Presentation of atomic structure in Turkish general chemistry textbooks

Niaz M., COŞTU B.

CHEMISTRY EDUCATION RESEARCH AND PRACTICE, vol.10, no.3, pp.233-240, 2009 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 10 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2009
  • Doi Number: 10.1039/b914503f
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.233-240
  • Keywords: historical reconstruction, atomic structure, Turkish and USA general chemistry textbooks, CATHODE RAYS, SCIENCE, PHILOSOPHY, PARTICLES, HISTORY, MODELS, ALPHA
  • Yıldız Technical University Affiliated: No


Research in science education has recognized the importance of teaching atomic structure within a history and philosophy of science perspective. The objective of this study is to evaluate general chemistry textbooks published in Turkey based on the eight criteria developed in previous research. Criteria used referred to the atomic models of Thomson, Rutherford and Bohr and twenty-one textbooks (published between 1964 and 2006) were analyzed. Results obtained showed that none of the textbooks explained satisfactorily that: a) Thomson's experiments on cathode rays were conducted to clarify the controversy with respect to the nature of cathode rays, that is, charged particles or waves in the ether; b) The rivalry between Rutherford's hypothesis of single scattering based on a single encounter and Thomson's hypothesis of compound scattering led to a bitter dispute; c) Bohr had not even heard of the Balmer and Paschen formulae for hydrogen line spectrum when he wrote the first version of his article; and d) Bohr's model was based on an inconsistent foundation in which he 'grafted' Planck's 'quantum of action' on to Maxwell's electrodynamics. Some textbooks explained satisfactorily that: a) Rutherford's model of the atom had to compete with that of Thomson; and b) Bohr's main objective was to explain the paradoxical stability of the Rutherford model. It is concluded that the inclusion of historical reconstructions of atomic structure in Turkish general chemistry textbooks can provide students with a better appreciation of the dynamics of scientific progress.