Chronology Current Month Current Thread Current Date
[Year List] [Month List (current year)] [Date Index] [Thread Index] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Prev] [Date Next]

Re: [Phys-l] Student Misconceptions

I agree with JD that one should never raise misconceptions (I prefer to call them "preconceptions"--less pejorative and besides, most of them have been developed over the years by their own observations, irrespective how how flawed those observations may be) in class. If you bring up a common preconception then it is more likely to imprint on other students and reinforce in those already suffering from it. As John says, its best to teach the correct conceptions and ignore the incorrect ones--until they are raised by a student. Then deal with them as quickly as possible, preferably by showing the students how the conception is incorrect and why, perhaps with a clearly designed demo that can be done in the spur of the moment. Major potential pitfalls probably need to be addressed, but carefully, as it is more likely that students will remember the pitfall than the correct idea (in analogy with the recent finding that talking about "myths" about any topic--see the Wash. Posts, weekly Saturday column "5 Myths about . . ."--tends more to reinforce the myths than debunk them).

More important is how to deal with your misconceptions when they become apparent to the students. I always found it best to immediately admit it and quickly correct it, apologize for the error and move on.


Hugh Haskell

It isn't easy being green.

--Kermit Lagrenouille