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By using a preassessment of chemical and physical change, teachers can become better equipped to bridge conceptual gaps through instruction.
This is a great article for the middle school teacher introducing chemistry and wanting a conceptually well-designed unit. The authors begin by pointing out that “the new conceptual
Framework for K–12 science education contains matter and its interactions as a fundamental area for physical science.” They further state, “that it is important to find activities that also address this topic on a particulate level to help students build mental models describing how atoms make up matter.” They begin by defining and discussing student preconceptions and misconceptions. They believe that by using a pre-assessment based on prevalent student preconceptions or misconceptions; teacher’s can reinforce, remediate, and introduce important concepts. The authors provide a chart listing prevalent student misconceptions about the particulate nature of matter and their correct scientific conception. They also show examples of a sample test. They further list two web sites that teachers can access for pre-assessment tests. (One of the on-line resources is the Misconceptions-Oriented Standards-Based Assessment Resources for Teachers (MOSART) web site.) This article is very thoroughly researched and well documented. Although the authors addressed middle school teachers wanting to develop a unit focusing on particulate matter, the underlying strategy can be applied to almost any objective. I highly recommend reading this article to all middle school teachers.
We are reminded that one can not teach over a misconception. Rather misconceptions must be draw into working memory where ideas can be reprocessed and corrected. Effective preassessment can not only do this, but also inform teachers about the nature of student misconceptions. This is especially important in chemistry where easily accessible are often lacking. Here you will be walked through the process of preassessment and given many excellent examples.
The authors give a good argument for the importance of preassessment in the identification of misconceptions among students. Their examples of effective preassessment questions are good ones. Good read.
Rebecca Falin (Elizabeth, WV)
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