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Model Building for Conceptual Change

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Interactive Learning Environments Volume 13, Number 1, ISSN 1049-4820


Conceptual change is a popular, contemporary conception of meaningful learning. Conceptual change describes changes in conceptual frameworks (mental models or personal theories) that learners construct to comprehend phenomena. Different theories of conceptual change describe the reorganization of conceptual frameworks that results from different forms of activity. We argue that learners' conceptual frameworks (mental models or personal theories) resulting from conceptual change are most acutely affected by model-based reasoning. Model-based reasoning is engaged and fostered by learner construction of qualitative and quantitative models of the content or phenomena they are studying using technology-based modelling tools. Model building is a powerful strategy for engaging, supporting, and assessing conceptual change in learners because these models scaffold and externalize internal, mental models by providing multiple formalisms for representing conceptual understanding and change. We demonstrate the processes and products of building models of domain content, problems, systems, experiences, and thinking processes using different technology-based modelling tools. Each tool provides alternative representational formalisms that enable learners to qualitatively and quantitatively model their conceptual frameworks.


Jonassen, D., Strobel, J. & Gottdenker, J. (2005). Model Building for Conceptual Change. Interactive Learning Environments, 13(1), 15-37. Retrieved January 25, 2020 from .

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