Why not start with quarks? Teachers investigate a learning unit on the subatomic structure of matter with 12-year-olds

Gerfried J. Wiener 1 2 * , Sascha M. Schmeling 1, Martin Hopf 2
More Detail
1 CERN, European Organization for Nuclear Research, Genève 23, Switzerland
2 Austrian Educational Competence Centre Physics, University of Vienna, Austria
* Corresponding Author
EUR J SCI MATH ED, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp. 134-157. https://doi.org/10.30935/scimath/9503
OPEN ACCESS   664 Views   411 Downloads
Download Full Text (PDF)

ABSTRACT

This paper describes the second in a series of studies exploring the acceptance of the subatomic structure of matter by 12-year-olds. The studies focus on a novel learning unit introducing an atomic model from electrons down to quarks, which is aimed to be used at an early stage in the physics curriculum. Three features are fundamental to the unit’s design: conveying the central role of models in physics, focusing on linguistic accuracy, and the use of novel typographic illustrations. An initial study saw the iterative redesign and retesting of the unit through 20 one-on-one interviews with grade-6 students. Findings indicated broad acceptance of most of the unit’s key ideas, hinting that the unit’s final version is plausible for 12-year-olds. Subsequently, the research was focused on the perspective of teachers to gain insight into their evaluation of the unit’s adequacy and didactic feasibility. Therefore, the current follow-up study was designed to introduce the proposed unit to grade-6 students. This time, instead of education researchers, 13 teachers conducted a set of 17 one-on-one interviews. The teachers had been introduced to the learning unit and the research method during a professional development programme. Our analysis showed that the unit’s key ideas were broadly accepted by all the students, who adequately used them for problem-solving during the one-on-one interviews. Overall, the documented results validate our findings from the initial study and indicate that the learning unit is adequate and well-suited for a broad evaluation in the classroom.

CITATION

Wiener, G. J., Schmeling, S. M., & Hopf, M. (2017). Why not start with quarks? Teachers investigate a learning unit on the subatomic structure of matter with 12-year-olds. European Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 5(2), 134-157. https://doi.org/10.30935/scimath/9503

REFERENCES

  • Adbo, K., and Taber, K. S., (2009). Learners’ mental models of the particle nature of matter: a study of 16-year-old Swedish science students. International Journal of Science Education, 31(6), 757-786.
  • Andersson, B., (1990). Pupils' conceptions of matter and its transformations (age 12-16). Studies in Science Education, 18, 53-85.
  • Appleton, K., (2003). How do beginning primary school teachers cope with science? Toward an understanding of science teaching practice. Research in Science Education, 33, 1-25.
  • Boz, Y., (2006). Turkish pupils’ conceptions of the particulate nature of matter. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 15, 203-213.
  • Boz, N., and Boz, Y., (2008). A qualitative case study of prospective chemistry teachers' knowledge about instructional strategies: introducing particulate theory. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 19, 135-156.
  • Brown, B. A., and Ryoo, K., (2008). Teaching science as a language: a ‘‘content-first’’ approach to science teaching. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 45(5), 529-553.
  • Carney, R. N., and Levin, J. R., (2002). Pictorial illustrations still improve students’ learning from text. Educational Psychology Review, 14, 5-26.
  • Chittleborough, G. D., and Treagust, D. F., (2009). Why models are advantageous to learning science. educación química, 12-17.
  • Cook, M. P., (2006). Visual representations in science education: the influence of prior knowledge and cognitive load theory on instructional design principles. Science Education, 90, 1073-1091.
  • Danusso, L., Testa, I., and Vicentini, M., (2010). Improving prospective teachers' knowledge about scientific models and modelling: design and evaluation of a teacher education intervention. International Journal of Science Education, 32(7), 871-905.
  • Design-Based Research Collective, (2003). Design-based research: an emerging paradigm for educational inquiry. Educational Researcher, 32, 5-8.
  • Duit, R., (1996). The constructivist view in science education – what it has to offer and what should not be expected from it. Investigações em Ensino de Ciências, 1, 40-75.
  • Duit, R., and Treagust, D. F., (2003). Conceptual change: a powerful framework for improving science teaching and learning. International Journal of Science Education, 25(6), 671–688.
  • Ferk, V., Vrtacnik, M., Blejec, A., and Gril, A., (2003). Students' understanding of molecular structure representations. International Journal of Science Education, 25, 1227-1245.
  • Gilbert, J., (2004). Models and modelling: routes to more authentic science education. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 2, 115–130.
  • Grosslight, L., Unger, C., Jay, E., and Smith, C., (1991). Understanding models and their use in science: conceptions of middle and high school students and experts. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 28, 799–822.
  • Grünkorn, J., zu Belzen, A. U., and Krüger, D., (2011). Design and test of open-ended tasks to evaluate a theoretical structure of model competence. In A. Yarden & G. Carvalho (Eds.), Authenticity in biology education. Benefits and challenges (pp. 53–65). Braga: CIEC, Universidade do Minho.
  • Halloun, I. A., (2007). Mediated modeling in science education. Science & Education, 16, 653-697.
  • Harrison, A. G., and Treagust, D. F., (1996). Secondary students' mental models of atoms and molecules: implications for teaching chemistry. Science Education, 80, 509-534.
  • Hestenes, D., (1987). Toward a modeling theory of physics instruction. American Journal of Physics, 55(5), 440-454.
  • Hestenes, D., (2003). Oersted medal lecture 2002: reforming the mathematical language of physics. American Journal of Physics, 71(2), 104-121.
  • Jackson, J., Dukerich, L., and Hestenes, D., (2008). Modeling instruction: an effective model for science education. Science Educator, 17(1), 10-17.
  • Johnson, P., and Papageorgiou, G., (2010). Rethinking the introduction of particle theory: a substance-based framework. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(2), 130-150.
  • Jung, W., (1992). Probing acceptance, a technique for investigating learning difficulties. In R. Duit, F. Goldberg & H. Niedderer (Eds.), Research in physics learning: Theoretical issues and empirical studies (pp. 278-295). Kiel: IPN.
  • Justi, R., (2009). Learning how to model in science classroom: key teacher’s role in supporting the development of students’ modelling skills. educación química, 32-40.
  • Karsten, F., Koch, T., Kranzinger, F., and Theis, M., (2011). Planeten, Wolken oder schwarze Kisten? Wie können wir Atome in der Schule didaktisch sinnvoll beschreiben? Physik Journal, 10, 39-42.
  • Khan, S., (2011). What's missing in model-based teaching. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 22, 535-560.
  • Koponen, I. T., (2007). Models and modelling in physics education: a critical re-analysis of philosophical underpinnings and suggestions for revisions. Science & Education, 16, 751-773.
  • Krell, M., zu Belzen, A. U., and Krüger, D., (2012). Students’ understanding of the purpose of models in different biological contexts. International Journal of Biology Education, 2(2), 1-34.
  • Krell, M., Reinisch, B., and Krüger, D., (2015). Analyzing students’ understanding of models and modeling referring to the disciplines biology, chemistry, and physics. Research in Science Education, 45, 367-393.
  • Landis, J. R., and Koch, G. G., (1977). The measurement of observer agreement for categorical data. Biometric, 33, 159-174.
  • Mayring, P., (2010). Qualitative Inhaltsanalyse. In G. Mey & K. Mruck (Eds.), Handbuch Qualitative Forschung in der Psychologie (pp. 601-613). Wiesbaden: Springer.
  • Nakhleh, M. B., and Samarapungavan, A., (1999). Elementary school children's beliefs about matter. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 36, 777-805.
  • Novick, S., and Nussbaum, J., (1981). Pupils’ understanding of the particulate nature of matter: a cross-age study. Science Education, 65, 187-19.
  • Nuthall, G., (2004). Relating classroom teaching to student learning: a critical analysis of why research has failed to bridge the theory-practice gap. Harvard Educational Review, 74(3), 273-306.
  • Ornek, F., (2008). Models in science education: applications of models in learning and teaching science. International Journal of Environmental & Science Education, 3(2), 35-45.
  • Özalp, D., and Kahveci, A., (2015). Diagnostic assessment of student misconceptions about the particulate nature of matter from ontological perspective. Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 16, 619-639.
  • Ozmen, H., (2011). Turkish primary students' conceptions about the particulate nature of matter. International Journal of Environmental & Science Education, 6, 99-121.
  • Pfundt, H., (1981). Das Atom - Letztes Teilungsstück oder erster Aufbaustein? Zu den Vorstellungen, die sich Schüler vom Aufbau der Stoffe machen. chimica didactica, 7, 75-94.
  • de Posada, J. M., (1999). The presentation of metallic bonding in high school science textbooks during three decades: science educational reforms and substantive changes of tendencies. Science Education, 83, 423-447.
  • Renström, L., Andersson, B., and Marton, F., (1990). Students' conceptions of matter. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82(3), 555-569.
  • Rincke, K., (2011). It’s rather like learning a language. Development of talk and conceptual understanding in mechanics lessons. International Journal of Science Education, 11(2), 229-258.
  • Snir, J., Smith, C. L., and Raz, G., (2003). Linking phenomena with competing underlying models: a software tool for introducing students to the particulate model of matter. Science Education, 87, 794-830.
  • Talanquer, V., (2009). On cognitive constraints and learning progressions: the case of “structure of matter”. International Journal of Science Education, 31(15), 2123-2136.
  • Topcu, M. S., (2013). Preservice teachers' epistemological beliefs in physics, chemistry, and biology: a mixed study. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 11, 433-458.
  • Treagust, D. F., Chandrasegaran, A. L., Crowley, J., Yung, B. H. W., Cheong, I. P.-A., and Othman, J., (2010). Evaluating students’ understanding of kinetic particle theory concepts relating to the states of matter, changes of state and diffusion: a cross-national study. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 8, 141-164.
  • Vikström, A., (2014). What makes the difference? Teachers explore what must be taught and what must be learned in order to understand the particulate character of matter. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 25, 709-727.
  • de Vos, W., and Verdonk, A. H., (1996). The particulate nature of matter in science education and in science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 33, 657-664.
  • Wells, M., Hestenes, D., and Swackhamer, G., (1995). A modeling method for high school physics instruction. American Journal of Physics, 63(7), 606-619.
  • Wiener, G. J., Schmeling, S. M., and Hopf, M., (2015). Can grade-6 students understand quarks? Probing acceptance of the subatomic structure of matter with 12-year-olds. European Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 3(4), 313-322.
  • Wiesner, H., and Wodzinski, R., (1996). Akzeptanzbefragungen als Methode zur Untersuchung von Lernschwierigkeiten und Lernverläufen. Lernen in den Naturwissenschaften, 250-274.