Psychology Knowledge Revision Campaign: Integrating Refutation-style Teaching Materials into a Classroom-based Research Project

Molly Kolquist, Megan Vergin


Commonsense beliefs are barriers for learning scientific information. Psychology suffers from a "preexisting bias" problem in which people are particularly vulnerable because of emotionally held beliefs about human behavior. Common psychological misconceptions include: we use 10% of our brains, memory is like a tape recorder, and we are subliminally persuaded to purchase products. One known method for knowledge revision is to provide learners with refutation information about misconceptions. A refutation explains that a misconception is false and then provides scientific information describing why. Refutation-style texts have recently been considered a viable strategy for changing psychological misconceptions. Across previous experiments, it has been found that students' knowledge for common psychological misconceptions can be revised after reading refutation-style texts in the lab. The current project aims to integrate the preceding laboratory work with real-world teaching methods to assist in knowledge revision for these misconceptions. Introductory psychology participants took a pre-test, which consisted of 20 true/false statements; half related to psychology misconceptions and half psychology facts (e.g. "if you're unsure of your answer when taking a test, it's best to stick with your initial hunch"). Next participants viewed 10 posters, each for 1 minute. Each poster contained a refutation-style text campaign to attempt to revise knowledge for psychology misconceptions. Observations emulated the type of self-paced reading that occurs when a student reads textbooks. Then each misconception refutation poster was explained for two minutes to resemble the information teachers might give in a classroom setting. Following the poster part of the experiement, participants took a post-test in a true/false format. However, this time the participant was instructed to explain why he/she chose the answer they did. Seven to ten days later, participants took the same post-test to assess their long-term retention of any knowledge revision that may have occured. Data is still being collected; however we believe this work will contribute to the next step in refutational learning which aims to integrate laboratory strategies with the types of learning that occurs in classroom environments. We hypothesize that participants' performance on the immediate post-test survey will improve in that they will answer more of the psychology misconceptions correct. This result would indicate that the poster campaign revised knowledge. Further, if this effect persists on the post-test long-term then we can speak to the long term retention of knowledge revision.


Misconceptions; Refutation; Knowledge Revision

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