Academic journal article High School Journal

Investigating Knowledge Acquisition and Developing Misconceptions of High School Students Enrolled in an Invasion Games Unit

Academic journal article High School Journal

Investigating Knowledge Acquisition and Developing Misconceptions of High School Students Enrolled in an Invasion Games Unit

Article excerpt

Grounded within constructivist theory, the purpose of this investigation was to investigate knowledge acquisition and developing conceptions of high school-aged students during a unit of instruction in badminton. Six different qualitative methods were utilized: (a) observations, (b) formal interviews. (c) informal interviews, (d) think aloud procedures, (e) Daily Question Curds. and (f) analysis of written documents. Findings were reduced into thematic categories representing misconceptions about motor skill execution, official badminton rules, and complex concepts. Students constructed new knowledge that had been filtered through prior experience. The instructional style o) the teachers and the social environment of the class also contributed to the manner in which knowledge was constructed.


Constructivist theory has been heavily utilized as a grounding framework for describing the process whereby learners come to understand knowledge. Instead of interpreting the learning process as a one-way exchange in which teachers impose new knowledge upon students, constructivists believe the learning process to be an interchange among the learner, peers in the learning environment, and the teacher. Constructivism can be described as the knowledge construction of learners rather than the knowledge acquisition of learners [Brady, 1994; Driver, Asoko, Leach, Mortimer, & Scott, 1994; Ritchie, Tobin, & Hook, 1997).

Active participation in the learning process is a strong premise of constructivist theory (Anderson. 1994; Clincy, 1995: Cobb, 1994; Demastes, Good & Peebles, 1996; Lambert, 1996; Lumpe & Stayer, 1995: Rovegno & Kirk, 1995; Sanger & Greenbowe, 1997; Salmon & Carter, 1995; Tippins, Tobin, & Hook, 1993). As learners enter the learning environment with existing knowledge, new information and experiences are filtered through prior experiences and understandings. Current conceptions are modified as new knowledge is acquired and as learners attempt to make sense of what it is they know (Brady, 1994; Ritchie, 1994; Vosniadou & Brewer, 1987).

Constructivists consider the social aspect of the learning environment an important factor in knowledge construction. Learning in the educational setting rarely occurs in an environment whereby the teacher assists individual students' construction of knowledge through dyadic interaction alone. Rather, the learning environment is composed of multiple learners constructing knowledge through peer interactions, as well as through the interactions of peers with the teacher (Driver et al., 1994; Tippins et al., 1993).

Given that learners personally construct knowledge and actively interpret social classroom environments, it is plausible that the knowledge students develop might be inaccurate, incomplete, or contrary to what the teacher intended for students to learn. Conceptions held by learners that are unlike understandings held by scientists and experts are considered misconceptions (Abimbola & Baba, 1996; Clement, 1993; Lumpe & Staver, 1995; Klaassen & Lijnse, 1996; Odom, 1995; Sanger & Greenbowe, 1997; Schmidt, 1997; Schoon, 1995).

Mistakes are significantly different than misconceptions. Mistakes are considered to be errors, lapses, or oversights made by the student and, therefore, readily and willingly corrected. When corrected, a student typically modifies mistaken responses. When an inaccurate conception is easy for a student to change, most likely it was not a true misconception because misconceptions are deeply-seated and strongly embedded in the schema of the learner. With a misconception, the learner will be resistant and unwilling to utilize and implement "correction" because of its incompatibility with current, albeit erroneous, beliefs. Mistakes may be acknowledged by the learner, whereas misconceptions remain intact and unaltered. For example, a young child learning to grip a baseball bat incorrectly places his/her dominant hand underneath the non-dominant hand while preparing to swing. …

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