Cognitive Research and the Design of Science Instruction

Audrey B. Champagne, Leopold E. Klopfer, Richard F. Gunstone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

139 Citations (Scopus)


The utilization of cognitive psychological theory and findings from research to inform the design of instruction is illustrated in this paper. Physics learning studies demonstrate that students' pre-instructional world knowledge is often logically antagonistic to the principles of Newtonian mechanics taught in introductory physics. Under these conditions psychological theory predicts that learning will be inhibited, a prediction consistent with both the experiences of physics teachers and the results of empirical investigation. Informed by cognitive research on problem solving, semantic memory, and knowledge acquisition, instruction has been designed to encourage the reconciliation of world knowledge and physics content among beginning physics students.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-53
Number of pages23
JournalEducational Psychologist
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 1982

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