Model-based Teaching in Science Teacher Education

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Model-based teaching (MBT) is a major challenge to science teachers (Gilbert & Justi, 2016; Berland, et al., 2016; Haag & Megowan, 2015; Campbell et al., 2013). Science teachers must not only understand the nature of models, but also be able to facilitate the construction, evaluation, and modification of students’ models (Dass et al., 2015; Windschitl et al., 2008; Clement, 2000). Evidence has revealed that science teachers have difficulties with MBT in their classrooms (Campbell et al., 2012; Author, 2011; Schwarz, 2009; Henze et al., 2007), and as a result, recent calls have been placed for study of teacher education activities for preservice teachers (PSTs) on MBT (Couso & Garrido-Espeja; 2017; Ricketts, 2014). Research Objectives This study aims to investigate the role that science teacher education activities can play in mobilizing MBT and to what extent PSTs actually adapt MBT strategies once in the field. The specific research objectives are three-fold: 1) examine teacher education activities that can have an impact on PSTs understanding and use of MBT; 2) ascertain under what conditions and to what extent do PSTs select practices associated with MBT to implement in their classrooms and 3) hypothesize how MBT a practices are adapted and made viable by PSTs. Conceptual Framework Model-based teaching (MBT) is an approach to teaching that has emerged from cognitive and historical research and studies of the epistemic practices of scientists (Morgan, 2000). Mental models are personal cognitive representations (Johnson-Laird, 1983; Norman, 1983) that once expressed in the public domain, are referred to by educators sometimes as models. Modeling for education involves the building, critiquing, modifying, and expressing of these mental models (Darden, 1991; Nersessian, 2002). Building, critiquing, and enriching mental models are fostered in MBT. MBT presupposes, at one level, that people learn by building, critiquing, and enriching their existing mental models of the way a system, such as the human body, works. Also, MBT theory recognizes that the development and expression of mental models is socially negotiated, and therefore, MBT places special emphasis on the emergence of models from dialogic interactions (Boulter et al., 2001; Chiu et al., 2002; Kawasaki et al., 2004). MBT has also been further characterized as a multi-level and cyclical approach to teaching (Clement & Rea-Ramirez, 2008; Author, 2007; Justi & Gilbert, 2002). There are several studies which have provided deeper insights into impact of teacher education activities on PST understanding of MBT (Ogan-Bekiroglu, 2007; Schwarz & Gwekwerere, 2007; Valanides & Angeli, 2006). In Windschitl and Thompson’s (2006) PST study, for example, PSTs engaged in micro-teaching, the construction of pulley models, reading of papers about models, and a presentation on a personal inquiry. They believed that the teacher education activities that had the highest impact on their intentions to utilize MBT were co-constructing models as a class, modeling discourse in the class, and reading a paper on modeling, but they were unsure whether PSTs did attempt to teach using these methods once in the field. In Schwarz’s et al. (2008) study, the PSTs engaged in using simulations for modeling and a pedagogical framework for teaching referred to as EIMA. In their analysis, it was found that the majority of teachers used and adapted the EIMA framework with their final lesson plans. The authors noted that teacher education activities had an impact on inquiry; however, less so in terms of model-based forms of inquiry. This study contributes to the field of MBT in teacher education in at least two ways: 1) by examining the rank order impact of various of teacher education activities from PST perspectives and, 2) by analyzing the contributions of teaching MBT in the field.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018
Event2018 European Conference on Educational Research - Free University Bolzano , Bolzano, Italy
Duration: 3 Sep 20187 Sep 2018


Conference2018 European Conference on Educational Research
Abbreviated titleECER 2018
Internet address

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Model-based Teaching in Science Teacher Education'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this