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Misconceptions identified from students' performance

Below are a number of different examples of students’ responses to a range of different diagnostic questions. Well-designed diagnostic questions aim to elicit evidence about student learning. If you need further support about using diagnostic questions you can take the Introducing Assessment for Learning course.

In this task you are going to identify possible misconceptions from evidence. Choose one of the four examples.

This step uses examples from science and mathematics, however you may wish to think about an example from your own teaching instead, and that’s fine.

  1. Primary science: living things
  2. Secondary science: forces on moving objects
  3. Secondary science: exothermic and endothermic reactions
  4. Secondary maths


Inferring misconceptions from evidence

Select one of the examples above and in the discussion below, share which example you are looking at and answer:

  • What is the concept students may have difficulty with?
  • Why do you think students provided the range of answers they did?
  • What does this tell you about their understanding of the idea and where they may be struggling?

Compare your responses to others.

In week 3 you will develop further your ability to infer and tune your teaching from evidence collected.

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This article is from the free online course:

Planning for Learning: Formative Assessment

National STEM Learning Centre