Both conceptual change theory (Posner et al., 1982) and hot conceptual change theory (Pintrich et al., 1993) might be useful in accounting for some learners’ difficulty to learn nature of technology (NOT) ideas. As noted earlier, some NOT ideas are likely very different from ways the students have typically thought about technology. This discrepancy might prevent learners from understanding the ideas or dismissing the ideas as not fruitful. Furthermore, because many of the students have been avid users of technology, they may not see much value in critiquing technology through the NOT.
Some struggles to learn the NOT may relate to learners’ self-efficacy regarding technology use. If students are intimidated by the technologies they are learning, their cognitive effort will be focused on learning the technologies and they will likely not be able to attend as deeply to the more philosophical issues of the NOT. Just as students might miss nature of science lessons when focusing on science content, students might miss NOT lessons when focusing on learning a particular technology.
From these observations and possible explanations of students’ struggles to learn the NOT, educators might glean some implications. First, the NOT cannot be simply relegated to one session within a course. Revisiting these complex ideas is likely necessary to generate deep change in students’ thinking. This implication might suggest that the NOT should not be relegated to only one course. Indeed, methods instructors ought to consider addressing NOT issues within the context of methods classes. Second, NOT ideas need to be introduced in decontextualized scenarios to prevent students’ struggles with technology from hindering their ability to wrestle with NOT ideas. Furthermore, decontextual activities might prevent students’ emotional attachment to technology from interfering with conceptual change. Yet, strong links need to be made between the decontextual activities and the real world implications of NOT ideas.
This post is from a paper I recently presented at the Association for Science Teacher Educators. For the full paper and citations, click here.