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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to identify and characterize students' understandings about the concept of burning. Naturalistic data-collecting strategies used in this study included participant observation and interviewing. Twenty eighth graders were interviewed using the “interview-about-events” technique, a variation of the Piagetian interview. The interviews were audiotape recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using the process of analytic induction. The analysis showed that students' understandings about burning were fragmented, inconsistent, and at variance with scientific knowledge. These understandings are analyzed using Olson's (1977) characterization of common sense and scientific knowledge.