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Abstract

This study characterized students' views of science as falling into three groups: static, mixed, and dynamic. Those who view science as static assert that science consists of a group of facts that are best memorized. Those who view science as dynamic believe that scientific ideas develop and change and that the best way to learn these ideas is to understand what they mean and how they are related. Students with mixed beliefs hold some static and some dynamic views. This study also examined the relationship between views of science and acquisition of integrated understanding of thermodynamics. We found that students with dynamic views acquired more integrated understanding than those with static views. Participants were 153 middle school students following the Computer as Lab Partner (CLP) curriculum. Students conducted both simulated and real-time experiments using an electronic notebook during the 12 weeks of instruction. Interventions encouraging students to integrate their experiences resulted in 89% of students successfully predicting the outcome of an everyday situation and 77% of students being able to succcessfully explain their prediction. We investigated how students preferred to integrate their experiences and found that some students preferred a concrete prototypic locus for integration while others preferred a more abstract principled locus of integration.