Investigating the impact of eliciting and being responsive to students' initial ideas on productive disciplinary engagement across a unit

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Science Education

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In this study, we examined the ways in which two middle school science teachers elicited and were responsive to students' initial science ideas for explaining an anchoring phenomenon while teaching the same model-based learning unit focused on plate tectonics. Data sources included student models, classroom video, and classroom artifacts. Our analysis revealed a connection between the elicitation of initial ideas, teacher responsiveness to those ideas, and the continued use of those ideas by the students across the unit as evidenced in their individually constructed models. In both classrooms, variation in initial ideas seen on the first day narrowed as students engaged in activities designed to challenge their ideas and present the scientifically accepted explanation of the phenomenon. In one classroom, however, far more ideas were surfaced early, and those ideas were utilized by students as they made sense of the phenomenon. In the other classroom, far fewer ideas were surfaced early and those that were all but disappeared once the unit activities began suggesting student ideas were less likely to be utilized as a sense-making resource. This study contributes to a growing understanding of the importance of eliciting and responding to students' initial ideas in students' productive disciplinary engagement across an instructional unit.


This article was originally published in Science Education. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Science Education


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