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CANCELLED: Seminar by Professor Ian Abrahams (University of Lincoln) 'Conceptions about international misconceptions'

Unfortunately this seminar has had to be cancelled. However, we hope to reschedule it for 2016.

Event details


This seminar will discuss a comparative cross-cultural study that explored the prevalence of misconceptions in certain areas of physics amongst British and Chinese undergraduates studying non-science subjects. The study employed a mixed methods approach that involved questionnaires and interviews with a convenience sample of 40 undergraduate students – 10 British and 10 Chinese from each of two universities in the North of England – whose formal science education ceased at age 16. The results showed that misconceptions exist amongst both British and Chinese undergraduates although the prevalence of these was statistical significantly higher amongst the British students. It also emerged that both British and Chinese undergraduates who gave comparable scientifically incorrect answers provided similar reasons for doing so and these were generally based on the use of incorrect analogies drawn from their everyday experiences. The findings suggest that whilst cultural and/or teaching differences up to the age of 16 can have an impact on the prevalence of some misconceptions, when such misconception do exist undergraduates from both countries appear to reason using the same, erroneous, analogies and that these appear to be relatively culturally independent as they are based on shared everyday experiences. If the prevalence of misconceptions amongst British undergraduates is to be reduced an understanding of the way in which specific areas of physics are taught in China might prove beneficial. It might also be possible to reduce the prevalence of misconceptions in students in both countries if a better understanding of how, and why, undergraduates use certain, erroneous, analogies could be developed.
Related article:
Abrahams, I., Homer, M., Sharpe, R., & Zhou, M. (2015). A comparative cross-cultural study of the prevalence and nature of misconceptions in physics amongst English and Chinese undergraduate students. Research in Science & Technological Education, 33 (1), 111-103.
DOI 10.1080/02635143.2014.987744


Ian Abrahams was a physics teacher and Head of Department before undertaking a full-time PhD in Science Education at the University of York. On completion of his studies in 2007 he moved into H.E. where, having worked at the Institute of Education UCL and the Universities of York and Leeds, he is now Head of School of Education and Professor of Science Education at the University of Lincoln.


Baring Court 114