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The treatment, however, completely erases this “misconceptions gap” between those who oppose President Obama and those who support him. On the posttest, there is no significant difference in misconceptions associated with opposition to the President. In short, the refutation text seems to erase the partisan difference in misconceptions.

While it is promising that the refutation text has an immediate effect on individuals’ conceptions and misconceptions about the standards, it is important to see if the effects are ephemeral. By testing the same respondents one week later (without reintroducing the refutation text) we can see whether the text has any enduring effect.

As seen in Figures 1 and 2 and Table 1, the answer is yes. One week after the treatment, respondents in the refutation text group have more correct conceptions than the control group, and the effect is almost the same magnitude as immediately after treatment (though both groups do decline somewhat in their correct conceptions during the week, which is typically seen in refutation text research). Similarly, the number of misconceptions in the treatment group is lower than in the control group, and this, too, remains statistically significant. In short, our brief refutation text had meaningful effects on respondents’ conceptions and misconceptions about the standards, and these effects persisted for at least a week. Whether the effects would persist beyond that is an important question that merits further study.

Refutation texts have been used successfully to refute misconceptions about science topics for decades. This work demonstrates the first application we know of where a refutation text was used to address misconceptions about an education policy. We were able to substantially affect respondents’ conceptions and support toward Common Core with a short, easy-to-read text. Our results were sufficiently powerful to persist even after a one-week delay.

Previous research has shown that misconceptions about a controversial topic, such as genetically modified foods (GMFs), are linked to negative attitudes. Dyeables Jasmine Womens zkdtYTC
These attitudes then inform individuals’ views about policies and laws such as requiring labeling of GMFs. Therefore, when individuals’ views about a public policy are informed by misconceptions it is likely those views are more negative and more resistant to the policy than they would otherwise be. However, when misconceptions are overcome, attitudes tend to shift towards a more positive valence. [16] It follows then that reducing policy misconceptions may increase acceptance of (and perhaps even adherence to) a policy.

We recommend to policymakers who are frustrated by negative views of a policy to ascertain whether there are widely-held misconceptions about the policy. Identifying and then correcting those misconceptions, through the use of the refutation text technique used here, or other strategies, can be an important first step for increasing public support for the policy and perhaps even individuals’ compliance with policy regulations.

Bridging example 1 Bridging example 2 Target example
Model-based reasoning

Effective science learning often requires that students construct new representations that vary in important ways from ones used in everyday life. Science entails new ways of seeing data in terms of idealized representations or models. Science generally entails mathematical relations, physical intuitions and sensorimotor action schemes in these models. Teachers should teach idealization techniques, such as thought experiments and limiting case analyses. These techniques are integral to constructing abstract representations that can facilitate student recognition of deep analogies between superficially different phenomena.

A thought experiment, in the broadest sense, is the use of a hypothetical scenario to help us understand the way things actually are. There are many different kinds of thought experiments. All thought experiments, however, employ a methodology that is a priori, rather than empirical, in that they do not proceed by observation or physical experiment. Scientists tend to use thought experiments in the form of imaginary, "proxy" experiments which they conduct prior to a real, "physical" experiment. In these cases, the result of the "proxy" experiment will often be so clear that there will be no need to conduct a physical experiment at all. Scientists also use thought experiments when particular physical experiments are impossible to conduct.

Newton's cannonball was a thought experiment that Isaac Newton used to hypothesize that the force of gravity was universal and that it was the key force for planetary motion.

Newton's cannonball

In this experiment Newton visualizes a cannon on top of a very high mountain. If there was no force of gravitation, the cannonball would follow a straight line away from Earth. So long as there is a gravitational force acting on the cannon ball, it will follow different paths depending on its initial velocity.

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Diverse instruction

Diverse instruction simultaneously challenges at least two erroneous beliefs that underlie a misconception (alternative conception). It is based on a literature that shows adults and children draw stronger inductive inferences from information that impacts diverse aspects of their underlying beliefs (see Hayes, Goodhew, Heit, Gillan, 2003, for review). Hayes et al. extend the diversity principle to conceptual change and propose that shifts in intuitive theories or alternative conceptions (misconceptions) are more likely to occur when people encounter new information that challenges several features or assumptions of these models. Conceptual change is more likely if students are presented with a few examples that challenge multiple assumptions, rather than with a larger number of examples that challenge just one assumption.

In an illustration of diverse instruction, an inquiry-based 5E (engage, explore, explain, extend and evaluate) learning model that incorporates different teaching styles to engage students with varying learning modalities has been tried with student misconceptions (Ray Beardsley, 2008). Within this model, misconceptions can provide a basis for hypothesis testing that encourage exploration of previously held beliefs and build more accurate understanding of complicated processes. This further advocates for diversifying instruction to uncover student strengths and use preconceptions as a basis for deeper academic inquiry.

Example: shape of the earth

The effect of diverse instructional strategies on children's understanding of the shape of the earth has been studied (Hayes et al., 2003). Children's erroneous beliefs about the earth (their nonbelief in a spherical earth) can be linked to two more general misconceptions (Vosniadou Brewer, 1992). One is the belief that the earth appears flat to an observer on the ground. The second is a poor understanding of gravity and failure to understand the influence of gravity on objects located on different parts of the earth's surface. Indeed, in considering the earth's surface, when students think that unsupported objects fall, they are likely to construct either a "disk" model of the earth or a "dual earth" model (with a round earth located in space co-existing with a flat earth where people live).

In the study, 6-year-old children were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: control (no training); single-belief training (all four instructional videos focused on either the relative size of the earth or the effects of gravity); or dual-belief training (four instructional videos where two focused on the relative size of the earth and two focused on the effects of gravity). Results showed that only children receiving instruction about two core beliefs showed an increased rate of acceptance of a spherical earth model at post-test time.

Student metacognition

Student metacognitive abilities may be critical to achieving conceptual change (Beeth, 1998; Beeth Hewson, 1999; Case, 1997; Chinn Brewer, 1993; Gelman Lucariello, 2002; Inagaki Hatano, 2002; Minstrell, 1982,1984). Metacognition entails a range of processes, including monitoring, detecting incongruities or anomalies, self-correcting, planning and selecting goals, and reflecting on the structure of one's knowledge and thinking (Gelman Lucariello, 2002).

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