A Didactic Sequence of Elementary Geometric Optics Informed by History and Philosophy of Science

  • Paulo MaurícioEmail author
  • Bianor Valente
  • Isabel Chagas


The concepts and instruments required for the teaching and learning of geometric optics are introduced in the didactic process without a proper didactic transposition. This claim is secured by the ample evidence of both wide- and deep-rooted alternative concepts on the topic. Didactic transposition is a theory that comes from a reflection on the teaching and learning process in mathematics but has been used in other disciplinary fields. It will be used in this work in order to clear up the main obstacles in the teaching-learning process of geometric optics. We proceed to argue that since Newton’s approach to optics, in his Book I of Opticks, is independent of the corpuscular or undulatory nature of light, it is the most suitable for a constructivist learning environment. However, Newton’s theory must be subject to a proper didactic transposition to help overcome the referred alternative concepts. Then is described our didactic transposition in order to create knowledge to be taught using a dialogical process between students’ previous knowledge, history of optics and the desired outcomes on geometrical optics in an elementary pre-service teacher training course. Finally, we use the scheme-facet structure of knowledge both to analyse and discuss our results as well as to illuminate shortcomings that must be addressed in our next stage of the inquiry.


Didactic transposition History of science Optics Pre-service elementary teachers Scheme-facet structure 

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paulo Maurício
    • 1
    Email author
  • Bianor Valente
    • 1
  • Isabel Chagas
    • 2
  1. 1.Escola Superior de Educação de LisboaInstituto Politécnico de LisboaLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.Instituto de EducaçãoUIDEF - Unidade de Investigação e Desenvolvimento em Educação e FormaçãoLisbonPortugal

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