In B. Fraser, K. Tobin, & C. McRobbie (Eds.), Second International Handbook of Science Education: Springer International Handbooks of Education, Vol 24, Part 2 (pp. 157-175). Dordrecht: Springer.
This chapter will (1) briefly review selected studies examining the nature of thought experiments in science; (2) review previous studies on the role that thought experiments can play in science instruction; (3) give case study examples of thought experiments (TEs) proposed by both teachers and students and the en-suing classroom discussions. We discuss several definitions for the term thought experiment and examine methods that have the potential to illuminate issues such as the following: students can generate their own TEs as well as discuss ones pro-posed by the teacher; students give evidence of using imagery during TEs as indi-cated by certain imagery indicators; one can track how a TE spreads “conta-giously” between students in a discussion and how it is modified and improved in the process. We will conclude that student TEs can be similar to expert TEs in many ways and raise possible factors that make teacher generated TEs foster stu-dent discussion and sense making.