Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Department of Biology


Maria Kolaxidi-Kothe, Annette Upmeier zu Belzen

Embodied Models as Research Tools for Promoting Model Competence in Biology Class

Models are still seen by pupils primarily as media for demonstrating content knowledge, rather than as research tools as used in scientific research (Grünkorn, et al., 2014; Harrison & Treagust, 2000; Grosslight et al., 1991). Based on the concept of competence of Weinert (2001), model competence is a system of skills and competences which enable learners to deal with scientific models (Leisner, 2005). The use of models to acquire knowledge and also as thinking and research tools for gaining new knowledge is explicitly demanded in the national educational standards in Germany (KMK, 2004). In order to promote model competency in biology teaching, there have been evidence-based derivations from the model of model competence for the promotion of model competence in problem-oriented teaching units (Upmeier zu Belzen & Krüger, 2010; Fleige, et al., 2012). However, these only refer to structural, functional or constructive models so far. To what extent further approaches can contribute to the development of model competence, is still open.
In the field of natural sciences, dramatic methods are gaining in importance, especially with regard to the acquisition of procedural knowledge and its transfer (Dorion 2009; Braund, 2015; Odegaard, 2003). Various intervention studies have successfully used dramatic methods to promote content knowledge and to improve the understanding of the nature of science (e.g., Chinnici et al., 2004; Bailey & Watson, 1998; Cakici & Bayir, 2012; BouJaoude et al., 2005). In literature, there are numerous variations of dramatic methods ranging from historical role-plays to physical simulations or drama models (e.g., Dorion, 2009; Metcalfe et al., 1984; Aubusson & Fogwill, 2006; Odegaard, 2003). To date, however, it has not been investigated to which extent drama models can contribute to enhance model competence. The present study focuses on dealing with historical models according to the History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) approach which can also contribute to an understanding of science as a process of model development due to the necessity of their consideration in the historical context (cf. Justi, 2000; Odegaard, 2015). In several studies, this approach has been successful in promoting scientific understanding (Cakici & Bayir, 2012; BouJaoude et al., 2005; Justi, 2000). The aim of the study is to transfer historical models of a biological phenomenon into embodied models and, following Fleige et al. (2012), to investigate if they can promote model competence in the sense of using them as research tools. For this, we will design embodied models of historical models. After the videotaped implementation we will interview the participants retrospectively about the aspects of model competence. A content knowledge test and a test for assessing the level of model competence are used preliminarily. The results obtained can serve as a basis for further intervention studies about the promotion of model competences.