Research Topic

Development of Student Understanding: Focus on Science Education

About this Research Topic

This Research Topic is being launched to engage a broad audience of science education researchers and practitioners to examine how we can help students become more expert-like in their thinking. Submissions are especially encouraged that discuss and attempt to address problems that students have in ...

This Research Topic is being launched to engage a broad audience of science education researchers and practitioners to examine how we can help students become more expert-like in their thinking. Submissions are especially encouraged that discuss and attempt to address problems that students have in understanding the nature of science. To succeed in a technologically evolving society, students need to be able to be engaged in critical thinking, collaborative problem solving and evidence-based reasoning. What specific kinds of interventions are needed to assist students with varying epistemologies to attain these skills? Many students see scientific knowledge as unconnected and conveyed by authorities, such as the instructor and the textbook; correspondingly, their own knowledge structure is fragmented and disordered—a “knowledge in pieces” as diSessa wrote in 1988. Other students enter the classroom with reasonably productive intellectual values and possess, or can quickly develop, alternative scientific conceptions. Alternative conceptions are relatively coherent ideas that conflict with science instruction. Whether student scientific knowledge is best characterized as a fragmented or coherent, the instructor is confronted with the difficult task of bridging student’s prior knowledge with target ideas. The task is especially challenging if the student’s ideas are profoundly different (“incommensurable”) with target ideas. Chi in 2008 noted that there are many concepts for which a student’s initial flawed mental model is not transformed to the correct model despite repeated corrections or patchings of the underlying rules.

Contributions can be articles describing original research, methods, hypothesis & theory, opinions, and more. Frontiers will also compile an e-book, as soon as all contributing articles are published, that can be used as educational material, be sent to foundations that fund your research, to journalists and press agencies, or to your professional network. E-books are free to read and download. Once published, your articles will be free to access for all readers, indexed in relevant repositories, and as an author in in Frontiers, you retain the copyright to your own papers and figures.


Keywords: conceptual change, knowledge in pieces, cognitive dissonance, epistemological beliefs, critical thinking


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

15 February 2019 Manuscript
15 March 2019 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

15 February 2019 Manuscript
15 March 2019 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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