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#4200-6270 University Blvd.
Vancouver, BC
Canada

Functional morphologist and evolutionary biologist

Pedagogy and inquiry-based learning

Strategies to incorporate modeling in today’s biology classroom

Models (simplified representations of more complex systems or processes) are ubiquitous in science. They are diverse: models can be concrete, verbal, symbolic, visual, or gestural.

With the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS; K-12) in mind, we showed that model-based teaching can incorporate diverse strategies in today's classrooms in order to enhance learning (Bryce et al. 2016). We also suggested a variety of "best practices" for using model-based teaching in different situations. Ultimately, we argued 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 is useful throughout life.

I am proud to share authorship with the 2013-14 UCSC 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, and in group discussions where we debated the finer points of model-based learning. Through this experience, we not only became better teachers but also better communicators of science.

An overview of the different flavors of models. Each can be useful to teaching in the modern biology classroom.

An overview of the different flavors of models. Each can be useful to teaching in the modern biology classroom.