Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Peter Taylor


A host of studies on students' understanding of science has revealed that persistent topic-specific misconceptions loom over wide groups of learners. However, in the literature, scant consideration is given to high school students' over-arching misconceptions. Those are erroneous conceptions about the nature of science that tend to be resistant even after traditional instruction. Those large-scale misconceptions lay at the frontier of philosophical standpoints and are likely to inhibit students' ability to construct conceptions aligned with accepted scientific views. This synthesis contends that educators can better address high school students' large scale misconceptions at the conjunction of interconnected scientific notions and philosophical praxis anchored in Socrates' dialectics and dialectical materialism. From Socrates' approach, I borrow and apply adaptively the critical probing and pondering tool that I termed strategic questioning and reflexive thinking. Those categories inform the design of open-ended questions aiming at eliciting learners' reasoning on natural phenomena. From dialectical materialism, I inherit a philosophy of continually developing and interacting processes punctuated by sudden leaps in nature. This dialectical outlook calls for the exploration of interconnections between contradictory elements of any systems, as one inquires about its wholeness, including its orderly structural patterns and its unforeseen disorderly chaotic behavior. Both dialectical approaches coalesce with pertinent theories of creativity to form an alternative pedagogical framework that I coin "Learning high school science through discovering dialectically and creatively, (L=D2C)". The pedagogical model aims at helping high school learners discover scientific notions through authentic experiments undertaken on the basis of critical and creative thinking, and to challenge students' overarching misconceptions through strategic questioning in the context of epistemological discussions. A methodology and a set of lesson plans integrating physics, biology and chemistry are elaborated to assess the L=D2C effectiveness in the context of a high school science class and to further help in its eventual refinement.


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