5 Strategies to Support Scientifically Literate Students

Every day there are news articles that seek to provide a scientific explanation for how or why a given natural phenomenon occurred. The topic may be climate change, nuclear energy, genetically modified food or something else that impacts the everyday lives of individuals.

Scientifically literate readers need to be able to evaluate the evidence and reasoning presented in the article or report. In addition, science students need to be able to explain the results of the investigations they conduct in science class.

All students should learn the critical skills that help them to develop and critique a scientific explanation. Two of the practices identified as essential for all students in Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are:

  • Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering).
  • Engaging in argument from evidence.

Professors Katherine McNeill and Joseph Krajcik developed a framework for teaching students how to develop and critique scientific explanations. They recommend that teachers begin by focusing on the first three components of the explanation. When students have developed enough experience with the concept of claim, evidence, and reasoning, then teachers can introduce the rebuttal, which is the most complex component of the scientific explanation.

They also recommend five instructional strategies that teachers can use to support students in developing scientific explanations.

  1. Make the Framework Explicit
  2. Model and Critique Explanations
  3. Provide a Rationale for Creating Explanations
  4. Connect Scientific Explanations to Everyday Explanations
  5. Assess and Provide Feedback to Students

 

These are only the building blocks for scientific explanation. Read the full article to learn:

  • How to teach students to construct scientific explanations
  • The basis for modeling scientific literacy in classrooms
  • How to develop critical skills that will lead students to become lifelong learners

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