The Origin and Extent of Student’s Understandings: The Effect of Various Kinds of Factors in Conceptual Understanding in Volcanism

  • Burckin Dal
Keywords: Education, Students, Conceptual Understanding, Volcanism


This study investigated and compared 130 students’ perceptions of volcanoes and volcanic activity from an inner city elementary school (Year 6), middle school (Year 9) and student teachers in the science education department. A qualitative and quantitative methodology was used for this investigation. The data collection was based on three research stages: collection of information by the association of ideas, a Q-Sort test and a questionnaire with open-ended questions. The findings indicated that the sample possessed an incomplete picture of volcanoes and volcanic activity including many alternative conceptions about it. Both the students and the student teachers had surprisingly similar alternative conceptions despite the fact that the latter received more instruction on this topic. Moreover, over the course of the curriculum, a closer relationship between alternative conceptions and accepted scientific knowledge was evident. Hence, it was possible to map out the categories of alternative conceptions of volcanism and to measure the influence of the curriculum by looking at the evolution of these alternative conceptions. Based on the results, some suggestions to help teachers and students avoid critical barriers to learning that may be difficult to overcome later in their education are presented.

Author Biography

Burckin Dal
Istanbul Technical University