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ERIC Number: EJ813573
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Nov
Pages: 16
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0157-244X
Models in Physics, Models for Physics Learning, and Why the Distinction May Matter in the Case of Electric Circuits
Hart, Christina
Research in Science Education, v38 n5 p529-544 Nov 2008
Models are important both in the development of physics itself and in teaching physics. Historically, the consensus models of physics have come to embody particular ontological assumptions and epistemological commitments. Educators have generally assumed that the consensus models of physics, which have stood the test of time, will also work well as teaching models, and for many topics this assumption is at least unproblematic and in many cases productive. However, in the case of electric circuits the consensus models are highly abstract and consequently inaccessible to beginning learners. Certain historically derived analogues for the consensus models are accepted in texts, but these are demonstrably ineffective for helping learners grasp the fundamental concepts of electric circuits. While awareness of other models circulates informally in the teaching community, these are not well documented in the science education literature and rarely referred to in authoritative texts, possibly because the models do not share the ontological assumptions and epistemological commitments that characterise consensus models. Consequently these models have not been subjected to a disciplined critique of their effectiveness for teaching purposes. In this paper I use criteria drawn from the science education literature to reflect on why I have found particular models valuable in teaching electric circuits. These criteria contrast with the epistemological and ontological features that characterise the consensus models of science, and my reflection leads me to attend explicitly to the ways in which meanings are created within physics. This suggests that all models, whether consensus models or not, can be used more knowingly for important educational ends.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A