Teacher-students misconceptions, the fire of inadequacy burns on both sides

The flow of misconceptions has been noticed both in teachers as well as in students during the process of teaching-learning in the class.

This is one of the stark findings from the Teacher Needs Assessment (TNA) 2011 and Bhutan’s Annual Status of Student Learning (ASSL) 2011, conducted by Royal Education Council (REC) which highlighted conceptual misunderstanding in teachers teaching and a number of misconceptions students hold in different concepts across classes respectively.

The report states ‘misconceptions’ in teachers may have imbibed during their education while misconceptions in students, are concepts they acquire which are not in line with the conventional expert’s view, later resulting in cognitive gap in their understanding.

“Teachers of Classes V to VIII harbor misconceptions in all subjects, both in content and pedagogy,” stated the report.

Analysis of ASSL 2010 data and TNA 2011 data reveals that the misconceptions are passed on to students, due to the faulty notions of teachers, later resulting in lack of clarity in concepts.

Gradually, if misconceptions formulated by students are not corrected, it would interfere with subsequent learning.

This is what is observed in students as they move to higher classes and similar cases are also seen across different cohorts of students each year.

In tests conducted across Classes IV, VI and VIII on repeated questions, the performance of the students was not found up to the expected level, while wrong notions or misconceptions which were consistent across the classes were detected in many.

Having learned from the performances of the students, the report stated that the curriculum and pedagogy in subsequent classes are not doing much to correct the misconceptions.

Similar problems were noticed in different groups of students tested in different years of ASSL. “It is possible that many adults including teachers hold similar misconceptions which get passed on to the students,” the report stated.

Most of the teachers reportedly seem to struggle in Maths, Science and Social Studies except in English.

In Maths, teachers faced difficulty to understand the basic as well as deeper concepts and in Science, many teachers are not able to use data from student responses to identify relevant misconceptions.

In addition to this many teachers were found to lack basic familiarity with some fundamental concepts necessary for clear understanding of the social sciences.

The teachers’ misconceptions are partly responsible for this inability that may be caused by lack of experience to use appropriate assessment tools to drive teaching and pedagogy, the report states.

However teachers fared very well in questions which tested their knowledge and understanding of vocabulary. An area of strength for majority of teachers from classes V to VIII is found in vocabulary skills.

The report further stated that though it is difficult to identify an exact misconception in a student in regular classroom interactions but if any, a teacher must force the students to actively use conceptual understanding.

The TNA was conducted for teachers of classes V to VIII which comes to 2288 teachers in 2011 excluding Dzongkha teachers.

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