If science teachers are encouraged to employ explanatory model construction as a means of fostering students’ understanding of abstract concepts, they must first develop their own familiarity with the processes and products of modeling. Our work identifying and categorizing the model-based teaching strategies of experienced science teachers led to the development and piloting of an eight-week instructional unit on model-based teaching strategies for pre-service science educators. The purpose of the present study was to determine the impact of the instructional unit on the developing teachers’ beliefs about and understanding of how to engage science students in the construction of explanatory models. Through the analysis of pre and post-instruction surveys we noted that the pre-service science teachers in this study appear to have gained an increased appreciation for the importance of 1) whole class discussion, 2) centering science instruction on the learner, 3) starting from students’ prior knowledge, and 4) engaging them in an evolutionary process of generating, evaluating, and modifying explanatory models to help them better understand abstract science concepts and phenomena. Our results provide an initial existence demonstration that a course that takes discussion strategies seriously can influence the beliefs of pre-service teachers about important aspects of pedagogy.