When students show up for your class they don’t show up as a blank slate. They bring with them a litany of prior experience and knowledge. For the most part, this is a good thing. We want students with a variety of knowledge and skills which will allow them to build on what they know. But sometimes, prior knowledge can inhibit learning. There are common misconceptions in every discipline that we, as faculty, must work to overcome. This is no easy task. Prior knowledge can be as stubborn as an old tree stump, especially when we are trying to plant a new seed for learning to grow.
The American Psychological Association recently published a great tool to help educators break down student misconceptions during their teaching practice through a variety of means. This interactive site covers everything from basic do’s and don’ts to creating cognitive conflict as a means to promote learning new information. We encourage you to try some of these strategies in your own class. Then, let us know how it worked!