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A Learning Progression for Scientific Modeling

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This project will provide an empirically-supported learning progression for a key scientific practice, scientific modeling. The specific instructional materials created as part of the project can serve as a model other developers can use to design materials supporting scientific modeling and other practices. The model for educative curriculum materials as a form of teacher support can be adapted to support teacher learning about modeling or other scientific practices in other curriculum materials.

Project Email: 
Models@sesp.northwestern.edu
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0628199
Funding Period: 
Sun, 10/01/2006 - Thu, 03/31/2011
Project Evaluator: 
Horizon Research
Full Description: 

The project is a 42-month research and development effort to develop a learning progression for scientific modeling and investigate its implementation in two grade bands. The project focuses on the scientific practice of modeling because of its centrality in both the practice of science and as a vehicle for science learning. A learning progression characterizes variations of the practice that are appropriate for learners, and a sequence of successively more complex versions of that practice possible for learners. A learning progression for a scientific practice contains; (a) a model of the target practice appropriate for learners, (b) the starting points of learners' intuitive understandings and practices, (c) a sequence of successively more sophisticated understandings and practices, and (d) instructional supports to help learners develop the practice. The theoretical contribution of the proposed work is to develop an empirically-tested learning progression for scientific modeling. The project identifies two related learning goals for modeling that serve as the two major constructs it will track: modeling practices and metamodeling knowledge. Each construct is broken into several progress variables that are tracked across time. The project will provide an empirically-supported learning progression for a key scientific practice, scientific modeling. Although the field has produced snapshots demonstrating the promise of engaging learners in scientific practices, systematic empirical research demonstrating how the practice can develop across years is lacking. The specific instructional materials created as part of the project can serve as a model other developers can use to design materials supporting scientific modeling and other practices. The model for educative curriculum materials as a form of teacher support can be adapted to support teacher learning about modeling or other scientific practices in other curriculum materials.

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