Enhancing Students’ Ability to Correct Misconceptions in Natural Selection with Refutational Texts and Self-Explanation

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This study examined the effects of different constructed response prompts and text types on students’ revision of misconceptions, comprehension, and causal reasoning. The participants were randomly assigned to prompt (self-explain,

This study examined the effects of different constructed response prompts and text types on students’ revision of misconceptions, comprehension, and causal reasoning. The participants were randomly assigned to prompt (self-explain, think-aloud) and text type (refutational, non-refutational) in a 2x2, between-subjects design. While reading, the students were prompted to write responses at regular intervals in the text. After reading, students were administered the conceptual inventory of natural selection (CINS), for which a higher score indicates fewer misconceptions of natural selection. Finally, students were given text comprehension questions, and reading skill and prior knowledge measures. Linear mixed effects (LME) models showed that students with better reading skill and more prior knowledge had a higher CINS score and better comprehension compared to less skilled students, but there were no effects of text type or prompt. Linguistic analysis of students’ responses demonstrated a relationship of prompt, text, and reading skill on students’ causal reasoning. Less skilled students exhibited greater causal reasoning when self-explaining a non-refutational text compared to less skilled students prompted to think-aloud, and less skilled students who read the refutational text. The results of this study demonstrate a relationship between reading skill and misconceptions in natural selections. Furthermore, the linguistic analyses suggest that less skilled students’ causal reasoning improves when prompted to self-explain.