© 2014

Conceptual Profiles

A Theory of Teaching and Learning Scientific Concepts

  • Eduardo F. Mortimer
  • Charbel N. El-Hani


  • Reports the construction of a research program that is responsive to all the main developments in the field of science education

  • Defines the fundamental tasks for founding the conceptual profile research program

  • Positions the learner of science in a place coherent with his/her pluralist condition of belonging to different communities


Part of the Contemporary Trends and Issues in Science Education book series (CTISE, volume 42)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvii
  2. Conceptual Profiles: Theoretical, Epistemological, and Methodological Bases of a Research Program

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Eduardo F. Mortimer, Phil Scott, Edenia Maria Ribeiro do Amaral, Charbel N. El-Hani
      Pages 3-33
    3. Charbel N. El-Hani, Waldomiro José da Silva-Filho, Eduardo F. Mortimer
      Pages 35-65
    4. Eduardo F. Mortimer, Charbel N. El-Hani, Cláudia Sepulveda, Edenia Maria Ribeiro do Amaral, Francisco Ângelo Coutinho, Fábio Augusto Rodrigues e Silva
      Pages 67-100
  3. Empirical Studies for Building and Using Conceptual Profile Models for Chemical, Physical, and Biological Ontoconcepts

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 101-101
    2. Francisco Ângelo Coutinho, Charbel N. El-Hani, Eduardo F. Mortimer
      Pages 115-142
    3. Claudia Sepulveda, Eduardo F. Mortimer, Charbel N. El-Hani
      Pages 163-200
    4. Edenia Maria Ribeiro do Amaral, Eduardo F. Mortimer, Phil Scott
      Pages 201-234
  4. Recent Developments in the Research Program

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 261-261
    2. Cristiano Rodrigues de Mattos
      Pages 263-292
    3. Aline Andréa Nicolli, Eduardo F. Mortimer
      Pages 293-321
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 323-330

About this book


The language of science has many words and phrases whose meaning either changes in differing contexts or alters to reflect developments in a given discipline. This book presents the authors’ theories on using ‘conceptual profiles’ to make the teaching of context-dependent meanings more effective. Developed over two decades, their theory begins with a recognition of the coexistence in the students’ discourse of those alternative meanings, even in the case of scientific concepts such as molecule, where the dissonance between the classical and modern views of the same phenomenon is an accepted norm.

What began as an alternative model of conceptual change has evolved to incorporate a sociocultural approach, by drawing on ideas such as situated cognition and Vygotsky’s influential concept of culturally located learning. Also informed by pragmatist philosophy, the approach has grown into a well-rounded theory of teaching and learning scientific concepts. The authors have taken the opportunity in this book to develop their ideas further, anticipate and respond to criticisms—that of relativism, for example—and explain how their theory can be applied to analyze the teaching of core concepts in science such as heat and temperature, life and biological adaptation. They also report on the implementation of a research program that correlates the responsiveness of their methodology to all the main developments in the field of science education. This additional material will inform academic discussion, review, and further enhancement of their theory and research model.


classroom discourse conceptual learning conceptual profile conceptualization science education science learning science teaching scientific concepts

Editors and affiliations

  • Eduardo F. Mortimer
    • 1
  • Charbel N. El-Hani
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of EducationFederal University of Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil
  2. 2.Institute of BiologyFederal University of BahiaSalvadorBrazil

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Conceptual Profiles
  • Book Subtitle A Theory of Teaching and Learning Scientific Concepts
  • Editors Eduardo F. Mortimer
    Charbel N. El-Hani
  • Series Title Contemporary Trends and Issues in Science Education
  • Series Abbreviated Title Cont.Trends,Iss.Sci.Educ.
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014
  • Publisher Name Springer, Dordrecht
  • eBook Packages Humanities, Social Sciences and Law Education (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-90-481-9245-8
  • Softcover ISBN 978-94-017-7717-9
  • eBook ISBN 978-90-481-9246-5
  • Series ISSN 1878-0482
  • Series E-ISSN 1878-0784
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XVII, 330
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 29 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Science Education
    Teaching and Teacher Education
    Learning & Instruction
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


From the reviews:

“Conceptual Profiles: A Theory of Teaching and Learning Scientific Concepts … features a collection of chapters largely drawing from their work and that of colleagues from the collective research program. The chapters examine the state of conceptual learning in different science contexts. … This book may appeal to a variety of audiences. The primary audience is educational researchers interested in science learning. … the studies are thoughtful and well worth a read.” (Gregory J. Kelly, International History, Philosophy and Science Teaching Group IHPST Newsletter, July, 2014)