Models and Modeling - Science

Educator investigates the use of models and modeling as they pertain to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and investigates resources for use in classrooms.
Made by University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

About this Micro-credential

Key Method

The educator studies use of models and modeling in the classroom, targeting existing resources for their specific discipline of science, learning about existing models to use, and specific modeling strategies, focusing on successful implementation of models and modeling in science or mathematics classrooms. They engage in a detailed analysis of the standards related to such, including the analysis of classroom tasks that address the standard. The educator devises a set of criteria for measuring student progress on the standards in that category appropriate to their grade level, designs and teaches a lessons addressing use of models or modeling, then analyzes student performance using the created criteria.

Method Components

Components and Implementation of Models and Modeling

  • Examine your own personal model of teacher decision-making used for planning, teaching, and reflection of lessons.
  • Use the model of teacher decision-making from Clough, Berg, and Olson to write a reflection of a recent lesson.
  • Learn about powerful uses of models in the science classroom and examples from a specific science discipline.
  • Learn about effective modeling strategies for use in a science classroom.
  • Identify models and modeling connections in NGSS; then design and teach a modeling lesson that supports student learning opportunities related to the standards under study.
  • Choose or create a measurement tool (rubric, standards-based grading criteria) that captures student performance related to the standards.
  • Analyze student performance related to the standards after students engage in the target lessons.
  • Write a reflection of the planning, implementation, and assessment of the models or modeling lesson.

Research & Resources

Supporting Research

There are many models used in science disciplines that represent the concepts and content, that are used to help students learn science. While sometimes interchangeable in the literature with the term models, modeling per this badge to define a learning strategy used with students.  In this micro-credential you will investigate both models and modeling within your discipline and as connected to the NGSS standards. You will engage in readings about that content using the resources noted above to deepen your knowledge of the content area then plan, implement, and study a lesson related to that content with your students.

While some of the resources above are relevant to a particular content area, many are cross-disciplinary. The ideas in this micro-credential are specifically designed for the teaching and learning of secondary science. Similar distinctions exist in mathematics; the Models and Modeling (Mathematics) badge contains those resources.

A Model for Teacher Decision-Making

  • Clough, M. P., C. A. Berg, and J.K. Olson, “Promoting effective science teacher education and science teaching: A framework for teacher decision-making.” International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 7(4), 2009, pp. 821-847.


  • Laubichler, M., and G. Muller. Models in theoretical biology, 2007. Retrieved from:


  • Models and modeling: An introduction, 2015. Retrieved from:

Modeling – Assessment



  • Dukerich, L. “Applying modeling instruction to high school chemistry to improve students’ conceptual understanding.” J. Chem. Ed. 92 (8), 2015, pp. 1315-1319. Retrieved from:
  • Harrison, A., and D. Treagust. “Secondary students’ mental models of atoms and molecule: Implications for teaching chemistry.” Science Education, 80(5), 1996, pp. 509-534. Retrieved from:
  • Posthuma-Adams, E. “How the chemistry modeling curriculum engages students in seven science practices outlined by the college board.” J. Chem. Educ.,91(9), 2014, pp. 1284–1290. Retrieved from:


  • Laubichler, M., and G. Muller. “Models in Theoretical Biology.” 2007. Retrieved from:

Earth and Space



Modeling – Assessment



  • Modeling chemistry – underlying models/big ideas. Retrieved from:


Earth and Space

Learning Opportunities

It is suggested that the work be completed in a small learning community to accomplish and discuss the learning activities.

  • Session 1
  • Examine a model to guide thinking about planning for instruction, while teaching, and reflecting on your teaching.
    • Create a diagram that represents a model of the decisions you make as a teacher when planning for lessons, teaching lessons, and then reflecting on your success regarding the impact you have on the learner.
    • When you think about planning a lesson and teaching a lesson, there are considerations that guide or affect your thinking. The same considerations affect youwhen teaching a lesson, or reflecting on a lesson. Those considerations have been shaped into something called your model for your teacher decision-making framework.
    • What is your current model or framework? If a colleague, principal, or parent asked you to explain your thought processes as you build a new lesson, how would you create a graphic that would help them understand your thinking and the considerations that go into your planning, or teaching of a lesson. Draw your model. Share your model and a short explanation.
    • Read the Teacher Decision-making article (Clough, Berg, & Olson, 2009) with a focus on the diagram on page 8
    • How does the model on page 8 compare with your initial model you drew?
    • What are the strengths and limitations of the model?
    • How would having a more sophisticated and complex model affect the utilitarian usage of the model when it comes to understanding your teaching, or explaining the act of instruction to someone else such as a peer, administrator, or parent?
    • Take a recent lesson and reflect on that lesson using the diagram on page 8 (two pages of reflection).
  • Models and Modeling
    • Introduction to models: Consider the following questions and write your responses.  Discuss them with a colleague.
    • What is a scientific model?
    • Why engage students in the practice of modeling?
    • What qualifies as a “model”?
    • What is NOT a model…
    • Is it OK if the model being used in my classroom is not an exact reflection of reality?
    • Can models cause misconceptions?
    • What does it mean when we talk about modeling as an Instructional Strategy
  • Session 2
  • Read:
    • Models: Gilbert (2011), Krajick & Merritt (2012)
    • Modeling: Coll &Lajium (2011), Jackson, Dukerich, & Hestenes (2008).
    • Choose and read a few of the suggested papers from your specific content area.
  • Discuss the questions listed below:
    • What makes for a good model?
    • Why use models with students?
    • How do you choose a good model for your lesson/unit?
    • What are the limitations of models?
    • What if a model is too complex or too easy?
  • Using the instructional strategy - Modeling for Teaching Science - Now that you have read the resources, in a small group, compare your ideas about the questions below:
    • What is the general concept of modeling? (as noted in which papers?)
    • What are some examples of successful modeling?
    • What is the specific strategy called Modeling? (as noted in which papers?)
    • What is the role of questioning and responding in teacher-student interactions during modeling?
  • Session 3
  • One of the simplest and safest chemicals used in many science experiments is water. How do we model water?
    • Individually, draw on 3 different sheets of paper water in:
    • solid form
    • liquid form
    • gaseous form
    • Compare and sort the models in each category (solid, liquid, gas). Group similar models.
    • Discuss the criteria that makethe models in one categorysimilar and other models different.
    • Why do you think they are different? Do the differences automatically make one models in one category wrong?
  • Some examples of models in science - review the slides found at
    • Explore additional models (chemistry examples)
    • Scaffolding up the complexity of models
    • Explore your district’s resources for Models and Modeling
    • Share examples of models you use and how you might increase the complexity.
  • Why use Models and Modeling with Science Learners? - review the slides found at
    • NGSS Goals and Standards Connections – In a small group with those who teach similar curriculum, examine NGSS and identify and connections to models or modeling for concepts you teach.
  • Session 4
  • Using a Model or Doing Modeling with Students
    • Plan a lesson around models or modeling (that you haven’t done before). Include connections to three dimensions of the standards, and your DCI’s, with specific plans so that someone else could read your plan and attachments and teach the lesson, and include how you are going to assess what students learned, as well as how you are going to measure the overall effectiveness of the lesson.
    • Implement the lesson
  • Consider the readings in the Modeling-Assessment section.
    • Assess Impact on Student Learning (including using student assessments and student artifacts)
    • Consider the readings - How do we assess the impact of using models and modeling with students?
    • Consider the readings - What is the evidence of effectiveness for using models, and for using modeling (including research articles and Thesis).
  • Session 5
  • Analyze data from taught lesson(s)
  • Final Reflection and Critique
    • What type of model did you use? What modeling strategy did you use?
    • How did you integrate it into the lesson?
    • What specifically did you want students to be doing during this lesson that told you it was successful?
    • What was some feedback from students and artifacts?

Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

To earn the micro-credential, you must receive a passing evaluation for Part 1 and 3 and a “Yes” for the artifacts submitted for Part 2.

Part 1. Overview Questions

Reflections on a recent lesson using the Teacher Decision Making Framework (Session 1)

Part 2. Work Examples/Artifacts

Attach your lesson plan which includes all of the following:

  • Connections to three dimensions of the standards;
  • Connection to your DCIs (disciplinary core ideas)
  • Specific plans (so that someone else could read your plan and attachments and teach the lesson);
  • A description of how you are going to assess what students learned;
  • A description of how you are going to measure the overall effectiveness of the lesson;
  • How you assessed the impact on student learning (include student assessments and student artifacts);
  • Reflective narrative of efforts and results.

Part 3. Educator Reflection

Reflect on the effectiveness of the lesson from your perspective as a teacher.

  • What type of model did you use? What Modeling strategy did you use?
  • How did you integrate it into the lesson?
  • What specifically did you want students to be doing during the lesson that would be indicators of success?
  • How did the student artifacts inform you practice?
  • What was some feedback from students?
  • What would you change?

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


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How to prepare for and earn this micro-credential - in a downloadable PDF document

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