On Wednesday, November 13th, 2019, AIR hosted a presentation and discussion of a recent study about students’ misconceptions and errors in physics and mathematics conducted for the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) Research for Education Series. The study used 20 years of data (1995-2015) from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and TIMSS Advanced assessments to examine patterns of student misconceptions and errors in one physics topic (gravity) and one mathematics topic (linear equations) in five countries (Italy, Norway, the Russian Federation, Slovenia, and the United States) across three grade levels (4, 8, and 12). Trend items administered in multiple assessment cycles were used to explore how the frequency of misconceptions and errors changed over time.
The results from the study show both how the misconceptions and errors demonstrated by students at the upper grade levels can be traced back to a lack of a foundational understanding of physics and mathematics concepts in the earlier grades and that the frequency of some types of misconceptions and errors decreased over time, while the frequency of others increased. These results can inform instruction across grades, by relating country-level patterns in misconceptions, errors, and misunderstandings to specific gaps or deficiencies in the curricula. Classroom teachers who are aware of the misconceptions that students may have or the types of errors students may make will be able to plan for and provide additional support to their students when they are teaching these concepts.
- Presenter: Teresa Neidorf, Principal Researcher, American Institutes for Research
- Discussant: Stephen Provasnik, International Activities Branch Chief, National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education
- Moderator: Maria Stephens, Senior Researcher, American Institutes for Research
About the RISE Webinar Series
The Research on International Studies in Education (RISE) Webinar Series showcases research using data from international studies and promotes sharing and discussion about how data-based evidence can be used for improving educational outcomes. The RISE Webinar Series is organized by AIR. To receive emails about RISE and invitations to upcoming webinars, please email RISE@air.org.