Integrative Analysis of Instruction

( using the logical framework of Scientific Method )

in a Creative Inquiry Classroom

  by Craig Rusbult, Ph.D. 

A page about Active Learning explores the distinctive benefits of two types of learning (direct & inquiry) and the advantages of an eclectic approach that includes a variety of instructional techniques.  Both types of learning occur in the fascinating classroom described in this page, which — by contrast with most classrooms — is designed to give students an opportunity for the high-quality inquiry learning that is its main focus.

    My PhD dissertation included two major objectives:
    1.  Construct an integrative model of "scientific method."
    2.  Use this model to analyze the instruction — including both the planned activities and the ways these activities are put into action by teacher and students in the classroom — that occurs in an innovative, inquiry-oriented science course.

    The first objective, a model of Integrated Scientific Method (ISM), has been condensed in pages about Goals and Scientific Method.  The second objective, the ISM-based analysis of an innovative classroom, is condensed in this page, and the ideas are generalized in Aesop's Activities for Goal-Directed Education and Curriculum Design for Thinking Skills Education.

    This web-page briefly summarizes the parts of my dissertation containing the instructional analysis, beginning with a description (from Chapter 1) of a fascinating science course and (from the introduction to Chapter 3) my reasons for selecting this classroom for analysis:

    In a conventional course, students typically learn science as a body of knowledge but not as a process of thinking, and rarely do they have the opportunity to see how research science becomes textbook science.  A notable exception is a popular, innovative genetics course taught at Monona Grove High School by Sue Johnson, who in 1990 was named "Wisconsin Biology Teacher of the Year" by the National Association of Biology Teachers, due in large part to her creative work in developing and teaching this course.  In her classroom, students experience a wide range of problem-solving activities as they build and test scientific theories and, when necessary, revise these theories.  After students have solved several problems that "follow the rules" of a basic Mendelian theory of inheritance, they begin to encounter data (generated by computer) that cannot be explained using their initial theory.  To solve this new type of problem the students, working in small "research groups", must recognize the anomalies and revise their existing theory in an effort to develop new theories that can be judged, on the basis of the students' own evaluation criteria, to be capable of satisfactorily explaining the anomalous data.
    As these students generate and evaluate theories, they are gaining first-hand experience in the role of research scientists.  They also gain second-hand experience in the form of science history, by hearing or reading stories about the adventures of research scientists zealously pursuing their goal of advancing the frontiers of knowledge.  A balanced combination that skillfully blends both types of student experience can be used to more effectively simulate the total experience of a scientist actively involved in research.  According to educators who have studied this classroom, students often achieve a higher motivation level, improved problem-solving skills, and an appreciation for science as an intellectual activity.

    3.11:  Selection of a Course for Analysis
    Why has this particular course been selected for analysis?  First, the course already has been studied by a number of researchers, so in my analysis I can use the data they have gathered and the reports they have written, and I can build on the insights they have gained.  Second, and more important, this course — to a greater degree than in most courses — gives students an opportunity to experience a wide range of the "methods of science."
    Why might a wider range of experience be educationally useful?  To encourage a wider scope for education, Perkins & Simmons (1988) describe a model of learning with four frames of knowledge (italicized below), and recommend that instruction should include all four frames.  But most science classrooms focus on only two of the frames — content (theory-learning) and, to a lesser extent, conventional problem solving (theory-using) — so most students learn little about knowledge and skills in the epistemic and inquiry frames, about modes of thinking that involve theory-evaluating and theory-revising.  The inquiry frame is the most frequently neglected, partly because it is "the most ambitious and perhaps hardest to cultivate through education." (Perkins & Simmons, 1988, p. 313)
    But scientific inquiry is the main focus of Sue Johnson's genetics course.  Giving students an opportunity for an exciting "science in action" experience is one of the main course objectives, as described by the course developers:  "A good knowledge of science involves experiencing first-hand the production and application of scientific knowledge. ...  [In the MG classroom] students work in research groups to tackle problems, build models to explain phenomena, and defend and critique those models. ...  The methods they use are those of the research scientist."  (Johnson & Stewart, 1990; pp. 298, 306)
    Based on a preliminary review of the literature describing it, this course seemed to give students significant opportunities for in-depth experience in many of the methods of science.  Based on this expectation, I selected the MG course — which encompasses a wide range of scientific methods, with relatively few "blank spots" where essential activities of science are missing — because I thought it would provide a good context for exploring and testing the analytical utility of ISM.  Compared with conventional instruction, there would be a wider-than-usual range of instructional activities to be creatively analyzed within the framework of ISM, so there would be more possibilities for the stimulation of productive ideas about ISM and its potential applications for education.


    The analysis (in Chapter 3) is preceded by Chapters 1 and 2:
    Chapter 1 is an overview of the dissertation, describing Objective 1 (developing a model of Integrated Scientific Method) and Objective 2 (applying this model for the analysis of instruction).  At the beginning of Chapter 2, Section 2.00 explains the relationships between Objectives 1 and 2.
    The remainder of Chapter 2, which is devoted to Objective 1 (developing ISM), has been summarized in this website:  Sections 2.01-2.07 (an overview of ISM) were revised to form An Overview of Scientific Method2.11-2.73 describe ISM in much greater detail, in more depth than on the large Detailed Examination of Scientific Method page, and include some sections (such as certain aspects of "Thought Styles" in 2.72) that are not in the "Detailed..." page.  The goals for ISM (and a discussion of the extent to which I think these goals have been accomplished) are described in 2.08-2.09 and 2.81-2.92, in more detail than on the GOALS-page, including subsections (such as 2.08-I, "Can ISM cope with differences in terminology?") that aren't on the GOALS-page.

    Chapter 3 contains the educational analysis.  In the Table of Contents below, the sections are colorized to show the main function of each section:  to describe the classroom and instruction, the methods used for the analysis, and descriptions (based on my analysis) of the instruction and the structure of instruction, and suggestions for improvement.  If you want to learn about the classroom and/or analysis, you can read the appropriately colored sections in the word processing files.
    In addition, Chapter 4 contains some sections related to the analysis, and there is some interesting analytical material in the appendix: examinations of Potential Problem-Solving Actions (in B1) and Potential Problem-Solving Actions (in B2).  { I also describe the availability, within this website, of the first two parts of the appendix, which are about "the nature of science" rather than instructional analysis. }

An Integrative Analysis of a Problem-Solving Classroom

     3.11:  Selection of a Course for Analysis

     3.12:  A Classroom Context for Problem Solving
           A.  Effect-to-Cause Problems
           B.  The Classroom

3.2:  Methods for the Analysis

     3.21:  Activities and Experiences in a Functional Analysis

     3.22:  An Overview of the Analysis

     3.23:  Major Instructional Activities

     3.24:  Creating a Classroom Atmosphere
           A.  Students as Scientists
           B.  Stories about Science
           C.  Metacognitive Reflection
           D.  Social-Intellectual Interactions

     3.25:  Genetics Problems in the Classroom
           A.  Genetics Construction Kit (GCK)
           B.  A Structured Representation of Mendel's Model
           C.  GCK Problems that require Model Revising

     3.26:  Science Experiences

     3.27:  Three Stages of Analysis

     3.28:  Sources of Information for the Analysis
           A.  Methods for the Central Activity
           B. Methods for Other Activities

3.3The First Phase of Analysis - Student Experiences in Each Activity

     3.31:  Activity Group #1 - Black Box Model Revising
           A:  Developing (building and revising) Models
           B:  A Student Conference
           C:  Revising Models

     3.32:  Activity-Group #2 - Genetics Phenomena
           A:  The Cookie Analogy
           B:  Human Variations and Human Pedigrees

     3.33:  Activity Group #3 - Initial Models
           A:  Developing a Mendelian Model
           B:  Developing a Model of Meiosis
           C:  GCK Problems without Model Revising

     3.34:  Activity Group #4 - Genetics Model Revising
           A:  GCK Problems that require Model Revising
           B:  Student Conferences

     3.35:  Activity Group #5 - Manuscript Preparation
           A:  Manuscript Writing and Manuscript Revising

3.4:  The Second Phase of Analysis — The Structure of Instruction

     3.41:  An Introduction to the Second Phase of Analysis

     3.42.  Preparation by Learning Procedures

     3.43:  Preparation by Learning Concepts
           A.  Providing Conceptual Knowledge for Model Revising
           B.  Simplifying the Process of Analysis-and-Revision
           C.  Limiting What Students Know About Genetics

     3.44:  Posing Problems
           A.  Posing is done by the Teacher
           B.  Posing is done by Students
           C.  Do Students Pose Problems?

     3.45:  Adjusting the Level of Difficulty
           A.  Why Adjustments are Important
           B.  When to adjust?  Before or During Problem Solving
           C.  The Teacher as a Source of Procedural Knowledge
           D.  The Teacher as a Source of Conceptual Knowledge
           E.  The Teacher as an Adjuster of Problem Difficulty
           F.  The Teacher as a Source of Emotional Support

     3.46:  Helping Students Learn from Their Experience
           A.  The Teacher as a Facilitator of Learning
           B.  Learning by Metacognitive Reflection
           C.  Learning from Other Students

     3.47:  Stories about Science and Scientists
           A.  Stories about Science: Strategies for Problem Solving
           B.  Stories about Science: Having Fun as a Scientist

     3.48:  Functional Relationships in the Instruction
           A.  Functional Relationships Within Activities
           B.  Functional Relationships Between Activities

3.5:  Suggestions for Improving the Course

     3.51:  Suggestions by Others

     3.52:  My Suggestions for Improvement
           A.  Supplementing Incomplete or Inauthentic Science Experiences
           B.  Using ISM in Discussions of Problem-Solving Strategies
           C.  Using Prediction Overviews

3.6:  Evaluating the ISM-Based Analysis

     3.61:  Understanding the Structure of Instruction

     3.62:  Testing and Improving the Analytical Utility of ISM
           A.  Testing ISM as a Tool for Instructional Analysis?
           B.  An Improved Understanding of ISM-Based Analysis?
           C.  An Improvement in ISM as a Tool for Analysis?
           D.  Using ISM as part of an Eclectic Analytical Framework?

Potential Educational Applications
for a Model of
"Integrated Scientific Method"

4.1:  Using ISM for Instructional Design

     4.11:  Aesop's Activities

     4.12:  Analysis and Design

4.2:  Using ISM in the Classroom

     4.21:  Learning from Experience

     4.22:  Coping with Complexity

     4.23:  Should Scientific Method be EKS-Rated?  (EKS = X)

4.3:  Using ISM for Teacher Education

4.4:  General Thinking Skills and a "Wide Spiral" Curriculum

     4.41:  A Model for an "Integrated Design Method"

     4.42:  A Wide Spiral Curriculum

     4.43:  In Praise of Variety in Education

4.5:  An Overview of "ISM in Education"


A1:  A Brief History of ISM-Diagrams
(an expanded version of this is now available in A Brief Visual History of ISM)

A2:  Controversies about Scientific Method
(a revised/condensed version of A21-A24 is available in Debates about Science)

In addition, there is a Tools for Analysis page containing Section A25:
A25:  Tools for Analysis: Idealization and Range Diagrams
           A.  Analysis by Idealization
           B.  Analysis using Range Diagrams


And, related to the genetics classroom and its ISM-based analysis, B1 and B2:

B1:  Prediction Overviews and Potential Problem-Solving Actions

     B10:  A New Type of Representation: Prediction Overviews
           A.  A System of Symbols
           B.  A Prediction Overview for a Model of Dominance
           C.  Utility - Scientific, Instructional, and Analytical

     B11:  A Model for Round 1 — Codominance
           A.  Anomaly Recognition
           B.  A General Problem-Solving Strategy
           C.  Anomaly Resolution
           D.  Model Revising

     B12:  A Model for Round 2 — Multiple Alleles
           A.  Anomaly Recognition
           B.  Anomaly Resolution
           C.  Model Revising
           D.  Other Sub-Patterns for the Pattern of Multiple Alleles

     B13:  A Model for Round 3 — X-linkage
           A.  Anomaly Recognition
           B.  Anomaly Resolution
           C.  Model Revising

     B14:  A Model for Round 4 — Autosomal linkage

     B15:  A Prediction Overview for "3 Alleles per Individual"

     B16:  A Comparison of Three Symbol-Systems


B2:  Actual Problem-Solving Actions

     B20:  Four Sources of Empirical Data for the Analysis

     B21:  An Overview of the Analysis

     B22:  An ISM-based Analysis of Problem-Solving Actions
           A.  An Overview of the Problem-Solving Process
           B.  Anomaly Recognition
           C.  Serendipity, Surprise, Alertness, Statistics
           D.  Connecting Anomaly Recognition with Anomaly Resolution
           E.  Anomaly Resolution by a process of Invention-and-Evaluation
           F.  Memory for Models
           G.  Conceptual Constraints on Thinking
           H.  Three Alleles Per Individual?
           I.  Protected Components
           J.  Conceptual Information from the Teacher
           K.  An Example of Conceptual Assistance
           L.  Combining Ideas in New Combinations
           M.  Key Factors in Successful Model Revising
           N.  Using Time: Observation and Interpretation
           O.  Theory Evaluation: Balancing Empirical and Conceptual Factors
           P.  Denial of Anomaly
           Q.  Evaluation based on Thought Styles and Complexity
           R.  Combining Perseverance and Flexibility
           S.  Observables and Unobservables, Logic and Patience
           T.  Retroductive Inference of Models and System-Theories
           U.  Descriptive Theories and Explanatory Theories
           V.  Testing Models: Experimenting and Evaluating
           W.  Goal-Oriented Experimental Design
           X.  Trial-and-Error with Fluent Speed
           Y.  A Story of Goal -Oriented Wandering
           Z.  Competition and Cooperation


This website for Whole-Person Education has TWO KINDS OF LINKS:
an ITALICIZED LINK keeps you inside a page, moving you to another part of it, and
 a NON-ITALICIZED LINK opens another page.  Both keep everything inside this window, 
so your browser's BACK-button will always take you back to where you were.

If you like this page, you may also like the following related pages:

• a sitemap for Thinking Skills in Education:
Scientific Method, Problem Solving, and Design Method

that includes

Motivations (and strategies) for Learning
goal-directed personal motives for learning;  teamwork;
how a friend learned to weld, and how I didn't learn to ski

Aesop's Activities for Goal-Directed Education
a creative coordinating of goals and activities will
help students gain experience and learn from it

An Introduction to Design Method
how to design a product, strategy, or theory
(this includes almost everything we do in life!)

This area of Thinking Skills has sub-areas of 
Productive Thinking (Skills & Methods) 
Creative Thinking       Critical Thinking 


This page, written by Craig Rusbult, is