Modeling Methodology for Physics Teachers

David Hestenes
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ 85287

Proceedings of the International Conference on Undergraduate Physics Education (College Park, August 1996)

Abstract: Scientific practice involves the construction, validation and application of scientific models, so science instruction should be designed to engage students in making and using models. Scientific models are coherent units of structured knowledge. They are used to organize factual information into coherent wholes, often by the coordinated use of general laws or principles. Therefore, the structure of scientific knowledge can be made more explicit for students by organizing course content around a small number of basic models. The ability of students to make and use models depends on the representational tools at their command. Students learn transferable modeling skills by applying given models to a variety of situations to describe, explain, or predict physical events or to design experiments. These ideas have been incorporated into a methodology for physics teaching and a course for training teachers.

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