But I thought…?

Misconceptions in the Science Classroom: But I thought…?

Misconceptions are ideas that are incorrect due to difficulty understanding. In the science classroom, many different concepts are taught and with a pile of new things students could be learning, misconceptions can arise and follow them throughout the rest of their educational career.

Common Misconceptions students may have:

  • The “dark side” of the moon never sees the Sun
  • The blood in our veins is blue until it hits oxygen on the outside of the skin
  • Humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time
  • Evolution is goal oriented
  • Objects float in water because they are lighter than water
  • The seasons are caused by the distance we are from the Sun

Misconceptions can be addressed by using different activities and techniques to make sure students understand the correct ideas. In this video, it follows Ms. Jackson as she uses the 5 E’s to address a misconception some of her students have about eclipses:

Ways to Fix Misconceptions:

  • Start with seeing student’s ideas about different topics to locate where there may be misconceptions.
    • This can be done with questions that the students have to answer
  • Once misconceptions are found, ask them why they might be thinking that way.
    • This could be done using an MTV strategy like a chalk talk
  • Make activities that are student-led so they can figure out, on their own, what the correct ideas are.
  • Be sure to check on student’s understanding through some sort of informal assessment, like an exit slip.

Dealing with misconceptions can be tricky because student’s may stick to their ideas, despite being incorrect. By making sure all students are getting the chance to explore and see the ideas, they can make conclusions that are correct and add to a greater understanding of the content. Don’t let your students be ignorant, let them excel!


1 Comment

  1. Kacey,
    I really like the idea of using a chalk talk to identify the different reasons students believe in certain misconceptions! It can allow you to really understand how students are thinking. How would you encourage students to figure out the “truth” on their own while still making sure they are not creating a new misconception or interpreting data or evidence incorrectly? Great job!!

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