.
Evidence
is
accumulating that these naive theories
and the
distortions they engen-
der
in
students' comprehension
of
instruction
are
among
the
principal causes
of
students' failure
to
achieve understanding
in
science.
These discoveries
are
challenging educators
and
theorists
to
rethink
the
role
of
knowledge
in
learning.
In
most
of our
past thinking about
the
role
of
knowledge
in
learning, emphasis
has
been
on
positive transfer—that
is, the
facilitating effect
of
knowing something
on
learning
the
next concept
or
skill
in a
hierarchy (Gagne,
1968;
Gagne
&
Briggs, 1974). With recent research revealing
the
power
of
students'
existing knowledge
of
science
to
interfere
with, rather than enhance learning,
we are
faced with
a new
kind
of
instructional problem:
how to
effectively confront naive
conceptions
so
that
the
science knowledge represented
in the
instruction
can be
successfully learned
and
applied. This
is the
fundamental issue which this paper
addresses.
We
consider three main points:
(1) the
characteristics
of
naive concep-
tions;
(2) the
influence
of
naive conceptions
on
students' interpretations
of
instruc-
tional events;
and (3) the
implications
of
this research
for
designing instruction
to
facilitate
the
reconciliation
of
naive conceptions with scientific theories.
Characteristics
of
Students' Naive Conceptions
The finding that students' naive conceptions
are
both pervasive
and
persistent
is
corroborated
by the
research
of a
number
of
investigators
in
various countries.
Studies conducted
by
science educators
and
psychologists (including Brumby,
1982;
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174 A. B.
Champagne,
R. F.
Gunstone
& L. E. Klopfer
Clement, 1979; Driver, 1973; Driver & Easley, 1978; Fleshner, 1963; Green,
McCloskey & Caramazza, 1980; Gunstone & White, 1981; Leboutet-Barrell, 1976;
Rowell & Dawson, 1977; Selman, Jaquette, Krupa & Stone, 1982; Viennot, 1980)
demonstrate that, for several science content areas:
(1) people, young and old, have descriptive and explanatory systems for scientific
phenomena that develop before they experience formal study of science;
(2) these naive descriptive and explanatory systems differ in significant ways from
those students are expected to learn in their study of science;
(3) the naive descriptive and explanatory systems show remarkable consistency
across diverse populations, irrespective of age, ability or nationality;
(4) the naive systems are remarkably resistant to change by exposure to tra-
ditional instructional methods.
While the existence of students' naive conceptions has been demonstrated in
various science fields, a more coherent discussion of the issues can be presented when
attention is focused on one system or macroschema at a time. Hence, the subsequent
discussion will focus primarily on the macroschema for the motion of objects. In
considering the details of a macroschema for motion, it is convenient to think in
terms of knowledge stored in memory as concepts, propositions, and microschemata.
(Definitions for these components of a macroschema are given in Table 1. The
meanings given for these terms here are in no sense original with us. Rather, they
represent a distillation of the sense that attaches to some terms currently quite
prevalent in cognitive psychology.). We can then describe the features of each
component, the networks of concepts and propositions, and the implications of all
the features for the entire macroschema. The relationships of the several compo-
nents of a macroschema for the motion of objects are shown in Fig. 1. In the section
that follows, features of each of the macroschema's components in naive theories of
motion are described.
Naive Conceptions of Motion
The resistance of students' naive conceptions to change is particularly striking in the
context of mechanics, where prior to formal instruction young people and adults
have naive macroschemata for motion that are more Aristotelian than Newtonian
(Champagne, Klopfer, Solomon & Cahn, 1980b; Clement, 1979; Driver, 1973;
Leboutet-Barrell, 1976; Viennot, 1980). The persistence of remnants of the Aristotel-
ian macroschemata in many 'successful' physics students—that is, students receiving
high grades in introductory physics courses—has been shown in various studies (e.g.
Champagne, Klopfer & Anderson, 1980a; Gunstone & White, 1981). This research
provides empirical support for what physics teachers have long observed: namely,
that traditional instruction does not facilitate an appropriate reconciliation of pre-
instructional knowledge with the content of instruction (Ausubel, Novak & Hane-
sian, 1978).
Research carried out by Champagne, Klopfer & Anderson (1980a) demonstrates
that the belief in the proposition, 'Heavier objects fall faster than lighter objects,' is
not readily changed by instruction. In a study of beginning college physics students,
about four students in five believed that (all other things being equal) heavier
objects fall significantly faster than lighter ones. These results were particularly
surprising, since about 70% of the students in the sample had studied high school
physics—some for two years. Furthermore, students in the sample who had studied
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Naive
Knowledge
and
Science
Learning 175
TABLE
I. Elements of knowledge in memory
Concept An abstract idea derived from or based upon a phenomenon
or an assemblage of phenomena in the physical world.
Proposition A rule, principle, or empirical law that asserts a
generalization or relationship. A proposition may be an
assertion about a certain phenomenon, or it may assert a
specific relationship between two or more concepts.
Microschema* A mental structure that guides the analysis and interpretation
of an identifiable class of phenomena. A microschema
generally incorporates concepts, propositions, and more-or-less
integrated networks of these two elements.
Macroschema* A mental structure which encompasses several microschemata.
(The notion of a major conceptual scheme used in discussions
among science educators about the structure of knowledge
corresponds well with the notion of a macroschema.)
NOTE
*A literary analogue to the cognitive psychologists' notion of
schema
is genre. Once a
reader has identified a story as a mystery, the process of reading is guided by certain
expectations (elements) of mysteries. There is the crime, the detective, the victim,
the clues (each of which is a concept) and certain propositions that relate the
concepts. For example, the detective solves the mystery. Within the genre, mystery,
there are sub-genre, all of which have the elements and relations of the mystery but
which also have identifiable features which make them identifiable classes. There
are Agatha Christie, Mickey Spillane and Sherlock Holmes mysteries, each of which
has its unique features. Each of these classes of mysteries corresponds to a micro-
schema, while the genre of mystery itself is a macroschema.
high school physics did not score significantly better than those who had not.
Similar findings about the persistence of the heavier-faster belief and other beliefs
associated with Aristotelian macroschemata for the motion of objects have been
reported in studies of physics students in countries on three continents (e.g.
Archenhold, Driver, Orton & Wood-Robinson, 1980; Duit, Jung & Pfundt, 1981;
Fleshner, 1963; Gunstone & White, 1981; Jung, 1979; Leboutet-Barrell, 1976;
Viennot, 1979).
Various techniques for probing students' conceptions have been developed by
different researchers. In our own research, we have frequently used Demonstrate,
Observe and Explain (DOE) Tasks for this purpose. The DOE Tasks typically
consist of these stages: (1) some simple physical apparatus, say, an aluminum block
and a plastic block of the same size and shape, is shown and a proposed manipula-
tion of the apparatus is described, say, releasing the blocks simultaneously; (2) the
students are asked (a) to predict the outcome of the demonstration and (b) to report
the information they used to generate the prediction; (3) the demonstration is then
carried out with the students observing, and they are asked to describe their
observations and to discuss any conflicts between their predictions and their
observations. The DOE Tasks provide valuable information about the students'
conceptions and about the schemata they are using to organize knowledge in
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176
A. B.
Champagne,
R. F.
Gunstone
& L E.
Klopfer
Elements
macro-schema
micro-schemata
concepts
propositions
Weight
is o
measure
of the
pull
of
gravity
/
An inclined
plane dilutes
the force
of gravity
|_
product
of
mass
and
acceleration
Acceleration
is
any change
in velocity
t
1
, An
object
i
! at
rest
|
j
tends
to
I U
I
force
) ,'~~\ 'v / (
gravity
J
I
\ v I j
acceleration
FIG.
1. Knowledge in memory.
memory. Further descriptions of the DOE Tasks and other techniques we employ in
our research may be found in Champagne, Klopfer, Solomon & Cahn, 1980b;
Champagne & Klopfer, 1981; and Champagne, Gunstone & Klopfer, 1982.
Naive conceptions are sometimes found in a 'pure' state, but more often they are
'contaminated' by schooling.- Thus, the 'pure' naive proposition, 'Heavier objects fall
faster than lighter ones,' is often observed in its 'contaminated' form as: 'Heavier
objects fall faster than lighter ones
because
gravity pulls harder on heavier objects'.
The 'pure' form is the result of overgeneralisation of experience—'After all, stones
do fall faster than the leaves', while the 'contaminated' form arises when informa-
tion learned in science is inappropriately linked to an existing naive conception. It is
interesting to note that, in this instance, the existing mwconception is reinforced
because it is consistent with a proposition which the students view as a 'scientific
fact'.
In studies with both middle-school and college students, certain common ele-
ments have been observed in the students' conceptions of motion prior to formal
instruction. A general characterisation of naive knowledge of motion is as follows.
(1) Concepts are poorly differentiated. For example, students use the terms
speed,
velocity
and
acceleration
interchangeably. As a result, the typical student does not
perceive any difference between two propositions such as these: (a) The speed of an
object is proportional to the [net] force on the object; (b) The acceleration of an
object is proportional to the [net] force on the object.
(2) Meanings physicists attribute to terms are different from the everyday
meanings attributed to the terms by the students. For example, students generally
define acceleration as speeding up," while physicists define acceleration as any
change in velocity.
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Naive Knowledge and Science Learning
177
(3) Propositions about motion concepts are imprecisely formulated. The impreci-
sion may be due to students having vague meanings for technical terms or to errors
of scale. For example, in the context of an object falling a distance of just one metre,
students assert that gravity pulls harder on objects that are closer to the earth.
As the foregoing summary indicates, uninstructed students do have some struc-
tured knowledge about many of the concepts related to motion. Their concept
structures may be at variance with the structure physicists have for the same
concepts, and the meanings attached to terms and propositions relating them may
be imprecise or incorrect from the physicists' viewpoint. However, the existence in
uninstructed students of structures—even if embryonic—for such concepts as
speed,
mass,
force,
and
gravity
is unmistakable. Furthermore, uninstructed students show
evidence of relating these concepts to each other in a macroschema for motion.
Although each student may have an idiosyncratic macroschema that in some
particulars differs from the macroschemata of other students, there are important
common elements among their schemata. To a large degree, then, we can refer to
these common elements (described below) as the prototypical students' macro-
schema, with the understanding that individual variations exist.
The students' macroschema for motion derives from years of experience with
moving objects and serves the students satisfactorily in describing the world.
Nevertheless, this macroschema is quite different from the formal system of Newto-
nian mechanics, which is the macroschema for motion that physics courses seek to
teach. The content of the naive macroschema for motion can be characterized by
the following four rules: (a) a force, when applied to an object, will produce motion;
(b) under the influence of a constant force, objects move with constant velocity; (c)
the magnitude of the velocity is proportional to the magnitude of the force, so that
any increase in velocity is due to increasing forces; and (d) in the absence of forces,
objects are either at rest or, if they are moving (because they stored up momentum
while previous forces were acting), they are slowing down (and consuming their
stored momentum). In the everyday world in which friction is always present, these
rules provide a reasonable approximation of the behavior of objects. Moreover,
given the insensitivity of the human eye for detecting that an object is accelerating,
it is little wonder that acceleration does not hold a central position in the students'
macroschema for motion.
To a large degree, the rules of the students' macroschema parallel the descriptive
aspects of Aristotelian physics. Although the causal notions of Aristotle (which are
often animistic) were not encountered in the students' protocols, it is convenient to
refer to their macroschema for motion as Aristotelian. This emphasizes its contrast
with the physicists' macroschema, the formal Newtonian system of mechanics, in
which the central concept is the
acceleration
of objects, not their velocity.
Another characteristic of the Aristotelian macroschema is the lack of coordination
and consistency of the microschemata of which it is composed. Macroschemata are
typically conceived as being composed of a number of microschemata. For example,
three possible microschemata for a motion-of-objects macroschema are those for free
fall,
inclined planes and motion along the horizontal (see Fig. 1). In the Newtonian
macroschema, these microschemata are coordinated and internally consistent. All
are described by the laws of Newtonian mechanics. In contrast, in the naive motion-
of-objects macroschema, the situation is quite different. The lack of consistence
among the microschemata is striking.
For example, we observe many students who believe that in free fall, two objects
of the same size and shape but different mass will fall at approximately the same
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178 A. B.
Champagne,
R. F.
Gunstone
& L. E. Klopfer
speed. However, when these same students are asked to compare the approximate
times for two objects of different mass to slide down an incline, they predict that the
time for the more massive object will be significantly less. One student who had
made these conflicting predictions was observed spending 45 minutes comparing the
times for two identical toy trucks (one empty, the other loaded) to roll down an
incline. At the end of the time he had convinced himself that the times were nearly
the same, but he was clearly confused as to why this should be the case. Even when
the students are directly confronted with the inconsistencies of their predictions
when comparing the speeds of two objects in free fall and on the incline, they see no
conflict or problem. When the students observe that the times are approximately
equal on the incline, they are confused because they expected that the difference
would be much greater. This is buij one illustration that the microschemata are
uncoordinated, and contradictions that may exist among them are not perceived by
the students. The principles that apply to one microschema (free fall) tend to
remain localized within the microschema and are not applied to other microsche-
mata (inclined plane, horizontal motion). The expectation that an abstract rule or
principle could apply to a range of different microschemata is lacking or poorly
developed. Consequently, the microschemata for various physical situations con-
cerning motion can be quite isolated from one another in the students' cognitive
structures. A major result of this isolation is that the macroschema is able to
accommodate new information locally without producing conflict with other parts
of the system. In this way, the system can add principles which may contradict
other principles already present and yet not need a major reconceptualization.
Interactions Between Naive Knowledge and Instructional Events
The issue of what role the students' existing knowledge plays in their subsequent
learning is of continuing concern in instructional theory and design. Traditionally,
it has been assumed that the knowledge that the student already possesses will
facilitate further learning (e.g. Gagne, 1968; Gagne & Briggs, 1974). However, our
work on mechanics (Champagne et ai, 1980a, 1980b; Gunstone, Champagne &
Klopfer, 1981; Champagne & Klopfer, 1982a) has demonstrated that students'
existing knowledge can also adversely affect their ability to learn from science
instruction. Paralleling the findings of numerous researchers studying other science
fields, our research indicates that it is not the students' lack of prior knowledge that
makes learning mechanics so difficult, but rather their conflicting knowledge.
The naive macroschema about the motion of objects that students bring to
instruction consist of well-formed notions that have been reinforced by the students'
experiences. However, their notions may contradict the tenets of classical physics,
and it is these notions that tend to interfere with the learning of mechanics. Our
research demonstrates specific ways in which students' conceptions influence (a)
their observations of experiments and demonstrations; (b) their interpretations of
their observations and (c) their comprehension and remembrance of science texts
and lectures.
Observations of Experiments
In our work with middle school students, we observed the students' actions and
verbal comments as they engaged in discussions or were doing experiments with
physical apparatus or simulated experiments on a computer (Champagne & Klop-
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Naive Knowledge and Science Learning
179
fer, 1982b). Particularly interesting in our observations are the incidents that
illustrate the relationship between the students' knowledge and the physical or
computer-simulated experiments the students formulated, performed and inter-
preted. Some representative incidents are recounted in the following paragraphs.
Acceleration.
The students observed in one group were operating with multiple
meanings of the concept of acceleration. Among these meanings, one popular idea
used by several students considered acceleration in a non-quantitative way as a state
of increasing speed. In the course of developing this idea more precisely, a student-
generated experiment was devised that required the use of both the physical
apparatus and the computer simulation of the A-Machine, a short-hand designation
for an apparatus consisting of a block resting on a horizontal surface and linked by
a string over a pulley to a falling block.
The students wanted to know if the block on the low-friction A-Machine on the
air track moves with 'uniformly accelerated motion'. They used the velocity gates to
measure the block's instantaneous velocity at evenly-spaced
locations
along the air
track. From their data, they determined that the block accelerated. However,
because they did not have velocity data at equal time intervals, they could not
determine if the acceleration was uniform. This dilemma was resolved by doing a
computer-simulated experiment in a frictionless physical world. The students cor-
rectly determined that in this physical world the block moves with uniformly
accelerated motion. They then compared the results and noted that, for data
collected either at equal distances (air-track) or at equal time intervals (computer),
the acceleration was the same. This is an example of a student-designed experiment
that would not be done in the ordinary course of instruction. The convention
adopted by physics teachers and in physics textbooks simply assumes that the
acceleration of a body is determined by measuring velocity over equal time
intervals, so that the question of acceleration over equal distances does not arise.
From the student's perspective, however, the question is neither trivial nor irrele-
vant.
Inertia. Students' conceptualisations of inertia were also the source of several
interesting student-generated experiments. Few of the students had a well-developed
conceptualisation of inertia, but some expressed the belief that it is more difficult to
initiate horizontal motion in a heavier block than a lighter block. However, this
effect was attributed by the students to the increases in friction between the block
and table. If this assumption is true, the velocity of the block will be independent of
the block's mass when the experiment is performed on a frictionless surface. Indeed,
one student, when finding the minimum mass of sand required to start a block in
motion on the air track, argued that it was not necessary to weight the block since
weight (mass) was not a variable that affects motion.
Interpretation of Text
Our evidence for the interactive effects of the students' naive macroschema on their
interpretation of texts and lectures is less detailed than that for the effects on the
interpretations of experiments. However, results of preliminary analyses of protocol
data from studies designed to investigate the existence of the interaction of naive
conceptions with science text suggest that the effects are powerful. An observation
that we have consistently made when studying middle school students illustrates one
aspect of the effect. A.common response to the request for an explanation for the
students' prediction that an aluminum block will fall faster than a plastic one of
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180 A. B.
Champagne,
R. F. Guns tone & L. E. Klopfer
the same size and shape is—'Galileo proved it. He dropped a feather and a coin,
and the coin hit the ground first'. This response illustrates how a student's belief in
the heavier-is-faster rule influences the student's comprehension and remembrance
of what is read or heard. We must assume that the student was originally exposed to
the complete discussion of the Galileo thought experiment and either did not
process or remember the part which conflicted with what she or he believed.
Implications for Instructional Design
Given the consistent research findings of the pervasiveness and persistence of
students' naive conceptions and their role in making science learning difficult, what
guidance does this research and cognitive theory offer about the nature of instruc-
tion that will facilitate the reconciliation of naive conceptions with scientific
theories? Further, what instructional strategies that promote this reconciliation can
be recommended for use in classroom practice?
Schema Change Theory
Since information processing models of schema development generally have not
gone beyond the level of describing stages, the processes by which existing schemata
are modified are just beginning to be understood (Greeno, 1980). Nonetheless,
several valuable ideas concerning the development of schemata and suggestions for
modifying schemata have been offered. The main thrust of these suggestions from
cognitive theory is that verbal interactions facilitate schema change.
Two principal mechanisms for schema acquisition and modification have been
discussed by Rumelhart & Ortony (1977). Each mechanism is, in a sense, the
antithesis of the other. In their view, specialisation occurs in a schema when one or
more of its variables are 'fixed' to form a less abstract schema. Conversely,
generalisation occurs in a schema when some fixed portion is replaced by a variable
to form a more abstract schema. An example of schema specialisation pertinent to
the motion of objects relates the variable, force (F), in an abstract schema for
Newton's Second Law (F=ma) to the variable, force, in a less abstract schema for
the inclined plane. The highly abstract variable F in the Second Law schema,
becomes 'fixed' in the inclined plane schema to the vector sum of the component of
the force of gravity along the incline and the frictional force between the sliding
object and the incline. Conversely, generalisation occurs when moderately abstract
variables, in the inclined plane schema, i.e. the component of the force of gravity
along the incline, the frictional force between the sliding object and the incline, and
the vector sum of these forces, become generalized to the highly abstract variable F
in the Second Law schema.
These hypothesised generalisation and specialisation mechanisms only describe
schema changes and are, in fact, not mechanisms for producing them. While the
gradual modification of schemata doubtlessly involves generalisation and specialisa-
tion, in highly integrated schemata more dramatic changes, amounting essentially
to a shift to a new paradigm (in Kuhn's (1962) sense), must also take place. To
bring about schema change on such a large scale, a dialectical process appears to be
necessary. Riegel (1973) points out that the thinking of both adults and children is
dialectical, and he proposed that dialectics is 'the transformational key' in cognitive
development. Anderson (1977) suggests that ".. .the likelihood of schema change is
maximised when a person recognises a difficulty in his current position and comes to
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Naive Knowledge and Science Learning
181
see that the difficulty can be handled within a different schema (p. 427)". As the
mechanism for promoting dialectics in the classroom, Anderson advocates the use of
a Socratic teaching method. By participating in the dialogues which occur in
Socratic teaching, the student is forced to deal with counterexamples to proposals
and to face contradictions in his or her ideas. To overcome the attacks of adversaries
in the dialogues, the student must construct a new framework of ideas that will
stand up to criticism. This reconstruction process produces a modified or new
schema, so it may be said that schema change has occurred as a result of the
student's participation in the dialogues.
Ideational Confrontation
Ideational confrontation is an instructional strategy that applies the principle of
verbal interaction to facilitate schema change. The strategy requires that, in
preparation for instructional events (demonstration, laboratory exercise, problem
solution, reading text), the physical situation which provides the instruction's
context is described for the students. For example, in the case of a demonstration or
lab exercise, the instructor displays the equipment and describes the procedure. In
the case of a problem, the physical situation is described. In preparation for reading
text, the physical exemplars used in the discussion are described.
To illustrate this preparatory phase, the motion of a balloon as the air rushes out
of it is frequently used as a teaching exemplar of action and reaction (Newton's
Third Law). After the physical situation is described to the class, each student
engages in the analysis of the physical situation and states (aloud or written) the
concepts, propositions and variables that are relevant to the situation. In the case of
the balloon, they would be asked to describe in detail the motion of the balloon as
the air is released. After each student has analysed the situation, a class discussion
begins and individual students present their analyses of the situation. An individual
student's analysis is elaborated and modified by other students whose analyses are
essentially in agreement. Inevitably, controversies arise, usually identified because of
differences in predictions about what will happen. Typically, two students with
alternative perspectives begin to attempt to convince others of the validity of their
ideas.
As a student or group of students defends a position, the concepts become
better defined, and underlying assumptions and propositions are stated explicitly.
The net result is that each student is explicitly aware of his or her analysis of the
situation of interest.
At this point, instruction in the traditional sense begins. For example, the
instructor does the demonstration with the balloon and presents a theoretical
explanation of the results, or the instructor asserts a proposition (e.g. action and
reaction) and explains why the example (e.g. balloon) is an instance of the
proposition. The students are then asked to compare the elements of their pre-
instructional analysis of the situation with the one they have been taught and to
identify similarities and differences. This exercise forces the students to confront
inconsistencies between their pre-instructional knowledge and the content of the
instruction. In the absence of such confrontation, we all too often observe students
who possess logically inconsistent school-learned propositions. A favourite example
that surfaced in a discussion of objects in free fall concerns two propositions about
gravity. The students had learned and were quite satisfied with the proposition that
objects of different mass but the same volume and shape fall at about the same rate
because gravity pulls equally on all objects. This same group of students also agreed
Downloaded by [Monash University Library] at 02:20 10 February 2014
182
A. B.
Champagne,
R. F.
Gunstone
& L. E.
Klopfer
with
the
proposition that weight
is a
measure
of
the pull
of
gravity
on an
object.
We
asked these students
to
consider this line
of
reasoning: 'Gravity pulls equally
on all
objects. Weight
is a
measure
of the
pull
of
gravity
on an
object. Therefore,
all
objects have
the
same weight'. When confronted with this argument,
the
students
were flabbergasted,
but
more importantly they were ready
to
seriously reconsider
the validity
of the two
original propositions.
Ideational confrontation
is one
important part
of the
solution
to the
instructional
problem
of
schema change.
Its
major contribution
is
that
it
creates awareness
in the
student
of his
existing macroschema
and the
need
to
reconcile
it
with
the
scientific
concepts
and
propositions
he is
trying
to
learn.
In
this
way, the
possibilities
for
misinterpreting instructional events
can be
minimised. While
the
ideational
con-
frontation strategy cannot guarantee that
the
learning
of
science will
be
much less
difficult,
it
does help
the
student
to
understand where
the
difficulty lies. Ideational
confrontation
and
other instructional strategies which guide
the
student
in
this
way
effectively diminish
the
interference
of
students' naive knowledge with their learning
of science.
Correspondence:
Dr L. E.
Klopfer, Professor
of
Education, Learning Research
and
Development Center, University
of
Pittsburgh, 3939 O'Hara Street, Pittsburgh,
PA
15260, U.S.A.
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