Computing-Integrated Teacher Education at the City University of New York

Conceptual Computational Modeling

This example comes with a design toolkit! Click here to access it!

The Premise

This computing integration focuses on supporting teacher candidates to engage in and teach with and through conceptual models across disciplines.


Teachers use models to help students explore and understand phenomena by providing opportunities for them to focus on the most important information and hide unnecessary detail. One way teachers can do this is by representing problems/phenomena in ways that simplify it. However, teachers also discuss limitations of models and why sometimes it may not be possible or desirable to simplify complex problems/phenomena. Teachers may also use computing to help students create and explore models using modeling or coding environments.

Courses that would lend themselves to this integration

  1. Methods
    • To use conceptual models to understand phenomena (such as scientific, historical, economical, or political)

Potential Conversations and Activities

Teaching in this area could support teacher candidates to:

  1. articulate the affordances and opportunities of developing and using models to support disciplinary learning
  2. developing and using models includes
    • exploring, analyzing, and representing phenomena by identifying its key aspects and removing unnecessary details

These are ONLY ideas and suggestions for conversation topics and activities your design might engage — your teaching artifact does NOT need to include all of these!

About computing/tech
  • Talk about the limitations of models, and why people and/or practitioners of given disciplines make models.
  • Supporting students to talk about the limitations and opportunities of models
  • Define computational model, compare and contrast physical and computational models
With computing/tech
  • Use a tool like sage modeler or Netlogo to explain, explore or predict a phenomena (closed system)
Through computing/tech
  • Programming / modifying a Netlogo simulation that their kids could modify or use as inspiration to create their own.
Against computing/tech
  • Notice how model creators can lie or advance inappropriate assumptions with models
  • Reject models that use faulty assumptions and algorithms to explain the world

Summer 2022 Professional Development Workshops Related to Conceptual Computational Modeling

  • Wednesday, July 27, 2-4pm, Scientific Simulations and Agent-Based Models with StarLogo Nova, Hosted by Gabrielle Rabinowitz

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