PARKINSON, E., 2000. Developing an understanding of structures: experiences from primary teacher education. IDATER 2000 Conference, Loughborough: Loughborough University
There is a significant body of research into the notion that learners hold ideas which may conflict with "scientific" explanations of perceived reality. This domain of research into "misconceptions" is extensive and often portrayed in terms of children's learning. Of course, adults too bring their own agenda to learning situations.
This paper is focused on some of the ideas that adults, in this case student teachers, may hold in relation to force and its relationship with structures. There is a clear link with school practice since many of the outcomes of designing and making activity in primary schools feature a product with some structural dimension.
Student teachers were introduced to a problem solving situation focused on a simple bridge-building task, using limited materials. The use of limited materials had a direct effect in terms of guiding participants towards a variety of structural solutions. Outcomes from this practical engagement suggested that some part-formed ideas were imported into the new learning situation. Within the paper, comparisons are drawn between student ideas on structural strength and evidence from the wider domain of other research findings into misconceptions, such as those involving children's beliefs. Questions are raised regarding the relationship Design and Technology has with other curriculum areas, notably science.