ERIC Number: ED255366
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1984
Reference Count: 0
Cognitive Processes and Students' Misconceptions in Science.
Smith, Deborah C.
Several categories of misconceptions which appear to be emerging across studies are discussed. They include: mis-perceptions; stunted conceptions; mis-translations; confused conceptions; lost conceptions; and true misconceptions. True misconceptions are metaphors and analogies which represent truly complete systems of explanation but are conceptually wrong; for example, many adults whose models for the way a thermostat controls the furnace assume an accelerator metaphor. A common elementary science lesson on the water cycle is also examined in detail, focusing on places where children might go wrong in their understanding, and on how underlying cognitive processes might be connected to these difficulties. In addition, instructional implications arising from the discussion of cognitive processes as well as some further research which is needed to clarify these implications are addressed. One implication noted from a consideration of the cognitive processes required in the elementary science lesson is to teach it to much older children, whose working memory capacities can maintain and manipulate all the necessary factors. For young children, the lesson clearly overtaxes their abilities to represent mentally the events demonstrated, to construct functional rules for those events, to coordinate rules into a dynamic model, and to manipulate that model to explain unseen real-life events. (JN)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Northeastern Education Research Association (Ellenville, NY, October 25, 1984).