Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Education Honours


School of Education


Faculty of Education

First Advisor

Dr Mark Hackling


Student alternative frameworks were found by the researcher to be a problem when teaching the topic of electricity to Year 9 science students. It was recognised that the alternative frameworks had to be identified and a constructivist teaching strategy that would facilitate conceptual change within these students needed to be adopted. A pre-test-post-test, control group-treatment group study was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of a constructivist approach to instruction. The treatment group in the study received instruction based on the 'four phase model for teaching for conceptual change', a constructivist approach to teaching suggested by Cosgrove and Osborne (1985) as being effective in catering for students with misconceptions of electricity. Whilst the control group received traditional instruction. The period of instruction for both the control and treatment groups was three weeks. Student conceptions were assessed using a pencil and paper test composed of 20 multiple choice questions, in which common student alternative frameworks of electricity were used as distracters, and five short answer questions. The short answer questions required students to provide personal definitions of the key electricity terms current, circuit, resistance, voltage and battery. To provide case study information, interviews were carried out with a sample of three students from group both prior to and on completion of instruction. It was found that the teaching program based on a constructivist approach was substantially more effective in bringing about conceptual change than the traditional one. The constructivist approach to teaching, based on Cosgrove and Osborne's (1985) conceptual change model, is recommended for the teaching of the topic electricity. It is also recommended that further research be conducted into the use of this approach for teaching other science topics.