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Joan M. Quitalig


One of the most important things that students must be brought in a

science class are their background knowledge and concepts. Often questions
asked to science classes are, why do some students avoid science? What are
the things the teachers must do in order the students understand science
concepts? What are known to students and will be difficult for them? (King, 1991
& Magnusson et al., 2002
Cultures from all over the world have developed different views of nature
throughout human history. Many of them are rooted in traditional systems of
beliefs, which indigenous people use to understand and interpret their
biophysical environment (Iaccarino, 2003). These systems of managing the
environment constitute an integral part of the cultural identity and social
integrity of many indigenous populations. At the same time, their knowledge
embodies a wealth of wisdom and experience of nature gained over millennia
from direct observations, and transmitted—most often orally—over generations.
However, our difficulty in approaching the knowledge from indigenous
cultures is already reflected in the way in which we describe and name it. No
universal definition is available, and many terms are used to establish what
indigenous people know (Berkes, 1993), including traditional knowledge or
traditional ecological knowledge, local knowledge, indigenous knowledge or
science, folk knowledge, farmers' knowledge, fishers' knowledge and tacit
knowledge. Each of these terms carries different implications, and there is an
ensuing discussion about which one is the most appropriate. The word
‘traditional', for example, places the emphasis on the transmission of knowledge
along a cultural continuity, but might ignore the ability of traditional societies to
adapt to changing circumstances. Another widely used word, ‘indigenous', is
meant to highlight the autochthonous nature of this knowledge, but it might
overlook knowledge from populations who are not officially recognized as
indigenous. The word ‘local' can be applied to different geographic contexts,
but it lacks specificity. At present, traditional ecological knowledge is interpreted
as a cumulative body of knowledge, practices and representations that
describes the relationships of living beings with one another and with their
physical environment, which evolved by adaptive processes and has been
handed down through generations by cultural transmission (Berkes et al, 2000).
This study aims to investigate the students’ alternative conceptions in
Indigenous Knowledge used in teaching science subjects particularly in
Chemistry and to determine their extent of effectiveness in achieving the
objectives of the subjects and the problems that they encounter from using it.
Joan M. Quitalig


Modeling is a powerful skill that defines much of the scientific method;

however, younger science students have difficulty separating models from
reality. Language that is common to both biology and chemistry (e.g., nucleus
and shells) is a major source of confusion for some students. Several students
concluded that atoms can reproduce and grow and that atomic nuclei divide.
Electron shells were visualized as shells that enclosed and protected atoms,
while electron clouds were structures in which electrons were embedded. These
and other alternative conceptions may be generated during discussion as a
result of semantic differences between teacher and student language. Students
expressed a strong preference for space-filling molecular models and their
conceptions of the models used in chemistry reveal much about the difficulties
that students face as they try to assimilate and accommodate scientific ideas,
and terminology. It is recommended that teachers develop student modeling
skills and that they discuss analogical models, including shared and unshared
attributes, with their students. © 1996 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Research has shown that a significant factor enabling teachers to create

conditions where effective learning occurs is related to teachers' subject matter
understanding. Of special importance is the teachers' content-specific
pedagogical knowledge which includes understanding the central topics in
each subject area as it is generally taught to students of a particular year level
and being able to transform the content knowledge into knowledge for
teaching (Shulman, 1986). One aspect of this content-specific pedagogical
knowledge is the use of analogies which can effectively communicate
concepts to students of particular backgrounds and prerequisite knowledge.
Since students often lack the background knowledge to learn difficult and
unfamiliar topics encountered in biology, chemistry, and physics, one effective
way to deal with this problem is for the teacher to provide a bridge between the
unfamiliar concept and the knowledge which students possess. This bridge can
be an analogy which allows new material, especially abstract concepts, to be
more easily assimilated with the students' prior knowledge enabling them to
develop an understanding of the concept.

The general aims of this study is to investigate the multiple analogical and
modeling skills used to introduce Chemistry, examines the teacher’s reasons for
using models, explains the model development during the lessons and analyses
the student understandings that were derived from the models.
Joan M. Quitalig