Using Misconceptions

In these Standards Unit:Improving Learning in Mathematics videos you can find out what is meant by a misconception, explore activities that bring out misconceptions and reflect on how they might be used positively.

In the overview you can see a short sequence covering of the ways of challenging and addressing misconceptions in mathematics.

Exploring a misconception sequence
As you watch the video sequence consider the following questions:

* On a number of occasions the learners make statements that reveal mathematical misconceptions. How does the teacher respond to these, and how does this help in the learning process?
* How do you think you might create an environment in which learners can openly discuss their ideas and 'have a go' at mathematics?

Exploring a misconception reflections
You can then listen to the teacher reflecting on the discussion in the sequence.

In this section you are invited to consider ways in which misconceptions can be exposed and used positively in the learning process.

A possible starting point for your own teaching is to use the probability activity that you saw in the sequence. This is in Evaluating probability statements in the 'Using the materials Mostly Statistics' section.

You may also like to look at the following sections:

* 'Thinking about discussion' to explore further the opportunities that mathematical discussion offers for exposing and challenging misconceptions;
* 'Thinking about questioning' to consider ways in which questions can be used to help learners reveal and address their misconceptions.

You might also like to look at the 'Planning Learning' section of this resource, where you will find video sequences of the whole of the probability session.

The use of misconceptions in teaching is explored further in the book 'Improving learning in mathematics: challenges and strategies'.

In the professional development guide you will find further ideas for developing this aspect of teaching with your colleagues.

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This resource is part of Improving learning in mathematics