ERIC Number: ED441699
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2000-Apr
How Conceptual Leaps in Understanding the Nature of Causality Can Limit Learning: An Example from Electrical Circuits.
Grotzer, Tina A.
This paper reports data collected during the first year of the Understandings of Consequence Project. This project explores how mismatched models of causality, instances when students' assumptions about how causes and effects behave significantly depart from scientific ones, may generate and/or exacerbate difficulties in achieving scientific understanding. The purpose of the project is: (1) to assess whether students hold assumptions about how cause and effect patterns unfold that can lead to alternative conceptions or misconceptions; and 2) to explore interventions that lead to scientifically accepted conceptions by increasing the sophistication of students' causal modeling. It is proposed that as students are asked to grasp increasingly complex notions of how causality works, they encounter new patterns of causal reasoning that can function as cognitive bottlenecks. Thus, at each new level there exists the risk of a mismatch between student models of causal concepts and scientific models and the potential for surmounting such mismatches through interventions that advance students' casual modeling. This study focuses on students' difficulties in learning advanced scientific concepts. Limiting the types of models students are exposed to as they learn new concepts to prevent difficulties is recommended. (Contains 38 references.) (Author/YDS)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Based on the work of the Understandings of Consequence Project. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (New Orleans, LA, April 24-28, 2000). For a related paper on the Understandings of Consequence Project, see SE 063 822.