4 Summary

In this unit, you have learned about some of the things that make electricity a difficult topic and how you can use models to support your teaching.

Case Study 2 and Activity 3 examined the use of one technique, role play, in the context of teaching about electric circuits. There are, however, several different ways of using models and in Activity 2 you identified several topics where a model could help students’ understanding.

There is sometimes a feeling that by Class X, students should be developing mental models, rather than physical models. However, physical models are very helpful in supporting the process of developing understanding and even university students can benefit from using physical models, for example, in chemistry, building models of molecules to understand different forms of isomerism.

For your next teaching topic, identify where students are most likely to have conceptual difficulties and where the use of models is likely to be helpful. Consider what models and analogies would be most suitable.

Discuss your plans for the activities with your colleagues:

  • What types of model or analogy do you plan to use?
  • What are the strengths of the model and what are the possible limitations?
  • How will you implement these activities with your group?
  • What particular features will you draw attention to?

Draw up a teaching plan for including at least one model-based activity in the teaching sequence.

3 Strengths and limitations of models and analogies