Preparing preservice teachers to use block-based coding in scientific modeling lessons

Lucas Vasconcelos, Chan Min Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Scientific modeling and coding are critical skills to be integrated into K-12 instruction. Research has shown that preservice teachers are often ill-prepared for teaching scientific modeling, and lack opportunities to learn coding within teacher education programs. The present study reports the implementation of an instructional module and online system, called Coding in Scientific Modeling Lessons (CS-ModeL), which was designed to scaffold preservice science teachers’ learning to code simulations and design scientific modeling lessons that feature simulation coding. In this study, we examined preservice teachers’ epistemic discourse during simulation coding, perceptions of coding for future teaching, and coding-enhanced scientific modeling lessons. This was a qualitative single case study that involved six participants enrolled in a science teacher education course. Participants worked in pairs during scientific modeling activities, and each pair was considered an embedded unit within the single case. Data sources included transcripts of screen recordings captured during simulation coding, transcripts of individual semi-structured interviews, and lessons in which participants used simulation coding as part of scientific modeling activities. Qualitative thematic analysis was conducted. Findings revealed that participants’ epistemic discourse led to correction of science misconceptions. However, lack of debugging and conflict argumentation skills detracted from their epistemic discourse quality. Participants perceived coding as a beneficial skill for K-12 students though they voiced concerns about teaching with coding unassisted. Participants failed to design truly interdisciplinary and authentic scientific modeling activities including simulation coding. Study limitations and future research directions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)765-797
Number of pages33
JournalInstructional Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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