The influence of a collaborative learning environment on primary students' conceptions about acid rain
The purpose of this research was to investigate primary students' conceptions about acid rain formation and its consequences to people and the environment, before and after a 10 hour constructivist teaching intervention. Seven primary schools, involving 11 experimental classes and eight traditional groups, participated in this programme. A written questionnaire was administered and answered by 128 students (aged 11 - 12) of the experimental groups and 101 students (aged 11 - 12) of the traditional classes. Prior to the intervention, the majority of students believed that when air pollutants go into the atmosphere they cause physical but not chemical phenomena. After the intervention, the students of the experimental classes improved their conceptions and they now realised that not only physical but also chemical phenomena could take place in the air (acid rain). They also seem to have understood that acid rain can appear everywhere, not only in the cities, as well as understanding the consequences of acid rain to humans and the environment. On the contrary, the traditional group of students' initial ideas resisted teaching and did not improve to more scientific ones.