Currently, K-12 science education in the United States…does not provide students with engaging opportunities to experience how science is actually done. –National Research Council
Stage 4 of our framework emphasizes disciplinary thinking, which includes the ways of knowing and reasoning that are accepted as appropriate in a field of study. Historians make sense of the world by making inferences from evidence about the past. Scientists develop and test hypotheses about the way the world works through controlled experiments. Mathematicians seek to model real-world phenomena as closely as possible using numbers, equations, graphs. The evidence used by the historian is not valid to the scientist as she comes to argue what is “true” about the world. And vice versa.
Students need to understand this so they are not only the “receivers” of knowledge, but become disciplined “makers” of knowledge. Teaching disciplinary thinking means teaching students to construct knowledge the way that practitioners — historians, scientists, mathematicians — construct knowledge in the real world. This happens when students’ thinking in the classroom mirrors the type of thinking and reasoning done in the field.
How to get your students thinking like a disciplinarian:
1) Set up a problem or scenario that an expert in the field would tackle.
2) Help your students to develop answers to these questions: What questions would an expert in the field (mathematician, journalist, artist, scientist, historian, geographer, etc.) ask? What information/data would s/he gather? What connections would s/he make?
3) Write up your own responses and let the students compare their responses to yours.
Want more ideas? Check out these posts on disciplinary thinking.