Enriching Students’ Scientific Thinking Through Relational Reasoning: Seeking Evidence in Texts, Tasks, and Talk

P. Karen Murphy, Carla M. Firetto, Jeffrey A. Greene

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


As reflected in the Next Generation Science Standards, concerns about the adequacy of education and career preparation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields have led to fundamental shifts in the focus of K-12 science education. Such shifts are also highlighted in many of the articles within this special issue, and the issue focus on the role of relational reasoning in learning in STEM domains. Within this commentary, we reflect upon how the articles within this special issue align with, and shed new light on, the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), specifically with respect to relational reasoning. We then describe a novel pedagogical approach designed to augment students’ acquisition of NGSS practices and core ideas (i.e., Quality Talk Science (QTs)) and how evidence from our research on QTs has shown increases in relational reasoning. In this section, we also provide multiple discourse excerpts that serve as exemplars for each of the four types of relational reasoning (i.e., analogy, anomaly, antinomy, and antithesis). Finally, we present specific exemplars from QTs that reinforce the ideas and findings forwarded by the authors of each of the papers within this special issue and propose some thoughts regarding future directions for research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-117
Number of pages13
JournalEducational Psychology Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Classroom discussions
  • Critical-analytic thinking
  • Next Generation Science Standards
  • Relational reasoning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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