ERIC Number: ED189178
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1980-Apr
Reference Count: 0
A Case Study of the Effect of Metaphysical Commitments on the Learning of a Complex Scientific Theory.
Hewson, Peter W.
A model of conceptual change, adapted from Posner, is presented. It includes both the replacement of an existing concept (conceptual exchange), and the incorporation of a new concept (conceptual capture). Conceptual exchange occurs only when an existing concept is dissatisfying and a new concept is intelligible, initially plausible, and fruitful. Conceptual capture occurs if new and existing concepts separately satisfy the four conditions discussed above, and are mutually consistent. The model was applied to three interviews which were held with a graduate tutor in freshman physics; the tutor was asked to solve problems concerning Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity. The first interview was used to determine his metaphysical commitment--to a Newtonian, mechanistic view of the world; relativistic effects were explained mechanistically. The second interview showed the stability of his statements four months later and presented the metaphysics underlying relativity in comparison and contrast with his own. The third interview, ten days later, repeated parts of the first and showed that a profound change from mechanistic to a relativistic view had occurred. This case study underscores the importance of knowing a student's initial conceptions, especially those which are implicit and inarticulated, before planning a teaching strategy. (Author/CP)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (64th, Boston, MA, April 7-11, 1980).