REFUTATION TEXT IN SCIENCE EDUCATION: A REVIEW OF TWO DECADES OF RESEARCH

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ABSTRACT

As people attempt to make sense of the world, they develop personal knowledge structures. These structures often contain misconceptions—inaccurate or incomplete information—that are highly resistant to change because existing knowledge networks must be restructured to accommodate counterintuitive information in a process known as conceptual change. Since textbooks are the dominant resource for science instruction in most classrooms, text-based methods of facilitating conceptual change need to be examined. Since the mid-1980 s, researchers have investigated the conceptual change potential of refutation text, a text structure that includes elements of argumentation and that has been described as one of the most effective text-based means for modifying readers’ misconceptions. In this paper, twenty years of refutation text research in science and reading education is reviewed and then a secondary analysis of those results is conducted to explore developmental aspects of the efficacy of refutation text. Although a developmental relationship was not revealed, two decades of research indicate that reading refutation text rather than traditional expository text is more likely to result in conceptual change.