This paper provides a description of teaching strategies used at three distinct levels by high school physics educators during whole class discussions to support students’ construction of explanatory mental models for concepts in circuit electricity. Through extensive use of whole class discussions, these teachers appeared to foster significantly greater pre-to-post treatment gains in students’ abilities to solve conceptual electric circuit problems than students who were instructed through more traditional didactic means.  The whole-class discussion-based teaching strategies that were employed are believed to exist at three specific levels: 1) Dialogical strategies that support students’ active participation in scientific conversation,  2) Cognitive Model Construction strategies that foster students’ engagement in the development of explanatory mental models to support their understanding of scientific concepts, and 3) Model Construction Cycle Phases of Observation, Generation, Evaluation and Modification that appear to direct the specific conversational teaching strategies at Level 2.  It is intended that this study will contribute to the growing body of research on the effective uses of whole-class discussion-based instructional strategies in supporting students’ understandings of abstract concepts in science.










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