Science & Education

, Volume 23, Issue 7, pp 1413–1425 | Cite as

Towards to An Explanation for Conceptual Change: A Mechanistic Alternative



Conceptual change is one of the most studied fields in science education and psychology of learning. However, there are still some foundational issues in conceptual change research on which no clear consensus has emerged. Firstly, there is no agreement on what changes in belief and concept systems constitute conceptual change and what changes do not. Secondly, there is no consensus on what the specific mechanisms of conceptual change are. Thirdly, there is no common explanatory framework of how to explain conceptual change. In this paper a sketch for explanations of conceptual change is outlined. According to this account, the explanation for conceptual change requires (1) a description for the information processing task and (2) a sufficiently accurate and detailed description of the cognitive mechanisms responsible for the task. The scope and limits of this type of explanation are discussed.



The participants of ConChaMo-workshops, and especially Otto Lappi for commenting an earlier draft of this paper. This work was funded by Academy of Finland (project number 1133369).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, History, Art and Culture StudiesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Department of PhysicsUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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