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SEP6: Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

Asking students to demonstrate their own understanding of the implications of a scientific idea by developing their own explanations of phenomena, whether based on observations they have made or models they have developed, engages them in an essential part of the process by which conceptual change can occur.

In engineering, the goal is a design rather than an explanation. The process of developing a design is iterative and systematic, as is the process of developing an explanation or a theory in science. Engineers' activities, however, have elements that are distinct from those of scientists. These elements include specifying constraints and criteria for desired quantities of the solution, developing a design plan, producing and testing models or prototypes, selecting among alternative design features to optimize the achievement of design criteria, and refining design ideas based on the performance of a prototype or simulation. (NRC Framework 2012, p. 68-69)

Refer to the Essential Learning Event 3 or Essential Learning Event 4 Evidence-Based Practice for information related to the practice of Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions:

At these links you will find:

  • Sample student actions associated with SEP6
  • Sample teacher actions & instructional strategies for SEP6, questions to promote the use of SEP6 in the classroom
  • Sample assessment task formats to assess learning for SEP6.
Constructing explanations and designing solutions