Conceptual change : the power of refutation text




Tippett, Christine Diane.

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Using a mixed method research design in which qualitative techniques were embedded in a quasi-experimental approach, I investigated the use of refutation text as a strategy for correcting science misconceptions. Forty Grades 3 and 4 students at an elementary school situated in an economically and ethnically diverse Victoria neighborhood participated in this study. A true or false pretest identified which of eight target misconceptions were held by individual participants and indicated that all but three participants held four or more misconceptions. During the intervention phase, participants read text passages about four of the misconceptions they held: two refutation text passages and two expository text passages. A posttest was administered immediately after the intervention, and a delayed posttest was administered six weeks later. I followed an open coding procedure to analyze qualitative data, and, where appropriate, I used Chi-square (x') to determine the statistical significance of the results. The readability levels of the 16 text passages used in the study were determined by the Dale-Chall readability formulit- And Fry's Readability Gaph. Data collection instruments consisted of a researcherdeveloped pretest, posttest, and delayed posttest; the Reading Comprehension subtest of the Canadian Tests of Basic Skills (CTBS); and a semi-structured interview guide. Results indicated that refutation text passages were significantly more likely than traditional expository text passages to result in the immediate correction of a target misconception. The corrections of misconceptions were more often maintained after six weeks i f they resulted from reading a refutation text passage rather than from reading a traditional expository text passage, regardless of grade level, although the differences were not significant. While text passage effectiveness could not be correlated with textual characteristics, it was influenced by the reader characteristics of gender, grade level, and reading comprehension ability.