A study of children's misconceptions in science and the effectiveness of a related programme of teacher training in Pakistan

Iqbal, Muhammad Zafar

July 1985

Thesis or dissertation

© 1985 Muhammad Zafar Iqbal. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

The study comprised an investigation of children's misconceptions in science with the intention this should provide a base for further research linked to a wider programme of the improvement of science education in Pakistan.

The investigation was carried out on the concepts of Force, Energy, Light, Work, and Electric Current using Interview-About-Instances approach. It was discovered that children in Pakistan hold misconceptions similar to those held by children in other parts of the world. Then, three groups of science teachers were tested in the concept Force after giving them different levels of information about students' misconceptions. It was found that science teachers also hold misconceptions and performance of the three groups was almost equal on the test.

Next, the teachers of the sample students were trained to reteach three concepts: Force, Energy, and Light. After re-teaching, students were retested using both IAI and multiple-choice instruments. The results showed that pupils' misconceptions persist despite re-teaching.

Then, in order to confirm or refute these results more widely, a larger number of teachers and students were involved. The purpose of this part of the study was to discover if in-depth teacher training can lead to more effective teaching. A special teacher training programme was developed. The selected teachers were randomly distributed into three groups. Group A was given in-depth training, whilst group B was given simple training. Group C served as a control group. After training, teachers retaught the concepts Force, Energy and Light in their own schools. Students were tested using multiple choice tests.

It was found that group A was significantly different from groups B and C together only in one subset of test items in the concept Force. Also, the mean scores of students in group A in each test were found to be higher than those of students in groups B and C. From these results it is argued that programmes can be organised for the training of science teachers to tackle effectively problems arising from children's misconceptions. Finally, the study proposes a research project with an overall purpose of improvement of science education in Pakistan.

Institute of Education, The University of Hull
Moore, J. L.
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British Council
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