Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Teaching and Learning

First Committee Member

Tina Vo

Second Committee Member

Norma Marrun

Third Committee Member

Hasan Deniz

Fourth Committee Member

Tiberio Garza

Number of Pages



Prior research has demonstrated that both children and adults alike hold misconceptions about various scientific phenomena (Snyder & Sullivan, 1995; Driver et al., 1985). These misconceptions range from a variety of different fields, including astronomy and space science, environmental biology, and geology, among others (Miller & Brewer, 2010; Wandersee et al., 1994; Ritger & Cummins, 1991). Research suggests that the vast majority of misconceptions are formed early in a students’ educational career, and these misconceptions could be held throughout adulthood unless they are sufficiently addressed (Coley & Tanner, 2012; Posner et al., 1982; Nehm & Reilly, 2007; Sadler et al., 2013). Thus, elementary teachers are tasked with providing students with the scientific information that will form their conceptions for years to come. This study seeks to identify, understand, and address misconceptions relating to K-4 Earth and Space Science material in a population of undergraduate preservice elementary teachers. The study population included 42 undergraduate students enrolled in an elementary science learning course. Students were given a modified MOSART pre-test to identify their misconceptions (see, e.g., Haladyna et al., 2002; Haladyna, 2004; Sadler, 1998; Sadler et al., 2009, 2013), two lesson plans, and a post-test. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected via student-provided responses and online lesson plans to form a quasi-experimental convergent mixed methods design. My analysis suggests that there was a statistically significant improvement between the pre-test and the post-test, indicating that this group of students improved upon their answers after completing these research-based lessons. This information, coupled with the student-provided free responses, indicate that while this population may hold misconceptions related to these topics, addressing these misconceptions through culturally relevant, inquiry-based or exploratory-based learning may assist in decreasing said misconceptions.


Misconceptions; Preservice Teachers; Science Education; STEM


Education | Science and Mathematics Education | Teacher Education and Professional Development

File Format


File Size

2700 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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