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Blog Reflection: Misconceptions in Science

on February 5, 2013

Last Friday we heard a presentation from Dr. Edmondson about Misconceptions in Science. I actually enjoyed her presentation because I never realized how many misconceptions there are in science. There was an exercise that was done at the beginning which tested our knowledge on basic science questions. My partner, Emily and I only got 1 question wrong! The point of the exercise was to recognize that we must be careful in the way we state facts. Since us undergraduate students will be teaching the Carbon Cycle to highschool students, it is imperative that we properly communicate the information with them. The video about the Harvard University graduates who could not answer a simple question about how an acorn becomes a log was very interesting. Harvard is an institution that has mainly the best and the brightest students. To see that these intellectuals were unable to answer the question was very shocking and puzzling. The video also had professors from various universities who all agreed that our misconception about scientific facts starts as early as elementary school. If we are not able to grasp the information at an early age, then it will be difficult to understand the proper information as we get older.

I was not too surprised about the misconceptions because I realized that I had some before I started Carbon Capstone. I have found that I am getting better at using the proper phrases on explaining the Carbon Cycle. Now I know that in order to have a great presentation I need to engage the class in conversation. Dr. Edmondson gave out a checklist which I deemed to be very helpful. The checklist is called Goals for Productive Discussions and Nine Talk Moves. This is very helpful for me to be able to get the students thinking and challenge them to form their own ideas about the concepts. Another helpful tip was to ask students at the beginning of my presentation about their ideas on the Carbon Cycle so that I could gauge their level of understanding. One question I had was what should I do in case a student asked me a question that I did not know the answer to. Dr. Edmondson gave a great tip which I would definitely use. Her tip was to put the question back on to the students and not to admit that I do not know the answer. This was a very clever idea. One part of the presentation of the that would help the highschool students would be the using the chemical kits on the mesocosms at the Rice Center.

There is an interesting article about misconceptions of biology concepts called “Determination of student misconceptions in “photosynthesis and respiration” unit and correcting them with the help of cai material” by by Esra Keles and Pinar Kefeli (2010). Keles and Kefeli state that using computer assisted instruction would decrease misconceptions on photosynthesis and respiration. It was very similar to Dr. Edmondson’s presentation. However, the only difference was using computer animations and on-screen tutors to capture the students’ attention. This could be a helpful solution, however, it could cause teachers to fully rely on the computer and not their own knowledge about the topic.

Here’s the link to this article http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042810005148

Photosynthesis cartoon

Photosynthesis cartoon 2

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5 responses to “Blog Reflection: Misconceptions in Science

  1. Thanks for your post! I’m glad you looked over the hand outs and found them useful, I still have not had a chance to revisit them. I am also very interested in the paper and associated computer program you shared. Computer programs when used correctly offer insight into processes that the human eye can not see which is a nice advantage. You touched on one of their disadvantages. Taking that a little bit further, I think it is critically important that instructors have a thorough understanding of the concepts that they are teaching.
    -E

  2. mariahdavis says:

    I really that like that you said “if we are not able to grasp the information at an early age, then it will be difficult to understand the proper information as we get older.” I think that’s a very good point. The computer idea is interesting and your plant food cartoon made me laugh! You will do a great job engaging the students using all the tips Dr Edmonson provided for us.

  3. evancoelm1 says:

    The cartoon that you posted with the kid that is saying “I thought plants were solar powered,” had a great point. There, it shows his mom putting p”plant food” into the soil. The fact that there exists many kinds of special soils, like Miracle Grow, only adds to the misconception that plants’ roots are responsible for plant growth.

  4. entomily says:

    Getting a hold of a computer for presentation purposes might be hard, but lots of public school teachers still have access to TV carts. Hopefully there are sweet animations available to VCR/DVD users too. It seems like the biggest difficulty is building one’s own knowledge store while nurturing that of another.

  5. Good job, Ann! I enjoyed reading your posts– the cartoons at the bottom were cute. I am glad that you were able to utilize the handouts from Dr. Edmondson and gain techniques for teaching. I thought the question you asked at the end of the lecture was a great question– very relevant because they will ask things you don’t know. One of the hardest things that I think you will find is engaging the students– start thinking of techniques or things to do during your presentation to get your students involved.

    -L

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