Asia-Pacific Forum on Science Learning and Teaching, Volume 9, Issue 1, Article 5 (Jun., 2008)
Fatma TÜRK and Muammer ÇALIK

Using different conceptual change methods embedded within 5E model: A sample teaching of Endothermic – Exothermic reactions

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In the early 1990s, Fensham claimed that ‘The most conspicuous psychological influence on curriculum thinking in science since 1980 has been the constructivist view of learning’ (Fensham, 1992, p. 801). During the last two decades, two issues have highly been investigated: (a) students’ pre-existing knowledge and (b) conceptual change. Of course, it is not surprising since constructivism stresses that a student can actively acquire new knowledge based on his/her pre-existing knowledge. However, several studies show that teachers have difficulty incorporating students’ pre-existing knowledge in their courses (e.g. Çalık & Ayas, 2005; Driver & Oldman, 1985; Fensham, Gunstone & White, 1994; Matthews, 2002; Palmer, 2005).

Because of the importance of students’ pre-existing knowledge, much research has been carried out in different perspectives including: chemical reactions, chemical equilibrium, solution chemistry, chemical bonding, electrochemistry, stoichiometri, enthalpy change, etc. As in the case of thermodynamic studies, the related literature points out that students are unable to comprehend and differentiate the relationship between exothermic and endothermic reactions (Anthoney, 2006; Carson and Watson, 1999; De Vos and Verdonk, 1986; Greenbowe & Meltzer, 2003; Johnstone, MacDonald & Webb, 1977; Rollnick & Mahooana, 1999; Sunal, Sunal, Smith, Dwyer & Holloway, 2000; Thomas and Schwenz, 1998). They also believe that endothermic reactions take place spontaneously (Boo, 1998; Cachapuz & Martins, 1987; Johnstone et al., 1977). Moreover, as cited in Carson and Watson (1999), students have difficulty discriminating between the activation energy and the total enthalpy change of the reaction.

Even though we have looked for conceptual change studies for foregoing alternative conceptions in related databases, such as EBSCOHOST, ERIC etc., we have not encountered a direct relevant study. Generally, some conceptual change studies using conceptual change texts, analogies, worksheets, etc. are used to overcome students’ alternative conceptions. However, using these methods frequently may fail to produce effective results, and students may be bored with them (Çalık, 2006; Dole, 2000; Huddle, White & Rogers, 2000). Even though conceptual change text is effective in refuting students’ alternative conceptions, a hands-on activity that students explicitly experience may sometimes have more advantages (Chambers & Andre, 1997). In brief, we predict that using different conceptual change methods embedded within a 5E model may completely eliminate students’ alternative conceptions. Since Widodo, Duit and Müller (2002) addressed the gap between a teacher’s theoretical knowledge and his/her practical constructivist classroom behavior, we presented a sample teaching activity for teacher usage. The aim of this study is to design a 5E model to include students’ alternative conceptions using conceptual change text, analogy and worksheet. By doing this, we wish to eliminate one of resources of alternative conceptions as implied by Gabel (1996): ‘We know that chemistry is a very complex subject from both the research on problem solving and misconceptions …and from our own experience…Students possess these misconceptions not only because chemistry is complex, but also because of the way the concepts are taught’ (p. 43). Such an assumption has some advantage points: (1) multiple conceptual change perspectives allow us to enhance student learning and to increase teachers’ awareness of alternative conceptions (e.g. Harrison & Treagust, 2001) and (2) using different methods within the same context enables students to utilize multiple learning styles (e.g. Brinda, 2004; Harvey & Hodges, 1999).

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