Improving NGSS focused model-based learning curriculum through the examination of students’ experiences and iterated models

Byung Yeol Park, Todd Campbell, Miriah Kelly, Ron Gray, Chester Arnold, Cary Chadwick, Laura M. Cisneros, David Dickson, David M. Moss, Laura Rodriguez, John C. Volin, Michael R. Willig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: It is crucial to support students in better understanding water and sustainability issues because water plays a vital role in maintaining global ecosystems, including human life. A wide range of curricular and instructional supports like those embodied in model-based learning (MBL) are necessary for teachers to engage students in the core epistemic commitments of the Next-Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Purpose: The main purpose of this study is to inform theory about students’ early attempts to engage in the complex kinds of sensemaking experiences inherent in the Framework for K-12 Science Education and the NGSS. Sample: Data for this study was collected from 74 10th grade students in a high school in the Northwest region of the New England state. Design and Methods: An explanatory sequential mixed-method research design was used to examine students’ learning outcomes, and to better understand these outcomes in connection to their experiences engaging in modeling in the MBL curriculum unit. Results: The results indicated that students’ model scores, the number of concepts in models, and the coherence and sophistication of models improved between their initial and final models. Additionally, the following patterns emerged related to ways in which students engaged in the practice of modeling: (1) students attempted to directly represent what they observed, (2) they struggled to pictorially express complex patterns or mechanisms, and (3) students experienced difficulties representing models from a diverse range of perspectives. Conclusion: The patterns identified across student models, as well as their reports of experiences related to the MBL unit implementation, provided insight into student experiences with models, while also providing meaningful implications for the refinement of the MBL curriculum unit investigated in this research specifically, while informing approaches MBL curricular units aimed at supporting NGSS implementation efforts more generally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)983-1007
Number of pages25
JournalResearch in Science and Technological Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023


  • Model-Based Learning (MBL)
  • Modeling
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
  • Water education
  • Water literacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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