Instructional Science

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 1–13 | Cite as

The role of conceptual conflict in conceptual change and the design of science instruction

  • Peter W. Hewson
  • Mariana G. A'Beckett Hewson


Conceptual conflict has long been recognized as a factor that could facilitate student learning. Due, however, to the lack of a convincing explanation of why it occurs, and how it can be resolved, it has seldom been used in instructional design. Its potential use in instruction is particularly relevant in the light of the recent, well-documented finding that students' existing conceptions frequently constitute a barrier to effective learning. This article examines conceptual conflict in the light of an epistemological model of learning as conceptual change. This analysis shows that the conceptual change model provides an explanation of conceptual conflict which is sufficiently detailed to allow it to be used in the design of instruction. The results of two studies, the first of which addressed the concepts of mass, volume, and density, and the second, the concept of speed, show that instruction, designed in this way, is effective in changing students' existing conceptions.


Science Instruction Student Learning Instructional Design Conceptual Change Change Model 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Elsevier Science Publishers B.V 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter W. Hewson
    • 1
  • Mariana G. A'Beckett Hewson
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PhysicsUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.National Institute for Personnel ResearchJohannesburgSouth Africa

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