Articles, Papers and Websites

An annotated bibliography of related articles, books, and websites. 

Articles and books by our team


Camp, C., Clement, J., Brown, D., Gonzalez, K., Kudukey, J. Minstrell, J., Schultz, K., Steinberg, M., Veneman, V., & Zietsman, A. (2010). Preconceptions in mechanics: Lessons dealing with conceptual difficulties, 2nd Ed. College Park, MD: American Association of Physics Teachers.

Available in the AAPT Store. There is also a Prepublication version (free).

The units in this curriculum address areas in high school mechanics where students have exhibited qualitative preconceptions. Certain preconceptions (conceptions held prior to instruction) conflict with the physicist's view, and some of these seem to resist change in the face of normal instructional techniques. The lessons use special techniques to address these particularly troublesome areas.

Clement, J. (2000). Model based learning as a key research area for science education. Introduction to special issue of International Journal of Science Education, 22(9).

Includes a framework for thinking about model construction in the classroom.

Clement, J. (2008). Creative model construction in scientists and students: The role of imagery, analogy, and mental simulation. New York: Springer.

This monograph presents a theory of creativity and imagery-based conceptual learning in science that was developed on the basis of think-aloud protocols from experts and students.

Clement, J. (2009). The role of imagistic simulation in scientific thought experiments. Topics in Cognitive Science, 1. 686–710. doi: 10.1111/j.1756-8765.2009.01031.x

Interest in thought experiments (TEs) derives from the paradox: ‘‘How can findings that carry conviction result from a new experiment conducted entirely within the head?’’ Historical studies have established the importance of TEs in science but have proposed disparate hypotheses concerning the source of knowledge in TEs. This article analyzes TEs in think-aloud protocols of scientifically trained experts to examine more fine-grained information about their use. Some TEs appear powerful enough to discredit an existing theory--a disconfirmatory purpose. In addition, confirmatory and generative purposes were identified for other TEs.

Clement, J. (2017). Four levels of scientific modeling practices in expert thinking. Presented at the annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, San Antonio, TX.

This paper provides a basis for the four levels of the framework, starting with observations of scientific experts, as they engaged in think-aloud solutions to explanation problems. PDF  A more detailed and elaborated basis starting from history of science studies, as well as think-aloud studies, is given in:

Clement, J. (2022). Multiple levels of heuristic reasoning processes in scientific model construction. Frontiers in Psychology: Cognition. (Open access journal.)

Clement, J. (2018). Reasoning patterns in Galileo’s analysis of machines and in expert protocols: Roles for analogy, imagery, and mental simulation. Topoi, 1-13.

Reasoning patterns found in Galileo’s treatise on machines, On Mechanics, are compared with patterns identified in case studies of scientifically trained experts thinking aloud, and many similarities are found. At one level the primary patterns identified are ordered analogy sequences and special diagrammatic techniques to support them. At a deeper level I develop constructs to describe patterns that can support embodied, imagistic, mental simulations as a central underlying process. Additionally, a larger hypothesized pattern of ‘progressive imagistic generalization’—Galileo’s development of a model or mechanism that becomes more and more general with each machine while still being imagistically projectable into many machines—provides a way to think about his progress toward a modern explanatory model of torque. By unpacking his arguments, we gain an appreciation of his skillful ability to foster imagistic processes underlying scientific thinking. PDF

Clement, J. & Rea-Ramirez, M. A., Editors (2008). Model based learning and instruction in science. Dordrecht: Springer. ISBN: 978-1-4020-6493-7.

A collection of chapters by our research team that describes model based teaching methods in science instruction in biology, chemistry and physics, and presents research results on their characteristics and effectiveness.

Clement, J. & Steinberg, M. (2002). Step-wise evolution of models of electric circuits: A “learning-aloud” case study. Journal of the Learning Sciences 11(4), 389-452.

Kinulations. Kinulations are movement-based learning activities in which students take on the roles of key elements of natural systems in order to act out or kinesthetically simulate particular scientific phenomena. This site has lesson plans and activities for Grades 1-12 organized by grade.

See also the entry for Williams’ research paper on Kinulations.

Núñez-Oviedo, M., & Clement, J. (2019). Large scale scientific modeling practices that can organize science instruction at the unit and lesson levels. Frontiers in Education, 4(68).

This research paper describes Level III and IV discussion strategies for model-based instruction in detail. It includes examples from a case study of biology instruction at the 7th grade level.

Price, N., & Clement, J. (2014, October). Generating, evaluating, and modifying scientific models using projected computer simulations. Science Scope, 41(4), 40-49.

This article describes using imaged-based questions for different purposes throughout a lesson (Level I). It also talks about the differences between classroom discussion designed to elicit students' existing ideas vs. discussion designed to help them converge on a target model (Levels III and IV).

Price, N., Stephens, L., Clement, J., & Núñez-Oviedo, M. (2017, December). Using imagery support strategies to develop powerful imagistic models. Science Scope, 41(4), 40-49.

This article describes a lesson in terms of some of the lesson phases described on this site at Levels III and IV as well as providing a condensed description of most of the visual support strategies at Level I on this site.

Rea-Ramirez, M., Núñez-Oviedo, M., & Clement, J. (2004). Energy in the human body: A middle school life science curriculum.

This freely available online curriculum for grades 6-8 is based on learning theory. It actively engages students and teachers in the construction of new knowledge through multiple strategies. With it, teachers take on the role of facilitator and co-constructor with their students. The goal is for students to construct mental models of their bodies that they can use to reason about their world. In addition, new teaching strategies for helping students in the difficult process of constructing mental models of complex topics have been developed.

Rea-Ramirez, M., Clement, J. & Núñez-Oviedo, M. (2008). An instructional model derived from model construction and criticism theory. In J. Clement & M. A. Rea-Ramirez (Eds.), Model based learning and instruction in science (Ch. 2, pp. 23-44). Dordrecht: Springer.

Some of the theoretical underpinnings of the approach discussed on this site.

Steinberg, M. S., Bryant, D. N., Cronin, S. M., Cunha, M. L., Drenchko, J., Ewald, G. L., & Wainwright, C. L. (1995). Electricity visualized: The CASTLE project. Roseville, CA: PASCO Scientific.

Steinberg, M. S., & Clement, J. J. (2001). Evolving mental models of electric circuits. In Research in science education--Past, present, and future (pp. 235-240). Springer, Dordrecht.

Stephens, L., & Clement, J. (2009). Expert scientific reasoning processes and imagery: Case studies of high school science classes. Presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association in San Diego, CA.  PDF

This paper includes extended examples of students spontaneously using depictive gestures (as described in Level I Visualization Strategies).

Stephens, L., & Clement, J. (2010). Documenting the use of expert scientific reasoning processes by high school physics students, Physical Review Special Topics – Physics Education Research, 6, 020122. PDF

Multiple instances of students using analogies, extreme cases, and Gedanken experiments are identified in two in-depth case studies of high school physics classes.

Stephens, L. & Clement, J. (2015). Use of physics simulations in whole class and small group settings: Comparative case studies. Computers & Education 86 (August), 137-156. PDF

Examination of matched whole class and small group discussions during use of an interactive physics simulation revealed that in the whole class discussions there was more time spent on important concepts, more time spent addressing student conceptual difficulties, and more episodes providing support for using visual features of the simulations.

Stephens, L., Clement, J., Price, N., & Núñez-Oviedo, M. (2017). Identifying teaching strategies that support thinking with imagery during model-based discussions. Presented at the annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, San Antonio, TX. PDF

This paper includes descriptions and examples of a number of strategies teachers have used to support thinking with imagery, including many of the strategies described at Level I of this site.

Williams, G., & Clement, J. (2015). Identifying multiple levels of discussion-based teaching strategies for constructing scientific models. International Journal of Science Education, 37(1), 82-107.

This study identifies specific types of discussion-based strategies that two successful high school physics teachers using to foster students’ construction of explanatory models for scientific concepts. The authors draw a distinction between dialogical strategies that teachers utilize to engage students in communicating their scientific ideas, and cognitively focused model-construction supporting strategies that these same teachers utilized to foster students’ learning. A further distinction between macro and micro cognitive strategies is proposed. The relationships between the resulting three levels of strategies are portrayed in a diagramming system that tracks discussions over time. The result provides clearer understanding of how discussion-leading strategies may be used to scaffold the development of conceptual understanding.

Williams, G., & Clement, J. (2019). Co-constructing models through whole class dicussions in high school physics. In D. Sunal, C. Sunal, & E. Wright (Series Eds.), Research in Science Education: Vol. 8. Physics Teaching and Learning: Challenging the Paradigm (pp. 85-109). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing. PDF

Williams, G., Oulton, R., & Taylor, L. (2017, December). Constructing scientific models: Through Kinulations. Science Scope, 41(4), 64-72.

This article describes an approach to modeling that involves having students take on active roles of key elements of natural systems to cooperatively act out and kinesthetically model scientific phenomena. Students can develop deep, lasting conceptual understanding as a result of participating in bodily and social experiences while learning new concepts. Williams et al. explore the ways teachers can best support students’ engagement in, modeling of, and reasoning about abstract scientific concepts during physical simulations.


Publications by others


Darden, L. (1991). Theory change in science: Strategies from Mendelian genetics. Oxford UP: New York.

Jacobs, H. H. (1989). Interdisciplinary curriculum: Design and implementation. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1250 N. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314.

Kagan, S. & Kagan, M. (2009). Kagan cooperative learning. San Clemente, CA: Kagan Publishing.

Krajcik, J., Blumenfeld, P. C., Marx, R. W., Bass, K. M., Fredricks, J., & Soloway, E. (1998). Inquiry in project-based science classrooms: Initial attempts by middle school students. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 7(3-4), 313-350.

Krajcik, J., & Merritt, J. (2012). Engaging students in scientific practices: What does constructing and revising models look like in the science classroom? The Science Teacher 79(3), 38-41. PDF

Mathayas, N., Brown, D. E., & Lindgren, R. (2021). “I got to see, and I got to be a part of it”: How cued gesturing facilitates middle‐school students' explanatory modeling of thermal conduction. Journal of Research in Science Teaching 58(10), 1557-1589.

McNeill D. (1992). Hand and mind. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Using data from more than ten years of research, David McNeill shows that gestures do not simply form a part of what is said and meant but have an impact on thought itself. Hand and Mind persuasively argues that because gestures directly transfer mental images to visible forms, conveying ideas that language cannot always express, we must examine language and gesture together to unveil the operations of the mind.

Nersessian, N. (1993). In the theoretician’s laboratory: Thought experimenting as mental modeling. In Hull, D., Forbes, M., & Okruhlick, K. (Eds.), PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association, 1992, Volume 2: Symposia and Invited Papers, 291-301. East Lansing, MI: Philosophy of Science Association.

Schwarz, C. V., Reiser, B. J., Davis, E. A., Kenyon, L., Achér, A., Fortus, D., & Krajcik, J. (2009). Developing a learning progression for scientific modeling: Making scientific modeling accessible and meaningful for learners. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 46(6), 632-654.

Trickett, S.B., Trafton, J.G., & Schunn, C.D. (2009). How do scientists respond to anomalies? Different strategies used in basic and applied science. Topics in Cognitive Science, 1. 711-29. PMID 25163454 DOI: 10.1111/j.1756-8765.2009.01036.x

Van Zee, E., & Minstrell, J. (1997). Using questioning to guide student thinking. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 6(2), 227-269.

Windschitl, M,  Thompson, J, & Braaten, M. (2018). Ambitious science teaching. Cambridge, Harvard Education Press.

This book has a companion website,


Other sites of interest


These sites have more information on how to lead discussions in inquiry-based and modeling classrooms.

Talk Science on the TERC website has a list of discussion moves to support nine inquiry goals.

Ambitious Science Teaching.