Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Week 2 Post:)

This week’s readings greatly built off of last week’s concepts of epistemic learning and modeling.  While last week laid the general foundation the skills students take away from this teaching design, this week’s readings provide specific examples of modeling in the classroom in addition to responsibility of teachers.
In his article, Jackson focused on the concept of Modeling Instruction, a program where teachers and students form theoretical models to foster learning both individually and collaboratively.  Specific implementation techniques were discussed, including the two stages of model cycling: model development and model deployment.  Finally, positive evidence-based outcomes of incorporating modeling instruction within the classroom included an actively engaged student body, who are investigators in the world around them, both learn and understand scientific concepts and can back up these and their own claims with evidence.   
The first Lehrer article, “What Kind of Explanation is a Model?” also delved into the definition of modeling as an indirect form of learning, where students create simplified models to help further their understanding of the complex world, but also focused on the complexities associated with this form of learning.  Lehrer stated that because this inquiry-based approach is not intuitively known to students, which is due to the previous traditional instruction they have received, their lack of a “condition of seeing,” and their failure to see a connection between inquiry and experiment, teachers need to be highly prepared. 
The second Lehrer article further touches upon the concept of experimentation and the fallacies commonly associated when not used correctly in the context of inquiry.  According to Lehrer, students fail to see experiments as “representations” of the real world and claims that through the cycle of inquiry, investigation and revision is when experimentation ultimately takes place.  Supporting his first paper, Lehrer continues to show that modeling is an on-going process that both takes time to develop and gains in complexity. 
  • ·      Modeling promotes epistemic learning: Students are active agents in the classroom, using the knowledge they gained both inside and out of the classroom to make their own and collaborative inquiries,  claims, and revisions.
  • ·      Teacher Preparation: Teachers need to be well prepared, including a strong knowledge in their content areas, to effectively educate using this teaching design.  Additionally, teachers need to become “facilitators,” as Jackson termed it, in guided inquiry, not just “authoritative figures,” a topic touched upon in last weeks readings.
  • ·      Experimentation is just one component of the epistemic approach.  Current sciences, classes, especially laboratories, focus solely on cookie-cutter procedures that leave little to know room for self-investigation and revision, not fostering inquiry or modeling.

Firstly, I liked the Jackson article and his discussion on assessment, especially formative assessments.  While I do believe that this type of assessment goes hand-in-hand with the concept of modeling, I really liked how the researchers gave specific examples of various formative assessments that you could give to make sure the students understood the material and were grasping the modeling skills being discovered in the classroom but at the same time not overwhelming them with highly critical-thinking assessments.  However, I is important to note that they are ideal teaching scenarios, where teachers and students would have endless supports and resources.  Secondly, while the Lehrer articles did stress that grasping modeling takes time and grows in complexity along this timeline, I myself felt overwhelmed from a student point of view with the amount of work presented to elementary school students.  Thus, while I believe that modeling is critical for student growth, I think it should be a big part of a greater teaching instruction that incorporates some traditional teaching instruction within the framework.  While I did like these Lehrer articles much more it was hard to translate some of the concepts and complexities to the high school level where many students already have their system of “knowing” and learning and their highly engrained beliefs.  Thus, what ratio of modeling to other teaching instruction should you use in the high school classroom or how fast should you move from traditional teaching to modeling?


  1. I agree with you that Lehrer's studies on modeling in the classroom does not relate to secondary education very well. The students in elementary schools do not have as big of a kowledge base to fall back on when presented with a new problem. This allows them to follow the facilitation approach teachers can offer in the modeling method. Jackson's article on modeling instruction seems to be getting close to a good ratio in a secondary level. Teachers give disciplinary knowledge as the students need the information throughout an experiment looking at a more in depth concept. On the other hand, I feel that Lehrer's model is specific to teaching students scientific inquiry and not just disciplinary knowledge.

  2. I also commented on how I thought that Lehrer's modeling was geared more towards elementary students. Modeling is used to intrigue students with scientific phenomena and get them to start thinking about a question to answer. Modeling is a really just a way to think or process of reasoning. The process is important to know, however, I do not think that every concept or every lesson needs to be modeled. There is a lot of information in biology that sometimes you just need to know and sometimes modeling isn't needed to understand a concept or idea. Modeling seems to be ideal for abstract concepts that are difficult to imagine and for intriguing students with scientific phenomena. I'm not sure, that it needs to be used everyday or a majority of the time because some concepts are easier than others and some students already are interested in science. The most important reason for the application of modeling is to introduce a different way to reason or think about scientific phenomena

  3. I agree that there is no way to cover every standard by modeling, however, I think that it is a bit more than just a way of thinking. Often, helping students establish a very thorough understanding of what may seem like an easy topic will make the more difficult ones easier to teach - even if they are more difficult to model. Having a model for the topic being covered can serve as an anchor as you address later points.
    This also depends on what you intend to use to replace modeling. If one of our major goals in this new science curriculum is to have students learn by doing science, then constantly reverting back to lecture when you run out of time/resources for modeling will not meet that goal.


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