Fisher, in the Proceedings of the International Seminar on
Misconceptions in Science and Mathematics (Helm & Novak, 1983), noted that misconceptions are not isolated cases, but that often many students hold the same misconceptions. Helm, in the same monograph, suggested that research is still needed to determine which misconceptions are prevalent and robust. Despite the need for all teachers to know which misconceptions their students are likely to have, there has been no large scale effort of this kind in the earth sciences.
The purpose of this investigation is to determine which misconceptions in the earth and space sciences appear to be widespread, and to discover if certain individual characteristics such as gender and race are related to misconceptions held.
The research questions to be addressed by this investigation are:
1. How prevalent are certain earth and space science
misconceptions among students and adults?
2. Do gender, race, educational level, urban versus
suburban location, last grade received in science, and exposure to an earth science course affect these misconceptions?