Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Faith Week 4 Readings

The Jackson, Dukerich, & Hestenes (2008) article introduced the concept of modeling as a teaching method in the secondary level science classroom, specifically physics. In juxtaposition to a standard lecture, modeling is a more exploratory method of learning, and it involves the students first discussing the academic topic and asking a question about it, then collaborating to design an experiment to answer the question, and finally presenting and justifying their conclusions for the class. This model can then be applied to other situations in science and can be used to aid in answering questions on tests and other assessments. This inquiry based approach, the authors argue, is statistically more successful than lecture alone and can easily be weaved into the curriculum if teachers are trained. Teachers must be trained, they say, because otherwise they will teach as they learned (traditional lecturing).
The Lehrer & Schauble (2010) article defines modeling as a way to build analogies for the systems of the natural world by relating them to a specific model system that can be controlled. It also defines the difference between schools’ current use of modeling as a way to illustrate previously explained phenomena, and the recommended use of modeling as a way to introduce and teach said phenomena. They suggest that modeling is not an innate form of learning, but that teachers must “arrange the conditions for seeing” to help students discover the model. It is through these models, they say, that students can develop proficiency in “developing representational competence.” This article also stresses the importance of training teachers to implement modeling strategies in an appropriate way.
The Lehrer, Schauble, & Petrosino article differentiates between modeling and experimentation. They argue that rhetoric, representation, and modeling must be mastered on some level before experiments can be effective. Otherwise, students see experiments as a replication of a learned phenomenon, rather than a representation of it. Teachers can help students learn to see experiments as representational models by scaffolding their inquiry, and they can also help students by giving them the prior knowledge necessary to successfully build up knowledge of new concepts.

These readings all elaborated on what it means to include modeling in the classroom. Essentially, modeling should be used as a way to teach the material, rather than a way to represent material that has already been taught (the latter is the current lecture/experiment method used in many schools). The students should work collaboratively to find solutions to problems and should then learn to express what they know about the model. The students should then be able to apply the model to others earth systems. The role of the teacher is similar in all three readings. Modeling is not an innate concept, so teachers must be trained to scaffold the students’ learning by easing them into the concept of modeling.


  1. Yes I think representational competence is probably the most important aspect of modeling, otherwise students would just do activities without making connections and completely missing the point of the exercise. As educators it is essential to lead students back to the topic at hand so they wouldn't think modeling as just some fun time where they don't copy stuff from the blackboard.

    1. As a teacher and adult, it is sometimes hard to stop and ask oneself - do my students understand the connection between using these materials (in a lab) and what they represent? We often present experiments as completely separate entities and forget that what is obvious to us is not obvious to others. This goes back to the difference between expert and novice thinking - to experts, the broader connections are clear, whereas to novices only details are apparent. We need to remember that students are not born experts!