New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

Students’ Misconceptions in Some Chemical Principles within a Biological Context

Sarah Farrugia, University of Malta (Malta)

Martin Musumeci, University of Malta (Malta)


Science is all around us. From a young age, students start observing things around them and acquire knowledge from various sources such as, and including, the media and the social networks, which might not always be correct. At school, teachers try to keep scientific knowledge as simple as possible in order not to confuse and baffle students with content that they would not really need at that stage in their lives at school. However, at times, such methodologies might lead to incomplete or superficial knowledge that can eventually act as a hurdle or a barrier in the process of learning.

The aim of this research study was to provide an insight into students’ misconceptions regarding some basic chemical concepts relevant to the topic “Part 2: Keeping Alive, Topic A: The Chemicals of Life”, that is part of the 2014 Secondary Education Certificate (SEC) Biology syllabus (which leads to the 16+ examination at the end of Secondary school) in Maltese Secondary schools. The investigation dealt with eventual patterns present in any misconceptions in the four different groups involved in the study: girls and boys with Biology as their only Science subject, and girls and boys having both Chemistry and Biology as subject options at school.

The main research instrument used for this research study was a 30-minute multiple-choice test, taken by each of these four groups. The sample of students that were involved in the study was composed of about 20 students in each of the four categories. The outcomes of this research study suggest that, in general, students studying Chemistry harbour less misconceptions in certain chemical principles that are relevant to Biology. The study also shows that girls manifested less chemical misconceptions and that subject choice played a more significant role in the number of misconceptions for girls rather than for boys.



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