What lies beneath the Materials Science and Engineering misconceptions of undergraduate engineering students?

Senay Purzer, Stephen Krause, Jacquelyn Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Students from various engineering disciplines who enroll in an Introductory Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) class often harbor a variety of robust misconceptions. The goal of this study is to investigate the origins of these misconceptions and identify barriers to student learning of introductory MSE concepts. To categorize the sources of student misconceptions, Taber's typology of learning impediments was used. A synthesis of research literature concerning K-12 and undergraduate physical science and chemistry misconceptions was also conducted to reveal origins of MSE related misconceptions. Misconceptions that are present in undergraduate introductory MSE students were revealed using the Materials Concept Inventory (MCI). The misconceptions were linked to four distinct categories of K-12 misconceptions in physical science and chemistry: 1) the nature of crystalline structure and unit cells, 2) the relationship between material characteristics and bonding, 3) material processing, and 4) saturation and super-saturation. These misconceptions were caused by deficiency, fragmentation, ontological, and pedagogical learning impediments. From the comparison and categorization of these misconceptions' origins, we have made suggestions for developing effective misconception interventions and teaching approaches for introductory MSE classes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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