chapter  1
24 Pages

Intuitive Conceptions Among Learners and Teachers

WithBruce Torff & Robert J.Sternberg

This anecdote reveals the influence in classrooms of intuitive conceptions, which we define for the time being as preexisting knowledge or knowledge structures that predispose individuals to think and act in particular ways without much conscious reflection. Accordingly, the process of activating these conceptions might be called intuition. The domain of physics provides the

“smoking gun” showing that students’ learning in the classroom is heavily influenced, and can be impeded, by intuitive conceptions. In this example, students hold fast to misconceived intuitive notions about force and agency (notions derivative of Aristotelian dynamics) even after successfully participating in a lesson featuring the prevailing scientific view of the physical world (Newtonian dynamics; e.g., diSessa, 1983; Larkin, 1988; McCloskey, Camarazza, & Green, 1980). Even students who perform in an exemplary manner in class revert to powerful yet inaccurate ideas about physics when tested on real-world problems due to previously existing ideas about physics that the typical course is apparently unable to dislodge.