Making Use of Misconceptions

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Science  31 Aug 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6098, pp. 1020
DOI: 10.1126/science.337.6098.1020-c

Ironically, educators themselves hold misconceptions on how best to deal with their students' preexisting ideas. Instead of categorizing misconceptions as mistakes needing to be managed, is it possible to use them as a resource for learning? Larkin surveyed 14 preservice science teachers in different teacher preparation programs and found that their views on student misconceptions fell into five general categories: evidence of content coverage, obstacles to understanding, tools to encourage thinking, elements of a positive classroom environment, and the raw material of learning. Over the course of learning to teach, preservice teachers adjusted their view of student misconceptions, and most grew to recognize the teaching potential of misconceptions. These results suggest that teacher educators should encourage preservice teachers to incorporate misconceptions into their teaching as learning platforms to build on, instead of obstacles to learning.

Sci. Educ. 96, 927 (2012).

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