Exploring Secondary Students’ Conceptions about Fire Using a Two-Tier, True/False, Easy-to-Use Diagnostic Test

Patrice Potvin, Yannick Skelling-Desmeules, Ousmane Sy
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This article describes the design of a misconception diagnostic test about fire-related phenomena. It proposes a new test format in which a certainty-measuring tier has been integrated into each of the true/false response choices. This format is argued to be easier for teachers to use than the increasingly popular three-tier format. First, we review the available literature about misconception diagnostic tests and then literature about fire-related misconceptions. We then describe the design process of the test, which was preceded by an interview phase. We then describe its administration to 221 secondary school students. We finally present, in an explorative and accessible manner, the results that were obtained. These results support the existence of previously recorded misconceptions, but also bring certain nuances to some of their previous interpretations. They also support the hypothesis according to which some misconceptions are presumed to be more widespread than they truly are. Conclusive remarks are formulated about the benefits of the use of our—and other— misconception diagnostic tests.


Misconceptions, Diagnostic test, Fire, Certainty

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