What is Modeling Instruction?

Modeling Instruction is a guided-inquiry approach to teaching science that organizes instruction around a coherent storyline of model development. This method provides content instruction while students are immersed in the process of doing science. Research has shown students in Modeling Instruction classrooms perform significantly better on measures of conceptual knowledge when compared to similar students in traditional classrooms.

How does Modeling Instruction work?


Modeling Instruction works within a flexible curriculum design that can be used in a variety of disciplines, from introductory classes through Advanced Placement courses. Modeling teachers act as facilitators and help students construct explanations and defend their conclusions with evidence

In a Modeling classroom:

  • Instruction is organized into modeling cycles which move students through all phases of model development, evaluation, and application in concrete situations.
  • The teacher sets the stage for student activities to establish common understanding of a question to be asked. Then, in small groups, students collaborate in planning and conducting experiments to answer or clarify the question.
  • Students present and justify their conclusions in oral and/or written form, including a formulation of models for the phenomena in question and evaluation of the models by comparison with data.
  • Technical terms and concepts are introduced by the teacher only after students display conceptual understanding to sharpen models, facilitate modeling activities, and improve the quality of discourse.

What standards are addressed in Modeling Instruction?

Modeling Instruction is very well-aligned with the three dimensions of the Next Generation Science Standards. Students are involved daily with the science practices, disciplinary core ideas, and Modeling Instruction has a primary focus on the crosscutting concepts of systems and system models and energy and matter. Students will also leave a Modeling classroom with much improved 21st Century Learning Skills – critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity.

How can teachers learn more about Modeling Instruction and professional development?

AMTA provides many opportunities for high-quality professional development throughout the spring and summer, both in-person and virtually. Visit our Upcoming Workshop page to learn more. 


AMTA’s mission is to provide inclusive content-focused professional development and classroom-tested instructional materials optimized for Modeling InstructionTM classrooms. To this end AMTA emphasizes equitable teaching practices through the cultivation of a diverse ModelingTM community, and continues to conduct research in the Modeling InstructionTM pedagogy.


To promote Modeling InstructionTM as an instructional approach, built on reformed pedagogy and equitable classroom practices, proven to be effective in diverse educational settings. To foster a sense of community among all Modelers. To make Modeling InstructionTM the preferred method of teaching science in all schools.

Historical Overview

In the early 1990s, after a decade of education research to develop and validate Modeling InstructionTM, Dr. David Hestenes was awarded grants from the National Science Foundation for another decade to spread the Modeling InstructionTM program nationwide. As of 2021, greater than 15,000 teachers have participated in summer workshops or other professional development involving Modeling Instruction, including nearly 10% of the United States’ high school physics teachers. It is estimated that Modeling teachers reach more than 100,000 students each year.

AMTA was created by teachers to continue and expand the mission after government funding for Modeling InstructionTM ended. The AMTA has expanded to a nationwide community of teachers dedicated to addressing the nation’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education crisis.

Follow AMTA on Social Media

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt

Start typing and press Enter to search