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There are two types of misconceptions that people have about the world, particularly the world as understood by science. There are common working (common sense) assumptions that contradict the conclusions of scientific study, such as the concept of impetus [1]. On the other hand, there are misconceptions that emerge (or are installed) through the course of formal instruction - we can be termed didaskalogenic (born through teaching). Both the content associated with a particular subject, and its implications, are influenced by mode of instruction used to present it. Instructional strategies range from the Socratic to the passive lecture format. Given their inherently abstract nature, many scientific concepts, such as Newton's laws of motion directly conflict a "working" and immediate understanding of the world. Where this is the case, such conceptual conflicts can give rise to serious obstacles to students' acceptance and understanding of scientific ideas. In contrast, a wide range of other scientific ideas, assumptions, and concepts are not obviously related to practical experience. Students' misconceptions about these more abstract scientific ideas, for example, the atomic theory, the wave–particle nature of light, the cell theory of biological organization and continuity, and various aspects of modern evolutionary theory are often grounded in, and influenced by past instruction. In analogy to physician-induced (iatrogenic) disease (iatrogenesis), didaskologenic (or didaktikogenic) (from the Greek dáskalos for "teacher")[2] ideas (and misconceptions) arise from and are reinforced during the course of instruction. Particularly in the more abstract sciences, where many ideas are inherently counter-intuitive, didaskologenic scientific misconceptions often arise through the use of inappropriate analogies in the course of instruction.[3][4][5]

As examples, there are the ideas that the breaking of a bond can release energy (when all bonds require energy to break), that molecular processes rely on directed and determinist processes motions,[6] the depiction of electron movements in atoms as analogs of planetary orbits, and deterministic models of evolutionary processes. A number of such errors are found in textbooks[7][8] and various instructional animations which, unless explicitly identified, can generate a scientifically inaccurate.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Clement, 1982). Students’ preconceptions in introductory mechanics. American Journal of physics, 50(1), 66-71
  2. ^ Simanek, D.E. 2008 Didaktikogenic Physics Misconceptions: Student misconceptions induced by teachers and textbooks. link
  3. ^ Feynmann, R. The Messenger Series: Probability and Uncertainty. link
  4. ^ Lipuma, J.M. 2008. Obstacles to science literacy: Study summary and bibliography link
  5. ^ Cooper, M.M. et al. 2010. Lost in Lewis Structures: An Investigation of Student Difficulties in Developing Representational Competence. J. Chem Ed. doi:10.1021/ed900004y link
  6. ^ Garvin-Doxas, Kathy; Klymkowsky, Michael W. (2008-06-20). "Understanding Randomness and its Impact on Student Learning: Lessons Learned from Building the Biology Concept Inventory (BCI)". CBE-Life Sciences Education. 7 (2): 227–233. doi:10.1187/cbe.07-08-0063. ISSN 1931-7913. PMC 2424310. PMID 18519614.
  7. ^ Campanario, J.M. 2006. Using textbook errors to teach physics: examples of specific activities. link
  8. ^ Hubisz, J.L. 2003. Middle school texts don't make the grade. American Institute of Physics, edited by Stephen G. Benka, Gloria B. Lubkin, Steven K. Blau. p. 50-54. link