Conceptual Change and Student-Centered Learning Environments
Conceptual change theory is how learners change their ideas or knowledge and occurs when learners change their understanding of concepts.
Evolutionary and Radical Conceptual Change
John Piaget was a major predecessor to both evolutionary and radical conceptual change.
Piaget believed two processes (assimilation and accommodation) are used to understand how learners process and understand new information and are dependent on learners’ schemas.
Assimilation “is the process of incorporating new knowledge into existing schemas.” (96)
Accommodation “is the process of restructuring existing schemas to provide better explanations for new knowledge and or experiences that better fit reality.” (96)
Evolutionary Conceptual Change
Some conceptual change theories support a more gradual and slow process of change which is in reference to Darwin’s Evolution theory.
Strike and Posner suggest that in order to change misconceptions, four conditions must be present: dissatisfaction with current conception, presence of new, comprehensible conceptions, presence of reasonable conceptions, and the potential for new conceptions to be productive tools of thought.
Radical Conceptual Change
Kuhn’s theory is that when we encounter abnormalities that cannot be explained by current theories, a new paradigm is required.
Hot Conceptual Change
Conceptual change theories that focus on motivational aspects are considered “hot” theories of conceptual change.
Learning Environments that Foster Conceptual Change
A multimodal learning environment can foster conceptual change.
Testing Simulations for Conceptual Change
Computers are used to build simulations of real-life situations. These simulations vary in detail, complexity, and discipline. An example is SimCity which is used to create and test social studies problems.
Model Building for Conceptual Change
Learning takes place by building models. Learners construct a mental model and use it for prediction, inference, speculation, or experimentation. One of the most effective qualitative modeling tools are concept maps.
Arguing for Conceptual Change
There are three types of arguments and they are rhetorical, dialectical, and apodictic. Dialectical arguments are likely to lead to conceptual change. The purpose of these arguments is to resolve differences of opinions. “Constructing arguments engages conceptual change because of the high conceptual engagement in students.” (108)