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This chapter offers a brief account of the formation of concepts that support learning in chemistry and more widely. It reports current thinking on this topic, including some of the key theory. The chapter considers several accounts of cognition that may be considered to offer complementary perspectives. The notion that human cognition can be understood to involve two largely distinct systems (one fast-operating and intuitive; the other more deliberate and open to reflection) is explored. The role of automatic cognitive processes in forming implicit knowledge elements (p-prims) that support the development of spontaneous concepts is considered, as well as how the brain is able to develop ‘higher’ level explicit representations deriving from implicit representations. The importance in the learning of scientific concepts of mediation by others who are already knowledgeable is described, as well as the way concepts presented through formal language become grounded by being melded with spontaneous concepts.

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