Misconceptions in Physics

Pupils have many misconceptions.

They often pick these up when very little. Experience, words of grown-ups and peers that 'explain' the world around them and things they have been taught in school all colour their understanding of what is happening around them and why.

It is always easier to draw on a blank canvas than to have to amend a existing sketch, or obliterate it before you can start.

It is very important to find out what a child thinks before you teach him/her to apply a concept to a situation. If the past learning that they had had distorts the image they have of the problem, they will not be able to use your instruction to full advantage. It is always worth the time needed to understand the student's viewpoint. Once you know that vantage point you can guide the tutee into seeing what you see of the problem...

It is simple... ask what they think! Then try to understand why they think that and lead them gently from misunderstanding to full understanding. Do not just say they are 'wrong', be helpful in showing them why they are mistaken. The best way is to lead them through thought processes that show they are currently mistaken.

In a class situation it is useful to brainstorm ideas.

The topics below are ones that I have shared and discussed with PGCE students in the past.

Colour and Vision



Heat and Temperature



Taking Measurements