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Representation and change of historical concepts. Comparative study and implications for history teaching in Latin America and Spain.

Subsidized by DGICYT (España)




The present study aims at analysing conceptual change processes in Historical contents, regarding the transformation of knowledge that takes place both in secondary schools students and teachers from different cultural backgrounds. In that respect, firstly a curriculum analysis of different countries (Spain, Mexico, Chile, Argentina and Brazil) will be carried out, in order to have a selection of historical topics to be researched. We will be focusing on three main areas: “Discovery of America”, national independence processes, and recent history in relation to economic dependence. The process of students and teachers conceptual change, or their resistance to it, in relation to these historical concepts will be studied. The influence of the following change mechanisms in instructional settings will be analysed: the use of analogies, the use of intelligible theories and the presence of conflict. On the other hand, the influence of cultural variables in conceptual change processes will also be studied. In other words, the possibility that school history contents which show strong identity ties, will offer more resistance to change. Finally, as an applied research objetive, the results obtained in the previous studies will be considered in order to disseminate our conclusions. In that respect, a CD containing interview samples with students and teachers of differente levels and countries will be produced. In this CD students and teachers conceptual change process studied or their resistance could be observed. The CD may also be used in teacher training courses to improve current history teaching and learning processes. All these applied aspects of our research will be focusing on promoting students historical literacy, this is to say their ability to change their misconceptions, to improve their understandin of alternative versions about historical topics and to analyze critically identity historical representations.

Principal researcher

Mario Carretero Rodríguez



Maria Rodriguez Moneo
Manuel Alvaro
Liliana Jacott
Maria Luisa Ortega
Cesar Lopez
Fernanda  Gonzalez

Cesar Lopez Rodriguez



CARRETERO Mario and BORRELLI Marcelo. Processes and Contexts of the Construction of Professional Identity European Journal of School Psychology, Vol. 4 No. 2, 2006, 295-302

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Processes of conceptual change in social and historical knowledge in children, adolescents and youth: cognitive and didactic aspects.

Funded by FONCYT. Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación Productiva Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica. ANPCYT, PICT-2005-34778.



This research is about conceptual change of social and historical knowledge of children, adolescents and young people. As usual in this type of research, middle class and average performance students will be interviewed. In this case, students will be from 6 to 18 years of age. In this Project, students understanding and representation of three specific topics will be studied in deep: a) concepts in relation to the three types of political power in the democratic systems –with special reference to the President political power-; b)concepts in relation to richness/poorness differences concerning both social groups and nations, and c) concepts in relation to the Independence historical processes. In relation to these aspects, subjects cognitive development and learning process influence on possible students conceptual changes will be studied. Also, the following students conceptual change possible mechanisms will be analyzed: a) experiencing conflicts; b) exposition to intelligible theories; and c) the use of analogies as explanations. On the other hand, the causal relation between conceptual change mechanisms and the national identity functions of social and historical knowledge will also be studied. Our hypothesis stems from the idea that those identity functions probably make conceptual change more dificult. Also in relation to these type of functions of historical knowledge, we plan to study the influence of school historical narrations moral aspects, because we think those aspects could play a role on the process of conceptual change. Besides these basic research goals, this project has an applied objetive as well: the production of a CD, containing video and text will be produced, in order to be used in teacher training courses.

Principal researchers

Mario Carretero

Antonio Castorina

Silvia Finocchio


Research collaborators

Miriam Kriger

Marcelo Borrelli

Alex Ruiz Silva

Alicia Barreiro


Research fellow

Lorena Carreño



CARRETERO Mario, JACOTT Liliana, LÓPEZ MANJÓN Asunción. Learning History through Textbooks: Are Mexican and Spanish Students Taught the Same Story? Learning and Instruction, Vol. 12 No. 6, Dec 2002, 651-65




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New perspectives on conceptual change

Edited by Wolfgang Schnotz, Stella Vosniadou and Mario Carretero
Oxford, Pergamon, 1999

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