How Do We Deal with Misconceptions in our Science Classrooms

Obtained from: https://dilbert.com/strip/1990-11-21

Each year, our classrooms are filled with bright young minds that come from various backgrounds. Since each of these students are bound to have different background experiences that shape what they know and how they think, it is inevitable for them to run into misconceptions that they might wholeheartedly believe as truth and/or fact. Although misconceptions are things we want to avoid as teachers, it is important that we handle it with a certain amount of tact and care.

But why are misconceptions so important to deal with?

Obtained from: https://www.knellerins.com/3-common-misconceptions-about-car-insurance/

You might think to yourself: “why is it so important to go out of our way to correct our students’ misconceptions? Wouldn’t it just annoy them if we sought to correct them all the time?”.

Well that is true. We really want to avoid burning out our students with constant corrections, but the goal of handling misconceptions is to teach students how to deal with their misconceptions themselves. All too often, we see people read articles or headlines that instill a false sense of knowledge in us but we don’t go the extra mile to make sure what we are reading is actually true vs sensationalized jargon that appear to make sense without much effort.

We, as teachers, don’t want our students to only know the right answer vs the wrong answer but we want them to be able to find or reason out those answers themselves and become more well-rounded people. That is why it is so important for us to address misconceptions in a way that allow our students to grow as learners.

So how do I address misconceptions in my classroom?

Obtained from: https://www.aft.org/ae/spring2016/sadler-and-sonnert
  • Establish a classroom environment where being wrong is okay! All too often, students are too anxious about “getting the answer wrong in front of the class” or “sounding dumb in front of their peers”. Working towards reducing those fears would make huge strides towards classroom discussions and learning.
  • Encourage the use of questions and nurture their curiosity! Many teachers lecture and drill knowledge into young minds, thus encouraging students to fully believe whatever they read or hear the first time they are exposed to it. Encourage your students to question and it will give them a purpose to research whatever piques their curiosity.
  • Most important of all, be understanding and patient! Unraveling misconceptions may take a long time for students to not only understand, but to accept into their minds.
Here’s a real-life example of how a science teacher deals with misconceptions in her classroom
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2 Responses to How Do We Deal with Misconceptions in our Science Classrooms

  1. chenj18 says:

    Hi Riley,

    I believe that a good way to create that sort of environment is to be transparent to your students that this line of thinking is encouraged on the first day of class when you begin to get to know your students. As we learned from EDT431, first day impressions are very important and set the tone for the rest of the year so students should know from the first day of class that you want to create a judgment-free, learning-encouraged environment where wrong answers are just as welcomed as right answers. I hope this answers your question!

  2. curtisrc says:

    Jay,
    I think you brought up a wonderful point about how important it is to foster a classroom climate where it is okay to be wrong. In fact, we should encourage “wrong” answers because that typically means students are thinking through various challenges and figuring out different approaches to solving it. What is one way you to go about making sure you create that sort of environment?

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