Change Essay

781 words - 3 pages

Experimental Strategies and Conceptual Change
The article The Development of Scientific Reasoning in Knowledge-Rich Contexts
written by Leona Schauble relates a series of experiments which give some insight as to
how conceptual change and experimental strategies effect subjects of varying ages, ten
fifth and sixth graders and ten noncollege adults. The conclusions drawn from the article
are relevant in determining the cognitive strengths and weaknesses in the subjects as well
as how these strengths and weaknesses vary as a result of differing ages. The objective of
the study was to track changes in both the theories and reasoning strategies used by
participants who conduct and interpret repeated cycles of experiments over several
sessions to learn about the causal structure of two physical science systems. The exact
experiments are not needed to understand the results of the experiments as long as the
experimentation strategies and conceptual changes are understood.
The experimentation strategies approach tends to emphasize concern for logical
validity, (i.e. how the problem pieces together and why). The conceptual change approach
tends to be more concerned with the plausibility and explanatory coherence as tests for
deciding whether knowledge should be adopted. Schauble (1996) states that "because
previous work focused either on the validity of strategies or the coherence of conceptions,
it has tended to mask these close interrelations" (p.102). Therefore the results of the
experiments are incredibly useful in determining how validity and coherence play
complementary roles.
As stated earlier, it is not important that the exact nature of the experiments be listed as
long as the reader understands their validity. Each subject was asked to solve a series of
complex tasks in which the subjects attempted to "discover the causal relationships
between variables and outcomes in multivariable contexts" (Schauble, 1996, p.102).
The adults conducted more informative experiments, giving them an advantage, yet both
groups showed some improvement in understanding domain context.
The intrigue surrounding these experiments is centered on what can be inferred from
the learning habits observed in both the children and the adults. Even though the adults
had barely any more schooling than the children, it is not surprising that the adults had
more complex and comprehensive experimentation strategies. Such strategies can be
obtained through personal experience. It makes sense that the adults would still have a
wider knowledge base to choose from, helping them to be more systematic. However, it
is interesting that both groups continued to use incorrect strategies long after they had
proved invalid....

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