we believe scientific knowledge, not just what we know.

In science classrooms that include a strong component of metacognition, activities are introduced to make students aware of their initial ideas and to demonstrate that a conceptual problem may need to be solved. A variety of techniques may be useful in this regard. Students may be asked to make predictions about an event and give reasons for those predictions. Class discussion of the range of student predictions can emphasize alternative ways of thinking about a phenomenon, which can highlight the conceptual element of the analysis. In addition, gathering data that expose students to unexpected discrepancies or posing challenging problems that students may not immediately solve are ways of prompting students to stop and think, stepping outside their normal conceptual framework in order to understand what is happening.

Regular time for reflection, note taking, or public chart making to track ideas as they change over time is another critical component of metacognition. Researchers have documented that children often repeat experiments or interpret current results without connecting those results to prior hypotheses. Students need regular opportunities to reflect on science. Reflection helps students monitor their own understanding and track the progress of their investigations. It also helps them identify problems with their current plans, rethink plans, and keep track of pending goals.

Strategies for Teaching How to Construct Scientific Knowledge


  1. Teaching for conceptual change

    • making students aware of their initial ideas

    • encouraging students to engage in metacognitive discourse about ideas

    • employing bridging analogies and anchors to help them consider and manipulate ideas

    • encouraging them to apply new understandings in different contexts

    • providing time for students to discuss the nature of learning and the nature of science

  1. Promoting metacognitive understanding

  2. Engaging students with deep domain-specific core concepts


  • Helping students understand, test, and revise ideas

  • Establishing a classroom community that negotiates meaning and builds knowledge

  • Increasing students’ responsibility for directing important aspects of their own inquiry


  • Taking responsibility for representing ideas

  • Working to develop ideas

  • Monitoring the status of ideas

  • Considering the reasoning underlying specific beliefs

  • Deciding on ways to test specific beliefs

  • Assessing the consistency among ideas

  • Examining how well these ideas extend to new situations

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