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Teaching and learning of chemical bonding models: Aspects of textbooks, students’ understanding and teachers’ professional knowledge
Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Engineering and Chemical Sciences. (SMEER)
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Despite the growing importance of science and technology in society, school students consider these subjects irrelevant and hard to learn. Teachers must therefore know how to teach science in ways that enhance students’ understanding and interest. This thesis explores various aspects of the teaching and learning of chemical bonding, an important topic in school chemistry that is primarily taught using models. Research has shown that students find chemical bonding difficult to understand, and that the use of models in science education contributes to this difficulty. I therefore investigated teachers’ knowledge of how to teach chemical bonding and ways of developing it to improve students’ understanding. To this end, I analysed chemistry textbooks and teachers’ lesson plans, and conducted semi-structured interviews with teachers about their teaching of chemical bonding. This revealed that the representations of chemical bonding used in textbooks and by teachers can cause students difficulties. The teachers were generally unaware of how these representations might affect students’ understanding, implying that their pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) could be improved. To explore ways of incorporating research findings into teaching practice and developing teachers’ PCK, I conducted a learning study in which three secondary science teachers together explored and reflected on their own teaching practice. CoRe, a method for creating detailed descriptions of what, how, and why specific content is taught, was used to enhance the reflections and make the teachers’ PCK explicit. As a result, the teachers developed their representations of chemical bonding, became more aware of students’ understanding, and were better able to motivate their actions and choices of content and strategies.

This thesis shows how professional development can bridge the gap between research and teaching practice, and how teachers’ PCK can be developed to improve students’ understanding.

Abstract [en]

Many complex real-world phenomena can only be understood using models that make the abstract visible and provide explanations, predictions, descriptions, or simplifications. However, research has shown that students have difficulties understanding models used in science education in general, and particularly chemical bonding models.

This thesis examines various aspects of the teaching and learning of chemical bonding, and its presentation in textbooks and by teachers. It is shown that the representations used by teachers and in textbooks can cause students to have difficulties in understanding, which teachers were generally unaware of. Teachers rarely justify their choices specifically to overcome students’ difficulties, suggesting that their knowledge of how to teach chemical bonding could be improved.

A learning study in which teachers collaboratively explored and reflected on their own teaching practice significantly improved their presentation of chemical bonding, their awareness of students’ understanding, and their ability to justify their choices.

Overall, this work shows that there is a gap between research and teaching practice, and that effective ways of incorporating research results into teaching practice are needed to improve teaching and learning in chemistry.

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstads universitet, 2017. , 122 p.
Series
Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099 ; 2017:23
Keyword [en]
Chemical bonding models, Pedagogical content knowledge, Teachers' professional development, Chemistry education, Students' learning
National Category
Chemical Sciences
Research subject
Chemistry
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-48502ISBN: 978-91-7063-786-5 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7063-787-2 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-48502DiVA: diva2:1093420
Public defence
2017-06-16, 9C 204, Rejmersalen, Universitetsgatan 2, 651 88 Karlstad, Karlstad, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-05-23 Created: 2017-05-05 Last updated: 2017-05-23Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Representations of chemical bonding models in school textbooks: Help or hindrance for understanding?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Representations of chemical bonding models in school textbooks: Help or hindrance for understanding?
2013 (English)In: Chemistry education, ISSN 1109-4028, Chemistry Education Research and Practice, ISSN 1109-4028, Vol. 14, 589-606 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Models play an important and central role in science as well as in science education. Chemical bonding is one of the most important topics at upper secondary school chemistry, and this topic is dominated by the use of models. In the past decade, research has shown that chemical bonding is a topic that students find difficult, and therefore, a wide range of alternative conceptions are developed by students. This study focuses on analyzing the models of chemical bonding in chemistry textbooks at upper secondary level and aims to investigate the content of chemical bonding presented in chemistry textbooks with respect to students’ learning difficulties (alternative conceptions and difficulties in understanding). Chapters concerning chemical bonding in five chemistry textbooks at upper secondary level in Sweden were analyzed. The results showed that the models of chemical bonding represented in the school textbooks might cause students’ alternative conceptions and difficulties in understanding chemical bonding, which matched the findings found by other recent studies. Implications for textbooks’ authors and teachers are addressed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London, UK: RSC Publishing, 2013
Keyword
models in teaching; textbook analysis; chemical bonding; students’ learning difficulties; representations of models
National Category
Chemical Sciences
Research subject
Chemistry
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-15366 (URN)10.1039/C3RP20159G (DOI)000325570900020 ()
Available from: 2012-10-30 Created: 2012-10-30 Last updated: 2017-05-05Bibliographically approved
2. Upper Secondary Teachers' Knowledge for Teaching Chemical Bonding Models
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Upper Secondary Teachers' Knowledge for Teaching Chemical Bonding Models
2016 (English)In: International Journal of Science Education, ISSN 0950-0693, E-ISSN 1464-5289, Vol. 38, no 2, 298-318 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Researchers have shown a growing interest in science teachers' professional knowledge in recent decades. The article focuses on how chemistry teachers impart chemical bonding, one of the most important topics covered in upper secondary school chemistry courses. Chemical bonding is primarily taught using models, which are key for understanding science. However, many studies have determined that the use of models in science education can contribute to students' difficulties understanding the topic, and that students generally find chemical bonding a challenging topic. The aim of this study is to investigate teachers' knowledge of teaching chemical bonding. The study focuses on three essential components of pedagogical content knowledge (PCK): (1) the students' understanding, (2) representations, and (3) instructional strategies. We analyzed lesson plans about chemical bonding generated by 10 chemistry teachers with whom we also conducted semi-structured interviews about their teaching. Our results revealed that the teachers were generally unaware of how the representations of models they used affected student comprehension. The teachers had trouble specifying students' difficulties in understanding. Moreover, most of the instructional strategies described were generic and insufficient for promoting student understanding. Additionally, the teachers' rationale for choosing a specific representation or activity was seldom directed at addressing students' understanding. Our results indicate that both PCK components require improvement, and suggest that the two components should be connected. Implications for the professional development of pre-service and in-service teachers are discussed.

Keyword
Chemical bonding, Pedagogical content knowledge, Students' understanding, Chemistry education, Models
National Category
Educational Sciences Chemical Sciences
Research subject
Chemistry
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-41681 (URN)10.1080/09500693.2015.1125034 (DOI)000372095200007 ()
Available from: 2016-04-13 Created: 2016-04-13 Last updated: 2017-05-05Bibliographically approved
3. The influence of textbooks on teachers’ knowledge of chemical bonding representations relative to students’ difficulties understanding
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The influence of textbooks on teachers’ knowledge of chemical bonding representations relative to students’ difficulties understanding
2017 (English)In: Research in Science & Technological Education, ISSN 0263-5143, E-ISSN 1470-1138, Vol. 35, no 2, 215-237 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: Textbooks are integral tools for teachers’ lessons. Several researchers observed that school teachers rely heavily on textbooks as informational sources when planning lessons. Moreover, textbooks are an important resource for developing students’knowledge as they contain various representations that in uence students’ learning. However, several studies report that students have di culties understanding models in general, and chemical bonding models in particular, and that students’ di culties understanding chemical bonding are partly due to the way it is taught by teachers and presented in textbooks.

Purpose: This article aims to delineate the in uence of textbooks on teachers’ selection and use of representations when teaching chemical bonding models and to show how this might cause students’ di culties understanding.

Sample: Ten chemistry teachers from seven upper secondary schools located in Central Sweden volunteered to participate in this study. Design and methods: Data from multiple sources were collected and analysed, including interviews with the 10 upper secondary school teachers, the teachers’ lesson plans, and the contents of the textbooks used by the teachers.

Results: The results revealed strong coherence between how chemical bonding models are presented in textbooks and by teachers, and thus depict that textbooks in uence teachers’ selection and use of representations for their lessons. As discussed in the literature review, several of the selected representations were associated with alternative conceptions of, and di culties understanding, chemical bonding among students.

Conclusions: The study highlights the need for lling the gap between research and teaching practices, focusing particularly on how representations of chemical bonding can lead to students’ di culties understanding. The gap may be lled by developing teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge regarding chemical bonding and scienti c models in general. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis Group, 2017
Keyword
Textbook, chemical bonding models, upper secondary school teacher, students’ learning difficulties, representations
National Category
Other Natural Sciences Chemical Sciences
Research subject
Chemistry
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-48498 (URN)10.1080/02635143.2017.1295934 (DOI)
Available from: 2017-05-05 Created: 2017-05-05 Last updated: 2017-06-22Bibliographically approved
4. Developing science teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge - systematically reflections of teaching practice during a Learning Study combined with Content Representations
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Developing science teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge - systematically reflections of teaching practice during a Learning Study combined with Content Representations
(English)Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
National Category
Chemical Sciences
Research subject
Chemistry
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-48500 (URN)
Available from: 2017-05-05 Created: 2017-05-05 Last updated: 2017-06-22

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