Misconceptions in science education




Results 1

Results 2


Final conclusions


Educational research

This work was realized during my PGCE (post-graduate certificate in education) course, when I was teaching in English secondary schools. The title of this research is:

Misconceptions in science education

Final conclusions

There are very simple questions which can show how consistent is the pupil’s scientific understanding of a topic. There are pupils that perform well in exams but seem to be caught up by some of the questions that were asked during this research.

For instance, if you ask where plants’ biomass come from you won’t get an straight answer as you get if you ask what are the products of photosynthesis. The fact that pupils may know a lot about photosynthesis but they feel uncomfortable with the question above is that the idea is not fully understood, although a lot of information has been received : a pupil may be able to write the relevant formulas for photosynthesis and he/she may even calculate the energy released bases on bond energies given.

Although I had a long questionnaire, only a few topics caused difficulty and controversy. Those were: the concept of force, the particle model and the origin of plants biomass. Misconceptions on this area may remain  until Y11, whereas most of the other misconceptions are usually completely discarded by then.

As we would expect, the misconceptions that are more difficult to eradicate are those related to phenomena that cannot be seen, like particles moving about.

Forces and movement in an environment without any friction at all , like empty space, also cause visualization problems