(2019) INTED 2520-2525

  • 11-13/03/2019
    Highlight misconceptions in Physics: a T.I.M.E. project
    Matteo Bozzi, Patrizia Ghislandi, Kazuhiko Tsukagoshi, Mami Matsukawa, Motoi Wada, Naoto Nagaoka, Alexey B. Pnev, Andrey A. Zhirnov, Gwenaëlle Guillerme, Maurizio Zani 
    INTED, XIII International Technology, Education and Development Conference (Valencia – Spain)
    Atti 2520-2525 (2019) [ISBN 978-84-09-08619-1, ISSN 2340-1079] – doi 10.21125/inted.2019.0689



Since the early 1970s it has been pointed out that many higher education students have a fairly large number of mistaken ideas on some Physics topics. Indeed, the term “misconceptions” was introduced for the first time in 1972. This theme is worthy of investigation in order to improve the students’ outcomes in basic Physics courses and to tackle the issue of the growing number of dropouts.

Consisting of three main stages closely connected with each other, our research aims at identifying, comparing and overcoming the most significant and widespread misconceptions shown by first-year university students enrolled for engineering, in relation to their basic knowledge of Physics, with specific reference to Mechanics, Thermodynamics and Electromagnetism. It is being developed by Politecnico di Milano [ITA] along with Doshisha University [JAP] and Bauman Moscow State Technical University [RUS], which offer Physics and Engineering courses, as well as with Università degli Studi di Trento [ITA], which provides pedagogic support.

First of all, data about the above mentioned misconceptions were gathered by each technical institution through the use of an ad hoc test, which consisted of 12 multiple choice quizzes administered to about 750 students attending the 7 courses globally involved in the research. Hence, misconceptions related to the main macro-areas were further classified according to specific headings, i.e. kinematics, heat engine, electric field, among others.

Secondly, the misconceptions expressed by the students attending the different universities involved in the research were compared. They appear to be broadly widespread among the freshmen, with Electromagnetism being the macro-area where the students’ results are the worst.

Throughout the third and final stage of our study, a trial video has been produced to enable students to overcome some significant misconceptions.