Modeling InstructionTM in High School Sciences

The Modeling Method of High School Physics Instruction began development at Arizona State University in 1990 under the leadership of David Hestenes, now Emeritus Professor of Physics, and Malcolm Wells, award-winning high school physics teacher in Tempe. The program cultivates physics teachers as school experts on effective use of guided inquiry in science teaching, thereby providing schools and school districts with a valuable resource for broader reform. Program goals are fully aligned with National Science Education Standards and with the NRC "Framework for K-12 Science Education", the research basis for the Next Generation Science Standards.

The Modeling Method corrects many weaknesses of the traditional lecture-demonstration method, including fragmentation of knowledge, student passivity, and persistence of naive beliefs about the physical world. Unlike the traditional approach, in which students wade through an endless stream of seemingly unrelated topics, the Modeling Method organizes the course around a small number of scientific models, thus making the course coherent. In 2000 the program was extended to physical science and in 2005 to chemistry, by demand of committed teachers. In 2011, we wrote proposals for a new program in biology. Our proposals were not funded, but development continues nationwide, in the American Modeling Teachers Association (AMTA). The AMTA developed middle school Modeling Workshops, an astronomy workshop, and a computational physics first Modeling Workshop.


Articles for everyone


Articles, presentations, recommendations for educators


Educate your colleagues and administrators:
Click on the links below to download documents to convince colleagues and administrators of the value of the Modeling Method of instruction.

Resources for the modeling classroom
A long webpage on Action Research, useful dissertations, papers/presentations by teachers, adaptations for 9th grade physics; AP syllabi, real-world projects & engineering, assessment, discourse, how to use whiteboards effectively and where to buy them, what equipment will help you run a Modeling Instruction course, ideas for remodeling your classroom, naive student conceptions, funding sources and sample grant proposals, how to increase enrollment, reviews of research.

Web links for modelers (Modelers' websites & blogs; other modeling programs in sciences at all levels; computer modeling, simulations, individual models; videos; science education research; articles for administrators.)

Compilations of teachers' posts to the Modeling listserv and ChemMod listserv
300 compilations! Helpful hints on concerns that arise in each unit of instruction, suggestions by modelers about classroom management, pace, AP, whiteboarding and more...


Modeling Workshops for professional development in your school district or in partnership with a local university.


Lab practicums - Activities that teachers can use at the end of a unit to assess how well their students have learned the concepts in that unit.


Instructional Resources for Modeling Instruction
The AMTA website has sample instructional materials that give you some sense of what Modeling Instruction is about. Modeling Instruction is not a curriculum; rather, it is a WAY to teach; a pedagogy and a flexible curriculum design or framework. Most teachers need at least three weeks of immersion in a Modeling Workshop to use these resources effectively.

Workshop participants have access to many new instructional resources on the AMTA website. (Most resources prior to 2010 are on the password-protected "Participants Resources" webpage on this website.)

Older material in this web site is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. ESI-9353423. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
List of 200 Teachers in Leadership Modeling Workshops (1995-1999) by state

Hundreds of teachers are eager to lead local reform of physics, chemistry, and physical science. As of 2019, more than 11,000 high school, middle school, and college teachers in 49 states have taken a Modeling Workshop. (The outdated list here is the 200 teachers who participated from 1995 to 1999 four weeks each summer for two summers.) Please ask Jane Jackson for contact information of leaders in your locale.

Research & Evaluation

The Force Concept Inventory (FCI), Mechanics Baseline Test (MBT), and Views About Science Survey (VASS) as well as published papers on these instruments and on Modeling Instruction; also findings of the Modeling Workshop Project (1994-2000), evaluation reports, and taxonomies of student conceptions in mechanics.

This page is maintained by Jane Jackson
last updated on October 21, 2019

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