Conceptual change and misconceptions in engineering education: Curriculum, measurement, and theory-focused approaches

Ruth A. Streveler, Shane Brown, Geoffrey Lindsay Herman, Devlin Montfort

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

Introduction. Recent research has shown that many students continue to understand phenomena in simplified or unproductive ways, even after those understandings are directly contradicted in educational settings (Hake, 1998; Miller et al., 2006). In the context of engineering education, many engineering graduates still do not understand the foundational concepts of solid and fluid mechanics, physics, thermodynamics, digital logic, or other fields. The study of conceptual change and misconceptions is one attempt to understand and address this issue. Because this field of study is fractious and diverse, we briefly establish some shared vocabulary and understanding of the fundamental processes underlying conceptual change and misconceptions. The following section introduces three primary theories of conceptual change: curriculum, measurement, and theory-focused efforts in engineering education. The chapter concludes with a brief summary and discussion of future directions for research. We must define conceptual understanding somewhat carefully for our terminology to be useful across the various theoretical frameworks discussed in this chapter. An individual’s conceptual understanding of a topic is the collection of his or her concepts, beliefs, andmental models, where the following definitions apply:Concepts are pieces or clusters of knowledge, for example, “force,” “mass,” “causation,” and “acceleration.” Beliefs Concepts are pieces or clusters of knowledge, for example, “force,” “mass,” “causation,” and “acceleration.” Mental models are groups of meaningfully related beliefs and concepts that allow people to explain phenomena and make predictions; for example, an expert dynamics instructor would use her mental model of Newtonian physics to predict an object’s motion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCambridge Handbook of Engineering Education Research
PublisherCambridge University Press
Pages83-102
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781139013451
ISBN (Print)9781107014107
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)

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    Streveler, R. A., Brown, S., Herman, G. L., & Montfort, D. (2015). Conceptual change and misconceptions in engineering education: Curriculum, measurement, and theory-focused approaches. In Cambridge Handbook of Engineering Education Research (pp. 83-102). Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139013451.008