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Probing Techniques

Richard White

Maybe your pupils are doing well in science tests and in examinations. But do they really understand the concepts and principles you teach them? New methods of probing reveal that apparent success often masks gross misunderstanding, on a scale not previously imagined. In two set items, researchers, one at Monash University in Australia and the other at the University of Waikato, New Zealand, describe how the misunderstandings can be revealed, how they come about, and something of what can be done about them. The Probing Techniques are well worth trying in your own classroom (even in the staffroom) but be warned: the results will be devastating. The Extracts from a Researcher's Notebook are painful reading but the teacher who is described gave permission for them to be used in the interests of all children learning science.

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