• Zeger-Jan KockEmail author
  • Ruurd Taconis
  • Sanneke Bolhuis
  • Koeno Gravemeijer


Innovative educational approaches in the sciences have emphasized inquiry in the classroom but it is not self-evident that inquiry instruction leads to conceptual understanding. A design research cycle was conducted to investigate how physics instruction aimed at creating a classroom culture of inquiry can contribute to Grade 9 students’ understanding of theoretical concepts in direct current electric circuits. A hypothesized local instruction theory and classroom pedagogy were created in cooperation with 3 physics teachers, emphasizing (a) establishing classroom norms of inquiry, (b) providing a theoretical starting point, (c) using targeted experiments guided by conceptual questions, and (d) theory-oriented, whole-class discussions. After data collection, retrospective analysis of 1 class showed that the enactment of the local instruction theory and the development of classroom norms of inquiry had led to the expected learning processes and increased student conceptual understanding. Science education promoting the nature of science as inquiry might consider the importance of an effective local instruction theory and the social classroom processes that require science-oriented classroom norms.


classroom culture conceptual change design research direct current electric circuits inquiry-based science education 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Supplementary material

10763_2014_9535_MOESM1_ESM.docx (29 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 28 kb)


  1. Chatila Afra, N., Osta, I. & Zoubeir, W. (2009). Students’ alternative conceptions about electricity and effect of inquiry-based teaching strategies. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 7, 103–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cobb, P., Confrey, J., diSessa, A., Lehrer, R. & Schauble, L. (2003). Design experiments in educational research. Educational Researcher, 32(1), 9–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cobb, P. & Yackel, E. (1998). A constructivist perspective on the culture of the mathematics classroom. In F. Seeger, J. Voigt & U. Waschescio (Eds.), The culture of the mathematics classroom (pp. 158–190). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Duit, R. (2009). Bibliography STCSE: Students’ and teachers’ conceptions and science education. Retrieved from
  5. Engelhardt, P. V. & Beichner, R. J. (2004). Students’ understanding of direct current resistive electrical circuits. American Journal of Physics, 72(1), 98–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Gravemeijer, K. & Cobb, P. (2006). Design research from a learning design perspective. In J. Van den Akker, K. Gravemeijer, S. McKenney & N. Nieveen (Eds.), Educational design research (pp. 18–51). London, England: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Gunstone, R., Mulhall, P. & McKittrick, B. (2009). Physics teachers’ perceptions of the difficulty of teaching electricity. Research in Science Education, 39, 515–538.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hart, C. (2008). Models in physics, models for physics learning, and why the distinction may matter in the case of electric circuits. Research in Science Education, 38, 529–544.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hogenbirk, P., Cornelisse, M., Frankemölle, J., Jager, D., Majewski, R. & Timmers, T. (2007). Natuurkunde overal, 3 havo en 3 vwo [Physics everywhere, Grade 9] (4th ed.). Houten, The Netherlands: EPN.Google Scholar
  10. Hung, D. & Chen, D.-T. V. (2007). Context–process authenticity in learning: implications for identity enculturation and boundary crossing. Educational Technology Research and Development, 55, 147–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kock, Z.-J., Taconis, R., Bolhuis, S. & Gravemeijer, K. (2013). Some key issues in creating inquiry-based instructional practices that aim at the understanding of simple electric circuits. Research in Science Education, 43(2), 579–597.Google Scholar
  12. Leach, J. T. & Scott, P. H. (2002). Designing and evaluating science teaching sequences: an approach drawing upon the concept of learning demand and a social constructivist perspective on learning. Studies in Science Education, 38(1), 115–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Maxwell, J. A. (2004). Causal explanation, qualitative research, and scientific inquiry in education. Educational Researcher, 33(2), 3–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Melville, W., Bertley, A. & Fazio, X. (2013). Scaffolding the inquiry continuum and the constitution of identity. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 11, 1255–1273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Minner, D. D., Levy, A. J. & Century, J. (2010). Inquiry-based science instruction—what is it and does it matter? Results from a research synthesis years 1984 to 2002. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(4), 474–496.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Nijland, F. J. (2011). Mirroring interaction: An exploratory study into student interaction in independent working (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from
  17. Osborne, J., Collins, S., Ratcliffe, M., Millar, R. & Duschl, R. (2003). What “ideas-about-science” should be taught in school science? A Delphi study of the expert community. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 40(7), 692–720.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Park, J., Jang, K.-A. & Kim, I. (2009). An analysis of the actual processes of physicists’ research and the implications for teaching scientific inquiry in school. Research in Science Education, 39, 111–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Sengupta, P. & Wilensky, U. (2009). Learning electricity with NIELS: thinking with electrons and thinking in levels. International Journal of Computers for Mathematical Learning, 14, 21–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Taconis, R. & Kessels, U. (2009). How choosing science depends on students’ individual fit to ‘science culture’. International Journal of Science Education, 31(8), 1115–1132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Treagust, D. F. & Duit, R. (2008). Conceptual change: a discussion of theoretical, methodological and practical challenges for science education. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 3, 297–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zeger-Jan Kock
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Ruurd Taconis
    • 1
  • Sanneke Bolhuis
    • 2
  • Koeno Gravemeijer
    • 1
  1. 1.Eindhoven School of EducationEindhovenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Fontys School of Teacher Training for Secondary Education TilburgFontys University of Applied SciencesTilburgThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations