- Teachers (especially ones who teach High School) often have to teach students who have pre-instructural knowledge about a topic.
- This pre-instructural knowledge is not always correct
- These incorrect understandings are called alternative conceptions or misconceptions
How to Deal with these Misconceptions
We are going to deal with the misconception that “Things float if they are light and sink if they are heavy.”
Identify the Misconceptions
Before misconceptions can be corrected, they must be identified. A way to do this is to develop a pre-assessment to understand the misconceptions your students may have.
For this misconception, the teacher can bring in objects that will either float or sink. They can hold up each object, one at a time and have students write down whether they think the object will sink or float.
Ask Yourself Why Students May have the Misconceptions
It is important to understand why the students think they way they do and possibly where they may have gotten their information from.
In this case, students could possibly have the past experience of throwing rocks into a pond. Rocks typically sink when put into water and are heavy. Students may have assumed that this is the case for all objects.
Explain or Show Why the Misconceptions are Wrong
Present competing theories to students and give them the opportunity to reject or accept the new theories presented
Below is a video of a possible demonstration to do on why certain cans of pop sink and why others float.
Provide Tasks to Students to Show that They Understand the New Theory
Doing this will allow you as a teacher to know if your students understand the new theory and that the students are able to recognize why the past misconception was incorrect.
Something to have students do is work together as a group to theorize and understand why cruise ships that weigh 20,000-60,000 tons float.