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#4200-6270 University Blvd.
Vancouver, BC

Functional morphologist and evolutionary biologist

Exploring Models in the Biology Classroom


Exploring Models in the Biology Classroom

Vikram Baliga

My colleagues and I from the 2013-14 UCSC SCWIBLES team have written a Feature Article for The American Biology Teacher. This article, which is included in the January 2016 issue of the journal, focuses on why and how models should be incorporated into teaching science.

Models (simplified representations of more complex systems or processes) are ubiquitous in science. They are diverse; models can be concrete, verbal, symbolic, visual, and/or gestural (Gilbert, 2004). With the new Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in mind, we show that model-based teaching can incorporate diverse strategies in today's classrooms in order to enhance learning. We also suggest a variety of "best practices" for using model-based teaching in different situations. Ultimately, we argue that model-based thinking is not strictly relevant to the sciences, but is also an everyday phenomenon. The ability to create, manipulate, and communicate models will give students a set of skills that are useful throughout life.

I am proud to share authorship with the SCWIBLES team (which comprised several grad students and faculty in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology department and the Environmental Studies department). This article represents a culmination of hundreds of hours in the classroom, as we designed and implemented inquiry-based curricula. We debated the finer points of model-based learning in many group discussions. Through this experience, we each became better teachers and communicators of science.

I have linked a PDF of the article in my Publications section. Feedback is welcome!


Gilbert, J.K. (2004). Models and modelling: routes to more authentic science education.  International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 2, 115–130.