Is There Something Useful In Students’ Mistakes? : A Cognitive Resources-Based Approach

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Laura M. Buteler
Enrique A. Coleoni


The study reported analyzes the mistakes made by university physics students when
solving two problems on geometrical optics and two on magnetism. It also offers other
teaching contexts in which the same reasoning leading to these mistakes could lead to
correct answers. Instructional implications are discussed on the basis of the results. The
study is carried out using the concept of cognitive resources proposed by Redish (2004),
Hammer, Elby, Scherr and Redish (2005), and Hammer (2004) in their theoretical
framework. Results show that this construct is useful to characterize different kinds of
“mistakes” made by students, and also that these mistakes can be regarded as a means of
probing what students do know which in turn can be used to direct the design of useful
learning environments.

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Author Biographies

Laura M. Buteler

Universidad Nacional de Cordoba, IFEG - CONICET

Enrique A. Coleoni

Universidad Nacional de Cordoba, IFEG - CONICET