Developing an Analytical Framework to Characterize Student Reasoning about Complex Processes

Emily E. Scott, Charles W. Anderson, K. K. Mashood, Rebecca L. Matz, Sonia M. Underwood, Vashti Sawtelle, Hannah Sevian
<span title="">2018</span> <i title="American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB)"> <a target="_blank" rel="noopener" href="" style="color: black;">CBE - Life Sciences Education</a> </i> &nbsp;
Real-world processes are complex and require ideas from multiple disciplines to be explained. However, many science courses offer limited opportunities for students to synthesize scientific ideas into coherent explanations. In this study, we investigated how students constructed causal explanations of complex phenomena to better understand the ways they approach this practice. We interviewed 12 undergraduate science majors and asked them to explain real-world phenomena. From these interviews,
more &raquo; ... developed a characterization framework that described the reasoning patterns we found. In this framework, we identified three explanatory frames that differentiated the kinds of explanations students provided: a colloquial frame, wherein participants activated conceptual resources based on personal experience using everyday language; an emerging mechanistic frame, wherein participants used scientific concepts in semicoherent ways; and a causal mechanistic frame, wherein participants cohesively drew upon scientific conceptual resources to construct mechanistic explanations. Overall, the causal mechanistic frame was the least prevalent frame invoked by students. Instead, many drew on an emerging mechanistic frame and struggled to identify and apply scientific concepts to real-world scenarios. We advocate for incorporating opportunities to reason about real-world phenomena into undergraduate science curricula to provide students with experience integrating scientific concepts to explain real-world phenomena. †
<span class="external-identifiers"> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener noreferrer" href="">doi:10.1187/cbe.17-10-0225</a> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener" href="">pmid:30183566</a> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener" href="">pmcid:PMC6234831</a> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener" href="">fatcat:ruo2gkdwevb7lmxjqc7r2y6xni</a> </span>
<a target="_blank" rel="noopener" href="" title="fulltext PDF download" data-goatcounter-click="serp-fulltext" data-goatcounter-title="serp-fulltext"> <button class="ui simple right pointing dropdown compact black labeled icon button serp-button"> <i class="icon ia-icon"></i> Web Archive [PDF] <div class="menu fulltext-thumbnail"> <img src="" alt="fulltext thumbnail" loading="lazy"> </div> </button> </a> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener noreferrer" href=""> <button class="ui left aligned compact blue labeled icon button serp-button"> <i class="unlock alternate icon" style="background-color: #fb971f;"></i> Publisher / </button> </a> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener" href="" title="pubmed link"> <button class="ui compact blue labeled icon button serp-button"> <i class="file alternate outline icon"></i> </button> </a>