Deakin University

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Using models in teaching and learning science

Version 2 2024-06-06, 11:39
Version 1 2014-10-28, 09:58
posted on 2024-06-06, 11:39 authored by G Chittleborough
Models can be excellent tools to help explain abstract scientific concepts and for students to better understand these abstract concepts. A model could be a copy or replica, but it can also be a representation that is not like the real thing but can provide insight about a scientific concept. Models come in a variety of forms, such as three dimensional and concrete, two dimensional and pictorial, and digital forms. The features of models often depend on their purpose: for example, they can be visual, to show what something might look like, dynamic to show how something might work, and or interactive to show how something might respond to changes. One model is often not an accurate representation of a concept, so multiple models may be used.
Students’ modelling ability has been shown to improve through instruction and with practice of mapping the model to the real thing, highlighting the similarities and differences. The characteristics of a model that can be used in this assessment include accuracy and purpose. Models are commonly used by science teachers to describe, and explain scientific concepts, however, pedagogical approaches that include students using models to make predictions and test ideas about scientific concepts encourages students to use models for higher order thinking processes. This approach relates the use of models to the way scientists work, reflecting the nature of science and the development of scientific ideas. This chapter will focus on the way models are used in teaching: identifying pedagogical processes to raise students’ awareness of characteristics of models. In this way, the strengths and limitations of any model are assessed in relation to the real thing so that the accuracy and merit of the model and its explanatory power can be determined.


Chapter number








Publication classification

BN Other book chapter, or book chapter not attributed to Deakin

Copyright notice

2013, Nova Science Publishers




Redman C


Nova Science Publishers

Place of publication

Hauppauge, N. Y.

Title of book

Successful science education practices : exploring what, why and how they worked


Education in a competitive and globalizing world