Decision Making in the Practical Domain: A Model of Practical Conceptual Change

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The work of science teachers can be viewed from a variety of perspectives. In this article, teaching is seen as an activity in which teachers deliberate in the practical domain to decide on actions and goals. In the first part of the article, it is argued that, because practical reasoning is similar to scientific reasoning, a model of practical conceptual change can be developed that is analogous to the conceptual change model. The following conditions for the modification of a practical theory or paradigm are described: Teachers must be discontent with a current practical theory. They must find that the new one makes sense and that it is beneficial to their practice. Finally, teachers must see that the understanding of their practice that arises from acceptance of the new practical theory is illuminating or enlightening. In the second part of the article, two case studies of teachers are examined using the model of practical conceptual change. One is a case of a novice teacher whose grading policy is based on highly resilient practical theories. The other is a cross‐case analysis of two experienced science teachers, one of whom accepted a radically new curriculum and another who rejected it. The article concludes with implications for the use of the model.

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Science Education, v. 84, issue 5, p. 606-623