Comprehensive Learning through Concept Cartoons

Concept Cartoons as a surveying method to identify alternative pre-conceptions in students and as a guide to teaching a student-focussed chemistry class

Students enter their science classes with ideas about the natural world based on daily experiences and learning in lower grade levels. If these alternative concepts differ considerably from accepted scientific understanding they form impediments to further learning. These have to be taken into account during class in order to overcome them.

Concept Cartoons are designed to collect pre-conceptions and alternative conceptions. The cartoons show groups in everyday situations discussing a scientific topic. The characters' statements are shown in speech balloons and contain both scientifically acceptable viewpoints and common student beliefs. The learners are asked to comment on these statements, and to describe their own assumptions. That is how pre-conceptions and incorrect beliefs, as well as already existing knowledge, are made tangible. From this basis, they can form the centre of focus in class in order to address this specific group of students.

The project’s intention is to investigate how Concept Cartoons can be applied both in class, and in pre- and in-service teacher training. Two target groups have been identified; teachers of the participating schools and students who study chemistry in order to become a teacher. They will attend a course about constructivist learning theories, especially taking into account students' conceptions. At the participating schools, Concept Cartoons will be used during class. Students of the upper secondary school who have worked with Concept Cartoons are trained to interview younger students in order to identify existing pre-conceptions. Using these students’ pre-conceptions, they then create Concept Cartoons themselves in an iterative process that again will be used and tested by the teachers.

The project stages will be documented and evaluated using empirical methods of social sciences (semi-structured interviews, questionnaires, video-based observation etc.). Our intent is to show to what extent Concept Cartoons can be used at primary, lower and upper secondary school, as well as for pre- and in-service teacher training for the benefit of all participants.

This project has been completed.