Teachers' alternate conceptions about the concept of physical changes in terms of particulate nature of matter

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (M. Ed.)


Institute for Educational Development, Karachi


The teaching of science has undergone many changes over the years depending on how the functions of science have been viewed. According to the constructivist philosophy children do not come to class with empty minds. They have rich ideas or conceptions about the world around them. These views often differ from the 'scientific view' and therefore are called children's alternative conceptions. In the same way teachers also possess alternate conceptions. Alternative conceptions (ACs) refer to children's and adults' understanding of a concept that differs in significant ways from the commonly accepted scientific understanding of that concept. The focus of the study was to explore alternative conceptions of science teachers of two government schools on the topic 'Physical changes in terms of particulate nature of matter' which was selected from the science textbook of class VII. Besides exploring teachers' alternative conceptions I also investigated the possible reasons for the existence of the ACs and their effect on childrens' learning. The sample of the study consisted of four science teachers and twelve of their students. Several tools were used in the study including, teachers' classroom observations; three questionnaires called ‘learning experience sheet’, ‘recalling experience sheet' and task sheet'; and in-depth interviews based on the Interviews-About-Instances' teachings. Classroom observations, learning experience sheets, task sheets and interviews helped me to explore both the teachers' and childrens' conceptions about the topic, possible reasons for then holding these alternate conceptions and possible effects of ACs on children's learning. Through this research I became more aware of the ways in which children perceived their teachers' alternative conceptions. The data indicated that teachers' alternative conceptions closely resemble those of children. The study data revealed that teachers' superficial learning is influenced by textbooks, daily life experiences, lack of hands-on activities, and the lack of ability to reflect upon their teaching.

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