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What models and representations do Swedish upper secondary school teachers use in their teaching about the atom?
Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology.
2016 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (professional degree), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This report presents the results from a survey study on Swedish upper secondary school physics andchemistry teachers’ use of models and representations in teaching the atom. The study builds upon an earlier systematic international literature review on the role of models and representations in the teaching, learning and understanding of the atom. The overall aim of the study is to explore what models and representations are used by Swedish upper secondary school physics and chemistry teachers in their teaching about the atom, what informs teachers’ selection of the atomic models and representation forms and how they specifically use them in their teaching of the atom. The method for collecting the data for this study was an electronic questionnaire containing six introductory questions followed by nine open and four closed items, which were analysed both quantitatively and qualitatively. Thirty-one responses were received and analysed in this study.

The results of the study indicate that Swedish teachers’ selection and use of atomic models and representation forms in their practice correspond with findings in the previously conducted literature review. For example, the Bohr atomic model was shown to be the most popular for teaching about the atom amongst the Swedish teachers in this study, since it is deemed intuitive and easy to visualize. A further result revealed that the de Broglie atomic model was only used by physics teachers, and that physics teachers overall used more atomic models in their teaching than chemistry teachers, a finding that might be related to the different teaching content in physics and chemistry. The study also shows that Swedish teachers are very comfortable with, and advocate, using different representation forms in their teaching. One interesting finding in this regard was that the use of physical models is predominantly more popular among chemistry than physics teachers. In line with the findings in the previous literature review study, students’ prior knowledge and individual learning styles were found tobe important influencing factors in teachers’ selection of representation forms to use in the classroom.The majority of the teachers also agreed on that it is important to explain to students how models should be interpreted and used, but one interesting finding, that differs from the previous research, is that some teachers were of the opinion that students have an already well-developed modelling ability when encountering different models of the atom.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 67 p.
Keyword [en]
Physics education, chemistry education, atomic models, representation forms, atomic concepts, mental models, alternative conceptions, science teaching, student understanding
National Category
Educational Sciences Didactics Physical Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-131625ISRN: LIU-GY-L-A--16/132--SEOAI: diva2:975011
Subject / course
Science in Upper Secondary Education
Educational program
Teacher Education
Available from: 2016-10-11 Created: 2016-09-28 Last updated: 2016-10-11Bibliographically approved

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Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology
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