A study of future physics teachers’ knowledge for teaching: A case of a decibel sound level scale





science teacher education, physics teacher education, lesson play, scriptwriting, logarithms, knowledge for teaching, sound level


This study examines the knowledge for teaching of prospective secondary physics teachers as related to the subject of sound waves, specifically the topics of sound level and sound intensity. The data is comprised from future teachers’ responses to the task in which they had to compose a script for an imaginary dialogue between a teacher and a group of students and provide a commentary elaborating on their instructional choices. The topics selected for the task were chosen intentionally as they provide authentic and rich opportunities to bridge mathematics and science concepts while challenging future teachers to consider logarithmic measurement scale and its role in science. The task provided the beginning of the dialogue, that featured a student’s confusion related to the measurement of the sound level using a decibel scale. Future physics teachers were asked to extend this dialogue through describing envisioned instructional interactions that could have ensued. The instructional interchange related to the relationship between sound intensity and sound level, and particular teachers’ responses to the student ideas related to the meaning of a decibel sound level scale were categorized as featuring superficial or deep, conceptual or procedural knowledge for teaching. We describe each category using illustrative excerpts from the participants’ scripts. We conclude with highlighting the affordances of scriptwriting for teachers, teacher educators, and researchers.

Author Biographies

Marina Milner-Bolotin, Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

Dr. Marina Milner-Bolotin is a Professor of Science Education at the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy at the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia, Canada. Her research explores secondary science (physics) education and the use of technology to promote science teaching and learning at K-12 and post-secondary levels. Her additional areas of interest are in science teacher education as well as in science outreach. She is a co-author of an introductory physics textbook for undergraduate science students.

Rina Zazkis, Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada

Dr. Rina Zazkis is a Professor of Mathematics Education in the Faculty of Education and associate member in the Department of Mathematics at the Simon Fraser University, Canada. Her research focuses on tertiary mathematics education, with a particular attention to teachers’ knowledge. She holds an appointment of Tier 1 Canada Research Chair, a prestigious recognition of excellence in research and research training.

Cover image of the article. A flowchart of the whole work.




How to Cite

Milner-Bolotin, M., & Zazkis, R. (2021). A study of future physics teachers’ knowledge for teaching: A case of a decibel sound level scale. LUMAT: International Journal on Math, Science and Technology Education, 9(1), 336–365. https://doi.org/10.31129/LUMAT.9.1.1519