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The insidious nature of ‘hard core’ alternative conceptions : Implications for the constructivist research programme of patterns in high school students' and pre-service teachers' thinking about ionisation energy

[journal article]

Taber, Keith Stephen; Tan, Daniel Kim Chwee

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Please use the following Persistent Identifier (PID) to cite this document:http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0168-ssoar-254297

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Abstract The present study contributes to the constructivist research programme (RP) into learning science by comparing patterns in responses from two groups of learners - senior high schools students and pre-service teachers - in the same educational context (Singapore), to a diagnostic instrument relating to the topic of ionisation energies. This topic is currently included in the curriculum for 16-19 year-old students studying chemistry in Singapore (and elsewhere). The comparison shows that although (a) graduate pre-service teachers offered some types of incorrect responses less frequently than high school students; (b) they retained high levels of alternative conceptions commonly found among high school students; and - of particular note - (c) certain alternative conceptions were found to be more common among the graduates. This suggest the intuitive appeal of certain alternative conceptions is such that they can readily be reproduced down ‘generations’ of learners. The findings are explored in terms of a range of conceptual resources that have been developed within the constructivist RP. The analysis suggests that the curriculum sets out inappropriate target knowledge for senior high school students, given the nature of the subject matter and the prior learning of the students. It is also suggested that it may be fruitful to consider conceptual learning in terms analogous to the RP found in science, and that from this perspective certain insidious alternative conceptions can be understood as derived from commitments that are taken-for-granted and protected from explicit challenge by a protective belt of refutable auxiliary conceptions.
Classification Secondary Education Sector Upper Level; Curriculum, Teaching, Didactics
Free Keywords Alternative conception; Chemistry education; Conceptual change; Teacher knowledge; Misconception; Research programme
Document language English
Publication Year 2011
Page/Pages p. 259-297
Journal International Journal of Science Education, 33 (2011) 2
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09500691003709880
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)