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Erzsébet Korom: Naive Theories and Misconceptions in Learning of Science Concepts

One of the most interesting research areas where recent advances in cognitive psychology and research in science education overlap is the study of science misconceptions. Science educators often ofserve that sudents have difficulties with understanding science concepts. When students face real-life problems, many of them use their naive theories for explanation instead of the science knowledge they are taught at school. Naive theories on a number of physical phenomena are extremely persistent and resist several years of science education. They are often very simple and include misconceptions and conceptual ideas, the meaning of which deviates from the commonly accepted scientific view. This state-of-the-art paper gives an overview of the most inportant directions and issues of misconception research: (1) the detection of misconceptions and difficulties of understanding in different fields of science, e.g. physics, chemistry, biology and geography; (2) the identification of the most important features of misconceptions; (3) investigations into the reasons for the persistence of misconceptions; and (4) proposals and programs developed to eliminate misconceptions and to prevent the emergence of new ones. Results of this research area provide a theoretical background for an understanding of conceptual develpoment and for a constructivist view of learning. They also highlight the importance of the consideration of children's naive theories in science teaching and learning and emphasize the necessity of a methodological change in concept teaching. The relevance of the findings to curriculum development, teacher training and instruction are also discussed.

MAGYAR PEDAGÓGIA 97. Number 1. 19-40. (1997)

Levelezési cím / Address for correspondence: Korom Erzsébet, JATE Pedagógiai Tanszék, H 6722 Szeged, Petőfi sgt. 30–34. e-mail:


Magyar Tudományos Akadémia