Students’ Views of Scientific Models and Modeling: Do Representational Characteristics of Models and Students’ Educational Levels Matter?

Silvia Wen Yu Lee, Hsin Yi Chang, Hsin Kai Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this study was to examine the potential impact of the representational characteristics of models and students’ educational levels on students’ views of scientific models and modeling (VSMM). An online multimedia questionnaire was designed to address three major aspects of VSMM, namely the nature of models, the nature of modeling, and the purpose of models. The three scales of representational characteristics included modality, dimensionality, and dynamics. A total of 102 eighth graders and 87 eleventh graders were surveyed. Both quantitative data and written responses were analyzed. The influence of the representational characteristics seemed to be more salient on the nature of models and the purpose of models. Some interactions between the educational levels and the representational characteristics showed that the high school students were more likely to recognize textual representations and pictorial representations as models, while also being more likely to appreciate the differences between 2D and 3D models. However, some other differences between educational levels did not necessarily suggest that the high school students attained more sophisticated VSMM. For instance, in considering what information should be included in a model, students’ attention to particular affordances of the representation can lead to a more naive view of modeling. Implications for developing future questionnaires and for teaching modeling are suggested in this study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-328
Number of pages24
JournalResearch in Science Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Apr 1



  • Questionnaire
  • Representation
  • View of modeling
  • View of models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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