notebook image

Science processes misconceptions and concepts
To develop science process skills for scientific investigation
and critical thinking

See also Misconceptions and Concepts for doing science: scientific investigation, science inquiry, experiments (ethnographic & experimental)

Sample layout for each:

Misconceptions and concepts

Initial perceptual naive misconceptions (all ages)
(Explanations for people's misconceptions: naive understandings & perceptual responses)

Beginning concepts (preschool - 7 years)

Intermediate concepts (7 years - 11 years)

Literate concepts (11+)

Educator notes

 

Classification
Organization, order, & systems (cross-cutting)
Misconceptions and concepts
Coordinate with those in math

Initial perceptual naive misconceptions (any age)
(Explanations for people's misconceptions: naive understandings & perceptual responses)

  1. Things (objects) just have common characteristics or properties for no important or meaningful reason.
  2. Objects properties are random and have no use in understanding and explaining the world.
  3. Objects can only be grouped in one way.
  4. Order eixsts for no specific benefit (providing understanding or explanation).
  5. Order is one directional.
  6. Numbers can't be classified, because they are all different.
  7. Letters can't be classified, because they are all different.
  8. Centers on one property, color, shape... to classify when two or more are necessary.
  9. May believe that since an object was counted once in one group for a property, then that object cant be counted again for another property as doing so would cause a double counting action, which isn't allowed when counting sets, because a one-to-one correpsondence means to count each object only once.
  10. Does not decenter from the use of only one property and simultaneously use two or more properties, when necessary, to classify objects.

Beginning concepts (preschool - 7 years)

Classification & organization (see also in math concepts)

  1. Objects, organisms, events, and systems can be organized into groups with similar properties (classification).
  2. Classification is one way to organize objects, events, and ideas. (organization)
  3. Objects have properties.
  4. Objects are identified by their common properties.
  5. Objects can be grouped by external properties, color. (3.5 years)
  6. Objects are classified by there common properties.
  7. Objects have more than one property. (4.5 years)
  8. Objects in a group can share some characteristics while differing in others. (4.5 years)
  9. Objects, organisms, events, ideas, and systems can be organized into groups with similar properties.
  10. Objects are identified by names.
  11. Objects with similar properties are the same.
  12. Objects with different properties are different.
  13. Objects can have properties that are the same and different, but still be the same (triangles - same shape, different size, color)
  14. Objects can be grouped (classified) into sets/ groups
  15. Sets can have cardinality. Cardinality of sets can be the same or different.
  16. Objects with similar properties that change sequentially can be ordered by that property.

Next classification intermediate concepts

Classification scoring guide

Order

  1. Objects can be ordered by their properties.
  2. Order is created by properties that change sequentially. See number sense and cardinality
  3. Most of the time certain events happen in a similar manner.
  4. Some events are more likely to happen than others. See probability
  5. Some events can be predicted more accurately than others.
  6. Sometimes people aren't sure what will happen because they don't know everything that might be having an effect on the event.
  7. Often a person can find out about a group of things by studying just a few of them.

System

  1. Parts are related to a whole.
  2. A whole is related to its parts.
  3. Parts are related to parts.
  4. System is a group of related objects.
  5. Most things are made of parts.
  6. Something may not work if a part is missing.
  7. When parts are put together they can do things they can't do alone.

Intermediate concepts (7 years - 11 years)

Organization & classification Concepts

  1. Organization of objects, organisms, events, and systems help people understand similarities and differences that in turn help understand the world.
  2. Classification is one example of organization.
  3. Classifications can include class inclusion, a relation between two classes in which all members of one class are included in the other. (8 years) Birds have feathers, there are more birds with black feathers than white. Are there more black feathers than feathers? ... Will answer feathers if have class inclusion.
  4. Objects are classified by their properties.
  5. Classification by common properties can create similar groups.
  6. Objects in a group can share some characteristics while differing in others.
  7. A group of objects may be sub classified in one or more ways.
  8. A group of objects may be subclassified as members of an ascending hierarchy. (8 years) A cat is a mammal.
  9. Descending hierarchy. (9.5 years) Mammals include cats.
  10. A group or set can be described and classified by processes as well as properties.
  11. Thinking about things as groups or sets means looking at how every element relates to other members of the group or set.
  12. Objects may have properties of two different groups or sets.

Next classification literate concepts

Classification scoring guide

Order Concepts

  1. Variables affect the order of events.
  2. Order is required to understand the world and predict events.

System Concepts

  1. System is a group of related objects that work together for a particular purpose (machines, organism).
  2. The parts in a system interact with the other parts to cause the system to work.
  3. A system may not work if a part is missing, broken, worn out, mismatched, or disconnected.
  4. Objects can be classified as either natural or of human design,
  5. Organization of objects, organisms, events, and systems help people understand similarities and differences that in turn help understand the world.
  6. Sometimes thinking about things as systems improves understanding and sometimes it doesn't.

Literate concepts (11+)

Organization & classification Concepts

  1. Clasification can require multiple criteria or properties to create complex organizations such as: the periodic table, classification of animals, properties of matter, cells, tissues, organs, organisms, populations, communities, and ecosystems.
  2. Objects may be subordinate or supraordinate in a classification system that requires multiple criteria (properties). Making it possible to ascend and descend the hierarchy. Mammals have hair, bear live young, nurse their young, ... Homo sapiens include these characteristics plus walk erect, have opposable thumbs, ... (12.5 years).
  3. Classification has helped to develop explanations about objects and their interactions.
  4. Classification is one example of organization.
  5. Organization of objects, organisms, ideas, events, and systems help people understand similarities and differences that in turn help understand the world.
  6. A group or set can be described and classified by processes as well as properties.
  7. Thinking about things as groups or sets means looking at how every element relates to other members of the group or set.
  8. Sometimes objects have properties of two different groups and it's difficult to decide in which group to put them.

Classification scoring guide

Order Concepts

  1. Variables affect the order of events.
  2. Order is required to understand the world and predict events.
  3. Probability is the relative certainty or uncertainty that people assign to events happening or not happening in a certain place or time.
  4. Creating knowledge through observation of different variables influence on objects, organisms, populations, communities, and events helps create better explanatory models

System Concepts

  1. System is a group of related objects or components that form a whole.
  2. Can be concrete objects, groups of objects, processes, or ideas.
  3. Some systems have boundaries with input and output of resources and feedback.
  4. Output for one part of a system can be input for another.
  5. Such feedback is used to control the system.
  6. Systems are used as units of investigations.
  7. A system can include processes as well as things.
  8. Thinking about how a system works means observing and collecting date on each part and how each part interacts with the others.
  9. Systems can be connected to other systems and thought of as a subsystem.
  10. Systems may have what appear to be natural boundaries, but are generally arbitrary.
  11. System ideas are used outside of science. Technology and business use system analysis which looks at systems relationships by their inputs and outputs. Computer programming use these ideas with procedural languages, functions, and object oriented programming.

Educator notes

 

Communication
Misconceptions and concepts

Initial perceptual naive misconceptions (any age)
(Explanations for people's misconceptions: naive understandings & perceptual responses)

  1. Communiation is just something we do to talk to each other.
  2. Doesn't help to study communication because people are either good at it or not.
  3. Communication is writing.

Beginning concepts (preschool - 7 years)

  1. Communication helps us learn from other people.
  2. Pictures can be used to represent objects and events.
  3. Communication helps us explain evidence and reasoning to each other.
  4. Communication requires a message being sent and received.
  5. Information can be communicated in many different ways each of which have advantages and disadvantages.
  6. Objects can be described and compared by properties.
  7. Before and after pictures can be used to represent change.

Intermediate concepts (7 years - 11 years)

  1. Clear communication gives other people information about your discoveries and ideas.
  2. Explanations are better when specific evidence is provided.
  3. Communication allows other people to agree or disagree with a person's findings.
  4. People have always tried to communicate with one another.
  5. People have invented devices to communicate (paper, ink, radio, telephone, telecommunications, computer disks) Errors can occur when communicating.
  6. Repeating messages is a way to avoid miscommunication.
  7. Directions can be written so other people can try procedures.
  8. Sketches can be used to explain procedures, events, or ideas to the creator and other people.
  9. Numerical data can be used to describe and compare objects and events to the creator and other people.
  10. Tables and charts can be used to represent objects and events.
  11. Graphs can be used to identify relationships.

Literate concepts (11+)

  1. Accurate data keeping and openness are essential to assure an investigator's credibility.
  2. Messages can be carried by many different media (light, electricity, sound, objects, glass fibers).
  3. The ability to code messages has allowed faster communication.
  4. Graphs can be used to recognize, represent and predict future relationships to the creator and other people.
  5. Other kinds of tables, matrices, diagrams, webs, symbols, maps can be used to interpret and communicate information.
  6. Regular and polar coordinates can be used to locate objects.

Educator notes

 

 

Constancy, Change, & Measurement (cross-cutting)
Misconceptions and concepts

Initial perceptual naive misconceptions (any age)
(Explanations for people's misconceptions: naive understandings & perceptual responses)

  1. Change is random and irregular.
  2. Constancy is forever.
  3. Measurement is based on something other than human decisions.

Beginning concepts (preschool - 7 years)

Change

  1. Objects change.
  2. Change can be observed and recorded as before, during, after.
  3. Change is observed through properties of the object.
  4. Change can vary.

Constancy

  1. Somethings stay the same and some things change.
  2. Constancy can sometimes be observed during a very slow rate of a change process or focusing on a particular property (external form of a chrysalis).

Measurement

  1. Properties can be counted.
  2. Conservation of number- the number of objects does not change with the position of the objects.
  3. Length of an object does not change when its position is changed or its shape is altered by bending.
  4. Conservation of length.
  5. Objects can be used to compare other objects.
  6. Measurement is a way of detecting change.
  7. Time is the measurement of years divided into seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, decades, centuries.
  8. Linear measurement is the distance between two points.
  9. Volume is the measurement of space an object occupies.
  10. Area measures the surface of an object.
  11. A standard unit of measurement helps communication.
  12. When the thermometer goes up the temperature is hotter.
  13. Measurement helps in making better observations.
  14. Scales measure mass and weight.
  15. Measuring cups measure volume.
  16. Measurements can be compared.
  17. Measurement is used in everyday life (recipes, plans, designing, building).
  18. Time is communicated in standard units.
  19. The duration of an event from the beginning to the end is measured in time.
  20. Time represents past, present, and future events.

Intermediate concepts (7 years - 11 years)

Change

  1. Some things may have properties that change and properties that don't change.
  2. Properties of matter, position of objects, motion, form, function of systems all change.
  3. Change varies in rate, scale, and pattern.
  4. Some changes occur in patterns when the changes are looked at in different directions, flipped, or reflected.
  5. Things change in steady repetitive or irregular ways.
  6. Sometimes in more than one way at a time.
  7. Drawing pictures, making charts, graphs, or taking measurements helps to see change.
  8. Observed changes in properties can be attributed to changes of other variables and used to exlplain cause and effect for the observed change.

Constancy

  1. Objects, properties, and events stay the same or happen in similar ways.
  2. Constancy enables people to understand the universe.
  3. Almost anything has limits on how big or small it can be.

Measurement

  1. Properties and change of properties can be quantified.
  2. All measurement is relative to a unit, usually a standard unit.
  3. Scale is proportional.
  4. Measurement helps in making more accurate observations.
  5. Quantitative estimates of familiar lengths, weights, and time intervals can be confirmed by measurement.
  6. Mass does not change when the shape or position of an object is changed.
  7. Conservation of mass.
  8. Volume of a substance does not change when its shape does.
  9. Conservation of volume.
  10. Measurement helps in making better observations.
  11. Rulers are used to measure linear measurement.
  12. Scales measure mass and weight.
  13. Measuring cups measure volume.
  14. Measurements can be compared.
  15. Measurement is used in everyday life (recipes, plans, designing, building).
  16. Rate is based on time Standard units include: Time is measure in units of seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries.
  17. Time is used to order events.
  18. Twenty-four hours in a day, about 30 days in a month, 365 days in a year, 52 weeks in a year, 12 months in a year.
  19. Calendar is used to measure time.
  20. Clocks are used to measure time.
  21. Clocks can be analog and digital.
  22. A day is divided into daytime and nighttime.
  23. Time is determined by Earth's movement.
  24. Time is cyclic (seasons, days of weeks, months).
  25. Volume standard units are ml, liter, cup, pint, quart, gallon.
  26. Mass standard units are g, kg, pounds, ounces, tons.
  27. Linear measurement standard units are cm, m, km, inch, foot, yard, mile.
  28. Temperature measures hot and cold.
  29. Degrees in Celsius and Fahrenheit are standard units of temperature.

Literate concepts (11+)

Change

  1. Properties of systems that depend on volume, such as weight and capacity, change proportionally according to area and surface tension.
  2. Physical and biological systems often change until they become stable and then they remain the same unless the environment changes.
  3. Finding out how big or small something can be is sometimes as revealing as knowing what the usual value is.
  4. Many systems contain feedback mechanisms that limit changes to specific ranges.
  5. Equations can be used to summarize how the quantity of something changes over time in response to other changes.
  6. Change can include trends and cycles.
  7. Energy can be transferred and matter can be changed, however the sum of the matter and energy in systems remains the same.
  8. Scale, allometric scale is a predictive in body relationships. Allometric scale equations take the general form
    B(biological variable) = a*[M(measure of body size)]se(scaling exponent),
    where equations are often presented in logarithmic form so that a diverse range of body sizes can be plotted on a single graph. Source also Scale by Geoffrey West 2017 Penguin Press

Constancy

  1. Objects, properties, and events may change but much about them remains constant.
  2. Constancy makes the universe understandable.
  3. A system may stay the same because nothing is happening or because things are happening to counterbalance each other.
  4. Symmetry or lack of it may determine properties of many objects (molecules, crystals, organisms, and designed structures).
  5. Things that change in cycles (seasons, body temperature) can be described by the cycle length, frequency, highest and lowest value, and when the occur.
  6. Cycles can range from thousands of years to billionths of a second.
  7. As a system get more complicated we can gain understanding by using summaries of average, range, and describing the typical properties of the system.

Measurement

  1. All measurement has error.
  2. Scale is a proportional relationship of characteristics, properties, or relationships within a system as its dimensions are increased or decreased.
  3. Rate involves a measure of change for a part relative to a whole (birth rate as part of population growth and comparing one measured quantity to another measured quantity (km per hour).
  4. Scale, allometric scale is a predictive in body relationships. Allometric scale equations take the general form
    B(biological variable) = a*[M(measure of body size)]se(scaling exponent),
    where equations are often presented in logarithmic form so that a diverse range of body sizes can be plotted on a single graph. Source

Educator notes

 

 

Evidence, Models, & Explanation
Misconceptions and concepts

Initial perceptual naive misconceptions (any age)
(Explanations for people's misconceptions: naive understandings & perceptual responses)

Beginning concepts (preschool - 7 years)

Evidence

  1. Observation helps understand interactions and predict changes.
  2. Pictures and drawings can be used to represent features of objects being described.
  3. An object's motion can be described by tracing and measuring its position over time.

Models

  1. Models are structures that are similar to real objects in some ways.
  2. Models may be missing detail, different size, or not able to do all of the same things.
  3. A model though different from the real thing can be used to learn something about the real thing.
  4. One way to describe something is to say how it is like another thing.

Explanations

  1. Explanations tell how something does what it does.
  2. One way to describe something is to say how it is like something else.
  3. People are more likely to believe your ideas if you give good reasons for them.
  4. One way to understand something is to think how it is like something else.
  5. Strong feelings can affect a person's reasoning.
  6. How do I know is a good question to ask to try and understand what is or has happened.

Intermediate concepts (7 years - 11 years)

Evidence

  1. Evidence is something that is observed and can be used to understand what is happening and make predictions about future changes.
  2. Observation and inference are different.
  3. Pictures and textual information can be used as evidence, but is secondary and one should be skeptical about it as evidence without first hand observations.

Models

  1. Models are structures that correspond to real objects, events, or classes of events.
  2. Seeing how a model changes may suggest how the real thing works if the same were done to it.
  3. Geometric figures, number sequences, graphs, diagrams, sketches, number lines, maps, and stories can be used to represent objects, events, and processes in the real world.
  4. Such representations can never be exact in every detail.
  5. Models help people understand how things work.

Explanations

  1. Explanations are based on observation derived from experience or experimentation and are understandable.
  2. Reasonable conclusions can be made when a rule that always holds is related to good information about a particular situation.
  3. If then logic. (If a plants are green and this is green, then it is a plant. If John is not a plant and he paints himself green he will not be a plant.)
  4. Reasoning by similarities can suggest ideas but can't prove them.
  5. Practical reasoning may require several steps.
  6. People can invent a rule to explain something by summarizing observations.
  7. People tend to over generalize (imagine general rules based on a few observations).
  8. Sometimes people use incorrect logic when they make a statement such as If A is true, then B is true. But A isn't true, therefore B isn't true.
  9. A single example can never prove something true.
  10. Sometimes a single example can prove something is not true.
  11. An analogy has some likeness and some differences.
  12. I can check my ideas in books and see if other people have the same ideas as I do.
  13. Some tests are not fair if all variables are not kept the same.
  14. I should always seek good reasons for what I think is happening.
  15. A good way to know something is to try it out. An inference is an explanation based on observation.

Literate concepts (11+)

Evidence

  1. Evidence is something that is observed and can be used to understand what is happening and make predictions about future changes in natural and designed systems.

Models

  1. Models are structures that correspond to real objects, events, or classes of events that have explanatory and predictive power (physical objects, plans, mental constructs, mathematical equations, computer simulations...).
  2. Models can be systems or things used as an example to follow or imitate to provide an explanation.
  3. Models can be used to think about events or processes that happen very slow, fast, or on a too small or large scale to change easily or safely.
  4. Mathematical models can be displayed on computers and changed to see what happens.
  5. Different models can represent the same thing.
  6. The kind of model and its complexity depend on the purpose of using the model.
  7. A model that is too limited or complicated may not be useful.
  8. A model represents entities and the relationships between them.

Explanations

  1. Explanations use scientific knowledge and new evidence from observation or models to create a consistent logical hypothesis, model, law, principle, theory, or paradigm.
  2. I should be skeptical of any claim that is not based on verifiable observable data and reason not presented in a logical manner.
  3. I should be skeptical on conclusions that have been based on small samples of data, biased collect or reasoning, or experiments where there was no control.
  4. There may always be more than one good way to interpret a given set of data. Analogy can be misleading and wrong.

Educator notes

 

 

Evolution and Equilibrium see also Change
Misconceptions and concepts

Initial perceptual naive misconceptions (any age)
(Explanations for people's misconceptions: naive understandings & perceptual responses)

Beginning concepts (preschool - 7 years)

Change and evolution

  1. Change can be fast or slow. An organism's form is related to its environment.
  2. Modern organisms may resemble extinct organisms.
  3. Objects and organisms can be changed to function for better or worse.

Equilibrium

  1. Changes can balance.

Intermediate concepts (7 years - 11 years)

Change and evolution

  1. Changes may not be noticed on a scale of a human's life time.
  2. However, these changes become large as the number of lifetimes become large.

Equilibrium

  1. Objects and events move toward equilibrium (sugar in water disperses throughout the liquid, pendulum swings until it stops at the lowest point, water flows…

Literate concepts (11+)

Change and evolution

  1. Present conditions such as the salt in the oceans, continental drift, erosion of land forms, changes in organisms... can be explained as gradual and sporadic.
  2. Evolution is the idea of the present arising from materials and forms of the past.
  3. Sometimes a series of changes occurs so slowly or so rapidly that it is difficult to document the evolution.
  4. In evolving systems, change can be gradual, steady, repetitive, irregular, or in more than one way at the same time. For example: whales blow holes moved from the snout to the top of the head in 3 million years. Polar bears developed the ability to survive on a high fat diet of seal blubber in 300 000 years. Chinook salmon body size decreased in response to commercial fishing in 90 years. Mosquitoes colonized London's Underground in 1863 and now can not mate with their above-ground relatives. Green anole lizards at Indian River Lagoon, Florida adapted to the invasion of brown anoles with larger toepads and more scalesto climb higher and cling better to branches in 15 years. Tawny owls come in two colors: light gray and reddish brown. As the climate becomes milder with less snow there has been a steady increase in the proportion of red brown owls. Discover Magazine. Life in the Fast Lane by Jane Braxton Little. March 2015.
  5. Human design suggests current features of the human body are designs that have been handed down, or evolved, to create human properties for characteristics that could have been designed better. Features like an appendix, tender naked skin prone to cuts, bruises, bites, and sunburn, back or spinal column that is efficient for four legged creatures than two or bipedal creatures, pertuberances above the nostrils, weak teeth that are prone to tooth decay, slow runners, weak animals ( chimps are three times as strong humans even thought they are smaller than us), a brain that stacks brain parts from a brain stem, to a hind brain (respiration, balance, alertness - .5 billion years old from dinosaurs), mid brain (visual, auditory, reflexes and controls eye movement), and fore brain (language, culture, and decision making). ... However, humans are able to detect a single photon in the dark and are able to hear sound a sound wave that is less than the diameter of hydrogen atom, and hemoglobin is able to adapt to differen air pressures.

Equilibrium

 

Educator notes

 

 

Form and Function
Misconceptions and concepts

Initial perceptual naive misconceptions (any age)
(Explanations for people's misconceptions: naive understandings & perceptual responses)

  1. Form is shape
  2. Function and form are two different unrelated things.

Beginning concepts (preschool - 7 years)

Form

  1. Objects have a shape.

Function

  1. Most objects can be used for something.
  2. The shape of an object is frequently related to use.

Intermediate concepts (7 years - 11 years)

Form

  1. Form is related to function.

Function

  1. Function is related to form.

Literate concepts (11+)

Form

  1. The form of an object or system is complementary to its function.
  2. The form of an object or system is related to the environment in which it operates.
  3. The form of an object frequently limits its function.

Function

  1. The function of an object is frequently related to its form.
  2. The function of an object or system is complementary to its design.
  3. The function of an object or system is related to the environment in which it operates.

Educator notes

 

 

Hypothesis & Theory
Misconceptions and concepts

Initial perceptual naive misconceptions (any age)
(Explanations for people's misconceptions: naive understandings & perceptual responses)

  1. Hypothesis is always false or unproven.
  2. Hypothesis is an if then statement.
  3. Theory can never be proved, hence, always false.

Beginning concepts (preschool - 7 years)

  1. Interactions may cause change.
  2. Hypothesis is an explanation of an observation or group of observations.

Intermediate concepts (7 years - 11 years)

  1. Interactions may cause changes which are affected by different variables.
  2. Hypothesis can be stated in the following form using the word "may". (Light may affect plant growth. If an object is dropped higher it may fall faster. )
  3. Hypothesis can be disproved with evidence - repeated observation.
  4. Hypothesis is a specific expectation about what will happen. It is not a theory or guess.

Literate concepts (11+)

  1. An experiment can be created to identify variables and their effects on interactions by using if then thinking.
  2. A hypothesis is an if then statement (but not all if then statements are hypotheses), is it tentative, relates one idea to another, and is testable.
  3. A formalized hypothesis can be stated in the form. (If plant growth is related to the amount of light shining on it, then more light will increase the plant's growth.)
  4. Hypothesis can be operationalized as if variable x is changed in a certain way, variable y will respond in a certain way.
  5. Directly proportional - As the amount of time an object is heated increases, the temperature will increase proportionally.
  6. Indirectly proportional - The longer a rock is removed from boiling water, the lower the temperature. As time increases temperature decreases.
  7. A statement that is assumed accurate for the sake of argument.

Theory

  1. A theory is a designed explanation that uses observations to connect variables, described as cause and effect, to support inferences.
  2. A theory can be thought of as a hypothesis that has accumulated enough repeated observations to be accepted as accurate. Just as hyothesis can be disproved with evidence so can theories.
  3. A scientific theory can be thought of as a summary of a hypothesis or group of hypotheses repeatedly supported with observations.
  4. Generally evidence accumulates to support a hypothesis, then the hypothesis can become accepted as a good explanation of a phenomenon - theory.

Educator notes

 

 

Inference
Misconceptions and concepts

Initial perceptual naive misconceptions (any age)
(Explanations for people's misconceptions: naive understandings & perceptual responses)

  1. An inference is an observation.
  2. Inference is a guess.

Beginning concepts (preschool - 7 years)

  1. Different interactions can cause similar events.
  2. Similar observations can be caused by different events.

Intermediate concepts (7 years - 11 years)ts

  1. Some observations can be caused by different events.
  2. Explanations are derived from observations.

Literate concepts (11+)

  1. An inference is a conclusion based on observational evidence and reasoning.
  2. Conclusion is a judgement or decision reached by reasoning.
  3. Observation and inference are different.

Educator notes

 

 

 

Observation
Misconceptions and concepts

Initial perceptual naive misconceptions (any age)
(Explanations for people's misconceptions: naive understandings & perceptual responses)

  1. Observations are only things that can be seen.
  2. Every body sees things the same as I do.

Beginning concepts (preschool - 7 years)

  1. Observations are made with five sense: see, touch, hear, smell, and taste.
  2. People learn with careful observation.
  3. Objects can be observed as whole objects and by their properties.
  4. Questions can be answered by looking at objects.
  5. People learn by observing interactions with objects.
  6. Observations can be compared through communication about the objects and the object's properties.
  7. When people report different observations they can take more observations to try and find agreement.
  8. Tools can be used to make better and more accurate observations (magnifiers...).
  9. Observations help collect information that can be used to answer questions.
  10. Communication helps us explain observations as evidence and reasoning to each other.

Intermediate concepts (7 years - 11 years)

  1. Questions can be answered by organizing objects and or events to conduct a fair test and observing the results.
  2. Recording observations helps remember information.
  3. Observations are used to help make explanations.
  4. When people disagree on observational descriptions, they usually make more observations to clarrify.
  5. When people disagree on explanations for an observation, they usually make more observations to refine their explanations.
  6. Observation, creativity, and logical argument are used to explain how things work.

Literate concepts (11+)

  1. Questions can be created so observations of objects and or events can be made by conducting a controlled experiment to use the observations as evidence for answering the question.
  2. The data can be transformed and analized by ordering, classifying, creating a model, and or logical explanation to lead to a conclusion related to the initial question.
  3. Observations are made to see how properties change.
  4. Properties that change are variables.
  5. Observations are used to describe change in variables.
  6. If more than one variable changes at a time, the outcome may not be attributed to one of the variables.
  7. It may not be possible to identify or control all variables.
  8. What people expect to observe often affects what they actually do observe.
  9. Strong beliefs about what they expect to happen can prevent them from seeing other results.
  10. Scientists try to avoid observational errors by having different people conduct independent studies.
  11. Unexpected observations can lead to new discoveries and to new investigations.
  12. There are many kinds of signals in the world that are not observable with human senses.

Educator notes

 

 

Operational Definition
Misconceptions and concepts

Initial perceptual naive misconceptions (any age)
(Explanations for people's misconceptions: naive understandings & perceptual responses)

  1. Ideas and knowing about things just pop into a person's mind. There is not systematic way to understand, explain, and describe how things work.
  2. Living objects have legs and move.

Beginning concepts (preschool - 7 years)

  1. Living objects grow and reproduce.
  2. Operational definition - if it looks like a circle, then it is a circle.
  3. A sequence of events might be an operational definition.
  4. We can explain how something works by the way it operates.
  5. If we know a procedure to make something happen, we can repeat the procedure to make it operation in a similar manner.

Intermediate concepts (7 years - 11 years)

  1. Operational definition is a list of properties used to describe or identify objects and events.
    • If it is living, bares live young, has hair on its body, nurses its young with milk, and is warm blooded, then it is a mammal.
    • If it floats in water, it is less dense than water.
  2. Operational definitions must repeatedly supply similar results to gain acceptance.
  3. Height, weight, and volume can be defined operationally by the process used to measure them.
  4. The way a system works can be used to describe and explain what it is.
  5. Operational definitions describe how variables change and the outcome they have on a system.

Literate concepts (11+)

  1. A description that identifies observable properties, steps in a sequence, an interaction, change, process, or other phenomena for explanatory purposes.
  2. Operational definition - we can find an objects density by taking its mass and dividing by its volume.
  3. Operational definitions tend to be less specific than a theory.
  4. When bubbles form and steam comes off the top of the heated water, then we can say it is boiling and its temperature is 100 degrees Celsius or 212 Fahrenheit.
  5. There is a difference in knowing how something operates and knowing why it operates the way it does.
  6. Operational definitions are concrete, observable, repeatable, and measureable.
  7. We can operationalize theoretical ideas like in education by selecting concrete measurable variables like - years of school, scores on ACT, and comparing them to other variables, like yearly salary.

Examples of operational definitions

  • Bird is an animal that walks on two legs and flies.
  • Rain is drops of water falling from a cloud in the sky.
  • Earthworm is an animal that lives underground, is soft and damp to the touch, pinkish in color, and pipe-like in shape.
  • Organism is any object that grows and reproduces (has babies).
  • Living - An object is living if it can grow, get bigger over time, and reproduce (has the ability to create more of its kind).
  • Weight - The amount of force (pull) the Earth has on objects can be determined with a spring by measuring the length the spring stretches when an object is attached.
  • Pressure
    • Pressure can be determined by a pressure gauge and is often measured in pounds per square inch.
    • Pressure is how hard one object pushes on another object.
  • Air
    • Air is the mixture of gases that surround the Earth.
    • Air is a transparent, odorless, and tasteless gas, it takes up space, can be compressed, has weight, and can be felt when put in motion or is in motion.

Educator notes for operational definition

Very young children will use properties or physical characteristics to decribe, define, and operationalize objects and phenomena. However, their descriptions may or may not be relevant or accurate as they are using associations, but the process for choosing them isn't systemic or comprehensively detailed, it is transductive or preoperational.

To develop more accurate, operational definitions, numerous observations of objects and phenomena in a variety of many different experiences where students can explore cause and effect investigations are necessary. Along with many of these kinds of experiences as children mature they will develop their reasoning and logical abilities if they are asked meaningful questions and engage in discussions that challenge their current levels of understanding to achieve deeper thinking.

We can see how this happens if we consider the different ways the term living is understood by students as they grow.

  • Living objects move.
  • Living objects have legs and move.
  • Living objects get big.
  • An object is living if it grows bigger over time and reproduces, has the ability to create more of its kind.
  • Living objects are plants or animals.
  • Living objects are consumers or producers that need energy.
  • Living objects use water, food, and other substances to grow, heal, make energy to continue its existance and often make other similar organism.
  • Consider living beyond singular organism to include living and growth as cellular and other systems or structures that use water, food, and other substances to grow, heal, make energy to continue its existance within a larger organism.

This kind of growth is how people move from misunderstanding, to common knowledge and finally to epistemological knowledge. Another jewel.

Operational definitions can be used to create learning outcomes.

Additionally they can be used to identify and describe different learning outcome level. If we consider how conceptualization changes as students develop, this provides information to describe outcome levels.

Maybe you have been scratching the surface looking for this jewel. Fantastic... Keep scratching it’s there. Some where between the initial idea of, living as growth, and a concept of living, that is deeper for which we would hope students would attain, there are different levels of understanding. And operational definitions can be used to describe them and then they can be used as outcome levels or levels on a scoring guide or rubric to use to assess progress for understanding concepts of living. Wow!

 

 

Predictions
Misconceptions and concepts

Initial perceptual naive misconceptions (any age)
(Explanations for people's misconceptions: naive understandings & perceptual responses)

  1. Predictions are guesses.
  2. People are either good or intuitive at making better predictions.

Beginning concepts (preschool - 7 years)

  1. Predictions are guesses based on what people know.
  2. If people didn't have previous experiences, then their prediction is a wild ass guess (WAG).

Intermediate concepts (7 years - 11 years)

  1. The more experience or data a person has the better prediction they are likely to make.

Literate concepts (11+)

  1. All predictions are not hypothesis.

Educator notes

 

 

Properties
Misconceptions and concepts

Initial perceptual naive misconceptions (any age)
(Explanations for people's misconceptions: naive understandings & perceptual responses)

  1. Properties are names of objects.
  2. Names of objects are properties.
  3. All properties are observable.

Beginning concepts (preschool - 7 years)

  1. Objects are identified and described by their properties.
  2. Objects have more than one property.
  3. Objects can be ordered by their properties.
  4. Objects have many properties.
  5. Objects can be described and compared by properties.
  6. Things in nature and things people make have different properties (sizes, weights, speed, and ages).

Intermediate concepts (7 years - 11 years)

  1. Some things may have properties that change and properties that don't change.
  2. Properties of objects can be measured using tools such as rulers, balances, and thermometers.
  3. Properties of matter, position of objects, motion, form, function of systems all change.
  4. Properties and change of properties can be quantified. Objects, properties, and events stay the same or happen in similar ways.

Literate concepts (11+)

  1. Properties are used to define all objects.
  2. Definitions change as the properties change.
  3. Properties can be made into variables by determining a range through which they can vary. See variable

Educator notes

 

 

Relative position amd motion (cross-cutting)
Misconceptions and concepts

Initial perceptual naive misconceptions (any age)
(Explanations for people's misconceptions: naive understandings & perceptual responses)

  1. Objects are relative to me.
  2. It doesn't matter if a person changes position, because people understand what I mean.

Beginning concepts (preschool - 7 years)

Relative position

  1. An object's position can change.

Relative motion

  1. Objects move in different ways (straight, crocked, circular, and back and forth).
  2. Objects move fast and slow.

 

Intermediate concepts (7 years - 11 years)

Relative position

  1. An object is located relative to a reference object.

Relative motion

  1. An object's motion can be described by tracing and measuring its position over time.
  2. Motion is relative to a reference point.
  3. Motion can be too fast or slow for people to see.
  4. Objects move steadily or change direction.
  5. Objects that vibrate is motion that is relative to itself. See sound.

Literate concepts (11+)

Relative position

  1. Objects can be located with different combinations of distances and directions from a singular point or multiple points. (one point as a reference object can be used to locate another point or object with a distance and direction.) (An object or point can be located from two know points with a distance and direction from one point and either a distance or a direction from the second point.)

Relative motion

  1. Motion of an object can be described by its position, direction of motion, and speed.
  2. Motion can be measured and represented on a graph.
  3. Motion and force are often related. See force.

Educator notes

 

 

Variables
Misconceptions and concepts

Initial perceptual naive misconceptions (any age)
(Explanations for people's misconceptions: naive understandings & perceptual responses)

  1. Objects change because they want to or people wish they would.

Beginning concepts (preschool - 7 years)

  1. Variable is a property that changes.
  2. Results can be changed by changing what and how objects interact.

Intermediate concepts (7 years - 11 years)

  1. Properties can be made into variables by determining a range through which they can vary.
  2. Variables are conditions that change.
  3. Variables need to be controlled for an experiment to be a fair comparison.
  4. A controlled experiment is one with all the conditions (variables) the same except the one that is being tested.

Literate concepts (11+)

  1. Identifying, selecting, controlling, and manipulating variables is central to experimentation.

Educator notes

Good focus question. If x has only one solution, is it a variable?

Are variables nouns or what?

 

Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes
homeofbob.com & schoolofbob.com