Effect of pedagogy on conceptual change in repairing misconceptions of differing origins in an introductory materials course

Stephen Krause, Jacquelyn Kelly, Dale Baker, Sharon Kurpius

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Different pedagogies will affect how conceptual change and repair of misconceptions occurs. Taber has developed a categorization scheme for classifying origins of misconceptions which he refers to as " impediments". In particular, he states that there are two general types, each with subtypes. Null impediments refer to missing information (necessary for learning new material) due to students: 1) not having prior knowledge (deficiency) or; 2) not recognizing links between new material and their prior existing knowledge (transfer). Substantive impediments refer to faulty conceptual models which originate from: 1) observations or personal experience or (experiential); 2) prior courses and teaching (pedagogic) or; 3) bending or misinterpreting of new concepts to fit prior knowledge (misinterpretive). Knowledge of the origin of different types of misconceptions can be useful in selecting more effective pedagogical techniques for repairing of the misconceptions. Thus, in this paper we address the research question of, "What is the effect of different pedagogies on misconception repair as classified by Taber's five categories of misconception origin?" Conceptual change in an introductory materials course was measured by the Materials Concept Inventory (MCI) for five differing pedagogies used by the same instructor in 2002, 2003, 2007, Spring 2009, and Fall 2009. Conceptual change theory framed the study which used results of Hake gains from specific MCI questions to generate misconceptions that fit each of Taber's five categories. Conceptual change differed for the various pedagogies. Overall, however, there was a trend in the effectiveness of differing pedagogies in achieving conceptual change. Ranked from highest to lowest, the order of pedagogy effectiveness, as measured by increases in conceptual change, was found to be: 1) team discussions with hands-on activities and concept sketching in 2007; 2) team discussions with contextualized concept mini-lectures and activities in the Spring of 2009; 3) team discussions, contextualized concept lectures and activities, plus pre-post topic assessments and daily reflections in Fall 2009; 4) lecture with some discussions in 2003 and; 5) lecture only with no team discussions or activities in 2002. It was found that all pedagogies using student engagement achieved greater conceptual change compared to passive learning and lecture-only pedagogies. Another interesting effect for the two pedagogies in Fall and Spring 2009, which used contextualized concept mini-lectures and activities, was that course dropout rate was lowered and course retention improved to 95%. This was an increase from 89% in 2002, 86% in 2003 and 82% in 2007. While all active learning pedagogies were better than passive lecturing for achieving conceptual change, different categories of Taber's misconception origins were more effectively addressed by different active learning pedagogies. It was found that an awareness of Taber's misconception origin categorization scheme, as used in conjunction with frequent formative assessment and feedback, has proven effective in uncovering new and diverse misconceptions in materials engineering. The usefulness of Taber's classifications with frequent formative feedback for improving teaching and learning is discussed and assessed in the paper.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2010
Event2010 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Louisville, KY, United States
Duration: Jun 20 2010Jun 23 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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