Applying Cognitive Strategies to Critical Barriers in Learning a Science Concept: Groundwater Conceptual Change

Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Carol L. Smith


The thesis applies cognitive change strategies to teaching science concepts, with the ultimate purpose of promoting a conceptual change view of science learning in elementary school teachers. A twofold framework was structured to produce both change in teacher's specific science concepts and general views of the learning process. First, the teachers took part in an intervention that challenged their naive conceptions about Cape Cod groundwater. Then the teachers reflected on the strategies that helped bring about their own conceptual change and thought about how they could be applied to teaching science to children. The research was accomplished through a four part intervention, with eleven elementary teachers (grades 3-5) over a two month period. The intervention consisted of pre and post-interviews, a workshop, a class demonstration, and readings. The study's intervention used recent cognitive research on conceptual change. The design of the learning model was centered around nine conditions for conceptual change including probing for misconceptions, creating cognitive conflict, applying analogies, and using directed discovery through interactive dialogue. The philosophical bias of the study focused on the elementary teacher as a necessary partner to meaningful educational research. Until the elementary teacher is allowed to be a part of the process of developing new approaches to learning, research will remain with the academics and away from classrooms and students. By working with the eleven teachers on a co-professional basis, I received enthusiastic, honest, insightful responses to my questions. The study produced evidence of significant change in the teachers' understanding of groundwater concepts. There was also evidence that the eleven teachers now have a beginning understanding of how to apply cognitive strategies to become more effective in their science teaching.


Contact for access to full text

This document is currently not available here.