John R Frederiksen
Seminar on advanced topics in curriculum and instruction. Critical examination of current research and practice. Content varies. Prerequisite: permission of instructor.
Studies of studentsí beliefs about the nature of science reveal a lack of understanding that scientific models and theories are evolving, intellectual products of scientific investigation. Students view science learning as acquiring factual content knowledge and procedures for solving problems, rather than developing knowledge of the nature of scientific models and theories, how in scientific inquiry implications of models are tested in order to improve them, and how models form the basis for explaining domain phenomena. Our concern in this course is how we can make use of computer modeling technologies in classrooms to enable students to develop a deeper knowledge of the nature of models, experience how they are constructed, and understand how they are used in scientific inquiry. We will consider two ways for students to use models in learning science: using software to construct models of scientific phenomena, and using computer models as a resource in studying scientific phenomena. Thus we will be considering both the expressive use of models in building representations of phenomena, and the exploratory use of models in investigating domain phenomena. While both uses of models allow students to construct representations of what they know so they can be externalized, shared, and assessed, the latter emphasizes running previously built models under varying scenarios in order to test hypotheses and develop conceptual understanding.
In this seminar, we will consider a variety of types of models developed for use by students, such as agent models, qualitative models, and system dynamic models. These will be represented by extant computer modeling tools that are available for use in classrooms. Students will be expected to spend enough time working with each modeling tool to understand its properties well enough so that the class can analyze ways of integrating its use in science classrooms. In addition to reading papers, to thoroughly understand the educational potential of these modeling approaches we will do hands-on work with each of these computer modeling tools. As a group we will then reflect on their conceptual strengths and the difficulties they pose for learning and teaching science, and consider ways we might use them in science instruction.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Class assignments and grading