Exploring misconceptions as a trigger for enhancing student learning

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Research and Development in Higher Education Vol. 40: Curriculum Transformation

June, 2017, 455 pages
Published by
Ruth Walker & Simon Bedford

This article addresses the importance of confronting misconceptions in the teaching of the STEM disciplines. First, we review the central place for threshold concepts in many disciplines and the threat misconceptions pose to quality education. Second, approaches will be offered for confronting misconceptions in the classroom in different contexts. Finally, we discuss what we can learn about these approaches and the common threads that reveal successful approaches. These steps have been explored in relation to four case studies across diverse disciplines. From these case studies, a set of principles about how best to address misconceptions in STEM disciplines has been distilled. As conceptual knowledge increases in importance in higher education, effective strategies for helping students develop accurate conceptual understanding will also be increasingly critical.

Keywords: misconceptions, conceptual change, STEM