Application of a Knowledge-in-Pieces perspective to students’ explanations of water springs: a complex phenomenon pertaining to the field of physical geography
This in-depth explorative qualitative study provides an empirical analysis of students’ understanding of the concept of water springs based on the theoretical framework of Knowledge-in-Pieces (KiP) by diSessa (1993). KiP is an epistemological perspective that views knowledge as a complex system of many types of knowledge elements. These include the so-called explanatory primitives (e-prims), that is, intuitive knowledge elements that people use when interpreting the world. The aim of this study was to gauge the potential of KiP in the field of research on pre-instructional conceptual knowledge in the geosciences by analysing conceptions of the complex hydrological issue of the formation of water springs. When probing student explanations of springs for e-prims in two case studies involving 12-year-old boys, we identified two explanatory primitives not previously documented. We named these “stuff in motion has force” and “hard stuff blocks, loose stuff lets something through”.