Journal of Elementary Science Education

, 7:27

First online:

The origin and extent of alternative conceptions in the earth and space sciences: A survey of pre-service elementary teachers

  • Kenneth J. SchoonAffiliated withIndiana University Northwest

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Understanding how alternative conceptions are formed can make it easier for classroom teachers to help their students uncover their own alternative conceptions. Teachers, however, cannot be expected to help children with alternative conceptions if they hold these alternative conceptions themselves. A questionnaire containing common earth/space science alternative conceptions was administered to 122 preservice elementary teachers. A discussion of alternative conceptions followed during which participants were asked to reflect on their responses. The study suggests that many misconceptions originate in the classroom and that pre-service elementary education teachers have many of the same misconceptions that their future students will have.