Teaching Image Formation by Extended Light Sources: The Use of a Model Derived from the History of Science
This research, carried out in Greece on pupils aged 12–16, focuses on the transformation of their representations concerning light emission and image formation by extended light sources. The instructive process was carried out in two stages, each one having a different, distinct target set. During the first stage, the appropriate conflict conditions were created by contrasting the subjects’ predictions with the results of experimental situations inspired by the History of Science, with a view to destabilizing the pupils’ alternative representations. During the second stage, the experimental teaching intervention was carried out; it was based on the geometrical optics model and its parameters were derived from Kepler’s relevant historic experiment. For the duration of this process and within the framework of didactical interactions, an effort was made to reorganize initial limited representations and restructure them at the level of the accepted scientific model. The effectiveness of the intervention was evaluated two weeks later, using experimental tasks which had the same cognitive yet different empirical content with respect to the tasks conducted during the intervention. The results of the study showed that the majority of the subjects accepted the model of geometrical optics, that is, the pupils were able to correctly predict and adequately justify the experimental results based on the principle of punctiform light emission. Educational and research implications are discussed.