Representations of chemical bonding models in school textbooks – help or hindrance for understanding?
Models play an important and central role in science as well as in science education. Chemical bonding is one of the most important topics in upper secondary school chemistry, and this topic is dominated by the use of models. In the past decade, research has shown that chemical bonding is a topic that students find difficult, and therefore, a wide range of alternative conceptions are developed by students. This study focuses on analyzing the models of chemical bonding in chemistry textbooks at upper secondary level and aims to investigate the content of chemical bonding presented in chemistry textbooks related to students' alternative conceptions and difficulties in understanding. Chapters concerning chemical bonding in five chemistry textbooks at upper secondary level in Sweden were analyzed. The results showed that the models of chemical bonding represented in the school textbooks might cause students to have alternative conceptions and difficulties in understanding chemical bonding, which matched the findings found by other recent studies. Thereby, the results indicate a need for filling in the gap between research and textbook writers. Implications for textbook authors and teachers are addressed.