Investigation of prospective teachers' knowledge and understanding of *models and modeling and their attitudes towards the use of models in science education

Mustafa B Aktan, Purdue University


The purpose of this study was to investigate prospective science teachers' knowledge and understanding of models and modeling, and their attitudes towards the use of models in science teaching through the following research questions: What knowledge do prospective science teachers have about models and modeling in science? What understandings about the nature of models do these teachers hold as a result of their educational training? What perceptions and attitudes do these teachers hold about the use of models in their teaching? Two main instruments, semi-structured in-depth interviewing and an open-item questionnaire, were used to obtain data from the participants. The data were analyzed from an interpretative phenomenological perspective and grounded theory methods. Earlier studies on in-service science teachers' understanding about the nature of models and modeling revealed that variations exist among teachers' limited yet diverse understanding of scientific models. The results of this study indicated that variations also existed among prospective science teachers' understanding of the concept of model and the nature of models. Apparently the participants' knowledge of models and modeling was limited and they viewed models as materialistic examples and representations. I found that the teachers believed the purpose of a model is to make phenomena more accessible and more understandable. They defined models by referring to an example, a representation, or a simplified version of the real thing. I found no evidence of negative attitudes towards use of models among the participants. Although the teachers valued the idea that scientific models are important aspects of science teaching and learning, and showed positive attitudes towards the use of models in their teaching, certain factors like level of learner, time, lack of modeling experience, and limited knowledge of models appeared to be affecting their perceptions negatively. Implications for the development of science teaching and teacher education programs are discussed. Directions for future research are suggested. Overall, based on the results, I suggest that prospective science teachers should engage in more modeling activities through their preparation programs, gain more modeling experience, and collaborate with their colleagues to better understand and implement scientific models in science teaching.




Eichinger, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|Science education|Secondary education

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