ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study was to analyze undergraduate students’ reasoning for solving a problem about a rock and investigate the roles and importance of critical evidence (CE) and critical resource models (CRMs) in abductive reasoning. Participants were 20 senior undergraduate students enrolled in a science major course in a university of education. They were asked to abductively infer geologic processes of sedimentary rocks having a lot of holes and represent them with models. Their reasoning were analyzed according to a scheme for modeling-based abductive reasoning. As a result, successful student reasoning was characterized by using a diversity of grains and lots of holes as CE, activating the sedimentary rock formation and weathering as CRMs, and combining the CRMs into a scientifically sound explanatory model (SSEM). By contrast, in the reasoning unsuccessful in proposing a SSEM, students activated the igneous rock (basalt) formation and deposition as resource models (RMs) based on the evidence of the holes in the rocks and diverse grains, respectively, and used the RMs to construct their own explanatory models (EMs). It was suggested that to construct SSEMs to solve earth scientific problems about rocks, students need to know what could be CE in a particular problem situation, take an integrative or systemic approach to a rock problem, use multiple RMs, and evaluate RMs or EMs in light of evidence.

KEYWORD

earth science, abductive reasoning, modeling, critical evidence, critical resource model

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