Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory

pp 1-5

Date: Latest Version

Conceptual Change in Science and Science Education

  • Ross NehmAffiliated withStony Brook University Email author 
  • , Kostas KampourakisAffiliated withUniversity of Geneva


A large body of work in science education and conceptual development research has noted that historical changes in scientific ideas display similarities to students’ conceptual progressions along a novice-expert continuum. For example, researchers have noted that scientists’ historical resistance to changing their pre-Newtonian ideas relating to mechanics was very similar to modern students’ difficulties abandoning pre-Newtonian ideas, that there are parallels between students’ ideas of chemical equilibrium and earlier scientists’ conceptual models, or that students’ thinking about evolution appears to parallel large-scale changes in scientific thought from essentialist to selection-based views of evolution. In contrast, other scholars have cautioned that purported similarities between students’ conceptual changes and the historical development of scientific concepts are superficial and are derived from different methods and sources of knowledge (Nersessian 1989). Students’ ...

This is an excerpt from the content