Press Students for Evidence Based Explanations

Educator fosters evidence-based explanations in STEM classes by engaging all students in discourse around constructing and defending explanations.
Made by Trellis

About this Micro-credential

Key Method

The educator facilitates evidence-based explanations by explicitly teaching students a structure for evidence-based explanations, providing opportunities for students to build on their explanations, and supporting students as they learn to judge the reasonableness of evidence-based explanations.

Method Components

Research on the most effective STEM teaching and learning practices, reflected in the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and Next Generation Science Standards, among others, places an increased emphasis on explanation, justification, and communication of ideas. When students explain and justify their ideas, their understanding of valued STEM content deepens. Students need to be explicitly taught what an evidence-based explanation is and provided structures for forming, revising, and judging the reasonableness of their explanations of STEM phenomena and ideas.

Evidence-based Explanations

Teaching students what evidence-based explanations look and sound like:

  • Teacher models what constitutes an evidence-based explanation, including language support structures.
  • Teacher explains what tools can be used as evidence, such as previously learned concepts or principles, definitions, and acceptable practices.

Opportunities to Practice

Providing structures for students to form, revise, and judge the reasonableness of evidence-based explanations:

  • Teacher provides an opportunity for students to state a claim and support it with evidence-based explanations.  
  • Teacher asks probing and follow-up questions, in particular, “why” questions that require justification.
  • Teacher provides opportunities for students to judge the reasonableness of evidence-based explanations.

Research & Resources

Supporting Research


  • Trellis Vision for Ambitious STEM Teaching: Reflection Tools & Checklists
    This is a collection of tools for supporting and gathering evidence of teachers’ enactment of core STEM teaching practices, as defined by Trellis Education.
  • Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice #3 is “Construct Viable Arguments and Critique the Reasoning of Others”
  • Next Generation Science Standards science practices 6, 7, and 8 relate to pressing students for evidence-based explanations

Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

To earn the micro-credential, you must receive a passing evaluation for Part 1, a Yes for each component in Part 2, and a Passing evaluation for each component in Part 3.

Part 1. Overview Questions

(450-word limit)

  • What is the STEM content learning objective of the classroom discussion?
  • Description of the model students have been taught to use when giving evidence-based explanations. What are the components that are to be included, and why they are important?
  • Description of possible/expected teacher questions and student statements:
    • What types of initial questions does the educator anticipate asking? Why?
    • What types of statements does the educator expect students to make? Why?
    • What types of probing and pressing questions does the educator anticipate asking in response to expected student statements?
    • Description of the opportunities students will be given to judge the reasonableness of evidence-based explanations.

Part 2: Work Examples/Artifacts

Educator should submit evidence of demonstration of competency in pressing students for evidence-based explanations. This may be in a 5-to-10-minute video demonstrating implementation of a classroom discussion, a transcript of the teacher questions and student responses, or an audio/recorded session that includes teacher questions and student responses.

Part 3: Educator Reflection

(250-word limit for each response)

  • Why do you believe the tools and models you chose enabled students to provide evidence-based explanations?
  • What was the impact on student learning of pressing students for evidence-based explanations?
  • How will you continue to press students for evidence-based explanations to improve student learning outcomes?

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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