The purpose of this research was to explore the effect of studying refutational maps on conceptual change. Refutational maps are diagrams that explicitly present correct conceptions and commonly held misconceptions. A sample of 120 participants was randomly assigned into three groups: a refutational map group, a refutational text group and a non-refutational text group. A posttest was conducted to examine participants’ performance on free recall and learning transfer measures. Results revealed that the refutational map group outperformed the other two groups on the free recall test. On the transfer essay test, the refutational map group outperformed the non-refutational text group but was not statistically detectably different from the refutational text group. On the transfer multiple-choice test, differences in the mean scores of the three treatment groups were not statistically detected. The research also found that need for cognition and logical thinking predicted the acquisition of scientific concepts, and students with lower logical thinking ability benefited more from learning the refutational map. These findings provide an insight into prior research on conceptual change and have instructional implications for incorporating effective cognitive tools in science classrooms.
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