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Conceptions of children or students in various fields of knowledge, especially science, have been widely investigated. There is a general consensus that students' knowledge in science does not originate only in school learning. This knowledge, the personal construction of an individual appears to be at least partially organised in structures more or less dependent on the conceptual domain in question, and is sometimes extremely resistant to change. Different expressions-'conceptual frameworks', 'alternative frameworks', 'mental structures' or simply 'conceptions', 'spontaneous or natural reasoning'-all refer, in a more or less equivalent way, to this fact. There is similarly a consensus that one has to take this 'natural reasoning' into account if teaching is to be effective. The author attempts to demonstrate regularities in different kinds of students' productions, and to describe these regularities in terms of 'conceptual frameworks' or 'ways of reasoning'.
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