Analyzing Students’ Learning Progressions Throughout a Teaching Sequence on Acoustic Properties of Materials with a Model-Based Inquiry Approach

  • María Isabel Hernández
  • Digna Couso
  • Roser Pintó


The study we have carried out aims to characterize 15- to 16-year-old students’ learning progressions throughout the implementation of a teaching–learning sequence on the acoustic properties of materials. Our purpose is to better understand students’ modeling processes about this topic and to identify how the instructional design and actual enactment influences students’ learning progressions. This article presents the design principles which elicit the structure and types of modeling and inquiry activities designed to promote students’ development of three conceptual models. Some of these activities are enhanced by the use of ICT such as sound level meters connected to data capture systems, which facilitate the measurement of the intensity level of sound emitted by a sound source and transmitted through different materials. Framing this study within the design-based research paradigm, it consists of the experimentation of the designed teaching sequence with two groups of students (n = 29) in their science classes. The analysis of students’ written productions together with classroom observations of the implementation of the teaching sequence allowed characterizing students’ development of the conceptual models. Moreover, we could evidence the influence of different modeling and inquiry activities on students’ development of the conceptual models, identifying those that have a major impact on students’ modeling processes. Having evidenced different levels of development of each conceptual model, our results have been interpreted in terms of the attributes of each conceptual model, the distance between students’ preliminary mental models and the intended conceptual models, and the instructional design and enactment.


Model-based inquiry Learning progressions Design-based research Acoustic properties of materials Secondary school Teaching–learning sequence 



This study would not have been possible without the sponsorship of the European Communities Research Directorate General in the project Materials Science-University-School Partnerships for the Design and Implementation of Research-Based ICT-Enhanced Sequences on Material Properties, Science and Society Programme, FP6, SAS6-CT-2006-042942. María Isabel Hernández was also supported by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (MICIIN) under the FPU program. The people and the organizations involved in this study are warmly thanked for allowing their daily routines to be disturbed during the research.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 214 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • María Isabel Hernández
    • 1
  • Digna Couso
    • 1
  • Roser Pintó
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Mathematics and Science Education, Centre for Research in Science and Mathematics Education (CRECIM)Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB)BarcelonaSpain

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