An analysis of science teachers’ classroom discourse relating to the use of models and simulations in physics
Smith, Garrett W.
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This case study provides an account of three teachers’ first attempts in implementing simulation experiments within a design-based inquiry science curriculum. We examined how three in-service teachers used simulations and physical models in the classroom to promote students’ understanding of the nature of models. We found that teachers mostly talked about the procedural aspects related to simulation use. While some of the teachers’ dialogue focused on science ideas, there was very little explicit talk about the nature of models. Of the discourse concerning the nature of models, most focused on model evaluation, the affordances and constraints of models, and comparing multiple models. Critical incidents related to the nature of models are presented and discussed. All three teachers missed opportunities to help students understand the nature of models as they introduced simulation activities, facilitated simulation group work, and conducted final class discussions.