Three essays examining conceptual change and understanding across science disciplines with three different learner populations
The following dissertation details three different research studies centered on conceptual change and conceptual understanding as a theoretical framework for research. The three studies span across age groups and science content areas. Study one details young children’s understanding of the day and night skies both before and after a playbased instructional intervention. The preschool setting can capitalize on young children’s interests in science explorations and be highly engaging for young children (French, 2004). Play is considered as an integral part of early childhood curricula, and has been receiving much attention in the last decade, yet there is a lack of evidence about the effectiveness of play as a pedagogical tool for young learners in general and more specifically for children’s learning of science concepts. Study one layers play pedagogy and the theoretical framework of conceptual change theory. Study two seeks to examine conceptual understandings and changes after providing in-service teachers with an inquiry based professional development based on space science concepts. Four early childhood teachers participated in 12 hours of an inquiry-based professional development (PD) built on Physics by Inquiry (McDermott, 1996). Two of these teachers were followed into their classrooms for researchers to observe and gain understanding of the efficacy of their instructional implementation with preschool children. Study three aims to perform the first implementation of the English version of The Nature of Solutions and Solubility—Diagnostic Instrument (NSS–DI Eng) with college students enrolled in a first year chemistry course. This two-tiered instrument was designed to assess students’ understanding of solution chemistry concepts that are important on their own but are also foundational to more advanced chemistry concepts. To evaluate the reliability and the discriminatory power of this assessment tool, statistical tests were used focusing on both item analysis (item difficulty index, discrimination index, point-biserial coefficient) and whole-test statistics (Cronbach’s alpha and Ferguson’s delta). Results indicate that the English version of the NSS-DI is an acceptable and reliable instrument for assessing student conceptions of solution chemistry concepts but may benefit from minor changes.
Smith, M. M. (2015). Three essays examining conceptual change and understanding across science disciplines with three different learner populations. PhD. Dissertation, Ohio State University
Type of Publication
Smith, Mandy M.
The Ohio State University
Graduate School of The Ohio State University
Number of Pages
Nation(s) of Study
United States of America