Model-based teaching and student teachers' collaborative inquiry learning of physics

Andreas Redfors, Maria Eriksson, Ola Magntorn

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in book


A prerequisite for the teaching of physics is that the teacher realizes the importance of theoretical models in Physics, and their role in the interplay between Physics and the real world. The intention and strength of physics is to describe and predict real phenomena by organizing explanations through theories and theoretical models. In the scientific research process, empirical and theoretical work is intertwined leading to (re)construction of theories and theoretical models. The formation of these is an interactive process of discussions, experiments and observations made within the science community. However, from a Nature of Science (NOS) perspective, it is known that different emphases are possible on how these processes could be described, which adds to the complexity.

The presented project uses a semantic view of theoretical models (Adúriz-Bravo, 2012; Koponen, 2007 and references therein to Develaki, 2007; Giere, 1997; Suppe, 2000; van Fraassen, 1980), where theoretical models are viewed to form families or classes linking theories with experiments and practices, and where the focus is on the explanatory powers of the theoretical models. The relation between a theoretical model and real world phenomena, is in many ways complex, and observations and experiments are by necessity embedded in theory and therefore “Theory laden” (Hanson, 1958). Furthermore, theoretical models used in explanations are conjured up – depending on the context – as the explanation starts, and students uses of theoretical models in explanations are often context dependent (Redfors & Ryder, 2001).

We have developed and implemented a model-based science course in pre-service primary teacher education in Sweden. The author was one of the teachers and it was a student-centered approach. The Swedish teacher education for middle school is 4 years long and comprises theoretical studies of 1) general studies of teaching and learning, 2) the different school subjects and 3) practice teaching. The science course was based on the idea of contrastive teaching (Schecker & Niedderer, 1996; Redfors, 2008). The course had interactive lectures and lab-work, but alongside these, the students worked in groups with a teaching and learning project, where they developed, and during practice teaching implemented and evaluated a teaching sequence.

The purpose of this project is to study the model-based teaching and the collaborative inquiry learning of physics. A special focus is to investigate the teaching and learning processes coupled to the project work, with a special focus to effects of scaffolding by ICT.

Preliminary results indicate that after completion of the course it seemed that student learning was helped by the project work they did alongside the lectures and labs. The project gave students opportunities to engage and expand into areas chosen by them. The project became a way to directly apply and develop new knowledge and it helped students to use knowledge in new contexts.

We conclude that there are good reasons for student teachers to be given the opportunity to discuss in groups and challenge peer ideas in a project, especially when the project involves classroom teaching. The project work needs to be closely interrelated with the course content, and explicit use of the theoretical models presented in the course should be required. Also of importance is that students get to define or expand on the project tasks themselves.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLund
ISBN (Print)978-84-617-8491-2
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series

NameINTED 2017 Proceedings
ISSN (Print)2340-1079

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Didactics (50302)


  • collaborative inquiry
  • ict
  • physics
  • teacher education


Dive into the research topics of 'Model-based teaching and student teachers' collaborative inquiry learning of physics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this