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Learning to Apply Models of Materials While Explaining Their Properties

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Research in Science & Technological Education Volume 32, Number 3, ISSN 0263-5143


Background: Applying structural models is important to chemistry education at the upper secondary level, but it is considered one of the most difficult topics to learn. Purpose: This study analyses to what extent in designed lessons students learned to apply structural models in explaining the properties and behaviours of various materials. Sample: An experimental group is 27 Finnish upper secondary school students and control group included 18 students from the same school. Design and methods: In quasi-experimental setting, students were guided through predict, observe, explain activities in four practical work situations. It was intended that the structural models would encourage students to learn how to identify and apply appropriate models when predicting and explaining situations. The lessons, organised over a one-week period, began with a teacher's demonstration and continued with student experiments in which they described the properties and behaviours of six household products representing three different materials. Results: Most students in the experimental group learned to apply the models correctly, as demonstrated by post-test scores that were significantly higher than pre-test scores. The control group showed no significant difference between pre-and post-test scores. Conclusions: The findings indicate that the intervention where students engage in predict, observe, explain activities while several materials and models are confronted at the same time, had a positive effect on learning outcomes.


Karpin, T., Juuti, K. & Lavonen, J. (2014). Learning to Apply Models of Materials While Explaining Their Properties. Research in Science & Technological Education, 32(3), 340-351. Retrieved May 20, 2019 from .

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