Diagnosing and Dealing with Student Misconceptions: Floating and Sinkingby: Yue Yin, Miki K. Tomita, and Richard J. Shavelson

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Misconceptions broadly exist in a variety of subject areas, such as physics, biology, geography, and other sciences. Among them, bringing students to an understanding of why things sink and float has proved to be one of the most challenging topics for student conceptual change. To address this issue, the authors designed ten multiple-choice items to help teachers diagnose common misconceptions related to sinking and floating, which are described in this article.

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Reviews (3)
  • on Fri Sep 16, 2011 11:39 AM

This article explains what misconceptions are and the way a teacher can find out if students have these and what teachers need to do to change their incorrect views. The topic is about relative densities of different things. This article includes a diagnostic assessment to understand student thinking and a chart that outlines misconceptions, supporting evidence, and counterevidence to debunk that misconceptions. This is a very helpful article for middle school teachers.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Wed May 18, 2011 2:08 PM

This is one of my favorite articles. It is a great model for how to diagnose students' misconceptions efficiently and then how to use that understanding for conceptual change. First, we must know what those misconceptions are, and then present students with situations (discrepant events) that will help them see that they need to change their understanding. Wonderful and very useful article.

Wendy Ruchti  (Pocatello, ID)
Wendy Ruchti (Pocatello, ID)

  • on Sun Jun 03, 2012 9:39 PM

This article deals with the concept of floating and sinking. It has an excellent multiple choice questionnaire to determine misconceptions on the principle of sink or float. It goes on to discuss some activities to disprove some sink or float misconceptions. It would have been nice to have more activities to address the other misconceptions.

Betty P  (Kansas City, MO)
Betty P (Kansas City, MO)

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