Encyclopedia of Mathematics Education

2014 Edition
| Editors: Stephen Lerman

Misconceptions and Alternative Conceptions in Mathematics Education

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-4978-8_114


The term “misconception” implies incorrectness or error due to the prefix “mis.” However its connotation never implies errors from a child’s perspective. From a child’s perspective, it is a reasonable and viable conception based on their experiences in different contexts or in their daily life activities. When children’s conceptions are deemed to be in conflict with the accepted meanings in mathematics, the term misconceptions has tended to be used. Therefore some researchers or educators prefer to use the term “alternative conception” instead of “misconception.” Other terms sometimes used for misconceptions or terms related to misconceptions include students’ mental models, children’s arithmetic, preconceptions, naïve theories, conceptual primitives, private concepts, alternative frameworks, and critical barriers.

Some researchers avoid using the term “misconceptions,” as they consider them as misapprehensions and partial comprehensions that develop and change over the...


Understanding Learning Constructivism Cognitive models Child’s perspective Cognitive conflict Child’s conceptions 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mathematics EducationTokyo Gakugei UniversityKoganeiJapan