Week 3 Memo
(Sampson & Gleim and Reiser, Berland & Kenyon)
The Reiser, Berland, and Kenyon article focuses on the examination of explanation and argumentation practices, in reference to a framework for K-12 science education. According to the authors, an explanation should go beyond describing or defining a process and link a chain of reasoning to the phenomena to be explained. They believe developing explanatory accounts includes not only construction, but also comparison and critique. The reason explanation and argumentation are so interconnected is because ordinarily when creating an explanation, argumentation is used to support and challenge potential justifications of the explanation. The interconnectedness can best be described by the statement, “In response to questions, explanations are developed through analyses of data from investigations and refined through argumentation” (Pg. 9). These practices emphasize understanding of concepts by asking how and why certain phenomena are the way they are. It also emphasizes how the scientific community builds knowledge and helps students understand by experiencing the process for themselves. The article then gives some examples of how these practices can be seen in the classroom. Explanation and argumentation aim to help students make sense of phenomena and understand them on an individual level, as opposed to replicating the understandings from a textbook or teacher.
The Sampson and Gleim article is an overview of the Argument Driven Inquiry instructional model and how it can be used in a Biology classroom. According to the authors, “This model is designed to frame the goal of scientific inquiry as an effort to develop an argument that provides and supports an explanation for a research question” (Pg. 1). A major strength of this model is that it allows students to learn empirically and be actively involved in their learning. This model can be extremely effective when used to enhance a lab experiment or activity. The article goes on to explain the eight steps in this model and describes an example lesson to show how it might look in a biology classroom. There is a lot of argumentation and peer interaction, which aim to help develop a deeper understanding of a concept through revision of ideas and explanations; which supports critical thinking.
Both articles have a focus on explanation and argumentation practices being used as tools to help support learning scientific knowledge in the classroom. The articles also emphasize the topics of inquiry and revision of ideas, as well as students learning empirically. These articles seem to fit well with modeling. Inquiry, revision of ideas, peer interaction, and learning empirically are all extremely engrained in modeling. Overall, I liked the two articles and thought the examples were very helpful to understand how these ideas can be employed in a classroom. However, I was shocked that in the results of the Sampson and Gleim article the answer to the question was that at least one of the children belonged to Mr. Smith and not Mr. Jones. It is very cool that this testing can be done, but seriously? Mrs. Jones is having an affair with Mr. Smith and some of her children are his? Maybe I’m used to happier endings, but that seems like a pretty intense and morbid answer to the question. Ethically, if we are trying to teach students good morals, why would we make it the case that Mrs. Jones is cheating on her husband? (And likely Mr. Smith cheating on his wife) Even if that’s the case they could easily make Mr. Jones the father of them all. Or forget the whole affair and say the kids were made in vitro and there are two sperm donors, which child belongs to which father?