Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Week 4: Modeling in Science Education

Jackson, Dukerich, & Hestenes
The authors describe a teacher training program that their school, Arizona State University, has implemented that places an emphasis on teaching science by doing science – which they call modeling
  • 2 phases:
    • Developing the model: students use experimental data to form a model, or way of understanding, of the concept they are studying.  Then, they present it to the class as a way of assessing their understanding.
    • Model Deployment: students then apply their model(s) to new situations in worksheets, quizzes, lab practica, and tests
  • Student-led learning, or teacher-as-coach teaching
  • Students develop the model in groups but are assessed as individuals
  •  The writers are invested in the success of their program, so there is a significant bias in this article.
Lehrer, Schauble, & Petrosino
In this throwback to a Week 2 article, Lehrer and colleagues discuss the role of the experiment in scientific inquiry.  They use 2 case studies to argue that experiments should be student guided as part of a line of inquiry.
  • Student inquiry allows students to progress through the several steps of scientific inquiry, beginning with observation and proceeding to experiment that produces more observations.
  • This stands in contrast to the more traditional experiments in labs, where all variables are known, as are expected results, and students are evaluated on how close they get to those results.
    • It honestly just occurred to me that most of my lab experiments outside of science fair and an actual lab were merely tests of how well I could follow instructions.
  • They also focus on how, in inquiry-driven scientific modeling, students progress from observation of phenomena to formulating hypotheses to testing these hypotheses to representing (inscribing) the results to asking new questions about those results, all the while getting more and more general and diverse in their studied phenomenon (eg: apple/tomato color change -> tomato ripening -> ripening in other plants -> decay -> rot -> fungal growth)

Lehrer & Schauble
This article deals with a few things common to all the Lehrer articles we have read so far, but what stood out to me was the emphasis on the role of the teacher in modeling.  According to their work, students do not move through the different phases of representation, inquiry, and argument without a teacher guiding them through.
  • They also discussed more explicitly that the challenges in overcoming obstacles to representation and within the experiment are essential for student learning
  • Use of the lab meeting as a teaching tool (I will probably steal this)

Obviously, all of the articles dealt with modeling: what it is, why it is in many ways better than traditional lecturing and structured lab work, and general ways it may be implemented.  The question for me is how do I as a teacher go about doing this (modeling)?  Should I do lecturing and modeling together?  If so, which one should I do first?  Is it possible to use modeling alone?  What does that approach leave out?  I was taught the traditional way of lecturing and following directions in labs with the exception of science fairs.  I am, for once, less concerned about covering all the material since I read over the NGSS for high school life sciences and Tennessee biology education standards for the History of Science assignment, but I am concerned that effectively putting this into practice will be very difficult since I have not seen it in practice myself.


  1. I agree with your confusion. I am also interested to learn how to implement modeling as a teacher. I have so many questions about how to do it and I really don't think the articles explained it well. I also don't remember any of my teachers using modeling and lack that experience. I hope we discuss this topic further because I do think it is a learning technique students would greatly benefit from if we can learn how to use it well.

  2. I feel maybe somewhat encultured on the topic of lecturing and its disadvantages--the paradox is that enculuration contributes both to a skepticism of lecturing but also a commitment of faith to it as well. I have seen some criticism of lecturing very heavily condemning it for not being effective in the least bit in the long run and I just disagree with that sentiment. Not to the degredation of modeling--clearly I still think that this modeling concept is maybe the greatest tool, and the concept of inciting a feedback response from the students as well. I also feel like I have not seen this effectively put into practice very much (thinking back to my grade school years) but I do not think my critical observation memory serves me well either. As in, Im just not really sure how good my teachers were at navigating these sides. The questions you ask all feel very central.

  3. Ray, I think you hit upon a good point that I resonate with as well. As we've talked about, we learn the most about teaching from having watched others teach us. Because we've been taught through a specific method, we are well aware of its strengths as well as its weaknesses. However, since we've largely been taught through one way of doing things, we have a hard time trying to determine what another method would look like in practice. We get stuck in this bind of wanting to improve upon the methods used to teach us but tend to stick with those methods because we haven't seen others in practice. Essentially, we know that the methods used to teach us did well enough to get us to the point we are now, and we don't have that same lived assurance for other models. Would you agree?