Session S39a (Tuesday, 9:30am, Thomas 117)

P380: Misconception or random guess: How can we tell the difference?

Michael Sanger, Basil Naah (Middle Tennessee State University, USA)

Recently, we identified several mistakes students made when writing balanced equations for dissolving ionic compounds in water.  We wondered, however, whether these mistakes represented consistent, robust student conceptions (misconceptions) or whether they represented random errors (guesses) from these students.  To answer this question, we created several multiple-choice questions covering the same topic whose distractors contained the correct answer and the same three errors.  A group of students were asked to answer all of these questions, and their responses were analyzed.  This presentation will discuss the collected data and our attempts to determine whether these mistakes represent actual student misconceptions or simply random guesses from the students.

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