Creative Education
2013. Vol.4, No.4, 273-282
Published Online April 2013 in SciRes ( DOI:10.4236/ce.2013.44041
Effect of Conceptual Change Oriented Instruction on
Students’ Conceptual Understanding and Decreasing
Their Misconceptions in DC Electric Circuits
Erdal Taşlıdere
Faculty of Education, Mehmet Akif Ersoy University, Burdur, Turkey
Received February 22nd, 2013; revised March 25th, 2013; accepted April 8th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Erdal Taşlıdere. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons At-
tribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the
original work is properly cited.
The purpose of this study was twofold: first to investigate the effect of conceptual change oriented in-
struction accompanied by concept cartoon worksheet with simulation on students’ conceptual under-
standing and second to remedy their misconceptions of direct current electric circuits. Participants were
139 pre-service science teachers from four intact classes. A quasi-experimental design was used in the
study. The experimental group studied the concept with the application of concept cartoon worksheet and
simulation, and the control group studied it with traditional instruction. Students’ conceptual understand-
ing and misconceptions were measured by a tree-tired misconception test. It was administered as
pre-and-posttest. There was no significant difference between the means of pre-test scores of experimen-
tal and control groups. The main effect of treatment on post-test scores was examined via ANCOVA with
pre-test scores used as covariate. The frequency of each misconception was calculated for both groups,
from pre to post-tests regarding all tiers of items. The analysis yielded a significant treatment effect on
students’ post-test performances. The findings indicated that the conceptual change oriented instruction
accompanied by concept cartoon worksheet and simulation is likely to be effective for conceptual under-
standing and decreasing most of students’ misconceptions in direct current electric circuits.
Keywords: Conceptual Change; Conceptual Understanding; Concept Cartoon; Simulation; Electricity;
Students’ understanding of key concepts related to science
topics has been an interesting research area and it has been
investigated by researchers in physics education (Mulhall,
McKittrick & Gunstone, 2001). It is accepted that students
come to the classes with a range of informal ideas and most of
them are different from scientific conceptions (Hammer, 1996;
Heller & Finley, 1992; Jaakkola & Nurmi, 2008; Treagust &
Duit, 2008). Learners’ experiences of the world, the influence
of their peers, the media and pre-instruction would lead them to
develop these conceptions (Chu, Treagust & Chandrasegaran,
2009; Fetherstonhaugh & Treagust, 1992; Redish, Saul, &
Steinberg, 1998).
Students’ incorrect pattern of response, informal ideas, non-
scientific interpretations and conceptions leading to conflict
with scientific view are called with different terms such as
“preconceptions” (Celement, 1982), “misconceptions” (Eryıl-
maz, 2002; Engelhardt & Beichner, 2004), “alternative frame-
works” (Driver & Erickson, 1983) or “alternative conceptions”
(Gilbert & Watts, 1983). This paper will consider students’
nonscientific conceptions as misconceptions. Misconceptions
are stable cognitive structures and affect learners’ understand-
ing of scientific concepts; they are highly resistant to change
(Hammer, 1996; Jaakkola & Nurmi, 2008; Ronen & Eliahu,
2000; Treagust & Duit, 2008). Since science concepts are not
presented with any ontological differentiation such as between
process and material, the desired changes to students’ ontolo-
gies are not generally succeeded in schools with traditional
instruction (Treagust & Duit, 2008). Hence, it is claimed that
misconceptions cannot be remediated by traditional instruction
(Celement, 1982; McDermott & Shaffer, 1992). To promote
conceptual understanding and eliminate learners’ misconcep-
tions, various conceptual change views of teaching and learning
approaches were suggested (Treagust & Duit, 2008; Vosniadou,
2007). These models and strategies were derived from Kuhn’s
philosophy of science and Piaget’s cognitive developmental
theory (Zhou, 2010).
Conceptual Change Approach
Conceptual change views of teaching processes have played
crucial role both in research of teaching and learning since the
late 1970s (Treagust & Duit, 2008). Various models and strate-
gies (Dole & Sinatra, 1998; Gregoire, 2003; Hynd & Al-
vermann, 1986; Posner, Strike, Hewson, & Gertzog, 1982; Roth,
1985; Zhou, 2010) were proposed to facilitate teaching for
conceptual change and most of them were based on or closely
related to Posner et al.’s model (Smit, Blakeslee, & Anderson,
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 273
In the current study, the classical conceptual change ap-
proach, suggested by Posner et al. (1982), was handled and the
study was carried on with this model. Posner et al. proposed a
conceptual change instruction to help learners in transforming
preconceptions into scientific conceptions. It involves teacher
making students’ preconceptions explicit before designing a
teaching approach which includes ideas that are inconsistent
with students’ existing conceptions (Treagust & Duit, 2008).
According to Posner et al., four conditions: 1) dissatisfaction of
learner, 2) intelligibility, 3) plausibility, and 4) fruitfulness of
new conception must be satisfied for the conceptual change.
Learners must first encounter with pre-existing conception to
consider a new one. If the new conception does not produce
dissatisfaction, then it may be assimilated alongside the old one.
If new and old conceptions reveal their incompatibility, then
two outcomes may happen; if new one succeeds higher status
than the previous one, then accommodation or conceptual ex-
change may occur, otherwise no conceptual exchange proceeds
(Hewson, 1982; Treagust & Duit, 2008).
Intelligibility requires constructing a coherent representation
of a theory and understanding of the meaning of conception. A
plausible conception must be believable in addition to the
learners’ knowing what it means. Fruitfulness is the capacity of
the conception to help learners in solving other problems or to
suggest new research directions (Treagust & Duit, 2008).
In the literature, it was reported that the instructions devel-
oped by considering conceptual change approach are effective
than the traditional approaches in considering the cognitive
outcomes (Bryce & MacMillion, 2005; Çalik, Okur & Taylor,
2011; Çelikten, Ertepınar, & Geban, 2012; Guzetti, Snyder,
Glass, & Gamas, 1993; Hynd & Alvermann, 1986; Piquette &
Heikkinen, 2005; Roth, 1985; Treagust & Duit, 2008). Treagust
and Duit (2008) reported that embedding conceptual change
strategies in conceptual change supporting learning environ-
ments would result in efficient conceptual understanding.
Hence, in this study, the classical conceptual change oriented
instruction aimed to be succeeded via concept cartoon work-
sheets and simulations.
Concept Cartoon Worksheet
A concept cartoon is an educational tool that expresses scien-
tific problems related to daily life via character cartoons and
present different views related to everyday life (Keogh, Naylor,
& Wilson, 1998; Keogh & Naylor, 2000). It was developed by
Brenda Keogh and Stuart Naylor in 1992 to develop an innova-
tive teaching and learning strategy that took account of con-
structivist views of learning (Keogh & Naylor, 1999). Two or
more characters discuss problems or express diverse opinions
about the science. Both scientific and alternative conceptions
take part in the discussion (Ekici, Ekici, & Aydın, 2007). It can
be prepared in both poster and worksheet form and can be used
either as instructional material or teaching method in science
courses (Kabapınar, 2009).
Worksheet is an educational tool that guides students’ learn-
ing. Concept cartoon worksheet is a kind of worksheet that is
enriched with concept cartoons. It includes cartoon characters,
instructional directions, follow up questions and various activi-
ties. It specifies what students will do and encourage learners to
participate in classroom activities.
In the literature, there exist studies about concept cartoons
(Birisci et al., 2010; Ekici et al., 2007; Kabapınar, 2009; Keogh
et al., 1998; Keogh & Naylor, 2000; Stephenson & Warwick,
2002) or concept cartoon worksheets (Atasoy, 2008; Burhan,
2008; Gürses, Akdeniz, & Atasoy, 2006; Taşlıdere, 2013).
These studies generally administered either of concept cartoons
or their worksheets as tools for teaching and learning in class-
room and investigated their effectiveness on students’ concep-
tual understanding and achievements. The results indicated that
use of them were effective for finding out pupils’ ideas (Keogh
et al., 1998), and provides powerful stimulus for learners to
focus their attention on constructing meaningful explanations
(Keogh & Naylor, 1999; Stephenson & Warwick, 2002).
A simulation is a computerized version of a model that is run
over a period of time to study the implications of the predefined
interaction (Başer, 2006). Simulation based learning is gener-
ally considered as an alternative approach to expository instruc-
tion or to real hands-on lab exploration (Ronen & Eliahu, 2000).
It allows learners to directly manipulate initial conditions and
immediately see the impact (Zacharia, 2005). It was argued that
teaching physics via simulations make the content more easily
understandable (Jaakko & Nurmi, 2008), and provides con-
structive feedback to remediate their misconceptions (Ronen &
Eliahu, 2000).
Research studies have reported potentially positive impact of
simulations on the developments of conceptual understanding,
attitudes, cognitive and metacognitive skills and instructional
approaches (Bakaç, Taşoğlu, & Akbay, 2011; Başer, 2006; Bryan
& Slough, 2009; Cox, Belloni, & Melissa, 2003; Jaakkola &
Nurmi, 2008; Ronen & Eliahu, 2000). Using simulations ac-
tively within curriculum enhances learning activities (Zacharia,
Study Topics
The current research was conducted on direct current electric
circuit which is highly abstract and complex (Mulhall et al.,
2001; Taber, Trafford &Teresa, 2006). Students at all ages and
levels have many learning difficulties and misconceptions even
after formal instructions (Engelhardt & Beichner, 2004; Jaak-
kola & Nurmi, 2008; McDermott & Shaffer, 1992; Mulhall et
al., 2001; Peşman & Eryılmaz, 2010). Hence, over the past two
decades, learners’ understanding of electricity, ranging from
primary school to the university level, has been investigated in
several studies (Ateş & Polat, 2005; Mulhall et al., 2001; Ronen
& Eliahu, 2000).
Students Misconceptions Concerning Simple Electric
There is an extensive literature on students’ conceptual un-
derstanding of the DCEC. The common misconceptions in the
related literature without giving the details of individual studies
The Sink Model (M1): Only a single wire connection be-
tween an electrical device and power supply is enough to run
the electrical device (Chambers & Andre, 1997; Peşman &
Eryılmaz, 2010; Sencar & Eryılmaz, 2004).
The Attenuation Model (M2): Electric current travelling in
one direction decreases gradually due to consumption of current
by devices (McDermott & Shaffer, 1992; Peşman & Eryılmaz,
2010; Sencar & Eryılmaz, 2004; Shipstone, 1988; Shipstone et
al., 1988).
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
The Shared Current Model (M3): Electric current is shared
equally by devices within the circuit (Sencar & Eryılmaz, 2004;
Shipstone, 1988).
The Sequential Model (M4): Any change at a point in an
electric circuit affects the circuit forward in the direction of the
current, not backward (Dupin & Johsua, 1987; Engelhardt &
Beichner, 2004; McDermott & Shaffer, 1992; Peşman & Ery-
ılmaz, 2010; Sencar & Eryılmaz, 2004; Shipstone, 1988).
The Clashing Current Model (M5): Positive and negative
electricity from the battery meet at an electrical device and
clashing of them causes device to run (Chambers & Andre,
1997; Peşman & Eryılmaz, 2010; Sencar & Eryılmaz, 2004).
The Empirical Rule Model (M6): The bulb which is farther
away from the power supply is dimmer than the closer bulbs
(Heller & Finley, 1992; Peşman & Eryılmaz, 2010; Sencar &
Eryılmaz, 2004).
The Short Circuit Misconception (M7): Wires in the elec-
tric circuit with no electrical devices are ignored when analyz-
ing the circuit (Chambers & Andre, 1997; Peşman & Eryılmaz,
2010; Sencar & Eryılmaz, 2004).
The Power Supply as Constant Current Source (M8):
Power supply within the circuit provides constant electrical
current rather than electrical energy (Cohen, Eylon, & Ganiel,
1983; Dupin & Johsua, 1987; McDermott & Shaffer, 1992;
Heller & Finley, 1992; Peşman & Eryılmaz, 2010; Sencar &
Eryılmaz, 2004; Shipstone, 1988; Shipstone et al., 1988).
The Parallel Circuit Misconception (M9): A resistor is an
obstacle to current flow, assuming any increase in the number
of parallel connected resistors result in the increase of the total
resistance (Chambers & Andre, 1997; Cohen et al., 1983;
McDermott & Shaffer, 1992; Peşman & Eryılmaz, 2010; Sen-
car & Eryılmaz, 2004).
Local Reasoning (M10): Students focus their attention upon
one point in the circuit and ignore what is happening elsewhere.
The local part is focused on instead of global analysis (Cohen et
al. 1983; Peşman & Eryılmaz, 2010; Sencar & Eryılmaz, 2004;
Shipstone et al., 1998).
Current Flow as Water Flow (M11): Electric current flows
within a wire like water flow in a pipe; most of the current goes
straight and less amounts of it goes from the wire which is not
straight (Peşman & Eryılmaz, 2010).
In the literature, while conceptual change approaches have
been advocated for helping students deal with conceptual un-
derstanding and misconceptions, hardly any of the research has
examined the effectiveness of the conceptual change oriented
instruction accompanied by concept cartoon worksheet and
simulation, on students’ conceptual understanding and reme-
diating participants’ misconceptions in the DCEC.
Research questions
The following research questions framed this study:
1) What is the effect of conceptual change oriented instruc-
tion accompanied by concept cartoon worksheet and simulation
on pre-service science teachers’ post-test scores (PSTT) in the
DCEC when their pre-test scores (PRET) are controlled.
2) How do the proportions of the misconceptions change in
experimental and control groups after treatments?
Population and Sample
The population of the study consists of all 397 pre-service
science teachers studying at an education faculty of Govern-
ment University in Turkey, 139 of which participated in the
study. Two classes (72 students) were assigned randomly as
experimental groups and the remaining two (67 students) as
control groups, making the sample 35% of the population. Par-
ticipants’ ages ranged from 18 to 24 years. Table 1 shows stu-
dents’ gender and age separated by group.
Measuring Tools
To measure the students’ conceptual understanding and mis-
conceptions in the DCEC, a Three-Tier Simple Electric Circuit
Misconception Test (TTMT) was used. The test was developed
by Peşman and Eryılmaz (2010) and consists of 12 questions,
measuring 11 misconceptions in the DCEC. The characteristic
of the TTMT is that, each item has three-tiers; the first tier is a
conventional multiple-choice question with at least two choices,
the second tier presents some reasons for the given answer to
the first tier and the third tier examines if students are confident
about their answers for the previous first two tiers. A sample
question from the TTMT was given in Figure 1.
The main reason for using the TTMT is that the classical
multiple-choice instruments cannot reveal what reasons are
beyond the students’ choice selection. Hence, the three-tier test
is the best at eliciting the most actual percentages of student
misconception (Hasan, Bagayoko, & Kelley, 1999). Peşman
and Eryılmaz (2010) collected the evidences for the validity
and reliability of the TTMT. They reported the reliability coef-
ficient of Croanbach alpha as 0.55. In the current study the
reliability analysis was also re-conducted over the PSTT and it
was calculated as 0.81.
Development of Concept Cartoon Worksheets
The literature concerning the DCEC was searched and stu-
dents’ possible misconceptions were determined. Five concept
cartoon worksheets were prepared keeping misconceptions in
mind. Each worksheet has a title, context, discussion and activ-
ity sections. The context presents a scientific problem and at
least two characters are suggesting correct or alternative re-
sponses. A blank area was placed under characters for students
to write their individual reasoning about why the character is
likely correct before the discussion session. Activity sessions
include follow up questions, use of computerized simulations
and discussions of the practical applications of concept.
The developed concept cartoon worksheets were checked by
two instructors and one research assistant. Regarding their
feedback, relevant changes were completed. The worksheets
were applied in three different higher classes as a pilot study.
The deficiencies in worksheets and in their application proce-
Table 1.
Number of students within groups according to their gender and age.
Experimental Group
Gender Age Total
M F 1819 20 Above 20
N 2052 1133 21 7 72
Control Group
N 18 49 9 32 19 7 67
Total 38 1012065 40 14 139
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 275
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Figure 1.
Sample question from the TTMT.
the developed worksheets were distributed to the students. They
read the question given in the context and predict the correct
response over the characters. After that, students wrote why the
chosen character is likely correct into the blank area. With these,
it was aimed to activate and get students’ pre-conceptions. Then,
they were encouraged to express and discuss their ideas to con-
vince other students in classroom environment. Upon discus-
sions, students were convinced about the correctness or fallacy
of their idea via computer simulation to promote dissatisfaction.
By observing correct model via simulation, they were con-
vinced and the intelligibility was satisfied. Simulations and
follow up supportive scientific explanations helped students
resolve confusion and understand the concept. These provided
the plausibility condition. For the fruitfulness condition, the
instructor presented and discussed the real life applications of
the concepts.
dures were determined and the necessary corrections were
made. One of them is shown in Figure 2.
Computerized Simulation
In the study, the Circuit Construction Kit simulation program
(CCKP) was used from the University of Colorado’s Physics
Education Technology website:
The CCKP allows users to construct various circuits easily by
dragging wires, bulbs and resistors.
This study was conducted over a three-week treatment period.
The topics related to the DCEC were covered as part of regular
classroom curriculum in General Physics-II lesson and includes
current, power supply, electromotive force, resistors, energy,
power, electric circuits, and internal structure of measuring
tools, uses of electricity and safety rules. Students in both the
experimental and control groups were exposed to the same
content. Duration of the lessons was four 45-minute periods per
The sample treatment conducted via “Parallel Circuit Model”,
given in Figure 2, and simulation was presented below briefly.
The instructor distributed the worksheets to the students. Upon
reading the context and the question, each student determined
his/her favorite character and wrote why the character is likely
correct. This process continued for approximately five minutes.
Afterwards, students were told to advocate their ideas and con-
vince their friends. During the discussions, the M9 and M8
were detected as in previous studies (Cohen et al., 1983; Dupin
& Johsua, 1987; Heller & Finley, 1992; McDermott & Shaffer,
1992; Shipstone, 1988). Upon it, the instructor opened the
CCKP; first constructed and ran the simulation of the Circuit X
In the experimental group, the treatment was conducted re-
garding the conceptual change strategy developed by Posner et
al. (1982). As previously reported, Posner et al. proposed four
conditions for conceptual change: dissatisfaction, intelligibility,
plausibility, and fruitfulness. At the beginning of the lessons,
Figure 2.
Sample concept cartoon worksheet.
and then constructed the Circuit Y near the first one, and finally
ran both simulations. Upon running simulations, the scientific
explanations were commented by instructor. Figure 3 shows
the constructed Circuits X and Y on the CCKP.
Then, Question 1 was asked; similarly students wrote and
discussed their ideas, afterward the simulation was run and
required explanations were commented. Asking Question 2
exposed another difficulty; the graphical representation of this
question disguised the symmetry existing between the four
bulbs. Most of students gave “splitting-in-two” response. They
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 277
Figure 3.
Constructed Circuits X and Y on the CCKP.
exposed that the main current is divided into two equal parts at
each successive junction as in previous study (Shipstone et al.,
1988). Upon students’ responses, the instructor opened the
CCKP and constructed the concerning circuit first by connect-
ing resistor D and running the simulation, second by connecting
the resistor C and running the simulation and so on. Meanwhile
scientific explanations were also exposed. Finally the electric
fuse, its’ function and connection of it to the main home circuit
were discussed. For the whole study, four more concept cartoon
worksheets were administered by using computerized simula-
On the other hand, the control group students received tradi-
tional instruction involving lessons using lecture method to
learn the corresponding concepts. The traditional instruction
relied on instructors’ explanations without consideration of the
learners’ misconceptions. The instructor defined the related
concepts, explained the facts, and solved the questions in their
books. Meanwhile, the students took notes through the lessons.
The instructor did not use any of the activities and strategies
developed for the experimental group.
A quasi-experimental design was used in the study. The
study began with the administration of the TTMT to all study
groups as pre-test. For a three-week treatment period, the ex-
perimental group students were instructed with the conceptual
change oriented instruction accompanied by concept cartoon
worksheets and simulations, and the control group students
received only traditional instruction. After the treatment period,
the TTMT was administered as post-test to all groups.
Scores Obtained from the TTMT
Students’ test scores were calculated according to the cor-
rectness of each item considering all three tiers. If students’
answers for the first two tiers are correct and he/she is sure
about the correctness of the previous two selections at the third
tier, then the item was scored as 1 point. Otherwise, the item
was scored as 0 point. Total score was calculated by summing
the score of each item.
Total scores could range from 0 to 12 points; in which higher
score denotes strong conceptual understanding and the lower
score denotes weak conceptual understanding. Table 2 shows
the descriptive results obtained from the PRET to PSTT for
both experimental and control groups. As seen from the table,
experimental group students gained a mean increase of 4 points
and control group students gained a mean increase of 1.1 points
from the PRET to PSTT.
Percentage of Misconceptions
The percentages for each of the 11 misconceptions were cal-
culated considering all three tiers for both groups before and
after instructions. The PRE and PST denote the percentage of
misconceptions before and after instructions respectively as in
Table 3. The percentage values were calculated based on the
misconception table reported by Peşman and Eryılmaz (2010).
For example, according to this table the M8 is measured by
Item 5 of the TTMT (5.1a, 5.2a, 5.3a). If the student chose 5.1a,
5.2a, and 5.3a respectively, then the item 5 was coded as “1”.
This means that student holds the M8. For all other possibilities,
item 5 was coded as “0”, accepting that student has no miscon-
ception of the M8. Upon these coding, the percentages were
calculated for each of 11 misconceptions.
As seen from Table 3, in both groups the percentage of stu-
dents having misconceptions for each of 11 misconceptions are
almost similar considering the pre-test. The M4, M7, M9 and
M10 seem to be serious misconceptions based on the Caleon
and Subramaniam (2010) explanation which states that the
percentage of misconception above 10% should be considered
as serious misconceptions. Among the above, the percentage of
M9 seems to fall under 10% after instructions in both groups.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Table 2.
Basic descriptive statistics for the PRET and PSTT mean scores by
Treatments N Mean SD Mean SD
Experimental 72 4.0 2.5 8.0 2.6
Control 67 3.3 1.9 4.4 2.1
Total 139 4.6 2.5 6.3 2.9
Table 3.
Percentage of misconceptions from Pre-to-Post TTMT.
Experimental Group Control Group
Misconceptions PRE PST PRE PST
M1 4.9 4.9 6.0 3.0
M2 4.2 4.2 4.5 1.5
M3 6.5 12.0 7.9 5.5
M4 35.4 20.2 32.8 45.6
M5 2.8 1.4 5.5 4.5
M6 .0 .0 .0 .0
M7 21.3 11.6 21.9 29.9
M8 1.4 1.4 0.0 3.0
M9 11.8 3.5 10.5 9.0
M10 27.8 13.0 27.9 33.8
M11 2.3 2.8 9.5 5.5
Average 10.8 6.8 11.5 12.8
In the experimental group, the percentage values for the M4,
M7 and M10 seem to decrease, but they increased in control
group interestingly. When the average of eleven misconcep-
tions’ percentage values are considered, it seems that the mean
value decreased by 4.0% (10.8 - 6.8) for experimental and in-
creased by 1.3% for control groups even after treatments.
Inferential Results
To determine whether a possible pre-existing difference and
any covariate could affect the PSTT, the groups’ PRET mean
scores were analyzed. ANOVA techniques were used to deter-
mine if PRET mean scores differed among the groups. The
results revealed no statistical significance (F (1, 120) = 3.1, p
= .08). This denotes that the groups were similar at the begin-
ning of the study. Further, the relationship between the PRET
and PSTT was investigated using Pearson product-moment
correlation coefficient. The analysis indicated that there was a
medium correlation between two variables, r = .438, n = 139, p
< .0005 (Pallant, 2007). Hence, the PRET was determined as
covariate of the study for the following inferential analysis. A
one-way between-groups analysis of covariance (ANCOVA)
was conducted to assess the two instructions on PSTT. Pre-
liminary checks were conducted to ensure that there was no
violation of the assumptions of normality, linearity, homogene-
ity of variances, homogeneity of regression slopes and reliably
measure of covariates. After adjusting PRET, it was found a
significant treatment effect on the PSTT (F (1, 136) = 77.3, p
= .000, partial eta squared = .36). The calculated effect size for
the treatment was also found as .37 (Pearson’s correlation coef-
ficient). Table 4 shows the ANCOVA results.
Table 4.
ANCOVA table for the PSTT means scores by treatments.
Model 575.62 287.8 64.0 .000 .491.000
Intercept 722.91 722.9 160.8 .000 .541.000
PRET 147.91 147.9 32.9 .000 .191.000
Treatment347.51 347.5 77.3 .000 .361.000
Error 611.51364.5
Total 6645.0139
Total 1187.2138
Note: R Squared = .485 (Adjusted R Squared = .477).
The current study investigated the effects of the conceptual
change oriented instruction accompanied by cartoon worksheet
and simulation on pre-service science teachers’ conceptual
understanding and decreasing their misconceptions in the
DCEC. The observed power was calculated as 1 and effect size
was found as large, which denotes that 36% of the variance of
PSTT was explained by treatment. These could suggest that the
study has practical significance as well as theoretical signifi-
The individual studies conducted by concept cartoons (Biris-
ci et al., 2010; Ekici et al., 2007; Kabapınar, 2009; Keogh et al.,
1998; Keogh & Naylor, 2000; Stephenson & Warwick, 2002)
and concept cartoon worksheets (Atasoy, 2008; Burhan, 2008;
Gürses et al., 2006; Taşlıdere, 2013) reported positive effects of
using them in science education. In the same way, the studies
conducted on simulations (Başer, 2006; Jaakko & Nurmi, 2008;
Ronen & Eliahu, 2000; Zacharia, 2005) reported also positive
effects of using them in science education too. Since this study
consisted of both of the use of concept cartoon worksheet and
computerized simulation to promote conceptual change, the
outcomes supported the findings of the previous conceptual
change studies (Bryce & MacMillion, 2005; Çalik et al., 2011;
Çelikten et al., 2012; Guzetti et al., 1993; Hydn & Alvermann,
1986; Roth, 1985; Piquette & Heikkinen, 2005; Treagust &
Duit, 2008).
The statistical analysis indicated that the experimental group
significantly outperformed the control group in understanding
of key aspects and concepts involved in the DCEC. This suc-
cess can be attributed both to the careful conduction of concep-
tual change strategies via concept cartoon worksheets with
simulations and to the active participation of experimental
group students into the teaching learning environment. As con-
structivist approach (Powell & Kalina, 2009) implied, students
were active both socially and cognitively throughout the study
and they had enough time to express their preconceptions. As
Keogh and Naylor (1999) reported, discussions led to disequi-
librium and students had conceptual conflict. Running simula-
tions visualized the theoretical circuit conceptions and provided
constructive feedback for the intelligibility. The follow up
questions further increased participants’ curiosity. After making
certain configurations with the circuit, students observed the
effects and got instant feedback. The scientific explanations and
the feedback encouraged students to think critically and scien-
tifically for the plausibility. Finally, the presentation and dis-
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 279
cussions of the daily life applications of the electricity rein-
forced students’ learning for the fruitfulness. In conclusion, the
strategies offered by Posner et al. (1982) were successfully
conducted for each the five concept cartoon worksheet and
On the other hand, students in control group just followed the
lectures and solved the questions in their books. Students were
just passive listeners following the instructor. Hence, they did
not apply their preconception to different contexts offered as in
concept cartoon worksheets, and did not discuss their ideas to
influence other students. Since they did not experience simula-
tion, they had difficulties visualizing the theoretical electric
concepts. They mainly focused on the identification of terms
and equations that require problem solving and less conceptual
The current study also investigated the percentages of mis-
conceptions before and after instructions for experimental and
control groups. In line with the previous studies (Engelhardt
& Beichner, 2004; Jaakkola & Nurmi, 2008; McDermott &
Shaffer, 1992; Mulhall et al., 2001; Peşman & Eryılmaz, 2010),
this study indicated that most of the pre-service science teach-
ers in both groups had initially misconceptions. After treat-
ments, although the ANCOVA denoted significant difference
between the mean scores of the PSTT favoring experimental
groups, the frequency analysis denoted that there are still seri-
ous misconceptions (M4, M7 and M10) in both groups. As
previous studies (Hammer, 1996; Jaakkola & Nurmi, 2008;
Ronen & Eliahu, 2000; Treagust & Duit, 2008) claimed, this
study proved that misconceptions are highly resistant. The high
percentages of the M4 and M10 are consistent because they are
conceptually similar misconceptions. Both are detecting stu-
dents who are focusing their attentions upon one point where
any change is performed or further away from that point not
backward in the circuit. Similar ones were also detected as in
previous studies (Cohen et al., 1983; Dupin & Johsua, 1987;
Engelhardt & Beichner, 2004, McDermott & Shaffer, 1992;
Peşman & Eryılmaz, 2010; Sencar & Eryılmaz, 2004; Ship-
stone, 1988; Shipstone et al., 1998).
The analysis denoted that, the conceptual change oriented in-
struction seemed to decrease the percentages of misconceptions
except the M3 in experimental groups, ignoring the M11 due to
it’ small increase. But, traditional instruction seemed to in-
crease the M4, M7, M8 and M10 in control groups. As recent
studies (Chu et al., 2009; Fetherstonhaugh & Treagust, 1992;
Redish et al., 1988) reported, the traditional instruction con-
ducted in the current study resulted in the development of some
of the misconceptions. Hence a more special attention should
be given to them. But in general, if the average percentage val-
ues of 11 misconceptions are considered, it can be concluded
that conceptual change oriented instruction seems to be effec-
tive in decreasing the frequency of students holding misconcep-
tions rather than removing completely than the traditional in-
In the current study, a treatment was developed via concept
cartoon worksheet and simulation. They were both used to-
gether and complemented each other. Hence, it is difficult to
determine which one is more affective for conceptual under-
standing and/or for decrease of misconceptions. And also it was
not the scope of current study. But relative effectiveness of
concept cartoon worksheets and simulation for conceptual un-
derstanding and or for decreasing misconceptions would be
investigated by further studies in the DCEC or other subject
There are various possible threats that most of the experi-
mental studies experience. The standardizing conditions and the
procedures, the ANCOVA model, three-week treatment period,
and the research design of the study were used as measures to
control the internal validity threats for the study. For the exter-
nal validity of the study, I can claim that the study was con-
ducted in a university in which the physical conditions were
same. Treatments and all testing procedures took place in ordi-
nary classrooms. The generalizability of the results was not a
problem, because 139 students comprised approximately 35%
of the population. Hence, the results can be generalized to the
university where the study was conducted.
There are also some limitations for the study. First of all, this
study was conducted in one Government University, and hence
the results can be generalized to this university. Second, stu-
dents’ misconceptions in the DCEC were measured via reliable
and valid test of the TTMT and the results were limited with the
data obtained from it. Third, students’ PSTT scores were calcu-
lated regarding all three tiers of the items
The use of concept cartoon worksheet with simulation to
promote conceptual change in science education may be of
particular value to pre-service science teachers. Efforts to in-
crease future science teachers’ conceptual understanding and
remediating their misconceptions by conceptual change ori-
ented instruction accompanied by concept cartoon worksheets
and simulations are of particular importance in that they may
result in effective science instruction, thus affecting large num-
bers of future science learners. This study would enable future
science teachers to define the development and application of
concept cartoon worksheet with simulation and compare it with
other alternative teaching methods.
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