Strategies for Leading Classroom Discussions Aimed at Core Ideas and Scientific Modeling Practices

This project will use video case studies to identify key strategies used by exemplary teachers to guide class discussions. The project will study teachers in the areas of high school mechanics and electricity, and middle school life sciences, and is designed to develop the constructs and language that will enable us to describe key discussion leading strategies.

Full Description: 

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have set goals for students to learn scientific models as disciplinary core ideas in addition to scientific reasoning practices and cross cutting ideas. Given these advances in national standards, educators are now asking for details about: (a) strategies for teaching the core disciplinary ideas; (b) how to teach the components of scientific thinking practices; and (c) how to integrate those practices with the teaching of core ideas. This project will use video case studies to identify key strategies used by exemplary teachers to guide class discussions toward these goals. The project will study teachers in the areas of high school mechanics and electricity, and middle school life sciences, and is designed to develop the constructs and language that will enable us to describe key discussion leading strategies. Clarified descriptions of the strategies will be disseminated to teachers via a website on discussion leading strategies for building models as core ideas, and accompanied by real classroom examples.

In order to organize the strategies, the project will also combine the results of the classroom case studies with findings from studies of thinking processes in scientists to develop an integrated theoretical framework for model based learning and teaching in science. The theoretical framework will serve as a guide for organizing instruction, integrating research findings, and sequencing strategies for teacher educators and curriculum developers. The framework will start from practices in the NGSS standards for modeling and add detail by identifying smaller practices and supporting teaching strategies at four different time scale levels--from 5-second engagements with mental simulations, to the use of minutes-long constructive reasoning processes, to larger modeling cycles lasting roughly 10 minutes to hours, to model construction modes that can last 15 minutes to days. A simplified version of the theoretical framework will give a way to introduce teachers to strategies in an organized manner, one level at a time. The Discovery Research K-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of innovative resources, models and tools (RMTs). Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects.