Capturing and modeling the process of conceptual change
A theoretical framework is outlined in this article that attempts to explain the nature of conceptual change that takes place in the learning of physical science. It is argued that a naive framework theory of physics is established early on in infancy and forms the basis of individuals' ontology and epistemology. The presuppositions of this framework theory act as constraints on the way individuals interpret their observations and the information they receive from the culture to construct specific theories about the physical world. The specific theories formed through this process are continuously enriched and modified. Some kinds of conceptual change require the simple addition of new information to an existing conceptual structure. Others are accomplished only when existing beliefs and presuppositions are revised. It is proposed that conceptual change is particularly difficult to achieve and very likely to give rise to misconceptions when it requires the revision of fundamental presuppositions of the framework theory. Misconceptions are interpreted as individuals' attempts to assimilate new information into existing conceptual structures that contain information contradictory to the scientific view.