Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Arthur Millman

Second Advisor

John R. Murray

Third Advisor

Carol L. Smith


Students' poor interest and academic achievement in science as well as their inability to master situations in their everyday life seem to be related to their lack of skills in critical and creative thinking. However, teaching such skills within both primary and secondary curricula is not mandatory. The consensus is much more toward teaching thinking skills through content than as a separate course. In this thesis the conflict between students' prior conceptions about the natural world and scientific concepts is viewed as a resource for teaching thinking skills. A review of the literature on science misconceptions in mechanics suggests that science misconceptions are the product of students' active constructions as students try to make sense of the information given to their sensory system. In addition, the knowledge acquired from science class is not passively incorporated in students' minds. Both points are supported by the constructivist epistemology and cognitive psychology. Analogical reasoning and concept mapping are two instructional metacognitive strategies designed to deal with students' misconceptions to bring about conceptual change in the learner. This process involves the replacement of the learner's previous knowledge by the scientific view through a process of awareness of one's starting conceptions and evaluation of their consistency with evidence. This implies possessing the ability of making shifts from one context to another, such as from the science classroom environment to everyday life. In this thesis both strategies are also seen as a means to engage learners in a metacognitive process through the organization and reflection of their beliefs, making them explicit and available to themselves, teacher and peers using dialogical thinking. Those strategies are very effective in promoting the development of skills in critical and creative thinking using multiple frames of reference. The conclusions draw attention to the important role played by teachers within the new constructivist perspective of learning, and to the need to integrate school science and technology using teacher creativity to enhance the science curriculum and promote meaningful learning. They also provide some suggestions for future work to explore the viability of using science misconceptions to develop critical and creative thinking skills.