Instructional Effects of Refutation Text on Different Types of Knowledge

Open Access
Ntshalintshali, General M
Graduate Program:
Learning, Design, and Technology
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
December 05, 2013
Committee Members:
  • Roy Clariana, Dissertation Advisor
  • Roy Clariana, Committee Chair
  • Kyle Leonard Peck, Committee Member
  • Edgar Paul Yoder, Committee Member
  • Irene Johnston Petrick, Committee Member
  • Simon Richard Hooper, Committee Member
  • refutation text
  • declarative knowledge
  • conceptual knowledge
  • procedural knowledge
  • misconception
  • conceptual change
This quantitative experimental study examined the instructional impact of conceptual change-oriented refutation text on the development of different types of knowledge of college students. First and second year college students (N = 66) engaged with refutation text (RT) at different levels and their declarative knowledge, conceptual knowledge, and procedural knowledge were tested. Some students were asked to read the refutation text, while others were asked to read and paraphrase their understanding. The students were enrolled in two sections of a 200-level class, with different instructors teaching the same syllabus. Pretest and posttest data were collected. The three tests that assessed different types of knowledge were used to infer misconceptions at the declarative, conceptual, and procedural knowledge level. Using MANOVA (with follow-up ANOVAs) and mixed within-between subjects statistical analysis, results suggested that RT simultaneously had a profound negative influence on declarative knowledge performance and a positive influence on conceptual knowledge performance. For declarative knowledge performance, results were therefore counter-intuitive. Previous research has shown that conceptual change-oriented and generative learning strategies can impede lower forms of knowledge such as verbatim (declarative) knowledge, and simultaneously improve higher forms of knowledge such as conceptual, structural, or procedural knowledge. Moreover, a median split that created low-score and high-score groups showed pretest-posttest comparisons suggesting that RT had a profound negative impact on some students’ declarative knowledge performance. Low-score groups who received RT group one treatment as well as those who received RT group two treatment improved from pretest to posttest, while high-score groups either decreased (RT group one) in conceptual knowledge performance or increased (RT group two). There were statistically significant differences between the low-score and high-score groups across pretest and posttest conceptual knowledge scores in both groups. Lastly, procedural knowledge pretest-posttest performances for the low-score and high-score groups did not result in statistically significant differences. The focus on paraphrasing refutation text and studying the influence on three different types of knowledge extends previous research on the effect of conceptual change-oriented learning strategies on learning outcomes. An extensive literature search, using the key terms and all variations of “refutation text” and “paraphrase”, failed to produce studies that explicitly paraphrased refutation text. More importantly, no study was found that paraphrased refutation text and tested declarative knowledge performance, conceptual knowledge performance, and procedural knowledge performance simultaneously. This suggests that this may be the first study to test the effects of combining conceptual change-oriented refutation text with paraphrasing while simultaneously testing for three types of knowledge.