Teaching towards knowledge integration in learning force and motion

Knowledge integration is essential to achieve deep conceptual understanding, which requires students to develop well-connected knowledge structures through the central idea of a concept. To effectively represent and analyze knowledge integration, a conceptual framework model on force and motion is developed to map learners’ knowledge structures in terms of how conceptual ideas and contextual conditions are connected. Two studies have been conducted. First, the misconceptions on force and motion held by Chinese middle school students are examined. Although the Chinese students had experienced extensive problem-drilling in instruction, which is notably different from that of the populations documented in the literature, their misconceptions are similar to those previously reported. This suggests that traditional problem-drilling does not substantively improve conceptual development. In addition, detailed analysis of students’ qualitative and quantitative responses also suggests that students’ misconceptions can be viewed through the conceptual framework model as local connections among subsets of contextual features, which indicate fragmented knowledge structures. The second study evaluates the effectiveness of a modified instruction that targets knowledge integration by explicitly emphasizing the learning of the central idea and making the needed connections with it. The results indicate that the modified instruction outperforms the traditional method in promoting knowledge integration.