New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

Educational Illusions

Laura Weiss, IUFE - Université de Genève (Switzerland)

Andreas Mueller, IUFE - Université de Genève (Switzerland)


Optical illusions are systematic errors of perception and interpretation, based on some visual or mental process, consistently experienced by most individuals. By analogy, we understand educational illusions as erroneous perceptions of teachers’ classroom behaviour and/or their estimation of students’ perceptions. In the first part of this article, we focus on illusions teachers experience  when they teach in the classroom, on the basis of empirical research that has provided similar results for more than 30 years. Time allotted to students for answering questions during the lessons is often very short and even shorter than teachers think. The kind of questions teachers ask are of a lower complexity level than teachers think and often only a single word answer is expected. In the second part we present results of a survey of 15-year-old students conducted in Geneva about the perceived authenticity and interest in PISA-science units. Teachers answering the same survey show, as expected, greater interest. But when asked about the students’ perceptions of authenticity and interest, they overestimate students’ perceptions. We conclude by proposing the need to consider these illusions in teacher training in order to avoid teacher disappointment and student disinterest.

Keywords: Authenticity, Classroom Teachers’ iIllusions, Interest, PISA-science;


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