Thursday, August 9, 2012: 8:00 AM-11:30 AM
A106, Oregon Convention Center
Tammy Long, Michigan State University
Jennifer L. Momsen, North Dakota State University; and
Joseph Dauer, University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Kristen M. Kostelnik, Michigan State University
Understanding biodiversity requires deep understanding of ecological systems, from genetic underpinnings to ecosystem dynamics. Teaching and learning of biodiversity, and ecology in general, must account for and respond to such complexity. We believe teaching students to construct and reason with diverse scientific models provides an authentic activity to promote learning of biodiversity and, more broadly, ecology.
Models represent a core construct in the sciences, facilitating communication within and across disciplines and providing a context for testing and evaluating hypothesis. In ecology in particular, models and modeling are foundational tools that reflect the nature of ecological research by focusing attention on the connections and interactions that are the basis of ecological systems. Although models are integrated through science, models and modeling are poorly represented in available pedagogies in the sciences. We believe the iterative construction, application, and evaluation of scientific models by students helps them develop scientific habits of mind while highlighting the importance of connections in ecological science.
Specifically, models (1) reflect the practice of science, (2) focus students’ thinking on connections and relationships, (3) facilitate learning about complex systems, and (4) represent an authentic assessment in the science classroom.
This organized oral session brings together ecologists and learning scientists conducting cutting edge research on the use of models in K-16 science education. Through a series of speakers from across the nation, we will explore model-based instruction as authentic practice for teaching and learning science.
As a whole, these talks form a direct response to national documents calling for evidenced-based science instruction that promotes scientific literacy by fostering student learning of science content and the process of science. Indeed, evidence is mounting that infusing science (including ecology) instruction with modeling and model-based reasoning promotes student learning in science.