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  • 1.
    Adbo, Karina
    et al.
    Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
    Taber, Keith
    University of Cambridge.
    Developing an Understanding of Chemistry: A case study of one Swedish student's rich conceptualisation for making sense of upper secondary school chemistry2014In: International Journal of Science Education, ISSN 0950-0693, E-ISSN 1464-5289, Vol. 36, no 7, p. 1107-1136Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In this paper, we report a case study of a 16-year-old Swedish upper secondary student's developing understanding of key concept areas studied in his upper secondary school chemistry course. This study illustrates how the thinking of an individual learner, Jesper, evolves over a school year in response to formal instruction in a particular educational context. Jesper presented a range of ideas, some of which matched intended teaching whilst others were quite inconsistent with canonical chemistry. Of particular interest, research data suggest that his initial alternative conceptions influenced his thinking about subsequent teaching of chemistry subject matter, illustrating how students' alternative conceptions interact with formal instruction. Our findings support the claims of some researchers that alternative conceptions may be stable and tenacious in the context of instruction. Jesper's rich conceptualisation of matter at submicroscopic scales drew upon intuitions about the world that led to teaching being misinterpreted to develop further alternative conceptions. Yet his intuitive thinking also offered clear potential links with canonical scientific concepts that could have been harnessed to channel his developing thinking. These findings support the argument that identifying students' intuitive thinking and how it develops in different instructional contexts can support the development of more effective science pedagogy.

  • 2.
    Adbo, Karina
    et al.
    University of Kalmar, School of Pure and Applied Natural Sciences.
    Taber, Keith
    Learners' Mental Models of the Particle Nature of Matter: A study of 16-year-old Swedish science students2009In: International Journal of Science Education, ISSN 0950-0693, E-ISSN 1464-5289, Vol. 31, no 6, p. 757-786Article in journal (Refereed)
    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.

  • 3.
    Lindahl, Mats
    et al.
    Linnaeus University, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Department of Chemistry and Biomedical Sciences.
    Linder, Cedric
    Linnaeus University, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Department of Chemistry and Biomedical Sciences. Uppsala Univ, Dept Phys & Astron, Uppsala, Sweden.
    Students' Ontological Security and Agency in Science Education: An Example from Reasoning about the Use of Gene Technology2013In: International Journal of Science Education, ISSN 0950-0693, E-ISSN 1464-5289, Vol. 35, no 14, p. 2299-2330Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper reports on a study of how students’ reasoning about socioscientific issues is framed by three dynamics: societal structures, agency and how trust and security issues are handled. Examples from gene technology were used as the forum for interviews with 13 Swedish highschool students (year 11, age 17–18). A grid based on modalities from the societal structures described by Giddens was used to structure the analysis. The results illustrate how the participating students used both modalities for ‘Legitimation’ and ‘Domination’ to justify positions that accept or reject new technology. The analysis also showed how norms and knowledge can be used to justify opposing positions in relation to building trust in science and technology, or in democratic decisions expected to favour personal norms. Here, students accepted or rejected the authority of experts based on perceptions of the knowledge base that the authority was seen to be anchored in. Difficulty in discerning between material risks (reduced safety) and immaterial risks (loss of norms) was also found. These outcomes are used to draw attention to the educational challenges associated with students’ using knowledge claims (Domination) to support norms (Legitimation) and how this is related to the development of a sense of agency in terms of sharing norms with experts or with laymen.

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