Alternate conceptions can find their way into classrooms in a variety of different ways. Maybe they’re misconceptions, incorrect assumptions, and cultural beliefs. In science classrooms, this can be difficult to deal with, so let’s talk about different ways to identify and address alternate conceptions.
Where do Misconceptions Come From
Misconceptions can come from a variety of places. This article adapted from Pyc, Agarwal, and Roediger (2014) addresses where student misconceptions come from. This information is summarized in the graphic from the article below!
Knowing where misconceptions come from is great. But we must also know how to address alternate conceptions! Here are some ways to help address alternate conceptions in your classroom below!
Inquiry and Asking Questions
We’ve been talking about inquiry a lot. But it truly is one of the best parts of the science classroom! And it’s an easy way to address students’ misconceptions and alternate conceptions in the classroom.
Creating an environment of inquiry creates space for students to question what they experience and observe, as well as their own beliefs. (Which is an important skill to have when getting involved in the sciences)
Curious and want to learn more about how inquiry can help address students’ misconceptions? Check out this paper on Addressing Misconceptions Through Inquiry in First Grade Science by Cameron Cecil Jones!
Get to Know Your Students
I know I know, as a teacher one of the most crucial steps is getting to know your students. Everyone tells you this. But if you really want to address alternate conceptions, you need to know where they come from.
Alternate conceptions can come from just about anywhere. Getting to know your students helps you to understand where the alternate conceptions come from. The better you know where misconceptions come from the better you can address them!
It’s important to keep in mind that alternate conceptions can be due to different cultural understandings. It is important to be culturally mindful of your student’s alternate conceptions and where they come from. You might even learn that when you help students unpack their alternate conceptions some cultural beliefs are rooted in science!
Use Refutational Readings
Using refutational readings in science is perfect for not only teaching students how to read scientific writings but also helping students learn how to identify and address alternate conceptions. Furthermore, refutational readings also provide evidence that refutes incorrect alternate conceptions.
It’s important to make an activity or lesson out of refutational readings, however. This makes sure that students are learning the most out of the reading!
Don’t Just Stop at Introductory Classes/Lessons
Alternate conceptions flood into all levels of education and learning. Make sure you are addressing all alternate conceptions throughout all levels of education!
These are just a handful of ways to address alternate conceptions in your science classrooms. What suggestions do you have to address alternate conceptions?
See you next time!