A framework for defining scientific concepts in science education

Chee Leong Wong, Hye-Eun Chu*, Kueh Chin Yap

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
182 Downloads (Pure)


Studies have shown that inadequate definitions of scientific concepts could complicate the learning of science and could prevent students from understanding the definitions of scientific concepts. The article provides a framework for defining scientific concepts in primary, secondary, and university education by proposing teachers draw attention to five common features of a definition: object/system, nature/characteristics, cause/effect, mathematical expression/equation, and condition/ reference frame that can help students to consider four dimensions, including, 'comprehensiveness,' 'precision,' 'consistency,' and 'circularity' when learning science concepts. This framework can be used by science teachers to guide students to analyze and redefine scientific concepts in the classroom and may be especially beneficial for students in Asian countries where teachers and students often rely on rote memorization as a strategy for learning scientific concepts. We conclude by describing the need for future studies in educational contexts in Asian countries where pedagogical strategies have traditionally emphasized memorization of science concepts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615–644
Number of pages30
JournalAsia-Pacific science education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • circularity
  • definition
  • framework
  • heat
  • weight


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