Framing Prospective Elementary Teachers’ Conceptions of Dissolving as a Ladder of Explanations

Nov. 01, 2013

Source: Journal of Science Teacher Education, Volume 24, Issue 7, pp 1177–1199, November 2013

The article details an exploratory qualitative study that investigated 61 prospective teachers’ conceptual understanding of dissolving salt and sugar in water respectively.

The study was set within a 15-week elementary science methods course that included a 5E learning cycle lesson on dissolving, the instructional context. Concept maps, interview transcripts, written artifacts, and drawings and narratives were used as data to investigate these prospective teachers’ conceptual understanding of dissolving throughout the 15-weeks of the methods course.

Analysis revealed that participants’ explanations of dissolving were predominantly descriptive explanations and interpretative explanations, with lower percentage occurrences of intentional and cause and effect level explanations. Most of these explanations were also constructed by a set of loosely connected and reinforcing everyday concepts abstracted from common everyday experiences making them misconceptions.

Implications include: (1) the need for science teacher educators to use multiple platforms to derive their prospective elementary teachers’ conceptual understandings of science content; and (2) to identify and help them identify their own scientific conceptions and misconceptions and how they influence the construction of scientific/nonscientific explanations. Science teacher educators also need to emphasize the role of meaningful frameworks associated with the concept that is being introduced during the Engage phase of the 5E learning cycle.

Updated: Nov. 08, 2016