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Learners' Mental Models of the Particle Nature of Matter: A study of 16-year-old Swedish science students
University of Kalmar, School of Pure and Applied Natural Sciences.
2009 (English)In: International Journal of Science Education, ISSN 0950-0693, E-ISSN 1464-5289, Vol. 31, no 6, p. 757-786Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The results presented here derive from a longitudinal study of Swedish upper secondary science students' (16-19 years of age) developing understanding of key chemical concepts. The informants were 18 students from two different schools. The aim of the present study was to investigate the mental models of matter at the particulate level that learners develop. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews based around the students' own drawings of the atom, and of solids, liquids, and gases. The interview transcripts were analysed to identify patterns in the data that offer insight into aspects of student understanding. The findings are discussed in the specific curriculum context in Swedish schools. Results indicate that the teaching model of the atom (derived from Bohr's model) commonly presented by teachers and textbook authors in Sweden gives the students an image of a disproportionately large and immobile nucleus, emphasises a planetary model of the atom and gives rise to a chain of logic leading to immobility in the solid state and molecular breakdown during phase transitions. The findings indicate that changes in teaching approaches are required to better support learners in developing mental models that reflect the intended target knowledge.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 31, no 6, p. 757-786
National Category
Natural Sciences
Research subject
Natural Science, Science Education; Natural Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-1718DOI: 10.1080/09500690701799383OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-1718DiVA, id: diva2:308766
Available from: 2010-04-06 Created: 2010-04-06 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Relationships between models used for teaching chemistry and those expressed by students
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Relationships between models used for teaching chemistry and those expressed by students
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis is focused upon chemistry as a school subject and students' interpretations and use of formally introduced teaching models. To explore students' developing repertoire of chemical models, a longitudinal interview study was undertaken spanning the first year of upper secondary school chemistry. Matter in its different states was selected as the target framework for this study. The results presented are derived from both generalisations of groups of students as well as a case study describing an individual learner's interpretation of formal content. The results obtained demonstrated that the formal teaching models provided to the students included in this study were not sufficient to afford them a coherent framework of matter in its different states or for chemical bonding. Instead, students' expressed models of matter and phase change were to a high degree dependent on electron movement (Paper I), anthropomorphism (Paper II) and, for one student, a mechanistic approach based on small particles and gravitation (Paper III). The results from this study place focus on the importance of learners' prior learning (previous experiences) and the need to develop a coherent framework of formal teaching models for the nature of matter and phase change.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Kalmar: Linnaeus university, 2012. p. 83
Series
Linnaeus University Dissertations ; 79/2012
Keywords
chemistry didactics, particulate nature of matter, phase transition, student expressed models, Swedish school, teaching models
National Category
Natural Sciences
Research subject
Natural Science, Science Education; Natural Science, Science Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-17824 (URN)978-91-86983-36-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2012-03-30, N2007, Västergård, Smålandsgatan 26A, Kalmar, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2012-02-29 Created: 2012-02-29 Last updated: 2018-05-18Bibliographically approved

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Adbo, Karina

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Output format
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