Friday, April 17, 2015

Tensions between conceptual and metaconceptual learning with models (NARST, 2015)

Wrigley Building, Chicago IL April 2015 
The following is a paper and poster that was presented in Chicago, IL at the national convention of the National Association of Research in Science Teaching (NARST). I present a short description of NARST, then the abstract of the paper and then the full paper that we handed out a the conference.

The National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST) is a worldwide organization of professionals committed to the improvement of science teaching and learning through research. Since its inception in 1928, NARST has promoted research in science education and the communication of knowledge generated by the research. The ultimate goal of NARST is to help all learners achieve science literacy. NARST promotes this goal by: 1) encouraging and supporting the application of diverse research methods and theoretical perspectives from multiple disciplines to the investigation of teaching and learning in science; 2) communicating science education research findings to researchers, practitioners, and policy makers; and 3) cooperating with other educational and scientific societies to influence educational policies.

Mann, M. J., Delgado, C., Stroup, W. M., and Petrosino, A. J. (April, 2015) Tensions beween conceptual and  metaconceptual learning with models. Presentation at the Annual Conference of the National Association of research in Science Teaching. Chicago, IL.

Abstract: Models and modeling are prominent in the new US science education standards, being present as both a crosscutting concept and a science and engineering practice.  Yet, there is a gap between the way scientists use models and how models are used in the science classrooms.  Models have been shown to be very useful in achieving student gains in conceptual understanding of phenomena yet models may inadvertently foster inaccurate metaconceptual or epistemological understandings about the phenomenon. An evaluation of two ecosystem models was done to illustrate how these linked models could be used in the classroom to foster both conceptual and metaconceptual learning. Teachers need to be aware when using models of the conceptual outcomes as well as the metaconceptual outcomes; these are often in tension and must be navigated carefully. Students need to be exposed to multiple models during a unit that emphasize different aspects of the phenomena, supporting different conceptual understandings but also illustrating the nature of science and the limitations and strengths of modeling. As the science education community moves towards implementing the vision of the Next Generation Science Standards, metaconceptually aware teaching practices around modeling must come into place.