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make models of DNA. Students might be asked to ride carts around a circular track (kinesthetic cue) to complement vectorial notions of angular momentum.
Whatever the similarities and differences in learning styles and intelligences among our students, we can help all of our students by employing a range of active learning approaches (talking and listening, writing, reading, reflecting) and varied teaching techniques and strategies (such as lectures, videos, demonstrations, discovery labs, collaborative groups, independent projects). Moreover, by using a variety of teaching techniques, we can help students make sense of the world in different ways, increasing the likelihood that they will develop conceptual understanding.
SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH AS A TEACHING AND LEARNING MODEL
Moore (1984) has described science as a ''way of knowing," specifically a method that involves disciplined inquiry in the creation of new knowledge. Inquiry—natural way in which scientists create new knowledge, present it for peer review, and try it out in new settings—provide a model for how college teaching can likewise become an active process. Scientists and engineers ask questions, and they search for answers by gathering, collating, and interpreting data, weighing risks and benefits, sharing proposed explanations and solutions, and then trying these new proposals out in different contexts. This may raise new questions, and so the process continues in cyclic fashion. Science teaching is often most effective when it captures methods of thinking that scientists use when exploring the world. Successful learning is a complex process that involves more than manipulating symbols or numbers and executing instructions in the laboratory. The activity of finding out can be as important as knowing the answer.
Scientific research involves active investigation of the natural world and social interaction with members of the scientific community. Scientific debates are eventually resolved because the community agrees on what constitutes acceptable evidence, as well as protocols for interpreting that evidence. Similarly, science learning must be an interactive process in which students become engaged with scientific phenomena and debate with both peers and instructors in order to develop a full understanding of related phenomena and underlying concepts. When we teach science only as a set of truths, we run the risk of subverting our students' attempts to grapple with problems and make new experiences meaningful. We deny them the opportunity to engage in the scientific process.
While science understanding comes through an individual's personal efforts at making sense of the world around him or her, not all knowledge can come through individual discovery. Indeed, a good deal of our science knowledge must come from lectures, texts, and original sources. How might you, as a teacher, make better use of traditional formats to help your students gain knowledge and understanding? The sections that follow provide a sequence for teaching and learning that incorporates four basic elements used by research scientists.
Scientists embark upon a problem because they have had their curiosity piqued by a strange event or a puzzling question or some other occurrence that causes them to wonder and resolve the apparent discrepancy between