Models in Science and in Learning Science: Focusing Scientific Practice on Sense-making

  • Cynthia Passmore
  • Julia Svoboda Gouvea
  • Ronald Giere


The central aim of science is to make sense of the world. To move forward as a community endeavor, sense-making must be systematic and focused. The question then is how do scientists actually experience the sense-making process? In this chapter we examine the “practice turn” in science studies and in particular how as a result of this turn scholars have come to realize that models are the “functional unit” of scientific thought and form the center of the reasoning/sense-making process. This chapter will explore a context-dependent view of models and modeling in science. From this analysis we present a framework for delineating the different aspects of model-based reasoning and describe how this view can be useful in educational settings. This framework highlights how modeling supports and focuses scientific practice on sense-making.


Science Classroom Scientific Practice Scientific Model Cognitive Agent Representational Form 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cynthia Passmore
    • 1
  • Julia Svoboda Gouvea
    • 1
  • Ronald Giere
    • 2
  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA
  2. 2.Department of Philosophy (Emeritus)University of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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