Conceptual Profiles

Volume 42 of the series Contemporary Trends and Issues in Science Education pp 3-33


Conceptual Profiles: Theoretical-Methodological Bases of a Research Program

  • Eduardo F. MortimerAffiliated withFaculty of Education, Federal University of Minas Gerais Email author 
  • , Phil Scott 
  • , Edenia Maria Ribeiro do AmaralAffiliated withDepartment of Chemistry, Rural Federal University of Pernambuco (UFRPE)
  • , Charbel N. El-HaniAffiliated withInstitute of Biology, Federal University of Bahia

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Conceptual profiles are models of the heterogeneity of thought and language in the classroom, embedded into a theoretical structure that addresses school science social language learning from a sociocultural perspective. They are related to an understanding of concepts that denies its interpretation as entirely internal mental structures and conceives concepts as parts of natural languages or knowledge structures, entities or linguistic structures external to the mind that do not become entirely internalized. Conceptual thinking is conceived as an emergent process, always produced through interaction between individuals and external experiences. Since the theory takes as a basis Vygotsky’s general genetic law of cultural development, according to which individual thinking develops through the internalization of cultural tools available in social interactions, when we deny that there can be concept internalization, a potential contradiction appears, which is discussed and solved in this paper based on Vygotsky’s theory and on situated cognition. We also elaborate on the characteristics of conceptual profiles as models of the different ways of seeing and conceptualizing the world present in a given sociocultural circumstance, discuss the nature of learning according to the conceptual profile theory, and examine an example of such model, built to deal with the semantic dimension of teaching and learning about heat and temperature.