GeoEduc Prof. Dr. Sibylle Reinfried
World in your hand




Analysing Students’ Conceptual Structures Using Fine-Grained Methods of Analyses

This qualitative explorative study examines the influence of intuitive knowledge elements and mechanistic thinking during knowledge construction. The theoretical basis of this research is the conceptual change approach of Knowledge in Pieces (KIP) by Andrea diSessa. The construct of intuitive knowledge elements called phenomenological primitives (p-prims) and explanatory primitives (e-prims) play a central role in the KIP approach. These primitives are parts of locally coherent conceptual structures. The transfer of an activated conceptual structure generated as an explanation for a phenomenon to another phenomenon can be understood as conceptual development. Internal evaluation processes that are used by the individual to evaluate what counts as a good (plausible) explanation play a major role in this process. The explanation does not have to be in agreement with a normative explanation.

The aims of this research are

  • to find intuitive knowledge elements (primitives), evidence of mechanistic thinking and individual frames of interpretations in the students’ utterances that can be used to describe the conceptual structures of their explanations.
  • to analyse whether validity preferences related to the discovered factors can be used to explain the students’ conviction in certain explanations.

The data re-analysed in this study was generated in the context of the project ‘Freshwater Springs and Mountain Hydrology’ (Reinfried et al., 2013).

Reinfried, S. (2016). Warum subjektive Erklärungen von geographischen Phänomenen Sinn machen - ein Blick in die Denkprozesse eines Schülers. In Otto, K.H. (Hrsg.), Geographie und naturwissenschaftliche Bildung - Der Beitrag des Faches für die Schule, Lernlabor und Hochschule. Geographiedidaktische Forschungen, Bd. 63, S. 124-138. Münster: HGD.
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Reinfried, S., Aeschbacher, U., Kienzler, P. M., & Tempelmann, S. (2013). Mit einer didaktisch rekonstruierten Lernumgebung Lernerfolge erzielen – das Beispiel Wasserquellen und Gebirgshydrologie. Zeitschrift für Didaktik der Naturwissenschaften, 19, 261-288.
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Educational Project ‚Climate change and climate politics CCESO’

The educational project ‚Climate change and climate politics (CCESO – Climate Change Education and Science Outreach)’ compiles basic information and fields of experiences related to the issues of climate change and climate politics related to all levels of K12 schooling on behalf of the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment. In this project, the Universities of Education in Lucerne (Sibylle Reinfried), Berne (Marco Adamina, Matthias Probst) and Vaud (Philippe Hertig) as well as the Oeschger Center for Climate Change Research of the University of Berne are involved. The project is being coordinated by GLOBE Switzerland.

The following issues are being investigated in this project:

  • Analysis of the technical and educational publications related to the topics of climate change, climate politics and climate protection on all levels of K12 schooling (including textbooks and publications related to teaching)
  • Analysis of teaching and learning experiences related to climate change, climate politics and climate protection on all K12 levels (questioning of teachers and pupils).
  • Development of a multilevel educational concept for K12 concerning climate change (basic information, reasons, consequences, adaption and adjustment, climate politics and climate protection).
  • Elaboration of a concept for exemplary learning opportunities concerning the topics cited above.
  • Development and practical testing of learning opportunities for all school levels.


Adamina, M., Hertig, Ph., Probst, M., Reinfried, S. & Stucki, P. (2018). Klimabildung in allen Zyklen der Volksschule und in der Sekundarstufe II. Schlussbericht Projektphase CCESO I 2016/2017 (vollständige Fassung).
Bern: éducation 21

Reinfried, S., Probst, M., Adamina, M., Hertig, Ph. & Stucki, P. (2018). Klimabildung in allen Zyklen der Volksschule und in der Sekundarstufe II. Zusammenfassung der CCESO-Projektphase I 2016/2017.
Bern: éducation 21