This study aims at qualitatively analysing conceptual change by comparing school students concepts of England before and after moderate constructivist bilingual geography excursions. The theoretical basis is formed by the conceptual change theory with a closer focus on how moderate constructivist excursions can promote conceptual change regarding concepts of other places. Previous research indicates that pre-concepts of other places are characterised by images, stereotypes, and prejudices while post-concepts tend to be more diverse, nuanced, and detailed.
The empirical part of this case study is embedded in the framework of three bilingual geography excursions to England with a total of 106 eighth grade students (between thirteen and fifteen years of age). Using a pre-test/post-test design, students concepts of England were ascertained with a combination of visual and verbal methods (drawings and word associations). The obtained pre-concepts and post-concepts were compared via qualitative (visual) content analysis complemented by semiotic analysis.
The results show that students pre-concepts of England abound with simplified images of London and stereotypes regarding weather and food. Further identified are some prejudices primarily about people and weather. After moderate constructivist bilingual geography excursions, students develop more diverse post-concepts indicated by the increased number of categories in the post-tests and the variety of associations given within the categories. Moreover, post-concepts include more comparisons between home and England and also more diversified comparisons between contrasting aspects of England. Students post-concepts can further be characterised as more nuanced, meaning that associations are relativised and individual traits and differences recognised. Additionally, iconic post-concepts are more detailed indicating a deeper and richer understanding of England. Finally, students post-concepts include more experiences gained on-site and more personal opinions. This is not observed in studies where teaching of other places took place inside the classroom.