Academic journal article Science Scope

Cause and Effect

Academic journal article Science Scope

Cause and Effect

Article excerpt

Teaching about cause and effect--like all of the crosscutting concepts--cannot be an afterthought in instruction; it must be considered an integral part of lesson planning and integrated seamlessly with other dimensions of a lesson. A Framework for K-12 Science Education recommends "asking students to argue from evidence when attributing an observed phenomenon to a specific cause" (NRC 2012) Helping students develop the ability to recognize and use cause and effect in their argumentation and explanations takes time, but it is worth the effort. Here are some suggestions (adapted from TeacherVision 2014):

* Teach students how to use cause-and-effect relationships in the writing of hypotheses, predictions, inferences, and conclusions. If students have trouble, give them cause-and-effect sentence starters as scaffolds (e.g., "If --then--").

* Always ask students for explanations in writing tasks and discussions and require them to provide ample evidence to justify their claims or positions (e.g., "Based on--I infer that--because of--").

* Provide cause-and-effect vocabulary and require your students to use it (e.g., "because of," "due to," "since," "consequently," "therefore," "as a result," "then," "lead to," etc.).

* Examine alternative or multiple causes of an effect phenomenon and discuss how multiple effects might arise from a singular cause.

* Provide opportunities for students to "classify relationships as causal or correlational and recognize that correlation does not necessarily imply causation" (NGSS Lead States 2013). …

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