Assessment for learning: Misconceptions in Maths and Science

Misconceptions of scientific and mathematical concepts frequently prevent children from successfully learning some of the key ideas we teach in lessons. Whilst the student may ‘parrot’ back the correct answer at the end of the lesson, their ideas may not have changed – meaning they get questions wrong when we assess them at a later date. There’s some evidence that diagnosing and explicitly tackling common misconceptions can help students improve their performance in maths and science – though getting people to change their ideas (generally!) is very difficult.

Interesting article identifying some common misconceptions in mathematics:
Pupils’ Misconceptions in Mathematics

Article on misconceptions in science:
Understanding misconceptions – teacher guidance

Example of a questionnaire used to assess students’ science beliefs:
The Elementary Students’ Science Beliefs Test

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3 Responses to Assessment for learning: Misconceptions in Maths and Science

  1. dodiscimus says:

    I absolutely agree that science teachers need to engage with misconceptions. As well as those useful resources, any of several books and articles by Rosalind Driver (and co-authors) about misconceptions in science would be a near-essential read for science teachers, I would suggest (in my case it would have saved 10 years of finding out the same things by trial and error). Also, the PhD by Derek Mueller, the director of the Veritasium videos, is very interesting. You can watch a video explaning the findings at
    (Also, that link to the National STEM centre is currently broken)


  2. Have fixed that link to the STEM article. Thanks for posting the Mueller clip.


  3. Pingback: What’s important about subject knowledge? | Evidence into practice

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