Stage 3: Reaching consensus on the validity of the statements (20 minutes)
• Students present the views and the teacher guides the group to
reach a collective consensus through an interactive discussion.
The focus is on reasoning and the relevant concepts.
It is worth noting some pedagogical aspects of the different
stages. In Stage 1, scaffolds in the form of concrete objects are provided at each post-box station. The materials stimulate students to
think about concepts related to the statement. Students may open
the black box if they feel hints are needed. Students are required
to determine the validity of the statements individually first. This
elicits the initial thoughts of all students in class. As students work
in pairs, they have a chance to talk about their views in order to
reach a consensus in a safe and nonthreatening manner. Anonymity
on the post-box ticket promotes exposure of students’ ideas.
In Stage 2, students are exposed to the views of the group and,
more importantly, to the reasons why views differ among different
groups. In other words, they are analyzing the differences in reasoning about why the statement is correct or not.
In Stage 3, the teacher provides guidance for more difficult
items, which encourages debate and argumentation among students with differing views. The teacher is encouraged to preplan
instructional materials/scenarios that help refute student misconceptions or prove the validity of the scientific ideas. For example,
for statement 6, teachers may present actual data on the
volume of water absorbed in each region of the human alimentary
canal and guide students to provide an explanation related to the
The post-box activity provides an interactive activity in which students have a chance to
• reflect on their current thinking about the biological concepts
related to the misconception statements,
• talk about their ideas and justify their views with their peers in
pairs in a safe and nonthreatening way,
• listen to others’ ideas,
• summarize and synthesize the views of their peers, and
• become aware of their own learning habits.
The activity also allows the teacher to elicit, interpret, and address
student misconceptions and make the classroom more responsive
to students’ thinking.
Alkhawaldeh, S.A. (2007). Facilitating conceptual change in ninth grade
students’ understanding of human circulatory system concepts. Journal
of Research in Science Technological Education, 25, 371–385.
Ben-Nun, M.S. & Yarden, A. (2009). Learning molecular genetics in teacher-led outreach laboratories. Journal of Biological Education, 44(1), 19–25.
Bransford, J.D., Brown, A.L. & Cocking, R.R. (2000). How People Learn: Brain,
Mind, Experience, and School. Washington, DC: National Academy
Figure 1. Post-box station with scaffolds.