Learning via Model Construction and Criticism

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Abstract

There is growing recognition that mental models play a fundamental role in the comprehension of science concepts. The process of learning via model construction appears to be central to theory formation in science and central for science instruction but is still very poorly understood. This chapter uses evidence from case studies, in which a scientist is asked to think out loud, to argue that nonformal reasoning processes that are neither deductive nor inductive can play an important role in scientific model construction. The construction process is complex and involves repeated passes through a cycle of hypothesis generation, evaluation, and modification.