Karim Hamza 2

Karim Hamza

Ställförträdande prefekt, Docent

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Works at Department of Mathematics and Science Education
Telephone 08-120 766 06
Visiting address Svante Arrheniusväg 20 A, E-huset, Arrheniuslab
Room E 367
Postal address Institutionen för matematikämnets och naturvetenskapsämnenas didaktik 106 91 Stockholm


My research concerns the development of empirically grounded didactic (in the sense of ‘belonging to the teacher profession' or ‘teacher science') tools or models that may be of use to science teachers in their day-to-day practice. Such "tools for teaching" may range from specific heuristics aimed at teaching certain content, over conceptual frameworks which help teachers plan, conduct, and evaluate their teaching, to more general hypotheses for how to reach certain purposes through different ways of teaching. That these tmodels and tools are empirically grounded requires that (1) they build on detailed analyses of teaching and its consequences for learning, and that (2) they are tested and refined in close collaboration with teachers. For instance, in the project Teaching Traditions and Learning we map the relations between manners of teaching and their consequences for what students learn, and and use these results for modelling teaching in collaboration with teachers. In the three-year project RiskEdu (financed by the Marcus and Amalia Wallenberg Foundation), science education researchers, subject experts, and expert teachers work together to develop both concrete didactic tools snd more general principles and models for teaching about risk assessment in upper-secondary biology and physics courses. Whereas these projects focus on the teaching of school science, in yet two other projects I collaborate with two PhD-students. In one PhD-project, Ilana Kaufmann conducts detailed analyses of the ways in which university chemistry students establish continuity between the different parts of the curriculum, and how university teachers may support the students with this. In the other project, Matti Karlström is studying how pre-service science teachers reason as they plan teaching, how they learn to reflect on their practice also in on-campus courses, and how university teachers may support the teacher students' to develop towards actively reflective practitioners.

Research Projects

RiskEdu (PI: Karim Hamza)

In this project a team of teachers and researchers collaborate to develop didactically relevant and functional principles, or tools, for teaching about risk and risk assessment as a way to support students' scientific literacy. In order to do this we employ a set of research-based resources for teaching about risk assessment as part of a science teaching focusing on Socio-Scientific Issues, in particular issues about radiation and biotechnology, together with recently developed knowledge of how to develop professional tools for teaching through repeated cycles of planning, teaching, and analysis. Cycles are video-recorded and the lessons analyzed for the effects that teaching about risk assessment has on students' ability to make decisions and formulate alternative courses of action in relation to socio-scientific issues, as well as for their learning of science proper. The analyses are then used by the team to draw conclusions about how teaching needs to be modified from one cycle to another. The conclusions are documented by the researchers, and used to develop tentative principles for teaching certain content. The emerging principles are repeatedly tested and refined through each consecutive cycle. Thus, the results from the project will provide a better theoretical as well as practical understanding of the conditions for students' learning of science as part of teaching about risk assessment through socio-scientific issues.


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2018. Karim Hamza (et al.). European Educational Research Journal (online) 17 (1), 170-186

    In this paper we present experiences from a joint collaborative research project which may be described as an encounter between a school science teaching practice and a university science didactics research practice. We provide narratives which demonstrate how the encounter between these two communities of practice interacted to produce hybridization between the two in terms of mutual influences, resulting in the conceptual and practical development of both communities of practice. We argue that what happened in the project suggests one way of reducing the gap between educational research and teaching through the emergence of practices where the roles of teachers and researchers become blurred.

  • 2014. Iann Lundegård, Karim M. Hamza. Science Education 98 (1), 127-142

    This article addresses the problem of treating generalizations of human activity as entities and structures that ultimately explain the activities from which they were initially drawn. This is problematic because it involves a circular reasoning leading to unwarranted claims explaining the originally studied activities of science teaching and learning. Unlike other fields within social science research, this problem has not been appreciated and discussed in the science education literature and the field thus needs to be reminded of it. A heuristic specifically developed for the purposes of this article is applied to two examples taken from a much-cited research in the field. Through the examples it is argued that the practice of creating entities out of generalizations of science classroom activities leads to a number of unintended consequences. It is further argued that the stated purposes in the two example articleswould actually have been better served by investigating the entire processes through which the activities develop, as well as how the activities may change through teaching. The article concludes that through the search for explanations caused by underlying entities, science education research runs a risk of alienating its results from the activities from which it initially wanted to meliorate.

  • 2013. Karim Hamza. Research in science education 43 (4), 1477-1499

    In this article, I make a case for the potential educative worth of distractions for learning science in the school laboratory. Distractions are operationalized as experiences lying outside the main purpose of the laboratory activity, thereby diverting students’ attention from that purpose. Through a practical epistemology analysis, I examined in close detail the conversations of three groups of high school students trying to explain how a real galvanic cell works. The three groups experienced the same two distractions, (1) a nonworking light-emitting diode and (2) negative readings on a voltmeter. The analysis reveals how one of the groups, through a series of contingencies, successively made the two distractions continuous with the main purpose of the activity. In the remaining two groups, no such continuity was established. The results show that (a) experiences initially being distracting, perplexing, and confusing may indeed acquire significance for the students’ possibilities of coping with the main purpose of the activity but that (b) the outcome is highly contingent on the particular experiences drawn upon by the students to cope with the distractions. Consequently, I discuss ways in which teachers may turn distractions encountered in laboratory activities into educative experiences for more than a few lucky students.

  • 2009. Karim Mikael Hamza, Per-Olof Wickman. Science Education 93, 1026-1049

    Students’ difficulties with learning science have generally been framed in terms of their generalized conceptual knowledge of a science topic as elicited through their explanations of natural phenomena. In this paper, we empirically explore what more goes into giving a scientific account of a natural phenomenon than giving such generalized explanations. We audio-recorded pairs of upper secondary students during lab-work in electrochemistry. We used a situative and pragmatist approach to study learning in action. This approach made it possible to study how the particulars and contingencies of working with a real electrochemical cell went into students’ reasoning. Our results show that students needed to learn to make distinctions, recognize, and name the particulars in encounters with their cell. They also needed to learn what counts as reasonable readings and to deal with quantitative issues and correlations pertaining to their cell. We refer to these additional learning requirements as the students’ taxonomic and measurement interests. Implications for what is involved in giving a scientific account of a natural phenomenon in school are discussed. The study constitutes an attempt to include, in a systematic way, also the particulars and contingencies of actual practice in an account of students’ reasoning in science.

  • 2008. Karim Hamza, Per-Olof Wickman. Science Education 92 (1), 141-164

    Although misconceptions in science have been established in interview studies, their role during the learning process is poorly examined. In this paper we use results from a classroom study to analyze to what extent nonscientific ideas in electrochemistry that students report in interviews enter into their learning in a more authentic setting. We audio recorded talk between eight pairs of Swedish upper secondary students during a practical on electrochemical cells. Learning was operationalized on a discursive level as a description of what students do and say when taking part in an activity. This enabled an analysis of how encounters with misconceptions influenced the development of students’ reasoning, compared to other encounters during the learning experience. Misconceptions did not constrain the development of students’ reasoning. Rather, their reasoning developed in response to the contingencies of the specific situation. When misconceptions were encountered, they appeared as alternatives and questions not actively defended. Sometimes, encounters with these misconceptions were generative of the students’ reasoning. The results indicate that demonstrating misconceptions in interviews is not enough to assume that they interfere with learning in other contexts. Educational implications and future lines of research based on these findings and on the methodology applied are discussed.

Show all publications by Karim Hamza at Stockholm University

Last updated: October 10, 2018

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