Strategies to correct inaccurate prior knowledge


How to ensure that the necessary prior knowledge, is used in the correct manner to ensure maximum learning can take place? At TrainWell we train legal teachers to do just that.

There is wrong and there is WRONG
We distinguish between inaccurate isolated ideas and incorrect misconceptions.

Correcting isolated ideas or beliefs that are not yet embedded in larger conceptual models are not difficult to correct.

Incorrect misconceptions (models or theories deeply embedded in students’ thinking) are much more difficult to correct. Misconceptions are difficult to refute because they have reinforced over time across multiple contexts. In addition, because they often include both accurate and inaccurate elements, learners may not recognize the flaws.

Isolated ideas can be corrected by simply applying the sequence (1) confronting students with the inaccurateness, (2) explaining why the idea is flawed  and (3) presenting the correct idea, will usually do the job.

The best way to wean students from misconceptions is through a process called “bridging”: guidance through reasoning using multiple intermediate interventions.

Generally, a proven method to correct inaccurate knowledge is to ask students to make and test predictions. For example: How would they judge the juridical outcome of a set of facts? How did the court in fact rule? Why did the court rule that way and what did the students fail to take into consideration?

A related method to guide students away from inaccurate knowledge is to ask them to reason on the basis of what they believe to be true. Next the lecturer can point out inconsistencies for discussion. Have students justify their reasoning.

Allow sufficient time for students to readapt their previous held inaccurate knowledge. It takes time to replace information previously held so firmly. Allowing multiple opportunities tu use accurate knowledge speeds the process up.

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