Investigating Misconception Resolution and Learning From Scientific Texts Using a Cognitive Diagnostic Model


December 2023


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Research shows that refutation texts are more effective than expository texts at helping students resolve science misconceptions. However, little work has been conducted on the effects of related thought experiment discourse structures. To empirically investigate the effects of thought experiments on student science learning, high and low prior knowledge college students read refutation, expository, and thought experiment physics texts. Their understanding was assessed using the Force Concept Inventory (FCI). Differences were evaluated using correct and misconception responses in ANOVA analyses. In addition, FCI response data was analyzed using a novel cognitive diagnostic model of skills and misconceptions. Effects of prior knowledge on learning only were observed in the ANOVA analyses. However, the item-specific probability parameters from the cognitive diagnostic model analysis indicated that both high and low prior knowledge students learned more from thought experiment texts than expository texts for one of three topics that were presented. In addition, these parameters indicated that misconception possession was more prevalent among low prior knowledge participants reading thought experiment texts for this topic as well. Person-specific skill mastery probabilities indicated that high and low prior knowledge students learned the least from expository texts for a different topic but that there was little difference in misconception resolution between discourse structures. The implications of these results for improving student learning using various discourse structures are discussed.



Reading comprehension, Psychology, Thought experiments, Psychometrics, Science education