Engaging Students in the Scientific Practices of Explanation and Argumentationby: Brian J. Reiser, Leema K. Berland, and Lisa Kenyon

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This article examines the sixth and seventh practices concerning explanation and argumentation, which are highlighted in A Framework for K–12 Science Education.

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Reviews (4)
  • on Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:50 PM

Engaging in argument from evidence and constructing explanations and designing solutions are two of the practices listed in the Framework for k-12 Scientific Education and the focus of this article. Students can explain by clarifying a meaning (providing definition), identifying why something occurred, or justifying an idea. The framework goes beyond the simple meaning of explaining. It also explains what argumentation means as well as defines practices and points out that engaging in scientific inquiry requires coordination both of knowledge and skill at the same time. This is an interesting article and well worth reading.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Mon May 07, 2012 8:07 PM

This article helps me understand the meaning of constructing explanations and engaging in scientific argumentation based on evidence. As a teacher, it is important I understand what my objectives are around this topic, what do I want my students to be able to knowand do. Once I have identified my goal, then i can begin to figure out what pre-requisite skills do they need to accomplich the goal. I recommend this article.

Kathy Renfrew  (Barnet, VT)
Kathy Renfrew (Barnet, VT)

  • on Tue Apr 10, 2012 4:39 PM

This article addresses pertinent information for teachers about how to include the scientific practices of explanation and argumentation into their lessons. The authors explain how teachers can provide opportunities for students to strengthen their abilities to construct explanations that require critical thinking and collaboration as students practice using science processes in their social interactions. Knowing how to explain scientific phenomena by using knowledge students have just learned in class helps them to explain why something happened or to provide justification for why they believe the way they do about a particular phenomenon. The Framework defines explanations as “accounts that link scientific theory with scientific observations”, and the second half of the article explains how to engage in argumentation from evidence. Four different examples of how to engage students in meaningful argumentation are provided. The emphasis on these standards is not on the processes of science but on the practices. Teachers are directed to focus on reasons for ideas over accuracy. This allows students to safely disagree or be wrong as they work to have more complete explanations. This results in a way for students to discuss, reconcile and come to consensus about plausible explanations for a particular scientific phenomenon.

Carolyn M  (Buffalo Grove, IL)
Carolyn M (Buffalo Grove, IL)

  • on Sun Apr 08, 2012 9:19 PM

This is the 5th article in a series of monthly installments, helping teachers understand the K-12 Framework for Science being introduced. This month the authors are addressing the sixth and seventh practices concerning explanation and argumentation. They begin by defining argumentation and explanation individually. Next they give classroom examples to illustrate what they are stating. They give four examples; Example 1-Arguing for Predictions Strengthens Explanations, Example 2-Reconciling Competing Explanations, Example 3-Building consensus from multiple contributions, and Example 4-Critique leads to clarified explanations. In each example students dialogue is included in the modeling provided by the authors to illustrate what they are meaning. The final part of the article is their conclusions about the processes and practices that were employed to produce the learning goal. This article was excellent and should be read by all science teachers that are wishing to improve their teaching techniques.

Sue Garcia
Sue Garcia

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