Modelling in STEM: The tale of two countries in Central Asia.

Kathy Malone, Ozkan Yilmaz, Janet Helmer, Arman Assanbayev, Gulnara Namyssova

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


International testing in STEM, such as PISA, has demonstrated that students across the world have difficulty with scientific reasoning but especially in Kazakhstan and Turkey. One suggestion to improve students’ reasoning skills is to teach using more authentic science methods. The authentic science practice of science modelling has shown promise towards improving student gains in conception and reasoning skills. In order to accomplish this, secondary teachers need to be prepared to teach using these authentic science practices such as science modelling. A decade ago published studies demonstrated the existence of teacher confusion about models and modeling and led to reform suggestions for pre and in-service science educators. But, do we know if science educators are doing a better job? Kazakhstan has been undergoing massive curriculum changes, which includes a nationwide teacher professional development plan. Turkey has been working towards STEM education improvements for a number of years. Are these initiatives having an effect on teacher perceptions? This study’s goal is to explore Kazakhstani and Turkish in-service teachers’ perceptions about the authentic science practice of scientific modelling. An interview protocol was used with 22 STEM secondary teachers. Open coding was used to analyze the interviews. When teacher perceptions were compared across countries the preliminary findings show that in these two countries major confusion exists,. Coding revealed that the most common model representation used in both countries was that of physical models. The use of demonstrations, the teaching of a process and step by step inquiry labs were considered forms of modeling. However, Turkish teachers’ codes were more focused than that of the Kazakhstani teachers possibly due to a longer period of professional development opportunities. This work in progress has led to tentative science education suggestions for Central Asia.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the ESERA 2019 Conference. The Beauty and Pleasure of Understanding: Engaging With Contemporary Challenges Through Science Education
Editors0 Levrini, G. Tasquier
Place of PublicationBologna
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)978-88-945874-0-1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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