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Ana Rita Mota

Ana Rita Mota
Ana Rita Lopes Mota
PhD, Porto University (2012)


My research area is Physics Education Research (PER). I have been developing and testing a dynamical and versatile inquiry-based method in a collaborative context: the Lab Stations model. My research is intended for middle and high school students and involves designing and testing modules of specific topics in physics. Each module is constructed based on the main findings of PER and encompasses a set of pedagogical materials implemented in an inquiry collaborative environment.  

Lab Stations model

In the Lab Stations model, the classroom is divided into four completely independent, though related, experiment stations, each with different apparatuses/materials. Students, working in groups of three or four, travel from station to station with a predefined time frame. The stations are diversified and range from simple tasks, such as simulations or simple measurements, to tasks that involve a higher cognitive ability. At every station, in addition to conducting experimental activities, students answer theoretical questions on a worksheet. This formative assessment allows teachers to know, in real time, students’ ideas and how they understand a specific topic, so teachers can design the next lesson. At every station, students also have to answer some theoretical questions from a lab worksheet. This model is adaptable to any syllabus and since it promotes different learning environments, students develop different types of abilities.

In this model:

  • The stations can be done in any order and they have the same level of difficulty.  

  • Each student group has a limited time to perform each station, after which it will have to move to the next one, and be replaced in their current activity by another group; this constraint helps to keep students focused on their activities. 

  • The teacher serves as a supervisor, being aware of the students’ difficulties, monitoring the discussions within groups and thus providing a personalized learning.
  •  The lab stations are designed with low-cost materials and according previous research.  


 This model supports Active Learning because: 

  •  it promotes active mental engagement through mobilization of different human senses;

  • students construct their knowledge from real observations of the physical world, through POE (predict, observe, explain) strategy; 

  • instructor's role is that of a guide in the learning process;  

  • collaboration and shared learning with peers is encouraged. 


There are many advantages of applying this model, namely:

  • Reduction of the material requirements;  

  • Higher variety of experiments; 

  • Formative assessment; 

  • Better work flow from students and a higher motivation; 

  • Personalized learning;

  • The possibility to include virtual simulations;

  • Classroom versatility; 

  • Less time to prepare/store the material before/after the class. All the material is stored in kits to facilitate the subsequent use, so teachers spend less time in preparing and storing the material.

Materials for Lab stations ( In portuguese)

Areas of interest: 

I am also interested in the following areas of research:

  • Formative assessment 

  • Collaborative work 

  • Teacher training


Ana Rita Mota, Cleci Werner da Rosa

Ensaio sobre metodologias ativas: reflexões e propostas

Revista Espaço Pedagógico 5 (2) 261-276 (2018)

Ana Rita Mota, João Lopes dos Santos

Investigating Students' conceptual change about colour in an innovative research-based teaching sequence

Investigações em Ensino de Ciências 23 (1) 95-110, (2018)

Ana Rita Mota


Ciência Elementar 5 (2): 019, (2017)

Ana Rita Mota, João Lopes dos Santos

Virtual Images: Going Through the Looking Glass

Physics Teacher 55 (1) 52-53, (2017)

A. R. Mota, and J M B Lopes dos Santos

Addition table of colours: additive and subtractive mixtures described using a single reasoning model

Physics Education 49 (1) 61-66, (2014)

A. R. Mota, and J M B Lopes dos Santos

Reflecting understanding: Using Lab Stations to teach image formation

Science Scope 37 (2) 20-29, (2013)

A. R. Mota,  José Manuel Lopes, and J M B Lopes dos Santos

Estações laboratoriais: uma aposta no ensino experimental

Gazeta da Física, 36 (1) 25-28, (2013)

A. R. Mota, and J M B Lopes dos Santos

Eratosthenes' measurement of the Earth's radius in a middle school lab session

Latin-American Journal of Physics Education, 6, Suppl. I (2012)