This research addresses high school students' understandings of the nature of models, and their interaction with model-based software in three science domains, namely, biology, physics, and chemistry. Data from 736 high school students' understandings of models were collected using the Students' Understanding of Models in Science (SUMS) survey as part of a large-scale, longitudinal study in the context of technology-based curricular units in each of the three science domains. The results of ANOVA and regression analyses showed that there were differences in students' pre-test understandings of models across the three domains, and that higher post-test scores were associated with having engaged in a greater number of curricular activities, but only in the chemistry domain. The analyses also showed that the relationships between the pre-test understanding of models subscales scores and post-test content knowledge varied across domains. Some implications are discussed with regard to how students' understanding of the nature of models can be promoted.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was funded by the National Science Foundation under the Interagency Education Research Initiative (IERI no. 0115699) awarded to The Concord Consortium and to Northwestern University. Any ideas or opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsoring agency. This work was also supported by two additional grants, namely, one from the National Science Foundation (NSF-DRL no. 0733286) awarded to Janice D. Gobert, Neil Heffernan, Carolina Ruiz, and Ryan Baker, and one from the U.S. Department of Education (R305A090170) awarded to Janice D. Gobert, Neil Heffernan, Ken Koedinger, and Joseph Beck. All opinions expressed do not
To examine the nature of students’ understanding of models, the impact of model-based curricula on changes in understanding, and the relationship between students’ understanding of models and learning in physics, chemistry, and biology, data were collected as part of the Modeling Across the Curriculum (MAC) project. The MAC project was a large-scale project that was funded by the Interagency Education Research Initiative (IERI) program (IERI no. 0115699, http://mac.concord.org). One of the goals of the MAC project was to examine whether there were measurable learning gains across grades from exploration and inquiry of curricula based on computer models of core science content. To address this goal, we conducted both longitudinal and cross-sectional research to determine the effects of engaging students in model-based activities across multiple years and multiple domains of science. All the students in the study were in high school, and the grade levels ranged from the 9th through the 12th grade. We measured gains in content knowledge in each domain using computer-scored, multiple-choice instruments of our own design. We assessed students’ understandings of models separately for each content domain, using the students’ Understanding of Models in Science (SUMS) survey (Treagust et al., 2002). The research described here uses cross-sectional data collected during the 2005–2006 school year from high school students.
- Inquiry-based teaching
- Learning environment
- Model-based learning
- Nature of models
- Nature of science
- Science education
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