Do Skilled Elementary Teachers Hold Scientific Conceptions and Can They Accurately Predict the Type and Source of Students’ Preconceptions of Electric Circuits?
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Holding scientific conceptions and having the ability to accurately predict students’ preconceptions are a prerequisite for science teachers to design appropriate constructivist-oriented learning experiences. This study explored the types and sources of students’ preconceptions of electric circuits. First, 438 grade 3 (9 years old) students were surveyed about their pre-instructional ideas on electric circuits and where they developed these ideas. Then, 76 elementary school teachers with master’s degrees in science education were selected and their content knowledge of electric circuits was documented. Next, they were asked to make predictions about the kind of preconceptions most grade 3 students would have about electric circuits and the most dominant source of these preconceptions. The results revealed that these skilled teachers held scientific conceptions for most of the questions surveyed; however, they inaccurately predicted the types and sources of the students’ prominent alternative preconceptions. Specifically, they underestimated the possibility of students holding scientific concepts and neglected the effect of students’ intuition on their conceptions. Implications for teaching and teacher education are discussed.
KeywordsAlternative conceptions Content knowledge Electric circuit Pedagogical content knowledge Source of students’ conceptions Teachers’ awareness
The author would like to acknowledge the Ministry of Science and Technology in Taiwan for its financial support in completing this study (grant numbers NSC 99-2511-S-133-002-MY3, NSC 102-2511-S-259 -003 -MY3), and my assistants, Yu-Lun Wu and Wan-Yeh Chan, for their data collection and analysis,respectively. In addition, the author gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Dr. Larry Yore and Shari Yore, in editing the manuscript.
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