Science & Education

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 267–285 | Cite as

Conceptual change or Conceptual Profile change?

  • Eduardo F. Mortimer


In this paper I draw an overview of a new model to analyse conceptual evolution in the classroom, based on the notion of Conceptual Profile. This model differs from conceptual change models in suggesting that it is possible to use different ways of thinking in different domains and that a new concept does not necessarily replace previous and alternative ideas. According to this model, learning science is to change a conceptual profile and become conscious of the different zones of the profile, which includes commonsense and scientific ideas.

To exemplify how the Conceptual Profile notion can help to understand the evolution of conceptions in the classroom I shall determine the different zones that constitute the epistemological and ontological profile of the concepts of the atom and of physical states of matter.


Physical State Conceptual Change Change Model Conceptual Evolution Alternative Idea 
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.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bachelard, G.: 1968, The philosophy of No, The Orion Press, New York. Translated from La philosophie du non, 1940, by G.C. Waterston.Google Scholar
  2. Berger, P.L. & Luckmann, T.: 1967, The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge, Allen Lane, London.Google Scholar
  3. Bohr, N.: 1935, ‘Can Quantum-Mechanical Description of Physical Reality be Considered Complete?’, Physical Review 48, 696–702.Google Scholar
  4. Chi, M.T.H.: 1991, ‘Conceptual change within and across ontological categories: Examples from learning and discovery in science’, in R. Giere (ed.), Cognitive models of Science: Minnesota Studies in the philosophy of Science, University of Minnesota Press, Minnesota.Google Scholar
  5. Claparède, E.: 1946, L'education fonctionnelle, Delachaux et Niestle, Neuchatel.Google Scholar
  6. Driver, R.: 1989, ‘Students' conceptions and the learning of science’, International Journal of Science Education 11(5), 481–490.Google Scholar
  7. Durkheim, E.: 1972, Selected Writings, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (original work published in 1895).Google Scholar
  8. Einstein, A., Podolsky, B. & Rosen, N.: 1935, ‘Can Quantum-Mechanical Description of Physical Reality be Considered Complete?’, Physical Review, 47, 777–780.Google Scholar
  9. Faraday, M.: 1844, ‘A speculation touching Electric Conduction and the Nature of Matter’, Phil. Mag., 24, 136–144. Reprinted in Knight, D. M. (ed.), 1968, Classical Scientific Papers — Chemistry, Mills & Boon, London.Google Scholar
  10. Galili, I. & Bar, V.: 1992, ‘Motion implies force: where to expect vestiges of the misconceptions?’, International Journal of Science Education, 14(1), 63–81.Google Scholar
  11. Hewson, P.W. & Thorley, R.: 1989, ‘The conditions of conceptual change in the classroom’, International Journal of Science Education, 11(5), 541–553.Google Scholar
  12. Linder, C.J.: 1993, ‘A challenge to Conceptual Change’, Science Education, 77(3), 293–300.Google Scholar
  13. Kozulin, A.: 1990, Vygotsky's Psychology: A biography of ideas, Harvester Wheatsheaf, New York.Google Scholar
  14. Marton, F.: 1981, ‘Phenomenography — Describing conceptions of the world around us’, Instructional Science, 10, 177–200.Google Scholar
  15. Matthews, M.R.: 1992, ‘Constructivism and empiricism: an incomplete divorce’, Review of Educational Research, 22, 299–307.Google Scholar
  16. McDermott, L.C.: 1984, ‘Research on conceptual understanding in mechanics’, Physics Today, July 1984.Google Scholar
  17. Niedderer, H., Goldberg, F. & Duit, R.: 1991, ‘Towards Learning Process Studies: A review of the Workshop on Research in Physics Learning’, in R. Duit, F. Goldberg and H. Niedderer (eds.), Research in Physics Learning: Theoretical Issues and Empirical Studies, IPN, Kiel, 1991, 10–28.Google Scholar
  18. Piaget, J.: 1977, The development of thought: Equilibration of Cognitive Structures, Basil Blackwell, Oxford. Translated from L' Equilibration des structures cognitives, 1975, by Arnold Rosin.Google Scholar
  19. Popper, K.R.: 1972, Objective Knowledge: An evolutionary approach, Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  20. Posner, G.J., Strike, K.A., Hewson, P.W. & Gertzog, W.A.: 1982, ‘Accommodation of a scientific conception: Toward a theory of conceptual change’, Science Education, 66(2), 211–227.Google Scholar
  21. Séré, M.G.: 1986, ‘Children's conceptions of the gaseous state, prior to teaching’, European Journal of Science Education, 8(4), 413–425.Google Scholar
  22. Solomon, J.: 1983, ‘Learning about energy: how pupils think in two domains’, European Journal of Science Education, 5(1), 49–59.Google Scholar
  23. Schutz, A.: 1967, The phenomenology of the social world, Northwestern University Press, New York. Translated from Der Sinnhafte Aufbau der Sozialen Welt, 1932, by G. Walsh and F. Lehnert.Google Scholar
  24. Scott, P.: 1987, ‘The process of conceptual change in Science: A case study of the development of a secondary pupil's ideas relating to matter’, in Novak, J.D. (ed.), The proceedings of The Second International Seminar: Misconceptions and Educational Strategies in Science and Mathematics, Cornell University, Ithaca, vol. II, 404–419.Google Scholar
  25. Stavy, R. & Stachel, D.: 1985, ‘Chidren's Ideas about “solid” and “liquid”’, European Journal of Science Education, 7(4), 407–421.Google Scholar
  26. Stavy, R.: 1988, ‘Children's conceptions of gas’, International Journal of Science Education, 10(5), 530–560.Google Scholar
  27. Stavy, R.: 1990, ‘Children's conceptions of changes in the state of matter: from liquid (or solid) to gas’, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 27(3), 247–266.Google Scholar
  28. Toulmin, S.: 1961, Foresight and Understanding: An enquiry into the aims of science, Hutchinson, London.Google Scholar
  29. Van Melsen, A.G.: 1952, From atomos to atom: The History of the Concept Atom, Duquesne University Press, Pittsburgh.Google Scholar
  30. Vygotsky, L.S.: 1962, Thought and Language, MIT Press, Cambridge. Translated from Myshlenie i rech, 1934, by E. Hanfmann and G. Vakar.Google Scholar
  31. Vygotsky, L.S.: 1978, Mind in Society: The development of higher psychological process (M. Cole, V. John-Steiner, S. Scriner & E. Souberman, eds.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  32. Vygotsky, L.S.: 1982, Sobranie Sochinenni (Collected Papers), vol. I, Pegagogika, Moscow (original work published in 1926), cited by Kozulin, 1990.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eduardo F. Mortimer
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculdade de EducaçãoUniversidade Federal de Minas GeraisBelo Horizonte — MGBrazil

Personalised recommendations