The ability to understand and use conceptual change pedagogy as a function of prior content learning experience



This research examined the relationship between content instruction and the development of elementary teacher candidates' understanding of conceptual change pedagogy. Undergraduate students (n = 27) enrolled in two sections of a science methods course received content instruction through either traditional or conceptual change methods, followed by instruction about conceptual change pedagogy. Candidates were interviewed pre- and postinstruction about their content and pedagogical knowledge and also wrote conceptual change lessons. Twelve of the 27 subjects were videotaped teaching in the field. Results indicate that prior to instruction, most candidates had weak content knowledge and held traditional pedagogical conceptions. After instruction, students in the conceptual change group had significantly larger gains in their content knowledge than those in the traditional group, gave qualitatively stronger pedagogical responses, and used conceptual change strategies more consistently in practice. These results indicate that personal experience of learning science content through conceptual change methods facilitated the development of understanding and use of conceptual change pedagogy in teaching practice. Thus if conceptual change methods are to be incorporated into teacher candidates' repertoire, science content courses that students take prior to teacher education should be taught using conceptual change pedagogy. In addition, courses in science education should use pedagogy more in line with that taught in methods courses.