Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Curriculum and Instruction


Research on how students learn science concepts suggests that often students develop naive theories (or misconceptions) to explain natural phenomena. Students at various grade levels possess misconceptions about electricity; moreover, students use these misconceptions to explain the flow of electrical current within a circuit;Because students tend to use their misconceptions about science concepts to understand new concepts, the development of instructional strategies that assist students in changing their science misconceptions could greatly improve student learning. The purpose of this study was to operationalize and test the conceptual change model of learning to alter students' misconceptions about electricity. This study examined the use of a conceptual change approach with computer simulations and reflective journals to assist preservice teachers in altering their conceptions about electrical circuits. Using computer simulations, reflective journals and peer group interactions, preservice teachers participated in treatments that encouraged them to experience the conditions necessary for conceptual change;The study included four treatment groups: conceptual change computer simulation; conceptual change computer simulation and reflective journals; conceptual change computer simulation, reflective journals, and peer group interactions; and traditional computer instruction (i.e. the control treatment). Participants were preservice teachers majoring in elementary and secondary education at a major university. The results of the study indicated that there was no significant difference in achievement between students who participated in the experimental treatments and those who received traditional computer instruction. However, the results did suggest that conceptual change-based computer simulations, reflective journals, and peer interactions helped students change their conceptions of electrical circuits and facilitated the long-term acceptance of the scientifically correct conception.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Constance Phyllis Hargrave



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File Size

380 pages