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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 3, 2023
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  4. High-quality science education is essential for students to become scientifically literate. Model-Evidence Link (MEL) diagrams and build-a-MEL (baMEL) diagrams are instructional scaffolds that create an opportunity for students to build scientific understanding through the evaluation of the connections between evidence and alternative explanations of a scientific phenomenon. The MELs and baMELs allow for a natural incorporation of three-dimensional learning that has been recommended by the Next Generation Science Standards to enhance students’ comprehension. Through this science teaching methodology, students are able to see that by diagramming and then writing about one’s thoughts about the connections between evidence and explanations, one can deepen their understanding of scientific concepts.
  5. Argumentation enables students to engage in real world scientific practices by rationalizing claims grounded in supporting evidence. Student engagement in scientific argumentation activates the negotiation process by which students develop and defend evidence-based claims. Little is known, however, on the intricate process and potential patterns of negotiation between students during scientific argumentation. The present study seeks to fill this gap by exploring how a group of university science education students negotiated when evaluating the relationship between lines of evidence and alternative explanatory models of a phenomena (i.e., climate change). This research, theoretically grounded in social constructionism, used Halliday's model of Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) within a discourse analysis framework. The authors analyzed transcripts of student conversations during a model-evidence link activity to gain insights into patterns of negotiation. An interpersonal analysis centering on mood and moves revealed students' ability to engage in the negotiation component of scientific argumentation to make assertions about relations between evidence and models. Effective collaboration resulting in group consensus of the relationship (categorized as supports, strongly supports, or contradicts) was facilitated by the use of interrogatives, modulation, and a balanced contribution between group members. Conversely, negotiation which did not reach consensus featured less contribution between groupmore »members. Conversely, negotiation which did not reach consensus featured less balanced discussion among group members, contained more interruptions, more conflict moves, and double polarity clauses.« less
  6. The construct of active learning permeates undergraduate education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), but despite its prevalence, the construct means different things to different people, groups, and STEM domains. To better understand active learning, we constructed this review through an innovative interdisciplinary collaboration involving research teams from psychology and discipline-based education research (DBER). Our collaboration examined active learning from two different perspectives (i.e., psychology and DBER) and surveyed the current landscape of undergraduate STEM instructional practices related to the modes of active learning and traditional lecture. On that basis, we concluded that active learning—which is commonly used to communicate an alternative to lecture and does serve a purpose in higher education classroom practice—is an umbrella term that is not particularly useful in advancing research on learning. To clarify, we synthesized a working definition of active learning that operates within an elaborative framework, which we call the construction-of-understanding ecosystem. A cornerstone of this framework is that undergraduate learners should be active agents during instruction and that the social construction of meaning plays an important role for many learners, above and beyond their individual cognitive construction of knowledge. Our proposed framework offers a coherent and actionable concept of active learningmore »with the aim of advancing future research and practice in undergraduate STEM education.« less
  7. High-quality science education is essential for students to become scientifically literate. Model-Evidence Link (MEL) diagrams and build-a-MEL (baMEL) diagrams are instructional scaffolds that create an opportunity for students to build scientific understanding through the evaluation of the connections between evidence and alternative explanations of a scientific phenomenon. The MELs and baMELs allow for a natural incorporation of three-dimensional learning that has been recommended by the Next Generation Science Standards to enhance students’ comprehension. Through this science teaching methodology, students are able to see that by diagramming and then writing about one’s thoughts about the connections between evidence and explanations, one can deepen their understanding of scientific concepts.
  8. The Model-Evidence-Link (MEL) and build-a MEL (baMEL) tasks are designed to engage students in scientific practices, including argumentation and critical thinking. We designed a rubric for teachers to assess the various practices and skills students use while completing a MEL or baMEL, based on several NGSS Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs) and Cross Cutting Concepts (CCCs). When applying this rubric, we suggest that teachers only focus on student performance with respect to one SEP or CCC each time they implement a MEL or baMEL. We also developed a transfer task to ascertain how well students are able to perform MEL-related thinking skills, such as identifying a scientific model and alternative (but non-scientific) models, lines of evidence, and plausibility of knowledge claims, in a grade appropriate scientific journal article. The near-transfer activity can help teachers gauge how well students apply their MEL/baMEL skills and can improve students’ scientific literacy.
  9. It is a pleasure to present the second special issue of The Earth Scientist sponsored by the MEL Project team (https://serc.carleton.edu/mel/index.html)! The Model-Evidence Link (MEL) and MEL2 projects have been sponsored by the National Science Foundation (Grant Nos. 1316057, 1721041, and 2027376) to Temple University and the University of Maryland, in partnership with the University of North Georgia, TERC, and the Planetary Science Institute. In 2016 we shared with you the four MEL diagram activities, covering the topics of climate change, the formation of the Moon, fracking and earthquakes, and wetlands use, as well as a rubric for assessment. This issue brings to you our four new build-a-MEL activities on the origins of the Universe, fossils and Earth’s past, freshwater resources, and extreme weather. Additionally, there are articles about a new NGSS-aligned rubric and transfer task to help students apply their new skills in other situations and about teaching with MEL and build-a-MEL activities. Our goals with all of these activities are to help students learn Earth science content by engaging in scientific practices, notably the evaluation of alternative explanatory models (by looking at the connections between lines of evidence and the competing models) and argumentation. The team has testedmore »these activities in multiple middle and high school classrooms. Our research has shown the activities to be effective in learning both content and skills, and our partner teachers report that students enjoy the activities. These activities are freely available for teachers to use. We hope that you and your students will also find them to be effective and enjoyable approaches to learning about complex and sometimes controversial socioscientific issues within Earth Science.« less
  10. Freshwater resources are limited due to issues related to water quality and/or quantity. This article introduces a build-a-MEL that challenges students to address this socioscientific issue by considering the plausibility of three models: A) Earth has a shortage of freshwater, which will worsen as our world’s population increases; B) Earth has a shortage of freshwater that can be met by engineering solutions; and C) Earth’s freshwater is abundant and will remain so even in the face of global climate change. The eight lines of evidence in this build-a-MEL are data-rich and challenge students to think critically as they connect the evidence to the models. As a result of this activity, students develop an understanding of the spatial complexity of access to freshwater resources.