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Many teachers think of their students as tabula rasa and assume a role as a teacher that is oriented to fill students’ empty minds. The problem with this approach is that students’ minds are not empty vessels that can be simply filled but already contain certain preconceptions and intuitions which pave the way to misconceptions. A misconception can be defined as an individual’s understanding of a concept as substantially different from the commonly accepted scientific meaning of it. For students misconceptions are not different from other explanatory information and are organized very much the same way, developed for most scientific phenomena, and as a result are persistent to change. The reason is that misconceptions are developed by the students as a result of their observations in a long period of time and are invaluable for themselves. In case of not being able to overcome misconceptions the learning process is negatively effected. In this paper we discuss and present the reasons for developing misconceptions, their general characteristics and categories, and the ways of helping students to prevent developing misconceptions.

Concept, misconception, science teaching

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