For example, a blood cell lineage chart might be great at showing the origin of red and white blood cells, but fall short on showing the structure and function of each type of blood cell.*No model is perfect. They all have benefits and limitations.*Don’t use a cell model with every single cellular structure shown and labeled if all you need is a circle labeled “Parent Cell” and two circles labeled “Offspring Cells.”*Choose the simplest model that makes your point.*Highlight what each model is showing and how it relates to the other models. You might show simulations of transcription and translation, and then a cell diagram to help students see where these processes really take place and which cellular structures are involved.*Use multiple models and make connections between them.*These activities build students’ content knowledge, help to point out holes in their understandings, and promote critical thinking. For example, if students are bothered by a limitation of a model you used, ask students to refine the model to address that limitation.*Allow students to develop, explain, and evaluate models.*
In Making Sense of SCIENCE courses, models play a key role in the learning process. Teachers use multiple models and discuss the advantages and limitations of each, including the misconceptions they promote and those that they help to clarify. This furthers teachers’ own understanding and informs their choices about which models to use with students. |

*This SCIENCE Corner was brought to you by Jennifer Jordan-Kaszuba. Jennifer is a graduate student at the University of Texas, Austin, where she is currently working towards her PhD in STEM Education. She is also part of the Texas Regional Collaboratives for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching and a Making Sense of SCIENCE Instructor since 2012.*

*For related classroom resources, visit our page and download the Teacher ResourcesTypes of Models handout and the Blood Cell Lineage and Differentiation Diagrams.*

*Making Sense of SCIENCE also offers a half-day workshop on Models and Modeling. Visit the Register page for a list of upcoming workshops.*