Detecting, Classifying, and Remediating: Children’s Explicit and Implicit Misconceptions about Experimental Design

Date of Original Version



Book Chapter

Abstract or Description

Students come to science classes with preconceptions about the natural world and ways to explore that world to learn more about it. Students' prior beliefs may distort their understanding of how to design an experiment and also its purpose: to identify causal factors. These prior beliefs influence students' reasoning about experimentation, leading them to misconstrue instruction aimed at teaching them about the core component of experimental design: the Control of Variables Strategy (CVS). Many students erroneously interpret the instructional goal as to teach them some domain-specific knowledge or to produce a desired effect, rather than as how to execute a domain-general procedure for designing experiments. The behavior of late-elementary and middle school students is examined to categorize common misconceptions about the goal of the CVS instruction, describe how those misconceptions led to delays or failures in learning CVS, and suggest instructional procedures that can be used to remediate the misconceptions.




Published In

Proctor, R. W., & Capaldi, E. J. (Eds.), Psychology of Science: Implicit and Explicit Processes. New York: Oxford University Press..