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Research on conceptual change has emerged in recent years as an important area in developmental and educational psychology. Conceptual change research investigates knowledge acquisition processes both in child development and with older learners, particularly in situations where the new information to be learned is very different from learners’ prior beliefs and requires the radical revision of prior knowledge and/or the creation of new concepts.

The problem of conceptual change became first apparent to philosophers and historians of science in their attempts to explain how scientific theories change. According to T. S. Kuhn (1970), normal science operates within sets of shared beliefs, assumptions, commitments, and practices that constitute “paradigms.” Discoveries emerge over time that cannot be accommodated within the existing paradigm. When these anomalies accumulate, science enters ...

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