Forum: Teachers Lab

Topic: How do students develop scientific misconceptions?

Topic Posted by: Linda W. Braun (lbraun@leonline.com )
Date Posted: Sat Jan 30 7:45:01 US/Eastern 1999
Topic Description: How do you think students develop scientific misconceptions? What are ways you know to help students overcome these?

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Posted by: Andrew Njaa (anjaa@maine.rr.com )
Organization:Falmouth HS / Concord Consortium
Date posted: Mon Feb 22 14:18:57 US/Eastern 1999
Subject: Physics / Chem
Message:
I find the idea of tracing the origins of student misconceptions to be fascinating. For example, the idea that the earth is warmer in the summer because it is closer to the sun during that time, seems to call on fundamental true knowledge. In other words, the 3 year old learns that it is warmer next to the fire. Therefore, it is only logical to assume that the earth is nearer the sun in the summer. At least, that is the quickest/easiest response. It takes further steps to work up to answers for the consequences of this view. Why is it winter in the southern hemisphere when it is summer here up north? Then there is the idea of longer time, higher temp, again, another step up in sophistication. I think as teachers, the most important tool you can give a student is not the "understanding" of a particular problem, like the phases of the moon or whatever. Rather, I need to get them to take a few minutes to ask what the consequences of their assumptions are.

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