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Students Constructing and Defending Evidence-Based Scientific Explanations


"Constructing scientific explanations is an essential aspect of engaging in scientific inquiry in classrooms (Driver, Newton, & Osborne, 2000; Sandoval, 2003). The IQWST units are designed to teach scientific principles and the scientific practices of constructing and defending explanations, by providing students and teachers with a framework that clearly defines this complex practice. This framework includes the three components of claim, evidence and reasoning. Our study analyzes student work using this instructional framework, in light of the curricular goals we would like students to achieve: 1) make sense of the phenomena under study, 2) articulate that understanding and 3) defend the understanding to one's peers. Through this analysis, we find that the instructional framework supports students in using evidence to make sense of the phenomenon under study but that the students are not clearly articulating the relationship between the evidence and inferences, in their explanations. We conclude the paper with possible design strategies for supporting students as they use differentiated evidence and inference to defend their explanations."