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Alternative Conceptions

General, Forces and Motion, Electricity, Astronomy

Misconceptions or Alternative Conceptions?

"The use of the word 'misconception' lends a heft to the student's thinking that just may not be there. What and how they think is highly plastic and often only codified by researchers: the more subtle amongst them acknowledge that these thought patterns are transitory, often heavily influenced by context and do not seek the coherence that formal study seeks to bring. That's why the Wrong Track / Right Lines dichotomy evolved. Nothing is yet fixed. Students are just passing through. 'Conceptions' is a rather overblown term to codify the halting pointing, mumbling and incomplete gesticulating ... Not that it's wrong; just that you need to bear in mind, not only that large numbers of people might seem to think in a particular way, but also that that given a slightly different set of clues, they'll seem to be thinking in an entirely different way." Ian Lawrence (iop: talkphysics.org)

General

  • Making sense of secondary science: research into children's ideas by R Driver et al, Routledge, 1994.
  • Children's ideas in Science by Rosalind Driver, Edith Guesne and Andre Tiberghien, Open University Press, 1985
  • Learning in Science by Roger Osborne and Peter Freyberg, Heinemann, 1985
  • Children's Informal Ideas in Science by Paul Black, Routledge, 1983
  • The Content of Science by Peter Fensham, Richard Gunstone and Richard White, Routledge, 1994

Resources from Physics Teachers' Conferences

 Type

Filename

Filesize

Generic

Misconceptions: Diagnosis and Treatment

39.8 kB

A powerpoint presentation by Dr Barbara MacKinnon from Kew High School as part of the karaoke session at the 2016 Physics Teachers' Conference.

Adobe PDF

Using 'Conceptual Understanding Procedures' (CUPs) in the teaching of Motion

52.1 kB

Material from the workshop by Pam Mulhall, University of Melbourne at the 2011 Physics Teachers Conference.

Microsoft Powerpoint

Fields, Force, Energy and Potential: alternative conceptions, analogies and learning

559 kB

The powerpoint of Prof Dick Gunstone's presentation at Unit 3 Course Planning Days in Nov 2016.

Useful Websites

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Forces and Motion

Resources

 Type

Filename

Filesize

Microsoft Word

Resources on 'Forces on Passengers' from VELS site

83.5 kB

This document describes the extensive range of information on students’ misconceptions in science available on the VELS website. A summary of one example is included that of ‘Forces on passengers’.

Useful Websites

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Electricity

Resources

 Type

Filename

Filesize

Microsoft Word

The Smarties model for electric circuits

72.7 kB

10 page article on 'Some models for developing beginning students' understanding of Electric Circuits'. Presented by Dr Christina Hart at the 2007 and 2008 Physics Teachers Conferences.

Microsoft Word

Circuit Models

159 kB

3 page article on 'Models for DC Circuits'. Presented by Dr Christina Hart at the 2011 Physics Teachers Conferences.

Microsoft Powerpoint

Models for Electric Circuits

1.76 MB

The PowerPoint file from the presentation by Dr Christina Hart at the 2011 Physics Teachers Conferences.

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Astronomy

Resources: Audio files from recent Physics Teachers Conferences

Resources: Support documents from Dr McKinnon's talk at the 2009 Physics Teachers Conference

 Type

Filename

Filesize

Microsoft Word

Astronomy Diagnostic Test: Manual

1.35 MB

Manual for scoring responses to the 'Alternative Conceptions in Astronomy' Test. 32 pages.

Microsoft Word

Astronomy Diagnostic Test: List

81.9 kB

A ranked and scored list of 'Alternative Conceptions in Astronomy'. 2 pages.

Microsoft Word

Astronomy Diagnostic Test

197 kB

The actual test on 'Alternative Conceptions in Astronomy'. Southern hemisphere version 1.01. 11 pages.

Adobe PDF

Astronomy Diagnostic Test: Overall Report

980 kB

Report of the Eye Observatory Remote Telescope Project: Practical Astronomy for Years 7, 8 and 9. A Research and Development Report prepared for the Department of Education, Science and Training by David H. McKinnon, Charles Sturt University 206 page pdf file.

Useful Websites

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