Reviewed by Jean Worsley
Retired Biology Teacher
First and foremost, this book is a valuable resource that facilitators in grades K–12 may use to reinforce learning in science. The author explains how students' background experiences can be used to frame mental models in order to bring reality to scientific concepts. Beginning with a philosophical context, Models-Based Science Teaching emphasizes the value of changing the order in which science lessons are taught. Further, facilitators are provided an opportunity to reexamine their pedagogy in order to improve the effectiveness of the teaching learning process.
Each chapter addresses a specific topic with subtopics, tables, text boxes, charts, graphs, figures, summaries, topics for discussion, and references. Readers will discover how theories and ideas proposed by philosophers, writers, and scientists through the centuries can help broaden their understanding of how students learn and process information. The author explains that, in order to successfully implement models-based science teaching (MBST), facilitators need a thorough understanding of the history and nature of science, the relationship between science and technology, and processes of science.
The inquiry principles defined by the National Science Education Standards are incorporated in MBST. A detailed discussion on how to introduce students to MBST and techniques for modeling science lessons on different grade levels are included. In addition, extensive discussions on building different kinds of models that allow for a great deal of flexibility are presented. Examples include a spiral curriculum and mathematical and verbal models. The author states that the success of MBST in science classes is determined to a certain degree by the facilitator's ability to teach students how to construct and validate scientific models.
Strategies to encourage creativity and imagination in science classes are provided. Examples include analogies and the use of figurative language such as metaphors and similes. Additionally, suggestions to engage students in creating problems and stimulating them to think creatively and critically about scientific models are thoroughly described. The importance of context and the integrity of scientific researchers are emphasized in the narrative MBST and the scientific worldview. Also, the influence of superstitions, myths, legends, religion, and the media on student models is explained. Other factors that impact scientific worldviews are clearly simplified in 14 tables.
In appendix 1, readings for high school and some advance middle grade students reinforce each topic and may be used to introduce MBST. Appendix 2 provides recommended resources, books, and internet resources. An index is also included. For facilitators who are seeking ways to enhance the understanding of scientific concepts, this is a priceless resource and is highly recommended. It is an excellent guide to aid in the development of individual educational plans, and many of the model-building activities can be applied across other subject areas.
Review posted on 12/12/2011