(2020) INTED 2162-2170

  • 02-04/03/2020
    Misconceptions in Physics: an uphill climb
    Matteo Bozzi, Patrizia Ghislandi, Maurizio Zani
    INTED, XIV International Technology, Education and Development Conference (Valencia – Spain)
    Atti, 2162-2170 (2020) [ISBN 978-84-09-08619-1, ISSN 2340-1079] – doi 10.21125/inted.2020.0670



Constructivist science education research has pointed out that students who begin their academic career in a scientific programme may generally reveal some misconceptions on a broad spectrum of Physics topics. Our research aims at verifying if the background knowledge in classical Physics of some Politecnico di Milano learners highlights the presence of some misconceptions and their spread. Furthermore, does attending university for some months reduce these misconceptions?

Both first-year and second-year university students enrolled for engineering were involved in our study; on balance, they were 989. Data about these possible misconceptions were gathered through the use of an ad hoc test, an original Physics Concept Inventory, which was administered to all the students through the online portal Socrative and their own electronic devices, aligning with the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategy. The trial consisted of 12 multiple choice quizzes; every question was characterised by four possible answers, but only one alternative out of four was correct. Therefore, the possible misconceptions investigated by means of that quiz were generally explored through the other three incorrect answers.

Actually, in accordance with the incorrect alternative selected by a student it was possible to detect their misconception related to that topic. In accord with the significant bulk of data collected one can argue that misconceptions are broadly disseminated among freshmen as well as second-year university students. On balance, freshmen often start their academic career with numerous erroneous viewpoints on Physics phenomena and attending university courses at times appear to be unable to improve significantly the students’ understanding of them.