Medical Misconceptions: What do you know?

Author: Sara Patricia Chavarria

Time: 40-50 minutes
Photocopy the Pop Quiz Handout for each student.
Prepare Overhead 1 with Pop Quiz answers.
Materials: Pop Quiz Handout
Pop Quiz Answer Overhead


In this engage lesson, students’ knowledge of some basic historical facts regarding medical science and hygiene will be tested. They will take a Pop Quiz and then as a class discuss the answers given by having them explain why they chose their answers. When done, the correct answers will be given. The purpose of the lesson is to expose our misconceptions of the order things might occur in regards to medical innovation. Today, we may have misconceptions of past contributions because we know so much more about medicine and assume it was known in the past as well.

Students will be able to:
i. Defend their answers to a pop quiz through discussion and then note how well their logic matches the facts.
ii. Develop a timeline using the information from the pop quiz and interpret what the impact of events would have on their life in a paragraph.

National Council for History in the Schools:
Historical Thinking Standards

  • Standard 4C: Interrogate historical data.
  • Standard 4A: Formulate historical questions.

World History Standards

  • Era 6, Standard 6: Major global trends from 1450-1770

Teacher Background



1. As students walk in to class, tell them they are to take out a pen or pencil for a pop quiz.

2. Hand each student a copy of the Pop Quiz. Allow 5 minutes to complete the quiz. Allow more time if the teacher wants students to write down explanations for each answer.

3. When done, collect quizzes and redistribute for grading to different students.

4. At the same time, have students take out notepaper for note taking.

5. As they grade the quiz they are to take personal notes from the discussion generated for each question.

6. Go over each question one at a time. Ask students to share answers and defend why they chose the answer they did. With some of the questions, the answers will seem to need to follow a certain logic (like with #2) but as students will learn, modern logic has no place in the past when they did not know some of the things we know today. If there are student misconceptions, discuss why they had them. Then give the correct answer and give some background information to the students explaining the answer (see the teacher sheet). They are to take notes so that they may place this information along a timeline.

7. From the timeline, students should write two short paragraphs reflecting on the implications of the events along the timeline about the quality of life at the time and upon the impact of at least three events on their own life.

In closing, ask students if the correct answers raised any Inquiry or Ponder questions and have them record those in their notes as well. The teacher may wish to make a list on an overhead of those questions for future discussions.


Embedded Assessment
1. The pop quiz and defense of their answers to this quiz provides an opportunity to assess their understanding of historical medical practices and the logic that supported or resulted from them.

2. The timeline that students create and their interpretation of these events is an opportunity to assess students’ ability to interpret historical data.

PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
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