The development of students' understanding of science.

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Children construct intuitive understandings of the physical world based on their everyday experiences. These intuitive understandings are organized in skeletal conceptual structures known as framework theories. Framework theories are different from currently accepted science and impose constraints on how students understand the scientific explanations of phenomena causing the creation of fragmented or synthetic conceptions. It is argued that in order to understand science students need to make important changes in the way they represent and explain the physical world as well as in their ways of reasoning. During the development of science knowledge students must also create new concepts and new belief systems which do not necessarily supplant their framework theories but co-exist with them. These developments are gradual and slow and follow a learning progression. In order to be effective science education needs to make students aware of their intuitive understandings, provide scientific information gradually and in agreement with students' learning progressions and develop students' reasoning abilities and executive function skills.

Original languageEnglish
Article number32
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalFrontiers in Education
Issue number32
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2019

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2019 Vosniadou. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.


  • cognitive conflict
  • conceptual change
  • intuitive theories
  • misconceptions
  • science education


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