We should be creating awareness of the existence of perpetuated educational psychology misconceptions and the lack of published literature on the effects of the spread of unjustified belief systems in K-12 teaching practices.

Misconceptions Influence Learning

The consequences of the proliferation of false information, a prevalent phenomenon labeled as “post-truths” in this digital age, are severe and profound, perpetuated through ineffective teaching strategies and misinterpretation of the science of learning, influencing pedagogy, learning environments, and curriculum development (Woolfolk Hoy, David and Pape, 2006), and contributing to the societal inability to learn accurate information (Chinn and Malhotra, 2002).

Misconceptions don’t exist due to the lack of exposure to information, but due to the existing fallacious knowledge that needs to be unlearned (Sinatra 2014) brought about by subjective evaluation and erroneous application of empirical data to the field of education.

While some educators question the integrity of evidence-based information, many teachers selectively reject scientific evidence and embrace misconceptions to avoid stress and conflict.

Decreasing Acceptance of Misconceptions With More Advanced Critical Thinking 

Researchers Morgan McAfee and Bobby Hoffman reviewed four prominent educational psychology journals and looked into 135 peer-reviewed articles. Primary research sources examined diverse samples consisting of undergraduate psychology students and utilized a true-false response format to identify misconceptions, and a Likert-type scale to measure the intensity of the misconceptions. According to the college samples, differences in the frequency of misconceptions are unable to establish a pattern. However, similarities among those with advanced education revealed a heightened perception of psychology as a science and a decreased acceptance of misconceptions by groups with higher course grades and critical thinking skills.

Mitigating Myths

To eradicate myths and misguided notions, research data and empirical principles must be carefully interpreted and communicated to individuals who lack domain-specific knowledge. Even with the intention of improving and enhancing learning outcomes, concepts can be sensationalized by popular media and misapplied to educational endeavors. Recently, more attention has been given to specific myths related to learning, neuroscience or brain-based education, technology in education, and educational policy.

Appropriate instrumentation should be developed to mitigate pervasive myths and educational psychology misconceptions, and discussion should be encouraged among educators to express dissatisfaction with such errant beliefs and advocate conceptual change efforts (Gregoire, 2003; Muis et al 2018). This can be achieved through teacher training and professional development sessions where these flawed thinking processes can be mediated.

Notable Quotes: 

“Individuals discount objective knowledge and evidence because dissonance is perceived as a threat leading to stress and anxiety, feelings that abate when the misconception is embraced” (Gregoire, 2003).

“Educators, educational policymakers and educational researchers should reject educational approaches that lack sufficient scientific support and methodologically sound empirical evidence” (Kirschner and van Merriënboer, 2013).

“Individuals will persistently retain their existing conception while rejecting the new, accurate information to protect their entrenched belief, often satisfying a robust personal or social goal” (Chinn & Brewer, 1993).

Personal Takeaway

It is said that we cannot change people’s minds, but we, as educators, have the capacity to influence and uphold our search for ideals to some extent and enlighten ourselves whenever we possibly can, overcoming one misconception at a time. When we do, we act as educators. This study is about the core and purpose of education. It is about being brave enough to welcome shifts in mindsets, which may eventually effectuate societal changes. As a teacher who wants to see changes happen, it starts off with our beliefs and attitudes toward education. This impacts me personally because even within the walls of the institution where we work, the educators that need to keep young minds open, inquisitive and resilient may themselves be the ones that are resistant to change.


Adrian Pasos

Summarized Article:

McAfee, Morgan and Hoffman, Bobby (2021) “The Morass of Misconceptions: How Unjustified Beliefs Influence Pedagogy and Learning,” International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Vol. 15: No. 1, Article 4.