Science & Education

, Volume 23, Issue 7, pp 1463–1483 | Cite as

Students’ Conceptions as Dynamically Emergent Structures

  • David E. BrownEmail author


There is wide consensus that learning in science must be considered a process of conceptual change rather than simply information accrual. There are three perspectives on students’ conceptions and conceptual change in science that have significant presence in the science education literature: students’ ideas as misconceptions, as coherent systems of conceptual elements, and as fragmented knowledge elements. If misconceptions, systems of elements, or fragments are viewed implicitly as “regular things”, these perspectives are in opposition. However, from a complex dynamic systems perspective, in which students’ conceptions are viewed as dynamically emergent structures, the oppositions are lessened, and the integrated view has significant implications for theory and practice.


Conceptual Change Conceptual Metaphor Knowledge Element Conceptual Element Emergent Structure 
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.



I want to thank Stella Vosniadou, Andy diSessa, and David Hammer, for their helpful comments on an earlier draft of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Curriculum and InstructionUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignChampaignUSA

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