Research on conceptual change has led to its application as an approach to education. This process typically involves first uncovering a student’s preconceptions about a given phenomenon, then guiding students in changing their conceptual framework.5 Analogous to Kuhn’s idea of scientific revolution, conceptual change in education involves more than just the accumulation of knowledge and information. It requires restructuring the concepts that are foundational to the beliefs around the relevant knowledge and information. In one study, researchers provided students with conceptual change texts and tools that dealt with misconceptions, while the integration of new, scientific conceptions are also incorporated in the lesson.6 A control group received a traditional instruction of lecture and discussion methods. The researchers discovered that conceptual change texts and tools caused a significantly greater understanding of the scientific concepts and also led to a more positive attitude towards science as a subject.
The notion of conceptual change is also relevant to business. Like Kuhn’s vision of scientific progress, central commitments or paradigms within an industry or organization also often require revision. In 1997, the Business Roundtable, a group of CEOs from major US companies, wrote that “the paramount duty of management and of boards of directors is to the corporation’s stockholders.” In 2019, the same organization released a statement regarding a revision of what the purpose of a corporation should be, citing that social responsibility must also be critical to its endeavors, in addition to maximizing shareholder value. Depending on how much you’re willing to take the CEOs on their word, this conceptual change represents a paradigm shift in the role of business in modern society.
Apart from high-level industry changes like the example above, conceptual change in business settings can also occur on an individual level. An employee, for example, may have had certain beliefs around time and effort at a particular company or industry that didn’t allow taking breaks during the day, however, upon transitioning to a new job, where breaks are not only tolerated but encouraged, they may find themselves conceptually adjusting certain beliefs about time management in the workplace.