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Building and Using Databases of Student Misconceptions

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Tara Madhyastha, of Facet Innovations and Steven Tanimoto, Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington in an article in the Journal of Interactive Media in Education describe “facets”, their use in education and methods for identifying and cataloging them.  A facet is an attempt to categorize the partial understandings that students have in early stages of learning a subject in a way that can be communicated to a teacher. Their paper explains the reasons for using facets, and describes a process for developing a catalog of facets.

The paper abstract (links added):

A number of educational researchers have developed pedagogical approaches that involve the teacher in discovering and helping to correct misconceptions that students bring to their study of their subject matter. During the last decade, several computer systems have been developed to support teaching and learning using this kind of approach. A central conceptual construct used by these systems is the “facet” of understanding: an atomic diagnosable unit of belief. A formidable challenge to applying such pedagogical approaches to new topic areas is the task of discovering and organizing the facets for the new subject area. This paper presents a taxonomy of misconceptions and a methodology for going about the task of preparing a database of facets. Important issues include the generality and diagnosability of facets, granularity of facets, and their placement on a scale of problematicity. Examples are drawn from the subjects of physics and computer science and in the context of two computer systems: the Diagnoser and INFACT.

Article: Faring with Facets: Building and Using Databases of Student Misconceptions

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