Misconceptions or Missing Conceptions?
Claudia von Aufschnaiter 1 * , Christian Rogge 1
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1 Justus Liebig University Giessen, Giessen, GERMANY* Corresponding Author


Research on conceptual change assumes that students enter a science classroom with prior (mis-)conceptions. When being exposed to instruction, students are supposed to develop or change their conceptions to (more) scientific concepts. As a consequence, instruction typically concentrates on appropriate examples demonstrating that students’ conceptions are limited and need to be extended or revised (Posner criteria). Based on our studies on students’ conceptual development in Physics, we rather argue that students typically lack any (explanatory) conceptual understanding of the science content offered. We therefore conclude that a focus on missing conceptions is much more promising than a focus on misconceptions. This paper addresses theoretical arguments and empirical results supporting our proposition as well as suggests possible implications for the design of instruction and for teacher education.


This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Article Type: Research Article

EURASIA J Math Sci Tech Ed, Volume 6, Issue 1, 2010, 3-18


Publication date: 21 Jun 2010

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