Faculty Publications

Promoting Conceptual Change Through Inquiry

Document Type

Book Chapter

Journal/Book/Conference Title

International Handbook of Research on Conceptual Change, 2nd Edition

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Many instructional approaches to conceptual change in science aim to promote conceptual change through inquiry. By inquiry, we refer to practices of developing and/or evaluating conceptions based on evidence (National Research Council, 1996). Inquiry approaches to conceptual change encourage students to develop and adopt scientific concepts through the use of evidence. For example, students who think that matter can be created out of nothing or destroyed may be placed in an inquiry environment in which they design experiments and gather data to investigate whether various kinds of physical, state, and chemical changes produce changes in mass. The designers of this inquiry environment hope that, through their investigations, learners will conclude that mass and matter are conserved during ordinary physical and chemical changes, thus adopting a very different conception of matter.


Department of Educational Psychology, Foundations, and Leadership Studies

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DOI of published version