Addressing secondary school students' everyday ideas about freshwater springs in order to develop an instructional tool to promote conceptual reconstruction
- 1University of Teacher Education Central Switzerland Lucerne (PHZ), Department of Teaching and Learning, Töpferstrasse 10, 6004 Lucerne, Switzerland
- 2DemoEx Company, Via Lavizzari 2, 6600 Locarno, Switzerland
Abstract. "Water knowledge" has now become a socio-political and future-orientated necessity. Everyday ideas or preconceptions of hydrology can have a deleterious effect one people's understanding of the scientific facts and their interrelations that are of relevance to sustainable water management. This explorative pilot study shows that preconceived notions about the origin of freshwater springs are common at the lower secondary school level. The purpose of this study was two-fold: (1) to investigate the nature of everyday ideas about freshwater springs among 81 13-yr-old Swiss students, and (2) to develop an efficient instructional tool that promotes conceptual reconstruction in the learners' minds. To assess students' everyday ideas we conducted interviews, examined student work, and asked students to fill in a questionnaire. The results indicate that half of the students have some basic hydrological knowledge. However, several preconceived notions that can significantly impede the understanding of hydrological concepts have been found. A common preconception concerns the idea that solid rocks cannot be permeable and that large underground cavities constitute a necessary precondition for the formation of springs. While these ideas may well be true for karst springs they inhibit the understanding of the concept of other spring types due to their plausibility and intelligibility. We therefore chose the concept of the hillslope spring to construct an instructional tool that takes into account the findings of the psychology of learning aimed at promoting deep learning, thus facilitating a lasting conceptual reconstruction of the concept of springs.