, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 183-200

Alternative frameworks, conceptual conflict and accommodation: Toward a principled teaching strategy

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Students' alternative frameworks (frequently regarded as misconceptions) play a crucial role in science concept learning. Accumulated research findings indicate that alternative frameworks are resistant to extinction despite formal instruction.

This paper presents an instructional strategy based on the thesis that science concept learning involves cognitive accommodation of an initially held alternative framework. The strategy consists of three phases: (1) exposing alternative frameworks, (2) creating conceptual conflict, (3) encouraging cognitive accommodation. The first phase is facilitated through an “exposing event,” while the second and third focus on a “discrepant event.”

The authors have used previous research findings about student alternative frame-works for the structure of a gas to create exposing and discrepant events for an introduction to the particle model of gases. The paper presents a case study of two lessons in a sequence on the particle model, accompanied by an analysis of the phases of the instructional strategy employed for cognitive accommodation.

Based on a paper presented at the AERA convention, Los Angeles, California, April, 1981.
This paper was prepared while the first author was a visiting professor at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.