Beyond the Scientific Method: Model-Based Inquiry as a New Paradigm of Preference for School Science Investigations
ABSTRACT: One hundred years after its conception, the scientific method continues
to reinforce a kind of cultural lore about what it means to participate in inquiry. As
commonly implemented in venues ranging from middle school classrooms to undergraduate
laboratories, it emphasizes the testing of predictions rather than ideas, focuses learners on
material activity at the expense of deep subject matter understanding, and lacks epistemic
framing relevant to the discipline. While critiques of the scientific method are not new, its
cumulative effects on learners’ conceptions of science have not been clearly articulated.
We discuss these effects using findings from a series of five studies with degree-holding
graduates of our educational system who were preparing to enter the teaching profession
and apprentice their own young learners into unproblematic images of how science is done.
We then offer an alternative vision for investigative science—model-based inquiry (MBI)--
as a system of activity and discourse that engages learners more deeply with content and
embodies five epistemic characteristics of scientific knowledge: that ideas represented in
the form of models are testable, revisable, explanatory, conjectural, and generative. We
represent MBI as an interconnected set of classroom conversations and provide examples
of its implementation and its limitations.
Read the complete paper here.
...bringing you updates, reminders and a bunch of fun stuff for students and parents. Updated regularly.