Generating and Testing Hypotheses

Research shows that a deductive approach (using a general rule to make a prediction) to this strategy works best. Whether a hypothesis is induced or deduced, students should clearly explain their hypotheses and conclusions.

  • Ask students to predict what would happen if an aspect of a familiar system, such as the government or transportation, were changed.
  • Ask students to build something using limited resources. This task generates questions and hypotheses about what may or may not work.

Good questions make better hypotheses. Teach students how to frame a good question. Help them narrow their inquiry to a topic they can reasonably explore.

Ask for explanations. Encourage students to explain their hypotheses or predictions aloud. This will prompt them to explain their understanding of underlying concepts, giving you a window into their understanding.

Watch for (and mediate) misconceptions. If students are basing a prediction on a false premise or conceptual misunderstanding, set up activities to challenge their thinking.

Scaffold investigations. Structure their learning experience to maximize results. Provide them with a framework for investigating.

Use role play. Acting out characters (Hamlet) or agents (red blood cell) prompts students to make predictions. Based on what they know about their role, how will their character react? How will the agent interact with other agents?

Highlight patterns and connections. Help students recognize patterns in their findings. Show them how to transform raw data into graphs or other visual representations that will help them see patterns and make connections.

Use questioning strategies. Ask questions throughout the inquiry cycle—when students are posing questions, while they are investigating, when they analyzing results or presenting conclusions. At each stage, challenge them to explain their reasoning and defend results.

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