Towards understanding conceptual formation in science education



In this paper we will discuss the concept formation in science education. It is well know that since 80´s the most part of research in science education dealing with concept formation is related – directly or indirectly – with the conceptual change model. However, the science education research still lacks a consensual model to explain the concept formation considering the complex meaning negotiation dialogue within social interactions, both in school and daily life contexts. This theoretical discussion is important to point new directions to conceptual profile model research. The teaching-learning process in science education should not be limited to contents exposition. Toward an effective meaningful learning, teacher should also consider the conscious awareness as a target to meaning making. In this work Activity Theory is a relevant theoretical framework for understanding the teaching-learning of scientific concepts and to interpret the qualitative changes in this process. This approach opens the door to develop in two ways: embed the praxis in cognitive models on the one hand and insert communicative and semiotic processes in the Activity Theory on the other. We propose three categories that help us to understand the complex dynamics of teaching-learning process based on the dialectic interplay of the internalization and externalization.

General Information

Keywords: conceptual profile; activity theory; order of learning; science education; complexity

Journal rubric: Problems of Cultural-Historical and Activity Psychology

Article type: scientific article

For citation: Rodrigues A., Mattos C.R. Towards understanding conceptual formation in science education. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2010. Vol. 6, no. 4, pp. 47–53. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

André Machado Rodrigues, PhD Student, University of São Paulo, Officer, Secretariat of the Department of Education of São Paulo State, Sao Paolo, Brazil, e-mail:

Cristiano R. Mattos, PhD in Physics and Matematics, Professor, Institute of Physics, University of Sa~o Paulo, Sao Paolo, Brazil, ORCID:, e-mail:



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