Cultural Studies of Science Education

, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 329–350 | Cite as

Learning to use scientific concepts

  • Gordon WellsEmail author


In responding to the research on conceptual change, this article attempts to make two points. First, scientific concepts are not possessed by individuals; rather, they are part of a culture’s resources, which individuals learn to use for their own or for group purposes. Second, particular concepts are most effectively mastered when the learner is deeply engaged in solving a problem for which they function as effective semiotic tools in achieving a solution. On these grounds, it is argued that the mastering of scientific concepts is best achieved through learning to use them in motivated inquiry.


Spontaneous and scientific concepts Cultural artifacts Inquiry Popper Vygotsky 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EducationUniversity of CaliforniaSanta CruzUSA

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