Addressing children's misconceptions in science through talk

Briten, Elizabeth and Allen, Michael (2018) Addressing children's misconceptions in science through talk. In: Jones, Deborah and Hodson, Pamela, (eds.) Unlocking speaking and listening : developing spoken language in the primary classroom. 3rd ed. Abingdon, U.K. : Routledge. pp. 102-114. (Unlocking series) ISBN 9781138292710


Children construct scientific ideas from an early age. They are influenced by their observations and interactions with the world around. Some of these ideas can be intuitive yet are scientifically incorrect. Looking out at the night sky they see the moon shining as though emitting light or in the daytime notice the sun’s apparent movement across the sky while on Earth we appear still. Such observed events can create ideas that conflict with correct scientific thinking (Driver 1983). Since these misconceptions make perfect sense to the child they can cause confusion when the alternate, scientifically correct idea is presented in class. Inaccurate ideas can be difficult to rectify as misconceptions may be held onto with a great tenacity as the children move to secondary school and onwards (Smith 2010). If, as teachers we are to promote secure learning, it is necessary to first address any erroneous science ideas.

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