Strategies to elicit student misconceptions
Students often have misconceptions regarding the principles of reproduction and heredity. To elicit these misconceptions and develop strategies to overcome them, it is necessary to encourage the students’ participation in discussions. Furthermore, a teacher can receive important information regarding possible mistakes and wrong ideas while asking students about their visions of some aspects related to reproduction and heredity.
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In addition to asking questions and initiating discussions in the class, it is also possible to use short questionnaires similar to the tests that are often proposed by researchers (Driver, Rushworth, Squires, & Wood-Robinson, 2005). Students’ answers to such questionnaires will be helpful to demonstrate their visions of reproduction and identify misconceptions.
Moreover, teachers can initiate discussions to elicit misconceptions while asking children to explore examples, describe and explain what they observe, and compare pairs of living and non-living beings or cases of sexual and asexual reproduction (Driver et al., 2005). Besides, teachers prefer to show children different types of photographs and encourage the students’ involvement in a discussion of reproduction and heredity.
Typical student misconceptions regarding reproduction and heredity
It is important to note that students are inclined to develop a range of misconceptions regarding reproduction and heredity. For instance, children can think that babies are manufactured or that they can be found by parents in a shop or a hospital (Driver et al., 2005). These misconceptions are associated with the lack of knowledge regarding the processes of reproduction.
When children learn basic aspects of reproduction, they can confuse the following concepts: a human ovum and a bird’s egg or sexual and asexual reproduction, for instance (Driver et al., 2005). Also, children can draw wrong conclusions while discussing processes of reproduction that are based on their misconceptions. Thus, students can conclude that eggs are not alive because they have no features typical of beings. They also can state that male animals are usually bigger than female ones.
Furthermore, children can see asexual reproduction as a weaker process than sexual reproduction (Driver et al., 2005). Many misconceptions are also associated with children’s visions of heredity. Students are inclined to state that inheritance depends on natural processes and environmental factors. Thus, children often avoid focusing on the role of genes even if they know about the process (Driver et al., 2005). Furthermore, children do not understand the principles of adaptation associated with inheritance and features of the community, and they choose to discuss adaptation as related to individual capabilities.
Strategies to correct misconceptions
The teacher’s task is to correct misconceptions developed by children regarding reproduction and heredity. It is rather difficult for children to change their visions even in the context of Science lessons and the received knowledge. Educators can correct the existing misconceptions while demonstrating different diagrams, models, and maps that explain reproduction processes in humans, animals, and plants (Driver et al., 2005).
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This illustrative material is important to help students develop their correct visions of reproduction and heredity instead of ideas that were promoted by their parents or other adults. When children describe aspects associated with reproduction and heredity in living beings, educators need to correct their mistakes and develop discussions of real factors that influence these processes. Furthermore, it is important to use various exercises and experiments to involve students and demonstrate how their wrong visions differ from the observed processes or changes in plants and animals.
Driver, R., Rushworth, P., Squires, A., & Wood-Robinson, V. (2005). Making sense of secondary science: Research into children’s ideas. New York, NY: Routledge.