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  • Created 24 Jun 2015

Drew presenting "Developing a learning progression for scientific modeling: Making scientific modeling accessible and meaningful for learners"

Reference:  Schwarz, Christina V., Reiser, Brian J., Davis, Elizabeth A., Kenyon, Lisa, Achér, Andres, Fortus, David, Shwartz, Yael, Hug6, Barbara, Krajcik, Joe, (2009), "Developing a learning progression for scientific modeling: Making scientific modeling accessible and meaningful for learners", Journal of Research in Science Teaching466: pg: 632-654, August, (DOI: 10.1002/tea.20311)

Abstract:   Modeling is a core practice in science and a central part of scientific literacy. We present theoretical and empirical motivation for a learning progression for scientific modeling that aims to make the practice accessible and meaningful for learners. We define scientific modeling as including the elements of the practice (constructing, using, evaluating, and revising scientific models) and the metaknowledge that guides and motivates the practice (e.g., understanding the nature and purpose of models). Our learning progression for scientific modeling includes two dimensions that combine metaknowledge and elements of practice—scientific models as tools for predicting and explaining, and models change as understanding improves. We describe levels of progress along these two dimensions of our progression and illustrate them with classroom examples from 5th and 6th graders engaged in modeling. Our illustrations indicate that both groups of learners productively engaged in constructing and revising increasingly accurate models that included powerful explanatory mechanisms, and applied these models to make predictions for closely related phenomena. Furthermore, we show how students engaged in modeling practices move along levels of this progression. In particular, students moved from illustrative to explanatory models, and developed increasingly sophisticated views of the explanatory nature of models, shifting from models as correct or incorrect to models as encompassing explanations for multiple aspects of a target phenomenon. They also developed more nuanced reasons to revise models. Finally, we present challenges for learners in modeling practices—such as understanding how constructing a model can aid their own sensemaking, and seeing model building as a way to generate new knowledge rather than represent what they have already learned.

Comments on this entry

  1. Kristin Jenkins

    This paper came up in our discussion of Svoboda and Passmore Wednesday!  

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    Replying to Kristin Jenkins

  2. Drew LaMar

    Here's my synopsis!

    I really enjoyed this paper, in particular since it actually gives a learning progression for modeling.  While it was aimed at elementary and middle school students, these concepts apply equally well to college students.  The only thing I had trouble with with this paper was getting lost in the tables and figures - they are really great and give summaries of their progression, but didn't seem concise enough for me to take it all in.  Thus, I present to you my diagram and attempt to be concise.

    I found myself getting rather confused about the two dimensions, as they didn't seem to be really orthogonal to me - i.e. there was a lot of repeat in their milestones and landmarks. For my brain, it helped to come up with a different version that combined them, and yet described the levels in terms of 4 components:

    • What is a model (in terms of use; measures depth)?
    • What does modeling include (as a process; measures breadth)?
    • Where does evidence come from (measures foundation)?
    • How malleable are models (measures creativity)?

    Hope you find it interesting!

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    Replying to Drew LaMar

    1. Drew LaMar

      By the way, I found it fun that while reading this I was modeling a learning progression for modeling.  Very meta!  In fact, I was looking for a "right" model/learning progression that illustrates "the truth", and then realized I was on Level 1.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      For those interested, I used a really cool open-source on-the-web diagram maker for the pictures above:  http://draw.io.  Check it out!

      - Drew

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      Replying to Drew LaMar

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