Effects of Instructional Support Within Constructivist Learning Environments for Elementary School Students' Understanding of “Floating and Sinking”

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In a repeated measures design (pretest, posttest, 1-year follow-up) with 161 3rd-grade students, the authors compared 2 curricula on floating and sinking within constructivist learning environments, varying in instructional support. The 2 curricula differed in the sequencing of content and the teacher's cognitively structuring statements. At the posttest, both instructed groups showed significant gains on a test on understanding the concepts of density and buoyancy force as compared to a baseline group without instruction. One year later, the group of high instructional support was superior to the group of low instructional support on the reduction of misconceptions and the adoption of scientific explanations. Thus, instructional support within constructivist learning environments fostered elementary schoolchildren's conceptual change in the domain of physics.

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