CAREER: Classroom Instruction to Promote Authentic Experimentation

Project Details


This project is grounded in a theoretical framework that specifies

key epistemological features of scientific experimentation. On the basis

of this framework, the project will develop a computer-based environment in which

seventh graders can conduct simulated experiments in the domain of cell

biology. The simulated experiments will be designed to capture many of

the crucial epistemological features of authentic scientific

experimentation. The computer-based experimentation environment will then

be used in a series of studies to investigate how students learn complex

forms of scientific reasoning. A main focus of the studies will be to

investigate the sociocognitive processes by which computer simulations

promote complex learning during classroom instruction. The planned studies

include two large classroom experiments that will provide a rich, detailed

picture of how seventh graders' reasoning and knowledge of cells change,

moment to moment, during classroom instruction. The classroom instruction,

using an instructional method called Collaborative Reasoning about

Evidence, will interleave whole-class discussions with small-group work in

which students conduct and discuss simulated experiments. The studies will

aim to provide a fine-grained analysis of how whole-class discussions and

group interactions mediate students' learning. In sum, this program of

research is intended (a) to provide new insights into how to teach students

to reason about epistemologically authentic experimentation and (b) to

produce tested instructional software, materials, and methods that teachers

can readily access and use in their classrooms.

Effective start/end date7/1/996/30/07


  • National Science Foundation: $513,685.00


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