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Engaging Students in the Scientific Practices of Explanation and Argumentation


"A Framework for K-12 Science Education identifies eight science and engineering practices for K-12 classrooms. These practices, along with core ideas and crosscutting concepts, define our nation’s learning goals for science. An important advance from earlier standards (AAAS 1993, NRC 1996), these practices are clearly identified not as separate learning goals that define what students should know about the process of science. Instead, the scientific practices identify the reasoning behind, discourse about, and application of the core ideas in science.
The practices outlined in the framework are:
  • Asking questions and defining problems
  • Developing and using models
  • Planning and carrying out investigations
  • Analyzing and interpreting data
  • Using mathematics and computational thinking
  • Constructing explanations and designing solutions
  • Engaging in argument from evidence
  • Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information
In this article, we examine the sixth and seventh practices concerning explanation and argumentation, respectively. The two practices depend on each other: For students to practice explanation construction, they must also engage in argumentation."