Model competition: A strategy based on model based teaching and learning theory
Nunez-Oviedo, Maria C.
Clement, John J.

Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Philadelphia, PA.

The purpose of this study is to develop a theoretical framework for describing different teaching strategies that can foster student model construction in large group discussions. Such a framework is necessary for developing new instructional principles about how to build mental models in large classroom settings. This particular paper focuses on a mode of interaction call model competition as one possible strategy. The teacher has an opportunity to promote model competition when the students contribute to a discussion with ideas that are contradictory to each other. The presence of these different kinds of ideas fosters dissatisfaction in the students' minds that can be productive. We follow the strategies a teacher uses to support this and other important modes of learning, such as model evolution, in a case study of classroom learning in the area of respiration.

We believe that the teacher played a key role during the teacher/student co-construction process described in the present study. The teacher participated by constantly diagnosing the students' ideas and attempting to introduce dissatisfaction by suggesting constraints that led the students to evaluate and modify their ideas, producing cycles of model construction and criticism. In this way she was able to guide students toward targeted content goals. The learning model we develop includes nested teacher-student interaction organization patterns that the teacher used in order to encourage the students to disconfirm, recombine, restructure, or tune their ideas and to generate successive intermediate mental models. These patterns have been analyzed from the perspective of a theoretical framework of model construction theory. We believe that this framework can provide a set of lenses that complements other cognitive and sociological frameworks for analyzing classroom discussions.

Complete conference paper (PDF)418 KB