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Wednesday Nov 18 Strategies of Modeling in Biology Education (Svoboda and Passmore, 2011)

Kristin will lead a discussion of a paper Sam Donovan included in the working group collection of papers:

Svoboda, J., Passmore, C. 2011. The Strategies of Modeling in Biology Education. Science and Education 22(1):119-142

This paper gives a nice overview of modeling as an instructional tool.  I will give a brief summary of the paper and highlight points I think are relevant to the working group.  We will meet 12-12:30 Eastern.

Comments on this entry

  1. Drew LaMar

    Here's the synopsis from the journal club meeting:

    Wednesday Nov 18 Kristin led the discussion with Kam Dahlquist, Melissa Aikens, Joe Dauer and Gaby Hamerlinck.  

    This paper was a nice overview of the types of models biologists use, as well as the role these models play in educational settings.  Most of the references were from the philosophy of science and the K-12 world.  Philosopher Jay Odenbaugh's five model types were introduced, and the various roles of these models discussed.  Some key points from our discussion include that modeling is contextual (which Bob Mayes had already emphasized for QR), that the type of modeling varies by discipline, that students need training and practice in modeling, and that this is a messy, iterative process which will present challenges to effective teaching.  However, both  in the paper and in our discussion we noted that students engaged in modeling were really enhancing their nature of science skills, critical reasoning, argumentation, and content knowledge - important selling points for our future audiences.  We also discussed the difference between how a novice vs an expert uses a model.  This led to ideas about providing scaffolds for novices to help them through expert steps, as well as the acknowledgement that many experts are probably relying on intuition and would have trouble articulating steps in their modeling.  Some additional ideas for examples we might develop were to provide different types of models for exploring a single biological concept, or demonstrate how different disciplines use models to address different types of problems.  Overall, we found this paper to be worth the time to read, and thought provoking. 

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