Concept Cartoons are useful for:
- Quick formative assessment (d=0.9). They form great ‘hinge questions‘ in a class.
- Discussion of misconceptions, either common or raised by students in discussion
- Peer-teaching (d=0.74) based on observations or phenomena in class
- Grouping students by readiness, based on the formative assessment data
- Stimulating evaluation of ideas or discussing alternate explanations, which may or may not be correct
- Setting up or reviewing lesson content or discrepant phenomena
Some sources for misconceptions in science:
- Student misconceptions of basic chemical ideas, Royal Society of Chemistry
- Student difficulties in Physics, University of Montana
- Excellent write-up by Peter Newberry on the power of misconceptions (with great graph-reading practice, based on this paper).*
- Related: the importance of teachers’ knowledge, by Neil Brown
- Didaktikogenic (teacher-caused) Physics misconceptions
- Children’s ideas in science (misconceptions), Valerie Talsma
- Student misconceptions in science, resource list.
I like to have some blank cartoon slides at the end of my working presentation (usually in GoogleSlides), so if an interesting student observation, misconception or idea pops up it could easily be turned into a quick plenary or group discussion. Usually students would be discussing these with whiteboards and markers.
When we carry out labs I will keep my iPhone handy, so that if an observation sparks discussion I can take a snap and send it straight to a Picasa webalbum, which is open on my laptop. This makes the step of pulling the image into the presentation quick and simple. It shows up immediately on the class presentation.
For a ‘live action’ alternative to Concept Cartoons, you might try some of Derek Muller’s Veritasium science videos. Here’s an example, and here’s the YouTube channel.
*Thanks to David Wees (@davidwees) for posting links to this on Twitter.
Also check out this biology concept cartoon collection: