A problem posing approach to teaching an initial particle model

Author: Dr Ir Marjolein Vollebregt

In case of ‘particles’, regular physics textbooks do not provide many opportunities for inquiry based learning, whereas models, including particle models, can be considered as a perfect topic for this kind of teaching strategies. The advantage of an inquiry based approach is that students, while learning about particles, can also obtain knowledge about the nature of scientific models.

But it is far from easy to design such an inquiry based approach. For if students have too much freedom in designing a model themselves they probably do not end up with the model we want them to learn and we may even foster familiar misconceptions. Furthermore the students will probably put forward such different models that it will be very difficult for a teacher to help all of them in developing their ideas in the direction of the learning goals.
So the important question is how to design a teaching strategy which ends up with the particle model we want students to learn and still give them several opportunities to be involved in the process of modelling. This important question may be answered by means of a problem posing approach to teaching an initial particle model.

Pedagogical issues

This topic can be considered a specific example of a more general problem, namely how processes of teaching and learning in science education may be designed and enacted, so that pupils consequently reach an adequate understanding of scientific knowledge, the nature of science and/or the process of modelling. A main concern is the kind of questions that are asked to the students and how to organise student-led inquiry.

Potential for PD

The worksheets can be studied and compared with regular textbook-chapters by student-teachers or during in-service teacher training to look for differences and similarities. This analysis is a starting point for (1) discussing students' views on particles and how to foster their inquiry in this topic, and (2) characteristics of this specific problem-posing approach.


The problem-posing approach deals with a specific aspect of IBL, i.e. how to foster students' inquiry for meaningful science education. The problem posing approach to teaching an initial particle model is the result of Marjolein Vollebregt's PhD study. The worksheets are an appendix of her thesis.


Last change: 19 juni 2013
Quick Links
Back to top