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classroom e.g. efficient means quick. Initially, he would allow pupils to use such
meanings, but would expect them to move to the scientific meanings. T32 used scientific
terms in conjunction with simple e.g. ‘potential (stored)’ – conscious brackets. His
justification was that children needed something to ‘get their teeth into’ or ‘something
they can conceptualise’. By KS4 he would endeavour to drop the simple terms and
vernacular meanings. To the contrary, T1 did not like the inconsistency in being able to
call kinetic energy ‘movement’ energy – he preferred one consistent label throughout.

Several teachers stated it was their practice to ensure pupils compiled glossaries of
scientific terms (T5, T6, T21, T25, T26). T5 furthered:
I want to get them used to the fact that science has a language and that you
have to learn the language … and em so I don’t shy away from introducing
things like gravitational potential even if they haven’t got a bloody clue
what I’m talking about.

For him, constant exposure to difficult words would facilitate understanding and
eventually lead to some sort of recognition when a word was repeated later. This is
contrasted with the more cautious view of T27:
I think that lots of people who can read can’t necessarily understand what
they’re reading. They can read the words and it sounds fine … purely and
simply the words mean nothing to them.

Pupils’ Prior Knowledge: Concern for what pupils bring into the classroom was
variously called ‘prior knowledge’, ‘conceptions’ and/or ‘prior misconceptions’. This was
again a prevalent concern but only a few teachers expressed this with awareness of
academic literature.

T7 asserted knowledge of the most common misconceptions pupils are likely to possess
was an asset. To this end, she recommended Driver et al. (1994). She was well aware of
the difficulty in permanently changing a misconception and maintaining it without
reversion (as was T33), as discussed in the literature e.g. Fensham et al. (1994). T25 added
that a permanent conceptual change needed to be proactive on behalf of the learner. This
quote from T28 exemplifies:
… it’s what children go away with at the end of the lesson that is wrong
scientific thinking. And it permeates through their entire er understanding.
We find that sometimes they reappear in Year 9 or Year 11 … you have to
then try and correct [them which is] much more difficult than getting it
right the first time.

114
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