Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Memo 2

Anthony Sandoval

The first article, “What kind of explanation is a model” defines modeling as “analogies in which objects and relations in one system, the model system are used as stand-ins to represent, predict, and elaborate on those in the natural world.” The article discusses the rift between contemporary science and classroom science, stating that contemporary science is about experimentation, development, testing and revision of models. It claims that modeling is difficult because it is an “indirect” genre of reasoning, which focuses on simplified, stripped down representations or models rather than the object of study. Lehrer and Schauble then describe how to model with four steps highlighted: Arrange conditions for seeing phenomena, have students invent new measures, understanding representational competence, developing an know-how of modeling. Teachers are encouraged to structure activities and use discourse that fosters student thinking in order to pull the most information out of the students.
            The second article “Reconsidering the role of experiment” defines science as having three aspects: rhetoric, representation, and modeling. It raises concern about modeling as a learned process that can be a road-block in a student’s learning, if not properly assisted with scaffolding. It pushes teachers to scaffold because “cycles of student inquiry and experimentation with design” will increase the student’s opportunity to “reflect upon the quality of effective experiment.” The article defines modeling as the process of using inscriptions to support arguments about the world. This article, written by same authors, reiterates the teacher’s guiding role. It encourages that teachers must have a strong pedagogy that pushes students to investigate, make conclusions, and revision of those conclusions.
            Both articles stress the overall theme of modeling. In essence, both describe modeling as a process of making conclusions about phenomena in the world through a different representation of the object in order to better understand the process. Both articles emphasize the teacher involvement and suggest that the teacher facilitates conversation. Socratic questioning and probing students thinking are two strategies that teachers should employ to push students to further explain their thoughts. The authors feel that this process beneficial because it constantly asks the students to evaluate and support their explanations and conclusions. This constant revision of knowledge by the student will highlight misconceptions that they may have about the topic. Students may realize that they cannot explain a concept that they know to be true. Overall, both articles discuss the benefits of modeling inside the classroom and explain how modeling can be carried out in an effective way.
            I didn’t seem to like the second article, chapter 5 of Lehrer and Schauble’s book, I thought it was slightly redundant seeing as modeling had already been discussed in depth in chapter 2. I thought that while it discusses modeling as being used in grades K-12, it focused heavily on modeling in the younger grades. I am very skeptical of the idea of modeling all the time because of the time-constraints and standards that direct a high-school classroom. I think it puts a large emphasis on modeling and the process of learning rather than the content knowledge. I agree that the process of learning is ultra-important because it can be further utilized to make discoveries and conclusions of your own, but there are times when someone must simply know something rather than discover something. In my opinion, modeling should be used to supplement learning in the classroom, however if used all the time I believe there will be gaps in knowledge. Overall, both articles gave a good summary of modeling and its application inside the classroom.


  1. I definitely agree with you that some of the content about modeling in chapter 5 was touched on in depth in chapter 2. However, I felt that each article had a different focus that was explored. The first article drove home points about the development and learning of effective modeling, as well as activity structures that support modeling. Although the second article had parts discussing effective modeling and how to support the process as well, it also had much more of a focus on what role an experiment should play in the modeling process. You commented on how modeling focuses more on the process of learning rather than content knowledge, however there are times when someone must simply know something rather than discover something. You also said you believe modeling should be used to supplement learning in the classroom, but if used all the time there will be gaps in knowledge. I think that modeling is more of a process that supports the learning and understanding of concepts in the classroom and that gaps in knowledge would come from lack of understanding. I agree there is a place for content knowledge and even a need for it, but without effective modeling along with that information experimentation can be pretty useless. If students just know something (content knowledge) but don’t understand it, then it’s hard to say they are really learning or gaining knowledge from any experiments. Like in the reading when many of the students didn’t make the connection of how what they were learning in the classroom connected with the experiment they just did. I think the focus of modeling is to help students develop the understanding of certain disciplines empirically, which will help make sure there are fewer gaps in knowledge.

  2. I agree with you and think that I didnt clearly convey how I felt in my blog post above. I agree with you that the focus of modeling is to help students develop the understanding of certain disciplines, however I believe I was trying to say that the students will not be able to model without knowledge of the content area. I believe that modeling requires explanation of concepts using important terms and definitions that are relevant to the concept. I was trying to emphasize that content knowledge is important in that it is used in the process of modeling a concept. The facts and the content knowledge are important to supplement the concept. I understand that bonds are held together because there are interactions between the molecules and those interactions vary in strength but I don't know any of the types of bonds. I understand the concept of bonds and interactions between them, but can't distinguish between the types, can I really model that to someone else?

  3. I think your comment that students will not be able to model without content is an important flag to raise. What basic knowledge is necessary to be able to model? Is there a way to blend the two? Im thinking of a type of cycle, beginning with a simple student driven question and proposed model of representation, and then lectures interspersed with model revision so that there is opportunity to learn theories and information that took centuries to develop. I maintain that there must be some value to content knowledge (the traditional teaching of which has produced almost all contemporary scholars), so how do we capitalize on the value of available information such that student inquiry can aid them in understanding existing principles but also in forming new theories?


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