Teaching and learning of chemical bonding models Aspects of textbooks, students’ understanding and teachers’ professional knowledge

Detta är en avhandling från Karlstads universitet

Sammanfattning: 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.