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Skip to 0 minutes and 5 seconds TONY HOUGHTON: To address misconceptions, is that word “plan.” It’s, when you are planning a lesson, you identify points were common misconceptions occur. I’m thinking about working those into the lesson for your question. So, if you know a common misconception, how can you get the students to identify that and then address it. So, not to just wait for the misconceptions to pop up.

Skip to 0 minutes and 30 seconds NADIA CALLOW-HUSSAIN: You do have to listen carefully and engage with them, as you’re doing practical work and as you’re discussing questions. And it’s through dialogue that you pick up where their misconceptions are. They won’t be obvious in the first instance. You start by sort of unpicking what the misconception is and then follow it through with some practical work, the following lesson, so that they can then see for themselves that what they thought before was wrong because they’ve actually unpicked it and they’ve seen it for themselves.

Skip to 1 minute and 1 second JENNY MCLARDY: We are very keen, particularly in our department, of getting children to have discussions. So, within a lesson, we will plan at least two, maybe three opportunities for them to have a discussion with the person next to them or within small groups. And they are really, really good at doing that. And, while they do that, we walk around, we listen, and, very often, that’s where we pick up on their misconceptions. We can then bring everyone back together. We can have a discussion. We have a culture of, you’re in science– it’s OK to fail, because that’s how scientists become good scientists– through failure and trial and error.

Skip to 1 minute and 35 seconds So they don’t mind at all when we say, you know, we heard over there you said something– slight misconception. Can we discuss why we think that’s a misconception? Can anybody add anything? Can they try and explain why that might not be quite right? And they have a really good kind of culture, really, of helping each other out and supporting each other through that.

Teachers' perspectives: assessing misconceptions

In this video teachers share how they identify, plan for and address misconceptions with their students.

Some key points from the video include:

  • When planning the lesson, identify any misconceptions you expect to occur
  • Plan questions which will help to identify these misconceptions
  • Enable students to unpick their own misconceptions by seeing what happens for themselves
  • Develop an environment where being wrong is seen as part of learning
  • Provide opportunities for students to support each other in developing their thinking


How do you create opportunities for dialogue in class so that you can listen for students’ misconceptions?

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Teaching Biology: Inspiring Students with Plant Science

National STEM Learning Centre

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