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Making Claims about Learning: A Microgenetic Multiple Case Study of Temporal Patterns of Conceptual Change in Learners’ Activation of Force Conceptions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Richard Brock, Keith, S. Taber

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 May 2020


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King's Authors


Models of conceptual change have developed from describing change as conceptual replacement to an alteration in the likelihood of activation of multiple conceptions. Representing change in these models is challenging. Teachers’ and researchers’ Students’ activation of conceptions can vary over time and across contexts. Representationsclaims that conceptual of change change has occurred are sometimes based on data from a small number of probes given over a relatively short long interval. that do not allow researchers and teachers to interpret data against broader patterns of change. Data collected from a few probes over a short in this way time period cannot distinguish do not allow short-lived short-lived variability variability from to be distinguished frommore stable conceptual change more stable conceptual change. A failure to distinguish different patterns of change can lead to mistaken conclusions about learning. Different forms of variability can be distinguished by reporting temporal patterns of conceptual change, representations of the activations of different conceptions over an interval, so data can be interpreted against extended patterns of change. In this paper, temporal patterns are constructed from a microgenetic, multiple case study of four 16-17-year-old students’ learning in a school in England. The students were interviewed once a week for twenty-two weeks using various probes related to force. The learners’ activation of two force conceptions showeds a high degree of variability over time and to different contexts. Three temporal patterns are discussed, leading to recommendations for teachers and researchers interested in for teachers and researchers interested in describing making claims about learning change from assessment data: change should be described by reference to data collected at multiple points over an extended period and claims that conceptual change has occurred require evidence that change has reached a relatively stable state. Future directions for investigations of temporal patterns of conceptual change are proposed.

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