Addressing Misconceptions in a Science Classroom

Addressing common misconceptions about science

Misconceptions in any type of academic setting can lead students to confusion or misunderstandings of a certain topic. This issue can be so prevalent that it can carry on into their lives outside of school and misconstrue the world around them. In a science classroom, there are many misconceptions that students may have about different phenomena. In this blog post, common areas of misconceptions will be addressed alongside ways of navigating students to handling these conceptions.

Common Misconceptions in a Science Classroom:


  • Evolution: the idea that organisms can evolve traits during their lifetime
  • Environmental science: ecosystems are static and unchanging


  • Atoms: solid spheres rather than dynamic particles
  • Conservation of matter: matter can be created or destroyed during a chemical reaction


  • Newton’s laws of motion: an object in motion will stop unless a force is continually applied
  • Equating mass with weight

How can we help navigate students to dealing with these misconceptions?

  • Pre-Assessment:

This method can be used to test students’ prior knowledge of subjects, and implement opportunities to see if there are preconceived misconceptions that need to be addressed.

  • Interactive discussions:

Giving students an opportunity to discuss with their peers alongside the teacher can help students formulate into words how they are going about thinking on a certain topic. This also gives the teacher an idea on how to address any misconceptions that come up in conversation.

  • Peer teaching:

This method helps reinforce ideas to students in a way that has them become knowledgeable about a topic before they present it to their peers. Misconceptions can be discussed during this activity, giving students more perspectives on how to view the topic.

  • Reflection Opportunity:

Students can use this as an opportunity to see how their thinking as changed as a result of their understanding of the topic has changed.

  • Reinforcement and Follow Up:

Address misconceptions at the end of the lesson to make sure that common ones have been addressed. Similarly, address misconceptions that arose during class discussions during class time.

@NSTA, #scienceteaching, #misconceptionsinscience, @scienceteaching, #thinkcritically

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