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International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education


Science instructors have long known that the use of discrepant events with unexpected outcomes is a powerful method of activating thinking. A discrepant teaching event is similar to a discrepant science event in that it vividly portrays what is often an abstract construct or concept and has an unexpected outcome. The unexpected outcome creates what Piaget (1971) refers to as disequilibrium, thereby uncovering students’ naïve conceptions and tacit beliefs about the concept being studied. This article defines what a discrepant teaching event is and compares and contrasts discrepant science events and discrepant teaching events. Examples of discrepant teaching events useful in mathematics and social studies are also provided. The article concludes with a discussion of the utilization of an “inquiry stance” to teaching as a way to address students’ misconceptions of discipline specific concepts.


All papers in IJTLHE are published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Article obtained from the International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.