"Should we be afraid of Ebola?" A study of students' learning progressions in context-based science teaching


  • Malin Lavett Lagerström Department of Mathematics and Science Education, Stockholm University
  • Jesús Piqueras Stockholm University
  • Ola Palm Stockholm University




In this study, we explored how learning progressions were established in a context-based science teaching
unit. A science class in secondary school was followed during a teaching unit in Biology, in which the
Ebola disease was used as context. Teaching was planned using the didactical model organizing purposes.
Learning progressions were studied as continuity between teaching purposes, the science content and
the context in four sequential lessons. The analysis of teaching evidenced a considerable variation in
how learning progressions were constituted within lessons and showed how learning progressions could
develop between lessons through the combination of different teaching activities. By consistently mentioning
and referring to Ebola, the teacher had a pivotal role in establishing relations between teaching
purposes, the content and the context. Furthermore, our results evidence the important role of the context
in supporting students’ learning of science content. Finally, we discuss concrete actions in the planning of
the unit to improve lessons that evidenced a weaker connection to the context.