Modeling Conceptual Knowledge and Conceptual Change


Wolfgang Stenzel (HWK)


Prof. Dr. Tamer Amin, American University of Beirut, Lebanon

Prof. Dr. Benedek Láng, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Hungary

Prof. Dr. Clayton Lewis, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA


  •  Prof. Dr. David Brown, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA
  •  Dr. Scott Friedman, Smart Information Flow Technologies, USA
  •  Prof. Dr. Piers Hale, University of Oklahoma, USA
  •  Dr. Maria Hedblom, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Italy
  •  Prof. Dr. Olivia Levrini, University of Bologna, Italy
  •  Prof. Dr. Bruce Sherin, Northwestern University, USA
  •  Prof. Dr. Gabor Zemplen, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Hungary


October 1, 2017 - March 30, 2022

Statement of Problem

The focus of this study group is “Modeling Conceptual Knowledge and Conceptual Change”, that is, the concepts and conceptual structures that constitute the basis of scientific understanding, as contrasted with simple facts or skills, and the acquisition of such knowledge. The group will bring together researchers from computer science, developmental psychology, learning sciences, and history of science. The group will aim to achieve these objectives:

  1. Provide a more precise characterization of a variety of knowledge types that have been proposed to underlie the representation of conceptual knowledge, including: innate “core cognition”, “image schemas”, “p-prims”, “linguistically formulated beliefs”, “ontological constraints”, “mathematically formulated propositions” and “symbolic forms.”
  2. Examine how these knowledge types and their interactions can be modeled computationally.
  3. Identify a small number of paradigmatic cases of concept learning and explore how this learning can be computationally modeled.
  4. Explore the implications of the emergent characterization for understanding teaching and learning in the domains of science and mathematics, including public understanding of science.


The work is aimed at sharpening the available understanding of the issues, by supplementing verbal argumentation with efforts to model the mechanisms needed to realize competing theoretical visions. It also aims to contribute to debates on promoting public understanding of science, in particular by connecting constructs such as those in the “deficit” model of public understanding with constructs in conceptual change.