Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Week 2 Memo

                Lehrer’s Chapter 2 titled, “What Kind of Explanation is a Model?” briefly explores the relevance of modeling in science education. While modeling can be an effective way to educate students, instructors must teach students the representational relationship between systems, material, concepts and data and the models that represent them. Although modeling is often used as making a phenomenon simpler so that it is easier to understand, modeling does not always have this effect upon students. Students must have the understanding of what a model represents, how components are represented in a model and perhaps most importantly, the differences between how an event occurs in nature and the model used to represent it in order for modeling to have a positive learning effect. Lehrer then lists ideas of effective modeling. He first says, “… the scripting of inquiry fundamentally distorts it.” This means that by giving the tools needed for a model and only the tools needed for a model, possibly makes a student forget to ask questions that begin with ‘why?’Next, in order for students to reach the desired outcome, educators must place value in certain ways of obtaining that information. Students are asked to be creative in ways of judging their models. Then, educators must assess whether students are effectively comparing their models and the respective representational data to real life situations and if students are grasping the desired knowledge. This could be as simple as a student interpreting a graph of data. Lastly, can students use vocabulary to describe models that “works like” real life situations instead of “is a.” (Lehrer, 17) Finally for the chapter, Lehrer says that, “… teachers need to shape environments in which students are accountable to listening closely, questioning, and challenging each other in a respectful way,” so that modeling is most effective.
                Lehrer’s Chapter 5 titled, “Reconsidering the Role of Experiment in Science Education” compresses the importance and fallacies of experiments in science class. Students must have a rhetoric, representational and modeling understanding of experiments in order to develop a strong scientific reasoning. First, students must be able to understand an experiment. Data shows that quite often, students do not understand what is to be obtained from an experiment. Lehrer then explains the importance of teaching students the reasoning behind experimentation; also, the importance of variables and controls in experimentation. As in the previous chapter, he asks that do students grasp the representation that exists between experiment and nature. Then, Lehrer summarizes two cases of primary school students in experimentation. Throughout which, he questions the rhetoric, representational and modeling understanding the students gain through experimentation. The first case deals with rotting fruit; the second case deals with growing plants.
                These two chapters both possess questioning upon the value of modeling and experimentation in a science class. Students often do not grasp the relationship between models and phenomenon in nature. Thus, educators are tasked with explaining how what experiments do and why they are important as well as describing how experiments and models differ from the world. If proposed to students correctly, experiments can develop a strong scientific reasoning. However, proposed incorrectly to students, models can extract inquiry based thinking from a student.

                Both chapters underlined the importance of explaining the relationship between models and experimentation and understanding how they relate to applicable concepts. While models can be effective, both chapters by Lehrer described common ways educators misuse experiments in the classroom. Effective modeling should leave students with the ability to describe the similarities and the differences between models and experiments that were aided in learning and real world phenomenon.

1 comment:

  1. David I completely agree with you regarding the relationship between modeling and experimentation. While experimentation should not only be done in labs, this is the case in many high schools and it is often disconnected from the science class itself. In high school students are given a cookie-cutter lab experiment where they just follow the given steps and answer the calculations. Remembering my own high school experience, I would always try to complete lab as fast as possible, just quickly following the procedure, but when it came time to answer the post lab questions and take quizzes, I would have trouble because I truly did not understand the actual science behind what we did. Lab experiments in my science classes were never discussed prior to the actual lab or in the context of what we were learning. They were only talked about in the context of what we should do, like how we should hold lab equipment and what we should not do. Thus I always felt a disconnect between the lab experiments and the actual class, leading me to not only miss some pivotal real world connections but also dislike lab. On a more general scale, for students in general, this lack of relevance or connection between what they learn in the science classroom and lab experiments that they will take part in can lead to a lack of motivation or interest in the subject.
    Thus, I really liked the Lehrer articles that discussed this relationship, putting the concept of experimentation in its rightful place and clearly showing the bigger picture. True experimentation is just one of the many tools used in this “inquiry-based approach,” as Jackson termed it in his article, and can come about naturally when the students investigate and revise.


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