Encyclopedia of Science Education

2015 Edition
| Editors: Richard Gunstone

Alternative Conceptions/Frameworks/Misconceptions

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-2150-0_88

There are a great many studies into learners’ ideas in science topics, focusing on learners at different levels of the education system (Duit 2009; Taber 2009). These studies reveal that learners often present ideas relating to science topics which are at odds with the target knowledge set out in the curriculum. These ideas have been described using a wide range of terms, including misconceptions, preconceptions, alternative conceptions, alternative frameworks, alternative conceptual frameworks, intuitive theories, and mini-theories. Sometimes particular authors distinguish between meanings for some of these terms, but usage varies across the literature so often the different labels are, in effect, broad synonyms (Taber 2014).

Interest in students’ ideas came to prominence in science education in the 1980s when a considerable research program (sometimes labeled the “Alternative Conceptions Movement”) developed around eliciting such ideas. The theoretical perspective that informed much...


Alternative conceptions Alternative conceptions movement Alternative conceptual frameworks Alternative frameworks Implicit knowledge elements Intuitive theories Knowledge in pieces Misconceptions Personal constructivism P-prims Preconceptions Cognition Conceptual change 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK