Student ideas and misconceptions for the atom: A Latent Class Analysis with covariates
The current study investigates students’ fundamental ideas and misconceptions about ontological features of atoms identity and behaviour. These conceptions are being investigated across tasks with varying context. Participants were secondary education students in eighth, tenth and twelfth grades. Latent Class Analysis (LCA), a psychometric approach, was implemented to analyze a set of four tasks, in order to identify distinct mental models, which share specific sets of misconceptions. Furthermore, the detected mental models were associated with a number of external variables, such as the age, and the three cognitive variables: formal reasoning, field dependence-independence and divergent thinking. Results indicated that age and two cognitive variables under study had significant effects on students’ mental models. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.
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