The PRACCIS project provides a learning environment in that students develop their scientific knowledge by working with scientific models. It is necessary to provide variety in modeling activities, both to avoid excessive routines and to allow students to master different kinds of modeling competencies (developing models, revising models, choosing among rival models, ruling out models).
In PRACCIS, we have used four general approaches to engaging students with models:
- developing models based on evidence
- developing initial models and then choosing among different class models based on evidence
- choosing between two competing models based on evidence
- ruling out models
Students must use evidence to choose one model or models that best fit with most of the relevant evidence.
Our activities often encourage students to rule out poor models, even before they can decide on a best model.
Some PRACCIS lessons have students develop their own models based on evidence they have encountered.
When students have rich prior ideas of their own about a topic, we often have the students create their own initial models.