Enlightening Conversations about Student Conceptions

Dear class,

Your comments and aha moments on Heather in the Private Universe as well as your insights into student learning have been enlightening.  The new readings you identified in your research studies contributed to our understanding of the scope of misconceptions that students hold in science and math. In the literature, student misconceptions are described often as quite reasonable explanations of how children and young adults view their world. These conceptions are also oft referred to as student: alternative conceptions, preconceptions, partial conceptions, hybrid conceptions. The student alternative conceptions that you highlighted are in domains of practice for many of you, and as a class, we can look forward to how you keep these (and the Private Universe) in mind, as our discussions progress. One of the goals of any good graduate program is to foster entry into scholarly discourse, and your citations to the work you read is a characteristic of being able to engage in this type of discussion. This is a good start. I have been commenting on each of your posts individually but also wanted to share how much this forum on student conceptual challenges has gotten many of us thinking about our own personal conceptions and our teaching settings. Weaving together the suggestions by Driver, Posner, Cobb, and Confrey et al. to confront these conceptual challenges begins a course-long process of how we may integrate particular instructional strategies and digital technologies in our teaching to support student learning. By expanding our collective repertoire of possible alternative conceptions, we can inform design decisions as you showed with suggested teaching strategies. There were a number of thoughtful strategies proposed in the posts. I look forward to your continuing to explore the possible conceptual challenges of students in math and science throughout the course.

Thank you,


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