How do secondary school science teachers justify the model of a particulate nature of matter, and how do the arguments they use relate to historical arguments? To find out, we individually interviewed 11 in‐service secondary school science teachers (certified to teach chemistry and/or physics in secondary school, and with 2 to 30 years of teaching experience) regarding their arguments for the particulate nature of matter and experiments that could demonstrate the existence of particles. The collected data were qualitatively analyzed. Three qualitatively different categories of arguments could be constructed from data: philosophical arguments, indirect experimental arguments, and direct experimental arguments. The indirect experimental arguments which is the largest category could be further divided into qualitatively different subcategories: nonspecific research and experiments, and chemical, physical, and subatomic experiments. Even though several experiments and arguments were suggested by the informants in our study, the arguments regarding the validity of the experiments were quite uncertain and vague. The experiments and arguments were used to corroborate the particulate nature of matter and taken for granted in advance rather than used to justify a model with particles. The outcome was discussed in relation to scientific arguments and experiments and in view of results from previous science education research. Based on our data, teacher education and in‐service teacher training, as well as teacher guides, were suggested to be more elaborate regarding contemporary knowledge, with direct experimental evidence for the particulate nature of matter being presented.
Journal of Research in Science Teaching – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
Keywords: ; ; ;
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