So You Think They "Know" It -- Think Again!

Over the past couple of years, I have collected data from both teachers and students on their use of probes to uncover science misconceptions. I continue to be surprised (and so are the teachers). We always make assumptions about what they know, only to be proven wrong by the probes and other similar instruments. Let me provide a few examples:

One sixth grade class of 34 students agreed to identify the functions of living things that could be attributed to plants, animals or both. The correct response is highlighted in yellow. Care was taken to make sure that they were not "thrown" by the vocabulary. These students had just finished this topic and were familiar with the terminology. So here are the results:


Note the number of students who do not think animals "respire". Was this due to a lack of understanding of the term? If you really look at these results, there are a LOT of misconceptions.



Note: We explained to the teachers in advance to take the statement (used as food) literally. We told them that we were not talking
about items on the list that are used in the process of photosynthesis.