International Analysis of Students’ Knowledge Structure Coherence
Douglas Clark

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



Arizona State University

Primary Discipline

Science Education
The proposed study investigates students’ understanding of the scientific concept of “force” in Turkey, China, Korea, Mexico, and the United States. The study will contribute to the resolution of a central controversy among researchers of conceptual change regarding the structure and coherence of students’ science knowledge. The study will employ an analytic framework developed through ongoing research at Arizona State University along with two other analytic frameworks representing the predominant theoretical positions in the field. The goal is to apply and extend the analytic framework to provide a topological perspective (i.e., identifying coherence at different levels of behavior) for examining the integration of elemental and theory-like perspectives simultaneously. The study will contribute to this important theoretical debate by integrating multiple levels of analysis, allowing more precise questions to be addressed about the nature of students’ knowledge structures. This study will additionally clarify the role of methodological and semantic/cultural differences in the findings of researchers on opposing sides of the controversy. Finally, findings about differences in how students from Mexico and other countries think about science topics like force and motion in comparison to US English-monolingual students (who are more frequently studied) will inform the development of curricula that better support the underserved diverse student populations in US classrooms.
About Douglas Clark

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