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Once again science education finds itself in the midst of reform. Reform documents are too numerous to mention by name but they all share the same view that Americans know far too little science. Durant (1990) noted that even the well educated often know little science. Of course every reform document by its very nature offers a solution. Many in the science education research community "see conceptual change as the emerging focus of science teaching" (Wandersee, 1993, p. 319) and thus focus their research interests here as well. To borrow warfare metaphors, conceptual change activities are tactical devices used to reach small-scale objectives (i.e., individual science concepts) within a strategic framework for reaching the largescale objective of scientific literacy. For all its merits, my objection to the conceptual change model is that it uncritically accepts the strategic framework in which it operates. In my view, that framework involves a much too narrowly conceived notion of knowledge and the role knowledge plays in an individual's life. The purpose of this article is to discuss the effect of a flawed strategy on the tactics of conceptual change and to draw attention to a broader view of knowledge from a worldview perspective. I begin by recounting a story from cultural anthropology. Readers may wonder at first what this story has to do with conceptual change and science education. Though perhaps not immediately apparent, there is a parallel with science education which I intend to make explicit in due course. In addition to illustrating a point, the decision to use the Resaldo story is illustrative of my assertion that achieving science for all will require a curricular view of science that places and integrates science within a community of disciplines.


SLCSP Paper # 124

Published Citation

Cobern, William W. "Worldview Theory and Conceptual Change in Science Education." Science Education 80.5 (1996): 579-610.