Key Idea: The usefulness of a model in thinking about objects, events, and processes depends on how closely its behavior matches key aspects of what is being modeled.

Students are expected to know that:

  1. Judgments about the usefulness of a model are/should be based on how closely its behavior matches key aspects of what is being modeled (rather than on how attractive it is).
  2. The key aspects of the referent that need to be represented accurately in the model depend upon the purposes of the model.
  3. The only way to judge the usefulness of a model is to compare its behavior to the behavior of the real-world object, event, or process being modeled.
Percent of students answering correctly (click on the item ID number to view the item and additional data)
Item ID
Number
Knowledge Being Assessed Grades
6–8
Grades
9–12
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MO066004

In order to accurately represent what would happen to a real human in a car crash, crash test dummies should be about as strong and sturdy as a real human body is.

69%

78%

MO061003

If a student is studying how long it would take a spaceship to go between different planets in the solar system, his model should accurately represent the relative distances between the planets, but does not need to accurately represent other aspects of the solar system.

62%

80%

MO065004

An architect does not need to create a 3D model of his house design if his 2D plans show everything that is needed in order to build the house.

48%

49%

MO060002

Whether a globe or a wold map is a better model of the earth depends on the task they will be used for.

38%

41%

MO062002

If a student makes a model of the solar system to think about how long it would take a spaceship to travel between the planets, it is essential for him to accurately represent the relative sizes of and distances between the planets, but it is not essential that he makes the model of each planet look like the planet it represents.

33%

45%

MO063004

If a student wants to make a model of the solar system to think about how long it would take a spaceship to travel between the planets, it is essential to accurately represent the relative sizes and distances, but it is not essential to make each model planet look like the planet it represents.

36%

40%

MO093001

28%

37%

Frequency of selecting a misconception

Misconception
ID Number

Student Misconception

Grades
6–8

Grades
9–12

MOM006

The more a model is similar to what is being modeled (particularly with respect to physical similarities), the better the model is (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

50%

41%

MOM002

A model is always a three-dimensional object. Therefore, pictures, diagrams, graphs, written descriptions, abstract mathematical or conceptual models are not models (Grosslight, et al., 1991).

16%

15%

Frequency of selecting a misconception was calculated by dividing the total number of times a misconception was chosen by the number of times it could have been chosen, averaged over the number of students answering the questions within this particular idea.