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In this study the existing relationship between the degree of structural coherence of students' preconceptions in mechanics and the viability of conceptual change is looked into. One hundred and fifty-five Grade 10 students were given two tests on conceptions of mechanics both before and after teaching. They also completed a Spanish version of the Test of Logical Thinking (TOLT), the objective being to evaluate their formal reasoning ability. The results show that the students with the highest level of formal reasoning change their alternative conceptions more easily when these display a higher level of initial structuralization. Students showing concrete reasoning do so more easily when their conceptions are less structured. These results suggest the existence of interaction between the mechanisms of change and the individual differences between the students. With these conclusions as a base, some educational implications of interest for the teaching of science are discussed.
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