Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)


Education and Human Development


People observe the world using their five senses; they gain understanding and draw conclusions. Sometimes these conclusions align with scientific findings but many times personal opinions are formed that are rooted in misunderstandings or misconceptions. Misconceptions in science are common in students and affect how they learn. These false understandings hinder the acquisition of new knowledge as they try to fit scientific facts into their framework of knowledge. This thesis project examines student misconceptions in science. It studies instructional lessons designed to identify student misconceptions and then alter them through student-centered instructional strategies. The study was conducted in an eighth grade physical science classroom over a two and a half week period in a small suburban/rural school district in Western New York. The initial investigation was carried out to explore the efficacy of student centered, constructivist activities with guided discussion on altering students' misconceptions in middle school science. The 55 participants were all enrolled in an introductory physical science course in one of five classes which met five times for 42 minute class periods. They were assumed to represent a random sample of varying gender, special education students, and different ability levels. Data gathered included a pre-survey of nine questions regarding previously identified misconceptions in the middle school science content, post-surveys, and some random sampling interviews. Research results suggest that identification of student misconceptions combined with a student-centered process of inquiry and problem solving appears to alter students' scientific misconceptions.


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