This experimental study examined the effects of conceptual change-oriented refutation text (RT) on declarative knowledge and conceptual knowledge. Information Science undergraduates (N = 66) enrolled in two sections of a course with different instructors but the same syllabus were randomly assigned to one of four RT treatments that included read only vs. reading plus paraphrasing, with either set 1 or set 2 RTs, each RT set addressed five separate misconceptions. Pretest and posttest assessed the declarative and conceptual aspects of all ten misconceptions. For conceptual knowledge, pretest-to-posttest results show that reading and paraphrasing RTs is superior to only reading the RTs (ES =.40). Unexpectedly, conceptual knowledge improved for all misconceptions, both for the assigned RTs as well as those not assigned, thus RTs had a broad structural rather than a narrow attentional influence. However, declarative knowledge scores significantly and substantially decreased from pretest-to-posttest, indicating that the conceptual gains observed here came at the cost of declarative knowledge. Misconceptions are represented here as multiword chunks using a Pathfinder network approach, and conceptual improvement is explained as the effects of refutation text as a form of structural feedback acting on these chunks. Future research is needed to further consider the effects of addressing multiple misconceptions at once, and also on how RTs impact different kinds of learning outcomes.
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