New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

Tracking the Comprehension of Model Centered Instruction through Preservice Teachers’ Science Notebooks

Isabel Jiménez Bargalló, Departament de Didàctica de les Arts i les Ciències Facultat d'Educació, Traducció i Ciències Humanes Universitat de Vic (Barcelona) (Spain)


Science instruction focused around models and modeling practices (also known as Model Centered Instruction) help learners to better integrate their conceptual knowledge, to enhance their inquiry skills, and to develop accurate epistemologies of science. However, and despite its importance, research studies reveal the unfamiliarity of inservice and peservice teachers with these reform-oriented practices and, consequently, the persistence of traditional views of science teaching in classrooms.

Well-designed, reform-based instruction and materials for undergraduate and inservice teachers appear to be key components of efforts to support teacher change towards MCI. Nevertheless, it is still a challenge for research to understand the way teachers appropriate instruction, and translate it into significant and worthwhile classroom changes. In this sense, science notebooks offer a privileged window into students’ mind and thus, can be a valuable tool to understand progressions towards MCI.

Scholar science notebooks imitate the journals that actual scientists use. Through writing in science notebooks while carrying out investigations, students engage in authentic scientific thinking, thereby facilitating learning through several avenues. Furthermore, science notebooks suppose a compilation of entries that record the instructional experiences a student had for a certain period of time. They expose students' thinking and, therefore, they provide important insights about their understandings.

During the last three courses science notebooks containing predictions, experimental data, models, explanations, questions, and reflections have been used in the undergraduate elementary science teachers’ courses of the University of Vic (Barcelona, Spain). These science notebooks have been used to assess and increase preservice teachers’ Pedagogical Content Knowledge towards MCI.

Although many other aspects are being studied, in this research preservice teachers’ science notebooks were used to examine knowledge on models and modeling practices. In this proposal, specific examples of preservice teachers’ notations are analyzed and discussed. Results reveal the potential of science notebooks to track the learning about the nature and utility of scientific models and in engaging on the processes of creating, testing and applying models. Implications for science teacher education are suggested.


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