Investigation about representations used in teaching to prevent misconceptions regarding inverse proportionality

Research paper by Matthias R Risch

Indexed on: 27 Aug '14Published on: 27 Aug '14Published in: International Journal of STEM Education


A major problem in teaching science is the overcoming of misconceptions. Reif found a procedure specifying a science concept. Neglect of this procedure can induce misconceptions. To find what can prevent misconceptions, students entering engineering were tested to see whether they understood easy problems of movement requiring the concept of inverse proportionality. The test comprised questions about time needed by a vehicle in both linear and diagrammatic form using different representations given to the students.Science misconceptions were investigated by comparison of the answers given to the same problem using different representations of the problem. The misconceptions demonstrated by the answers confirmed models of misconceptions such as Piaget's and Reif's. Reif found a procedural concept providing a more detailed specification of a concept, which helps to avoid imprecision, which can easily creep into verbal definition statements. This was confirmed in this study. Students' conceptual knowledge was found to be highly incorrect because of confusion with preexisting knowledge acquired in daily life resulting in scientific misconceptions. It was confirmed that imprecision easily creeps into verbal definition statements, which would be avoided by explicit specification of a concept eventually recalled by a drawing.Regarding the results of this study, drawings seem to protect best from misconceptions and this does not depend on other material given to the students. In teaching science, more emphasis should be on procedures specifying concepts as outlined by Reif.