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Changing misconceptions through refutational text and pictorial representations

WorkgroupMultiple Representations Lab
FundingIWM budget resources
Project description

Many people have misconceptions about scientific phenomena. Research shows that texts in which these misconceptions are explicitly addressed (refutational text) represent a possibility for long-term revision of misconceptions. This project investigates whether pictorial representations (self-generated drawings, pictures) can further reinforce this positive effect. The results of this project are relevant wherever misconceptions play a role (e.g. school or university).

The starting point of the project is the observation that misconceptions (e.g. in summer the sun is closer to the earth than in winter) can be revised by texts in which the misconception is explicitly addressed (refutational text). There is also the empirical finding that pictorial representations are helpful for learning (multimedia effect). The aim of the project is to link the two lines of research and to investigate to what extent the positive effect of refutational text can be enhanced by pictorial representations. Currently, two series or experiments are planned: The first series of experiments will investigate the extent to which a combination of self-generated images (drawings) and refutational text is helpful to learning. A second series of experiments will investigate the extent to which a combination of predefined images, on which the misconception is visualized, and refutational text can support learning. Furthermore, it will be investigated whether the effect of refutational text can also be replicated in a spoken text format. This is particularly important since in the classroom the misconceptions are often addressed in spoken format (e.g. by the teacher) and not in written format.

  • Prof. Dr. Lucia Mason, University of Padova (Italien)
  • Angelica Ronconi, University of Padova (Italien) 
  • Martin Merkt, DIE Bonn


PD Dr. Anne Schüler PD Dr. Anne Schüler
Tel.: +49 7071 979-341