Patterns of variation in teaching the colour of light to primary 3 students

Mun Ling FUNG-LO, Pui Man Pakey CHIK, Ming Fai PANG

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57 Citations (Scopus)


This paper shows how the patterns of variation created in the teaching were critical in helping a class of Primary 3 students in Hong Kong to learn about the colour of light, so that the students attained conceptual rather than procedural knowledge. A ‘Learning Study’ approach was adopted, which is a Lesson Study grounded in a particular learning theory to improve teaching and learning. This study, based on the learning theory of Variation advanced by Marton and Booth, was premised on three types of variation: variation in students’ ways of experiencing what is to be taught/learnt (V1), variation in teachers’ ways of dealing with the ‘object of learning’ (V2), and the use of ‘pattern of variation’ as a guiding principle of pedagogical design to enhance students’ learning (V3). In planning the lesson, a conscious effort was made to create relevant patterns of variation, i.e. varying certain critical aspect(s) while keeping other aspects of the object of learning invariant in order to help students to discern those aspects. Comparison between the results of the pre- and post-test shows that there was significant gain in the students’ learning outcomes with respect to the intended object of learning. The findings contribute knowledge to how the Theory of Variation can be used in practice. It also illustrates how teachers can make use of this theoretical framework to analyze their own teaching and thereby, develop an analytical awareness of teaching and learning. Copyright © 2006 Springer.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
JournalInstructional Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2006


Lo, M. L., Chik, P., & Pang, M. F. (2006). Patterns of variation in teaching the colour of light to primary 3 students. Instructional Science, 34(1), 1-19.


  • The teaching of the colour of light
  • Lesson study
  • Learning study
  • Patterns of variation
  • Improving teaching and learning


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