Modeling to Learn

Modeling to learn—how undergraduate courses can be structured to promote transfer of scientific ideas.

For this project, the Program in Science Learning in collaboration with David Mellor, in the Department of Biology here at Rutgers is interested in how students learn to use models to reason in science.  Each semester, we engage undergraduate science and non-science students a series of questions that as part of usual classroom activities are used to uncover how students represent and shape scientific ideas over time. Doing so, will help us to measure the effect of different teaching techniques on how students think about basic scientific principles.

In particular, we are interested in addressing whether:
A. Is there a typical pathway to model development (systems model development)?

  • Using a narrative approach to account for structural/surface elements (evidence for procedural display)
  • Increasing complexity of linkages but not necessarily the sophistication.
  • Paring down terminology/relationships
  • Drawing generalities (which will enable transfer)
  • (A four stage hypothesis).

B. Is there a relationship between abstraction ability and modeling ability?


  1. Rutgers
  2. New Brunswick
Program in Science Learning