Academic literature

Explore the research

This section includes a wide range of academic articles on mediational learning and the conceptual mediation program. As some of the places that used to host older papers are no-longer maintained this will serve as a central location to access information on this subject free of charge. It also has some examples of these methodologies being displayed in other media such as magazine articles.

I Did it My Way! An Introduction to “Old way / New way” Methodology - 1989​

Old Way/New Way is an approach to remedial teaching developed by Harry Lyndon, a Guidance Officer working in the Southern Area of the South Australian Education Department. In this paper he has presented an introduction to this method and a brief description of its application to an instructional problem.

Students regularly develop their own computational algorithms, ways of spelling words and reacting strategies. These, however, often contain errors which are most resistant to conventional remediation. A new remedial approach has been developed which facilitates the process of change. During extensive trials in South Australian schools, the methodology has shown considerable promise in resolving a major problem associated with remediation: that of transfer. A theoretical perspective has been developed which seeks to account for the higher rates of transfer observed when this method is used than when conventional approaches are implemented. Central to this new perspective is the suggestion that a specific brain mechanism is responsible for the difficulties in transfer associated with conventional remediation. The application of this Old Way/New Way methodology is presented as it applies to the remediation of spelling errors.

This paper is critical to the development of the CMP. This controlled study highlights that neither constructivism based cooperative debate nor simple, efficiently facilitated OW/NW, were sufficient for conceptual change. The combination of the two methods however was! This was the motivating force that led to the initiation of the CMP in 1994 at the then Plympton High School (which later became the William Light R-12) with the encouragement and ongoing support of its Principal Roger Henderson one of South Australia’s leading educators and senior science educators David Lloyd and David Wilkinson.

Conceptual Mediation: A New Theory and New Method of Conceptual Change - Thesis - 2000

This thesis presents a new theory and a new method of cognitive change and reports on their practical application in the “mediation” between conflicting habits and/or skills and between conflicting concepts in science education. The term, mediation, is here used to mean that an individual consciously attempts to bring about a reconciliation between his or her conflicting habits, skills or concepts.

The theoretical perspective proposes that the well-documented learning difficulties experienced by science students and others arise as an outcome of the natural tendency of the mind to conserve prior learning in the face of conflicting new experience. It will be argued that this tendency is a universal attribute of human cognitive development, caused by the associated phenomena of both proactive inhibition and accelerated forgetting. In this dissertation, accelerated forgetting is contrasted with the normal rates of forgetting associated with the practice of concepts not in conflict with prior knowledge or experience. A new interpretation of a theory of learning and retention known as associative interference theory is presented. An attempt is then made to integrate the outcomes of various research programs within science education with the new theory.

Two studies providing significant support for the theory are described. The first study presents data confirming that the use of Old Way/New Way (a method for changing habits and skills) alters the rate of forgetting of new but conflicting skills from an accelerated to a normal rate of forgetting, and can subsequently facilitate skill mastery. The results of a second study, which involves the use of conceptual mediation with a whole class of students, shows that, for the majority of students, the accelerated forgetting of conflicting concepts is controlled, and that for these students conceptual change is achieved.

The development of a procedure for conceptual mediation is described both at a theoretical and a practical level. The results of an independent evaluation of its influence on the attitudes to the learning of mathematics and science amongst students at a public secondary school are also  presented.

Conceptual Mediation Program in Practice: Educational Outcomes From Two Sites

We report on two studies in which high school students who had been exposed to a cognitive training procedure known as the Conceptual Mediation Program (CMP) were compared to students who had not participated within the program. In the first study, based on data from two sites, it was found that 70 CMP students exhibited higher levels of school affect and strategy awareness than 103 comparable students not in the program. In the second study, based on retrospective data from one site, 53 students who had participated within CMP classes were found to exhibit higher levels of attainment on Year 12 South Australian public examination results (effect size of 1.04 on the aggregate). On the Year 12 examination results, the CMP students outperformed both the school and state norms.

Less Pain, More Gain: rapid skill development using Old Way New Way

This study addresses an issue of global concern in skills training, namely, the rapid and permanent eradication of persistent habit errors, and bad or unsafe working practices. This article offers an alternative human factors explanation for the profound difficulties and low transfer of training experienced during error pattern retraining, and the correction of habitual performance faults. It describes Old Way New Way, a metacognitive strategy for achieving rapid and permanent error and technique correction and habit unlearning, and presents the results of an experimental trial of this behaviour change methodology. Vocational education students, representing a broad range of skill types, were recruited and randomised to one of two error correction modes, or to a control group. One Old Way New Way correction session with students yielded 80% or higher performance improvement that was maintained over three post-test periods. Students and teachers reacted positively to the Old Way New Way learning method. The high level of transfer of learning obtained is consistent with results in other settings. Implications for education, training, coaching and other performance enhancement settings are discussed.

Voice - Conceptual Mediation Program - 1995 * Highly Recommended

Voice is a magazine from the Department of Education. This issue covers Conceptual Mediation. These are the editors opening remarks.

“This edition covers at least two interesting issues being debated in the government school system today. Conceptual mediation is a thought-provoking way of perceiving Student learning that is being used to help students achieve better results from primary through to year 12. It’s not particularly new, yet, despite its use in many classrooms, it appears not to be universally embraced. Some teachers practise it and claim that it produces results; others do not. If it does what its proponents say it does, what is the cost to students whose teachers eschew it?”

Rapid Technique Correction Using Old Way / New Way - Two Case Studies With Olympic Athletes

Exploratory studies examine the effectiveness of Old Way / New Way, an innovative meta-cognitive learning strategy initially developed in education settings, in the rapid and permanent correction of established technique difficulties experienced by two Olympic athletes in javelin and sprinting. Individualized interventions included video-assisted error analysis; step-wise enhancement of kinesthetic awareness, reactivation of the error memory, discrimination, and generalization of the correct movement pattern. Self-reports, coach’s ratings, and video recordings were used as measures of technique improvement. A single learning trial produced immediate and permanent technique improvement (80% or higher Correct action) and full transfer of learning, without the need for the customary adaptation period. Findings are consistent with the performance enhancement effects of Old Way / New Way demonstrated experimentally in non-sport settings.

Error Patterns, Conceptual Change and Accelerated Forgetting - Another Dimension To The Jigsaw of Effective Conceptual Mediation in Mathematics

Traditionally, students’ mathematics errors and misconceptions were viewed from a negative perspective, taken as indicative of the absence of knowledge/meaning.  Constructivist theory offers a more positive perspective, suggesting that errors are an individual’s current interpretation of a mathematical situation and thus are indicative of knowledge.  Error pattern research has prompted new approaches to intervention, with errors/misconceptions increasingly being used as the beginning point for intervention.  The success of such approaches has been mixed with error recidivism being a common occurrence.  A further dimension to this field is offered by Conceptual Mediation (CM) (Lyndon, 1995).  The theoretical background of CM states that accelerated forgetting of new material occurs if it conflicts with pre-existing knowledge.  Errors/misconceptions therefore are retained even in light of rational argument.  In this paper, error pattern research and conceptual change programs are briefly summarised, followed by a discussion of the psychological basis of CM.

Models of conceptual change in science learning: establishing an exhaustive inventory based on support given by articles published in major journals

In this article, we propose an analysis of the state of, and trends in, the field of conceptual change research in science education through the lens of its models. Using a quantitative approach, we reviewed all conceptual change articles (n = 245) published in five major journals in the field of science education in search of the support that their authors give to conceptual change models (CC models). We looked for support in the form of explicit or implicit mentions, favourable and unfavourable position statements and empirical confirmations and refutations. The results present a thorough description of all types of support, as well as their evolution from the early days of the field to today. We also propose a hierarchical list of the 86 CC models that we have recorded, appearing in decreasing order by the support they received from the literature. General comments are formulated in order to provide an interpretation of the field and its evolution.

Using fMRI to study conceptual change: Why and how?

Although the use of brain imaging techniques, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is increasingly common in educational research, only a few studies regarding science learning have so far taken advantage of this technology. This paper aims to facilitate the design and implementation of brain imaging studies relating to science learning by presenting the epistemological and methodological framework of an ongoing fMRI study trying to identify brain mechanisms related to conceptual change in electrical concepts. To achieve this goal, we propose a review of literature, in the first part of this paper, to explain why we choose to study conceptual change using fMRI. In the second part, we present the methodology of an ongoing study to show how brain imaging can be applied in science education research.

The coexistence claim and its possible implications for success in teaching for conceptual “change” - Patrice Potvin - 2017

This article presents recent research results in mental chronometry and neuroimaging that support the coexistence of multiple conceptions. It then presents and elaborates on six possible implications for an adherence to the coexistence claim within the context of scientific conceptual learning: (1) stop the war on misconceptions; (2) use a different chronology for students with lower background knowledge; (3) give cognitive conflict a new function; (4) avoid personal prejudice; (5) reaffirm the importance of the durability of “change”; and (6) teach science as early on as possible. A discussion of these implications and a biology‐based analogy about conceptual understanding is also proposed.

Old Way / New Way in the Golf Australia Magazine

A magazine article from Golf Australia that covers how to improve one’s golf performance through the use of Old Way / New Way

The Enduring Relevance of the Conceptual Mediation Program (CMP)

A meta-study of 86 different models of conceptual change in the domain of science education [Potvin et al (2020)] demonstrates that there has been an overt emphasis in this research on epistemological perspectives. Only one project reviewed focussed directly on the psychological causes and resolution of the learning difficulties experienced by science students that being the Conceptual Mediation Program. The CMP was a decade long research project conducted in Australian secondary schools.  A review and report on the successful outcomes of this interdisciplinary project has been published (Yates and Lyndon, 2004). The theoretical perspective (Lyndon, 2000) proposed that the well-documented learning difficulties experienced by science students arise as an outcome of the natural tendency of the mind to conserve prior learning in the face of conflicting new experience.  It is argued that this tendency is a universal attribute of human cognitive development directly caused by the combined effects of proactive inhibition and accelerated forgetting. We have shown that these effects are controllable as they are contingent on an individual’s recognition of and conscious engagement with these fundamental psychological processes through the use of a mediational learning method. Mediational learning is possible due to the combination of three of our unique capacities, consciousness, language and reasoning.  A new perspective has been developed regarding mediational leaning which permits the naturalization of phenomenon of consciousness. An outline of these recent developments in the CMP will be presented.