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Misconceptions In Physics Among Secondary School Students

Draft to Journal of Indian Education

Abdul Gafoor. K*
&
Akhilesh,P.T.**

9/21/2007

Abstract________________________________________________________________
Learning of science becomes difficult by the presence of numerous
misconceptions. Data collected using test of concept attainment in physics
(TCAP) from a stratified sample of 627 pupils studying in standard nine in a
district of Kerala reveal that majority of students have misconception regarding
34 concepts in physics. Forty-two per cent of high school students have
misconception regarding majority of concepts in the TCAP. In the areas density,
sound, work and gravity the extent of misconception is nearly three fourth of the
sample. Out of the 63 concepts in Physics that show gender difference in
misconceptions, 37 concepts have higher rate of misconception among girls, than
boys do. Only 26 concepts in Physics have higher rate of misconceptions among
the boys, than in girls. In the areas work and velocity, boys have higher number
and rate of misconception than girls, while for density, energy, sound, solar
system, and gravity girls have higher rate and number of misconception. Rural
students have more misconception than urban students do. In velocity and its
definition, work, mass, sound, and energy urban students have higher number
and rate of misconception; while for force and inertia, density, energy
transformation, solar system, and light, rural students have higher rate and
number of misconception. The study suggests steps for remedying
misconceptions.
________________________________________________________________________
* Reader, Department of education, University of Calicut, Calicut
University PO. 673635. Kerala.
**Teacher, University Teacher Education centre, Calicut, Kerala
Misconception in physics among secondary school students

Misconceptions in Physics among Secondary School Students

Science education aims at increasing common knowledge about science


and widening social awareness of scientific findings and issues. Learning
science requires learning its language, which often differs from daily language.
Learning science goes beyond scientific facts, principles, and theories. One of its
aims is to attain conceptual understanding of science. Today‟s education
intends to produce citizens who can deal with the words concepts and scientific
symbols necessary for the success in the technologically advanced modern age.
Learning of science becomes much more difficult by the presence of
numerous misconceptions. From the developmental view of science education,
children do not come to school at “zero” in science learning. They have already
reacted to gravity, energy, lightening, thunder, darkness, light, weather, and a
host of other scientific phenomena. They may bring misconceptions,
superstitions and fear, which become liability to society in long run.
Misconceptions are concepts developed in students about scientific
processes and beliefs that run counter to the beliefs and theories held by
scientists.
Concepts, misconcepts and their development
Concepts are fundamental agents to intellectual work. Concept learning
is the identification of the concept attributes, which help generalize newly
encountered examples and discriminate examples from non-example. Bruner
makes a difference between concept formation and concept attainment. The
process of primitive categorization of objects is concept formation. In the
concept attainment, the subject before hand knows the number of dimensions
or specific attribute value and hence he is properly set to find out the definite
attributes of a concept
Piagetian concepts of assimilation, accommodation, and to a lesser
degree cognitive disequilibrium build up much of the conceptual change
literature. Assimilation is the process where by the learner is able to gain new
knowledge by fitting new information into existing knowledge structure (Tao &
Gunstone, 1999). Accommodation requires changes in cognitive structure before
the new information can become part of the learner‟s knowledge; in other words
a change in conception (Dykstra, Boyle & Monarch, 1992; Posner, Strike,
Hewson & Gertog, 1982).
Researchers use different terms for conceptual change. They include
weak and strong restructuring (Carey, 1985), branch jumping and tree
switching (Thagard, 1991), conceptual capture and conceptual exchange
(Hewson & Hewson, 1992), differentiation and reconceptualization (Dykstra,
1992) and enrichment and revision (Vosniadou, 1994). Each theoretician has
developed own terminology, but there is common ground between the various
perspectives of conceptual change. Conceptual change involves changes in
students‟ assumptions about the world and knowing.
Concepts in science can be of two types, viz; Concrete Concepts or
Formal concepts. According to Herron et al. (1977), concrete concepts are those
concepts, which name classes of entities for which there are numerous
perceptible instances. The higher the cognitive level the better the
comprehension of concrete concepts. When teaching procedures used in the

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Misconception in physics among secondary school students

classrooms are largely expository, students seldom confront with first-hand


concrete experiences with any aspect of the discipline. This procedure hinders
the student from comprehending concrete concepts until he enters the formal
stage.
According to Herron, Cantu, Ward and Srinvisan (1977), „formal
concepts are those concepts that do not have perceptible instances, or have
defining attributes which are not perceptible'. Formal operations may help in
the understanding of concrete concepts by enabling the student to use an
expanded frame of reference that helps in accounting for both concrete and
formal concepts.
Misconceptions: types and sources
Student‟s non scientific knowledge about science such as false concept
about scientific terms, definitions, and phenomena‟s have been described by
many terms including misconceptions (Eaton & Smith; 1983), Preconception
(Clement, 1982), Alternative conceptions (Gilbert & Smith, 1985) and
Alternative frame works (Driver & Easly, 1978). Misconceptions in science are
ideas that are at a variance with accepted views (Fisher 1983) or students‟ ideas
that are different from the ones generally accepted by scientists (Odom &
Barrow 1995).People develop ideas about a variety of science topics before they
confront the exact theories and concepts about those topics. These ideas tend to
remain persistent despite efforts to teach scientifically accepted theories and
concepts (Black & Lucas 1993).
Preconceived notions or preconceptions of the natural world are
popular conceptions rooted in every day experience. Such misconceptions are
very common because they are rooted in the most common activity of young
children, unstructured play. When children are exploring their surroundings,
they will naturally attempt to explain some of the phenomena they encounter in
their own terms and share their explanations (Terry & Hurford, 1985). When
children reach at incorrect assumptions these preconceptions are also
misconceptions. Teachers and students‟ belief systems contain some other
common false notions.
Vernacular misconceptions arrive from the use of words that mean one
thing in every day life and another in a scientific context, for example everyday
use of words Work and power. Conceptual misunderstandings are resulted
when teaching of scientific information is in a manner that does not encourage
students to settle any cognitive disequilibrium (Dykstra & Monarch, 1992).
There are numerous ways for misconceptions to occur. Scientific data
are constantly changing. Parents and teachers relay their misconceptions to the
children they teach. Often adults have no idea that what they “know” is actually
a misconception. Many times the teachers and parents in trying to make
scientific material understandable, they overtly simplify information, causing
inaccurate views. One of the worst causes of misconception is cognitive over
load. This occur when too much information is presented at one time causing
people to shut down all processing because they are over-whelmed with
information (University of Massachusetts, 2000). This can cause children to
loose interest in science out of the “fear of failure “or “fear of peer group
ridicule”. It is rarely that misconceptions result from the lack of reasoning
abilities (Renner & Marek, 1990). Early misconceptions can stunt a student‟s
science learning until one confront and overcome the misconceptions (Brown &

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Misconception in physics among secondary school students

Clement 1987; Hewson & Hewson, 1983). Students can become confused in
physics because of many factors, Language usage, everyday experience,
analogies, and metaphors. Examination papers and textbooks (Ivow &
Oludotun, 1987) can cause students difficulty in forming acceptable
understanding of physics concepts, theories, and laws (Clement1987). Textbook
can mislead students because of poor writing and/ or poor editing.
Often misconception is incredibly durable. Studies have shown students
to hold believes in contradiction of those used to solve problems correctly
(Hammer 1989; Clement and Brown 1987). The tenaciousness of such
misconceptions is not due to the difficulty in acquiring a new concept, but
rather due to the learner‟s reluctance to relinquish the old familiar
misconceptions (Terry & Hurford, 1985). After the instruction, students might
use scientific knowledge in school, and give correct answers to standard
questions, but in unfamiliar situations or outside the school will use their own
alternative beliefs (White, 1992).
Studies on misconception can help to remove misconception with
relevant methods facilitated by improved understanding of the field. This can
contribute to the national development through eradication of superstitions,
and through developing objectivity, open mindedness, critical thinking, and
adoption of scientific method in solving problems.
Objectives of the study
1. To find out the percentage of error committed in each of the
concepts involved in select areas in physics viz (1) matter (2) Solar system (3)
density (4) velocity (5) mass (6) gravity (7) work (8) Energy (9) light (10) sound
(11) electricity (12) Temperature, by the secondary school students.
2. To identify the misconceptions in select areas in physics viz (1)
matter (2) Solar system (3) density (4) velocity (5) mass (6) gravity (7) work (8)
Energy (9) light (10) sound (11) electricity (12) Temperature, in which there
exist significant gender and locality difference in the percentage of error among
secondary school students.
Test of Concept Attainment In Physics (TCAP)
For the study data was collected using test of concept attainment in
physics (TCAP) developed for the purpose. A pilot study including informal
interviews with high school teachers, high school students, frequent informal
but valuable consultation with experts in physics helped to obtain a list of
misconceptions. Discussions with a number of school students helped to cross
check and confirm the list relevance. Literature review helped in preparing a
condensed list of areas where misconception occurs frequently. The possible
Format of Test Items was 1) Multiple Choice Test 2) Diagnostic Test or 3)
Statement form Questionnaire. After many trials with the item formats, 90
statements form items were pilot run in 20 students. Students were more
willing and co-operative towards this item format. Crosschecking each item
response with the actual answers and believes of students and seeking
explanation for particular responses during the pilot run ensured the validity of
each item.
Sample
A sample of 627 pupils studying in standard nine from nine schools
situated in Kozhikode district drawn using stratified sampling techniques to

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Misconception in physics among secondary school students

give due representation to the sub groups based on gender of the pupils and
locality of schools provided the data.
FINDINGS
The major findings of the present study are summarized below.

1. The extend of misconception in physics among secondary school


students
Majority of students have misconception regarding 34 concepts (out of
90) in the TCAP (Table 1). Further, 42 per sent of high school students have
misconception regarding majority of concepts in the TCAP. Nearly 1/5th of the
students have 80 per cent misconception regarding concepts in the TCAP.

Table 1:Misconceptions in physics held by majority Of standard nine students


and the percentage of misconception
Area misconception Extent
Density  Heavier objects sink and lighter float on water 92.33%
 Heavier or metal objects sink in water 78.33%
 Density of a liquid increases as viscosity increases 56.39%
 Density and volume do not influence floating 53.51%
Sound  Sound travels faster through air than through objects 79.07%
 All sound waves are audible 69.97%
 Sound cannot do work 68.05%
 When frequency increases wave length increases 60.22%
Work  Where force is exerted there work is done 76.84%
 Work and labour are the same 76.52%
 Work cannot take place against the applied force 52.72%
Gravity  Gravity needs a medium to act 76.52%
 If two metal objects with different shape and weight is 71.09%
falling from same height, heavier will reach ground first
Velocity  Velocity is another name of speed 74.60%
 To have acceleration for a moving body its velocity 53.19%
should be increased
 Displacement is the total distance traveled by an object 52.56%
Matter  When water evaporate it is converted to hydrogen and 71.41%
oxygen
 Air is not a matter 65.18%
Force and  Force is that which is applied by man 71.25%
mass
 Mass is equal to the weight of the body 66.13%
 Centrifugal force is the force acting inward from centre 65.81%
on the body in circular motion

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Misconception in physics among secondary school students

Energy  Energy and mass are opposite 70.45%


 A stationary object has no energy 68.53%
 An object at rest has no potential energy 59.27%
Electricity  Pure water can conduct electricity faster 68.53%
Solar system  Light year is magnitude of time 68.53%
 Light year is the distance between earth and sun 56.39%
 Energy never decrease in sun 50.64%
 From earth every phase of moon is visible 50.16%
Light  Only seven colours can make white light 67.25%
Temperature  Resistance of conductor decrease with increase in 57.51%
length and increase with temperature
 When an ice cube comes in contact with heated iron rod 53.99%
only iron rod exhibit temperature

The findings in table1 suggest that secondary school students have


misconceptions in all the select areas of physics. Especially in the areas viz;
density, sound, work and gravity the extent of misconception is nearly three
fourth in the sample studied. The item with highest misconception is in the area
Density. In spite of the concrete examples that are possible from life situations
misconceptions persists regarding the understanding of the floating of objects
and its relation with density and volume. In the case of sound, majority think
that sound travels faster through air than through objects and all sound waves
are audible. In case of work, students think that work and labour are the same.
Majority of the students have misconception regarding more than half the
concepts given in the TCAP. About twenty per cent students possess
misconception regarding more than eighty per cent of concepts given. Even in
the low error exhibiting concepts, misconception is well above ten percent. The
misconception rate is likely to be higher than that found out by the study as the
correction formula for removing the effect of guessing the right answer was not
applied in estimating the rate.
2. Gender difference in Misconception in Physics

The gender wise comparison of misconception in concepts in Physics


reveals the following. Out of the 63 concepts in Physics that show gender
difference in the rate of misconceptions, 37 concepts in Physics have higher rate
of misconception among girls, than boys have. Against this, only 26 concepts in
Physics have higher rate of misconceptions among the boys, than in girls. (See
table 2).

Table 2: The area wise list of concepts that show significant gender difference in
misconception (concepts indicated in normal and italics are those showing more
misconception in boys and girls respectively)

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Misconception in physics among secondary school students

Concept Area Misconception Boys – Girls


(%)

Work Force need not be applied for work to occur 53.13 - 21.65

Displacement is not essential to say work is done 53.41 - 22.51

Where force is exerted, there work is done 75.57- 83.55

Velocity Displacement is the total distance traveled by an object 66.76 - 35.50

To have acceleration for a moving body its velocity need not be 65.34 - 35.06
increased

Velocity is the distance covered in unit time 28.13 -15.58


Speed of an object has a relation with direction 38.07- 56.71
Unit of speed and velocity are the same 16.48- 29.00
Mass and Mass denotes size of an object 54.55 - 24.24
Force

Work can take place against the force being applied 59.66 - 42.86

Centripetal force is the force which acts on the body outwards the 53.13 - 28.14
center in circular motion

Force is that which is applied by men 77.56 - 64.50

Centrifugal force is the force acting inward from center on the 73.86 - 61.47
body in circular motion
If an object is not moving there is no force acting on it 34.66- 64.94
Force is not the capacity to do work 10.80- 26.41
Stationary object has no inertia 37.78- 60.61
When velocity increases mass changes 34.38- 54.98
Mass is not the amount of matter 15.06- 23.81
Energy An object situating at a height has no potential energy 58.52 - 29.44
Contd.
An object at rest has no potential energy 65.34 - 51.95
Various energy forms cannot be transformed one another 16.19- 43.29
It is not possible to convert matter to energy and vice versa 58.01- 42.61
Energy is transformed to only one form at a time 28.69- 46.75
Energy is lost when its form changes 25.85- 38.53-
Density Density and volume have no effect on floating 64.20 - 41.13

Substance with high density float on water 15.34 - 6.49


Substance should contain air to float 23.01- 54.55
Atmospheric pressure increases with height 48.48- 32.95
Electricity Volt is (not) the unit of potential difference 55.97 - 32.90

Ampere is (not) the unit of electricity flow in a circuit 32.10 - 17.32


Only magnets make magnetic field 25.85- 51.08
Iron is the best conductor of electricity 25.57- 50.65

Contd.
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Misconception in physics among secondary school students

Concept Area Misconception Boys – Girls


(%)

Sound When frequency increases wave length (does not) decreases 69.03 - 47.62

Sound travels in straight line 51.14 - 40.26


Sound above 20Hz are not audible 15.91- 37.66
Sound needs no medium to travel 26.70- 46.32
All sound waves which are audible to humans 8.52- 19.05
Sound travels faster through air than through other objects 75.57- 87.01
Gravity If two metal objects with different shape and weight are falling 79.83 - 60.61
from same height heavier will reach ground first

Gravity needs a medium to act through 80.40 - 72.29


At the center of earth gravity should be high 25.28- 46.75
Acceleration due to gravity should be equal all over the world 28.41- 45.02
If there is no air gravity can’t act through 28.41- 55.41
the space traveler feels weightless s(not) due to the low 18.47- 30.74
gravitational force

Solar system Light year is a magnitude of time 75.28 - 58.01


A light year is something faster than a regular year 18.75- 40.69
Energy never decrease in sun 39.49- 63.20
Sun is not a star 16.48- 31.17
Light year is the distance between earth and sun 48.01- 65.37

Light Ocean seems blue due to the scattering of colours other than blue 19.60- 37.23
All rays in the sun light makes heat effect 26.99- 43.72
Oceans and lakes seem blue because they reflect the sky 22.16 - 35.50

Table 2 indicate that in the areas work and velocity, boys have higher
number and rate of misconception than girls, while for the area density, energy,
sound, solar system, gravity and to some extent for electricity and magnetism
girls have higher rate and number of misconception than boys. In the area
temperature, boys have relatively higher misconception than girls, as against
the area of light in which girls are worse than the boys. In the area matter, there
is no gender difference where as in the areas force and mass gender difference
exist, but result is not conclusive.

Regarding the misconception in physics, boys possess misconceptions in


the areas, work, velocity, and mass. In general boys exhibit misconceptions in
definition type and textual ideas e.g., displacement, centrifugal force and volt.
Boys exhibit more misconceptions in verbatim reproduction of textual
definitions and statements more than girls. However, they are better off in

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Misconception in physics among secondary school students

abstract and relational concepts than girls are. This study found that girls are
exhibiting more error in abstract concepts but they possess the concept
definition in textbooks and concepts of units of physical phenomena units more
than boys do. In the area of relational concepts, girls exhibit some problem in
relating the component concepts involved, more than boys do. In general, the
findings from the study indicate that girls exhibit more number of
misconceptions in physics than boys.
3. Locale difference in Misconception in Physics

Table 3 shows the concepts in physics that show locale-based difference. In the
77 concepts in physics which show locale based difference in the rate of
misconception, 34 concepts have higher rate of misconception among urban
than rural; as against 43 concepts which have higher rate of misconception
among the rural school students than urban school students. (See table 3)

Table 3: The area wise list of concepts, which show significant locale difference
in misconception (concepts indicated in normal and italics are those showing more
misconception in urban and rural samples respectively)

Urban – Rural
Area misconception
(%)
Velocity Displacement is the total distance traveled by
87.11 - 22.64
an object
To have acceleration for a moving body its
67.94 - 39.19
velocity need not be increased
Velocity is the distance covered in unit time 34.84 - 11.82
Speed of an object has a relation with direction 25.78-64.53
Unit of speed and velocity is (not) the same 8.36- 34.46
Mass and Mass denotes size of an object 71.78 - 14.19
Force
Mass is equal to the weight of the body 75.26 - 61.15
Centripetal force is the force which acts on the
body outward from the center in circular 92.33 - 15.54
motion
Centrifugal force is the force acting towards the
92.33 - 42.28
center by the body in circular motion
Force is that which is applied by man 88.18 - 57.09
If an object is not moving there is no force acting
17.77- 74.66
on it
Capacity to do work is not force 6.97- 26.69
Force is not the entity which changes moving or
11.50- 21.28
stationary state of an object
A stationary object has no inertia 28.92- 64.19
Inertia is independent of mass 8.36- 36.82
Mass is not the amount of matter 6.27- 30.41

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Misconception in physics among secondary school students

Urban – Rural
Area misconception
(%)
When velocity changes mass changes 31.01- 53.72
Work Force need not be applied for work to occur 69.69 - 14.19
Displacement is not essential to say work is 68.64 - 14.53
done
Work cannot take place against the applied
69.34 - 37.10
force
Work and the labour are the same 91.64 - Contd.
64.53
Power is not the rate of work 10.10- 23.31
Sound When frequency increased then wave length
87.11 - 34.80
decreases
Sound travels in straight line 60.98 - 33.11
All sound waves are audible 86.06 - 58.78
Sound cannot do work ie sound is not a energy
78.40 - 59.48
form
Sound above 20Hz are not audible 3.14- 45.27
Sound needs no medium to travel 16.72- 51.69
All sound is audible to man 3.14- 21.96
Energy An object situating at a height has no potential
68.29 - 26.35
energy
An object at rest has no potential energy 75.26 - 45.26
A stationary object has no energy 75.26 - 63.51
It is not possible to convert matter to energy and
17.42- 64.86
vice versa
Matter and energy are not same and equal 28.22- 68.58
Various energy forms cannot be transformed
7.67- 45.61
one another
Energy transforms to only one form at a time 20.91- 50.34
Energy loses when its form changes 23- 38.51
Density Density and volume do not influence floating 76.31 - 34.36
Pressure on sea bed will be lower 47.74 - 37.16
Substance should contain air to float 11.15- 59.12
oil floats because Water and oil are immiscible 3.14- 19.59
Atmospheric pressure increases with height 26.13- 51.69
Due to its heaviness a big cube of ice never
26.83- 41.55
floats
Heavier or metal objects sink in water 72.47- 83.78
Electricity Volt is (not) the unit of potential difference 65.28 - 28.38

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Misconception in physics among secondary school students

Urban – Rural
Area misconception
(%)
and magnets ampere is (not) the unit of electricity flow in a
40.07 - 12.84
circuit
Only magnets can make magnetic field 55.74 - 10.80
Iron is the best conductor of electricity 13.24- 57.09
As Potential difference increases flow of
5.23- 36.82
electricity decreases
Potential difference has no connection with
11.85- 32.9
electricity flow
Gravity If the metal objects with different shape and
height is falling from same height heavier will 89.90 - 55.74
reach ground first
Gravity needs a medium to act 89.90 - 64.86
At the center of earth gravity should be high 12.89- 54.05
If there is no air, gravity cannot act through 28.92- 60.81
It is Not due to low gravitational force that the
10.80- 35.47
space traveler feels weightless
Acceleration due to gravity should be equal all
28.22- 41.55
over the world
Temperature When ice cube comes in contact with heated
iron rod only iron rod exhibit temperature 69.34 - 41.55
change
Resistance of conductor decreases along length
70.38 - 46.62
and increases along temperature
Matter When water evaporates it is converted to
85.71 - 60.81
hydrogen and oxygen
Light An object which absorbs all colours in the
sunlight seems white while one which reflects 55.40 - 36.49
all seems black
Only seven colours can make white light 73.87 - 63.85
All rays in the sun light makes heat effect 10.80- 55.74
Ocean seems blue due to the scattering of light
11.50- 41.22
other than blue
Oceans and lakes seem to blue because they
15.68- 38.85
reflect sky
All rays in the sun light are visible 25.69- 35.81
Energy never decreases in sun 25.44- 71.62
Sun is not a star 3.83- 40.20
Solar System A light year is one is lesser than a regular year 10.80- 43.58
Light year is the distance between earth and
42.51-66.89
sun

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Misconception in physics among secondary school students

Urban – Rural
Area misconception
(%)
Light year is (not) the measure of long distance 16.72- 31.42
From earth we can see every side of moon 43.2- 55.41

Table 3 shows that rural students have more misconception than urban
students do. In the areas velocity and its definition, work, mass, sound, and
energy urban students have higher number and rate of misconception than
rural students; while for the areas force and inertia, density, energy
transformation, solar system, and light, rural students have higher rate and
number of misconception than urban school students. In the area velocity
urban have higher misconception than rural students do, as against the area of
gravity in which rural students are worse than urban students do. In the areas
matter, mass and force there is no locale difference in misconception.

Among urban students, six minor concepts have more than three fold
misconceptions rate than rural students in which one minor concept exhibit 5-
fold misconception rate than rural. Among rural students, 22 minor concepts
have more than 3 fold misconception rate than urban. Here the rate is 14 fold,
10 fold, seven fold, or 5-fold misconception than urban in some concepts.
Educational Implications
The study indicate that the concepts which are concrete in nature have
comparatively low rate of misconceptions and those which involve functional
relationships, relation between relations and reference model concepts (abstract
concepts) show comparatively high error rate. Hence, the teachers have to keep
in mind about the facts about nature of concepts, which have major role in
making misconceptions in students mind while designing instruction and
framing of the science curriculum and even for the judicious selection of
learning experience.
High school students have serious misconceptions in the areas density,
sound, work, and energy. Some of them have misconceptions in the bases of
floating, sound propagation, work-force relation, and energy transformation.
The science topics temperature, mass, energy etc to be made more concrete
with examples and thereby reduce the textual nature of concepts. In other
words, abstract to concrete, translation need to occur in our physics
classrooms.
All types of misconceptions such as preconceived notions, factual
misconceptions, vernacular misconceptions, and conceptual misunderstanding
exist in students irrespective of gender and locality. The manner in which
textbooks present explanations and illustrations may also be causing
misconception. e.g.:- various electricity circuits, splitting of light into spectrum
using prisms, the orientation of planets in the milky way in one plane given in
text books, picture of the combination of seven colours making white light
textual explanation of energy mass relation etc.

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Misconception in physics among secondary school students

Gender difference does exist in the rate as well as nature of


misconception held by students in physics. The reason for this lies interwoven
in domestic environment, differing nature of life experiences, school practices,
teacher behavior, learning styles, and so on. In addition, there is significant
difference in misconception between urban and rural students. In some areas
the misconception in rural students are six times more than that of urban
students. The lower misconception rate among urban students may be due to
the good facilities available in urban schools such as laboratory, library, and
other aids that give first hand experiences. So teachers need take initiative for
the proper utilization of existing facilities and improvement in school libraries,
modern audiovisual equipments, laboratory facilities, computer aided
instructions, television etc. for compensating and eliminating the
misconceptions in the acquisition of basic concepts attainment in physics.

Misconceptions are very stable. Most of students‟ misconceptions exist


after instruction. Confidence in the misconceptions increases over time and
becomes more entrenched despite instruction to the contrary. Not teaching
critical thinking skills, instead teaching children to memorize facts and to take
multiple-choice tests in school cause misconceptions to persist in children.
Traditional instruction does not encourage meaningful learning. Hence, it is not
easy to replace them with scientific conceptions (Hestenes, 1987; Clement,
1993). Changing misconceptions is not simply adding new information to an
individual‟s mind. Interaction of new knowledge with existing is necessary if the
new need replace the existing (Hewson & Hewson, 1983). Replacing the existing
faulty knowledge with the scientific one is one of the aims of conceptual change
strategies (Posner et al., 1982; Hewson & Hewson, 1983).

Often, the students themselves can easily correct vernacular and factual
misconceptions. However, simply insisting that the learner dismiss preconceived
notions and ingrained nonscientific believes is not effective for a teacher
(Hammer, 1989). For a change in conception, Posner et al. (1982) suggested four
conditions. They are: (1) students must become dissatisfied with their existing
conceptions (dissatisfaction); (2) the new concept must be clear and
understandable for students (intelligibility); (3) the current problem be solved by
using the new concept (plausibility); (4) similar future problems can be solved
by using the new concept (fruitfulness). Therefore, teaching should develop
strategies to create cognitive conflict in students, organize instruction to
diagnose errors in students‟ thinking, and help students translate from one
mode of representation to another.

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