Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Week 2 Memo!

Lehrer and Schauble’s, Reconsidering the Role of Experiment in Science Education, discusses how teachers need to be very thoughtful in their use of experiments in the classroom.  Generally, experiments have used more of a scientific method, rather than a scientific model.  In order to enhance experimentation, a teacher needs to develop classroom norms that set a standard of thinking for their students so that if they state a claim, they know to have evidence and repeatability to back it up.  Teachers also need to set up experiments so that they may nurture an understanding of rhetoric, representation, and modeling practices while performing said experiments to the scientific method.

Lehrer and Schauble’s, What Kind of Explanation is a Model?, discusses how models serve as analogies to something in the real world.  The trick is to make students see how any given model in the classroom, becomes tangible in the real world as well.  Teachers can aide this correlation through choice of materials as well as by guiding what kinds of questions students should ask.  Mathematics is also key for children to be able to extrapolate in modeling.  Through use of inscriptions in tables or graphs, students can further analyze information and it can lead to thoughtful questioning.  They also discuss how the key to all of this is to not give students “limits” during an experiment; making mistake is a key process in figuring how a model might work.

The themes I got from these two pieces were the emphases on letting students develop their own questions, reasoning, and even measurements.  This, once again, “struggle” for the students is absolutely necessary for their development of correlating modeling to real world problems.  As a future educator, I wonder why this method of teaching is not very common.  Is there not enough time in the classroom to develop a “true model” then?  Most of the classrooms Lehrer and Schauble discussed had their experiments span of several weeks.  I wonder how practical this set up could be in a high school setting where students need to learn about more topics than elementary students.  I thought that time management was a key element to this whole process that was completely left out of the discussion.  But perhaps an experienced teacher would have a better idea of how to break down all the steps while keeping modeling rather than method in mind.


  1. While struggle for students is an important step along the path of comprehension, it is my previous experience that all students are not motivated by attaining knowledge. This leaves only some but not all students who are developing their own questions, reasoning and measurements. Inquiry based lesson design in science and math classrooms could lead to developing questions, reasoning and measurements. Perhaps teachers who do not involve inquiry design are worried about end of course testing and forget to develop students who ask ‘why?’ Also, the time management of these experiments is an interesting factor that was not mentioned. Surely, these teachers spent time each day of their lesson recording data for the class but at what cost to other concepts and standards? And how possible is it for teachers at a more advanced level to incorporate models that last for weeks or months at a time? Time management as well as resource availability must be taken into consideration when designing modeling lessons in the classroom.

  2. I too wondered about the absence of modeling in the classroom. Lehrer points to misapplication of experimental methods and cognitive inability to grasp modeling theories, but I wonder if we are negating some value of traditional education. Why did teaching develop into the "banking" style of knowledge transfer? Is it a function of efficiency or is there a psychological benefit to that style of teaching? If it is a function of efficiency, I think that the push for modeling should correspond with looser standards for content teachers must cover so that the process of inquiry isn't cut short by the need to move on to a new topic. Do you think it is possible to define standards that are then driven by skill sets over content knowledge?


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