Measurement Instruments to Motivate Scientific Learning by Conceptual Change

Measurement Instruments to Motivate Scientific Learning by Conceptual Change

Ana Marcela Monjardín Gopar (Universidad Politécnica de Chihuahua, Mexico & Universidad Pedagógica Nacional del Estado de Chihuahua, Mexico) and Gerónimo Mendoza Meraz (Universidad Autónoma de Chihuahua, Mexico)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2026-9.ch013
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The purpose of this study was the development and adaptation of three instruments for the measurement of scientific reasoning, motivation and interest of students towards learning science. Sixteen students of the Bachelor in Aeronautical Engineering answered the questionnaires; they vary in age and gender. The first tool was a questionnaire to measure student motivation toward science learning (MAAC) obtained an overall Cronbach alpha of 0.771. A second instrument for measuring the scientific reasoning (PRC) obtained a Kuder-Richardson 20 formula estimate reliability of .751. The survey of student interest for issues related to science obtained a Cronbach alpha of .845. The study findings confirm the validity and reliability of all instruments. The implications of using these instruments as supports for measuring conceptual change in the students are discussed in the document.
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Around the world, governments have invested economic resources to launch programs that support and improve education. In this context, Mexico is no exception; the National Development Plan 2013-2018 states on its third object, strategy 3.5.3 the need to promote the development of scientific, technological and innovative aptitudes and capabilities (Gobierno Federal, 2013).

The characteristic of this new society has marked new radical changes on what is understood by learning and by construction of new knowledge. A challenge of big importance for higher education institutions is to enhance the capacity to learn and, above all, the capacity to understand scientific concepts in students on subjects related to science. It is possible that the concepts the student has gained before lack scientific comprehension. Students have learned how to solve problems and equations, but they can rarely state the scientific basis the concepts involved; they know the how, but not the why. On a globalized society, massive production systems leave little space for people to ask themselves how anything works. Because of that, it is important that the schools for pre-service teachers and universities that form educators and their professors find a way in which the students can modify their ideas and preconceptions. Perhaps those preconceptions could be seen as false or incomplete, from other more scientific vision. Students are not just simple repeaters of information, they need to improve their comprehension of the phenomena so they can offer society better solutions to current problems.

The modification of non-adequate or incomplete ideas for others more exact and complete is called conceptual change. In order for students to generate this change, it is necessary to support them in different ways. The motivational component is an important foundation to achieve that end.

This document presents a study of previous scientific concepts of college students, and their motivation to comprehend them. The aim was to generate a conceptual change in students by introducing scientific information in a different way, with the intent to help them acquire an exact view of certain scientific phenomena. Finally, this document presents the evaluation of validity and reliability of three different instruments designed to measure student motivation, interest, and scientific reasoning.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Learning: Adding new knowledge to prior knowledge; but each person learns differently, and this learning will depend on how representative the information acquired is to the individual, or if the new knowledge has some value (like practical value) for the person.

Scientific Reasoning: Capacity to understand scientific information; to solve problems with logical thinking.

Prior Knowledge: This type of knowledge is unique to each person, and it is likely to be incorrect from a scientific point of view. It is the background for categorizing or recognizing various situations, but does not provide a very precise explanation of how and why it is happening. Prior knowledge may vary depending on age and education received by the individual.

Motivation: Desire to do something, what drives a person to perform an activity.

Conceptual change: Internal change of concepts of an individual and how these concepts relate to others.

Knowledge: Different representations of reality a person has, which are stored in memory in many ways. Reality is processed, transformed and mixed by each individual to achieve these representations.

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