It has been declared that practicing science is aptly described as making, using, testing, and revising models. Modeling has also emerged as an explicit practice in science education reform efforts. This is evidenced as modeling is highlighted as an instructional target in the recently released Conceptual Framework for the New K-12 Science Education Standards: it reads that students should develop more sophisticated models founded on prior knowledge and skills and refined as understanding develops. Reflecting the purpose of engaging students in modeling in science classrooms, Oh and Oh (2011) have suggested five modeling activities, the first three of which were based van Joolingen’s (2004) earlier proposal: 1) exploratory modeling, 2) expressive modeling, 3) experimental modeling, 4) evaluative modeling, and 5) cyclic modeling. This chapter explores how these modeling activities are embedded in high school physics classrooms and how each is juxtaposed as concurrent instructional objectives and scaffolds a progressive learning sequence. Through the close examination of modeling in situ within the science classrooms, the authors expect to better explicate and illuminate the practices outlined and support reform in science education.
Modeling As Science And Science Learning
Situating modeling in science education begins to make sense by considering the roles modeling plays in the work of scientists and in the context of specific scientific fields (e.g., astronomy, chemistry, evolutionary biology, geology). Although there is no single definition of a model, models are broadly recognized as representations or systems of objects, events, processes, and ideas (Gilbert & Boulter, 2000). In modeling, extra-linguistic entities like pictures and diagrams assume fundamental roles in the functions of models when they serve to describe, explain, and predict natural phenomena and communicate scientific ideas with others (Buckley & Boulter, 2000; Oh & Oh, 2011; Shen & Confrey, 2007).