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Student Explanations of Answers to Concept Questions as a Window into Prior Misconceptions

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2 Author(s)
Newcomer, J.L. ; Western Washington Univ., Bellingham, WA ; Steif, P.S.

Learning is closely tied to effective assessment, which can expose student thinking and facilitate more effective instruction. Various means of assessing knowledge, in particular, conceptual knowledge are being devised. In this paper, student explanations for their answers to multiple choice conceptual questions were studied, both to expose misconceptions and to determine whether the questions themselves indeed evoke thinking about relevant concepts. Explanations were generated by individual students at the beginning of the Statics course, prior to significant instruction. Means of categorizing explanations (a coding scheme) were devised based on responses obtained during a prior term. The coding scheme was then applied independently by the authors to responses of students in the current term. The results of the protocol analysis showed that certain misconceptions were particularly common. In addition, certain misconceptions tended to be more evident among students who selected certain answers

Published in:

Frontiers in Education Conference, 36th Annual

Date of Conference:

27-31 Oct. 2006