The effects of using the conceptual change model to dispel misconceptions in science in elementary children
Elementary children come to school with a mental schema of scientific principles that come from their everyday experiences and observations. Sometimes this mental schema contains misconceptions. This study used the Conceptual Change Model as a methodology to identify these misconceptions and target instruction with experiments that gave students the opportunity to validate or invalidate these preconceptions. A group of 63 fourth grade students and four elementary teachers were involved in this study. The CCM methodology was used in a unit on heat and energy that spanned an eight week time period. Students were interviewed before the unit and diagnosed for misconceptions with pre assessment questions. After treatment students were then assessed with the same questions and the percentage difference between pre and post answers was analyzed. Data from this study indicate that the CCM is an effective tool in dispelling student misconceptions as well as helping students who have no preconceptions in place at all to develop valid mental schemas. Additionally the results suggest that the CCM stimulates student interest and engagement in science. Elementary teachers also indicated that the help of a science specialist was beneficial in implementing the CCM effectively.