Inventing and Testing Models: Using Model-Eliciting Activities

This material is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project
Initial Publication Date: November 3, 2009

By Joan Garfield, Robert delMas and Andrew Zieffler, University of Minnesota

Student group

What are Model-Eliciting Activities?

Model-Eliciting Activities (MEAs) are activities that encourage students to invent and test models. They are posed as open-ended problems that are designed to challenge students to build models in order to solve complex, real-world problems. They may be used to engage the students in statistical reasoning and thinking and provide a means for statistics teachers and researchers to better understand students' thinking.

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Why Teach with Model-Eliciting Activities?

MEAs have the potential to help students learn more deeply, retain what they learn, and transfer their learning to other problem contexts. The research background on the effectiveness of MEAs is built on three areas: research on the use of MEAs in an engineering and mathematics context, use of invention to learn activities (of which MEAs are one type), and research on the extension, revision, and integration of prior knowledge.

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How to Teach with Model-Eliciting Activities

MEAs are usually given to students to work on in groups in a classroom setting. After students have produced a solution and written their reports, they share their solutions with the class. These presentations may lead to further class discussion and groups going back to re-examine and revise their models. A course might use one MEA or multiple MEAs.

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Examples of Teaching with Model-Eliciting Activities are available to use as is or to model your own activity after.


Further sources of information about Model-Eliciting Activities may be found in the references section.

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