Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)


Education and Human Development

First Advisor

Dr. Betsy Ann Balzano


Students bring their personal belief systems with them into classrooms. In the science classroom, these beliefs may be misconceptions, ideas that are not congruent with currently accepted scientific facts and theories. This study sought to identify student misconceptions as they pertained to a unit of study on the human digestive system. The hypothesis was that students, when submitted to traditional, lecture-type teaching which does not confront students' preconceived notions, will learn the correct information for the formal unit test, but will revert back to their previously held notions upon leaving the class.

Each of the 85 high school biology students who participated in the study was given a test prior to and immediately following instruction. Test development was based on student drawings and interviews. After 21 weeks, the same test was administered as a delayed posttest. Summary and analysis of test results clearly indicate support for the hypothesis. Students have the ability to mimic learning through rote memorization, but do not truly incorporate the accurate information into their cognitive structures. Implications for teachers and suggestions for further study are discussed.