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Frameworks for Design Thinking:
Claim, Evidence, and Reasoning;
Predict, Observe, and Explain.

This page assumes you've read the overview-summary`.

Instruction using CER has 4 phases/aspects:  an Introduction, plus Claim, Evidence, Reasoning.

The functionally similar model for POE has phases of Introduction plus Predict, Observe, Explain.


When we show students how each phase/aspect is an essential part of a coherent model for Design Process (which includes Science Process) we can help students learn more from their experiences of using CER (or POE) to do design-inquiry and/or science-inquiry.

I.O.U. - Originally most of this page was written about only POE, before I knew about CER.  Soon, maybe in early December, I'll revise the page to make CER a more central part of it.  Probably I'll write a separate section for CER, similar to the section recently written for the Introduction, but with more detail.



Comparing POE and CER

I.O.U. - As explained above, I'll develop this section more thoroughly later, maybe in May.  Here are some of the ideas that will be in it:

I claim that POE and CER are "functionally similar [for the purpose of developing classroom instruction]... but not identical."  Yes, I recognize that this statement is oversimplified, although as a first approximation it seems fairly accurate.  Why?  Because despite some differences in the models, both can be used as a framework for effective instruction.  Sometime soon, on the web I'll examine the current instruction activities (using CER and POE) more deeply, and I'm sure that will change my mind about some of what I now claim.

One oversimplification is when I say "you Predict to produce Predictions that are a Claim," because during instruction (and life) a Claim usually has a broader meaning, not limited to Predictions.  So I'll have to clarify this, perhaps by changing "Predictions that are a Claim" to a description that is more general and more accurate (like the sub-section I've already written) closer to real-world uses in the classroom and in life.


Verbs & Nouns in POE and CER

In POE, Predict Observe Explain are verbs.

In CER, Claim Evidence Reasoning can be nouns, but...

claim can be either a noun (as in asking “what is your claim?” or “what is the claim?”) or a verb (“what do you claim?”).

reasoning is a noun (“what is your reasoning?”) according to the web-definitions below, but we also can use it as a verb (“how were you reasoning while you were explaining?”) with a process of reasoning (verb) producing a result of reasoning (noun);  you reason (you are reasoning) to produce reasoning, in the same way that you explain (you are explaining) to produce an explanation, and you argue (you are arguing) to produce an argument.

Here are some web-resources:  Mirriam-Webster for reasoning (adjective or noun) and claim (noun or verb);  also for reasoning, Cambridge - YourDictionary - Dictionary-Reference - (I'll do more research & thinking about this later)



The Framework of POE  (why not also for CER? see the I.O.U.)



The teacher describes-and-shows an Experimental System that soon will be “run” in an Experiment, and asks students to predict “what will happen?” so “what will you observe?”  A teacher may also want to remind students about relevant scientific principles they have learned, or their previous experiences with similar systems inside or (to build transfer-bridges from life to school) outside the classroom.

While you're reading the descriptions below, imagine that "you" are a student who is Predicting, Observing, and Explaining, with POE.  Or, with the analogous model of CER, you're evaluating the credibility of a Claim by using Evidence + Reasoning.


What occurs during a typical process of skillful predicting?  You think carefully about the Experimental System so you can construct an accurate mental model for "what the system is," and then you imagine "what will happen."  In this two-step process of prediction you construct a Model of the system, and then use if-then Logic.  The diagram for Predict` shows that you "do a Mental Experiment using Model + Logic" to make Predictions.

Now let's look at the process more closely.  Higher in this diagram (which shows the "Science Cycle" part of Design Process), you "GENERATE Options... for a Model" (by remembering "old" Models and/or inventing "new" Models) and "CHOOSE an Option so you can EVALUATE this Option."  How?

First you use your Model (which usually is a Mental Model) to make Predictions, as described above.  Your initial Prediction can be your "final answer" or you may want to think about things more carefully and thoroughly.  As with other decisions, usually your Predictions will improve (in accuracy and/or justifiable confidence) when you consider everything you know,* including all of our past experiences with similar systems.  For each experience (whether it's first-hand or second-hand) you can "remember a Physical Experiment" and the Observations of what happened.

For each of these old Physical Experiments, you Evaluate (test) the chosen Model by comparing your Model-based Predictions and the Reality-based Observations in a Reality Check.  If there is a close match, you may want to conclude that this is a satisfactory Model and Prediction.  But if there is a difference between Predictions and Observations, you can do Guided Generation in a Science Cycle that lets you "revise Model" to invent a new Model, and then use it for a new Mental Experiment (using the new Model) to make new Predictions.  You can continue doing Science Cycles as many times as you want, trying to get a closer match in your Reality Checks.

Or, at any point you can decide to GENERATE other Options (that are not revisions of the current Option, so they're “more different”), and choose different Models to Evaluate by testing them with Experiments and Reality Checks.  In some situations, in the classroom or outside, you will want to use multiple Reality Checks for a thorough evaluation ("when all things are considered") of many competing Models.

* Or instead of just "considering everything you know" during a discussion-of-predictions you also can benefit from the perspectives and experiences of others, from learning about their Models and the previous Experiments-and-Observations they remember.



This is simple.  You do the Physical Experiment by actualizing the Experimental System, and you Observe what happens.

The diagram for Observe — containing only the Experiment & Observations, isolated from everything you have been thinking about in Predict — symbolizes the scientific ideal of objective observing so you will know what actually happens in reality, unbiased by what you expect will happen, or want to happen.



This is almost the same as Predict so its diagram is the same except for two extra words. (what are they?)

The main difference is that now your Evaluations of Models can also include your new Observations.   { Although you can use Observations from all Physical Experiments, old or new, probably your main focus will be the new Experiment that has been featured throughout the sequence of POE.  But a teacher may ask you to compare this new Experiment with a previous Experiment in your classroom. }

Another difference is that during "Predict" your Explanation(s) can be cautiously tentative, but now a teacher will expect you to be more confidently conclusive.   { A teacher should communicate their “expectations for the quality of a conclusion” gently, and respond to whatever students say with aware sensitivity, in ways that support accurate-and-optimistic self-perceptions by students. }


Discussions:  During "Predict" and "Explain" students can talk with each other (and the teacher) in small groups or as a whole class, about their reasons for predicting what will happen, or explaining what did happen.  The goal can be “persuading others” or just a cooperative sharing of ideas, to expand the range of “what you know about the world.”  These interactions are "Collaboration & Communication with colleagues" in Diagram 3b` of Design Process, which shows an overall context for POE that includes both Science-Design and General Design.

Explanations:  What kind of explanation is satisfactory? is most educationally desirable?  Students can predict with if-then logic using model-based deduction or model-based simulation, or (without constructing a model) using experience-based induction by just assuming that what happened before, in similar situations, will happen again.  Because we want students to think about “why” — which lets them use the full range of scientific logic, and will help them transfer their scientific understandings into other situations (other Experimental Systems) — we should encourage them to ask “why?” and build model-based explanations.


Effective Instruction

Above you've seen how the thinking of students, during POE instruction, can be described verbally-and-visually using Design Process.  For example, during the P in POE we want students to experience "what occurs during a typical process of skillful predicting."  This might be easier if we help students understand this process-of-predicting more thorougly, by using Design Process.  Or it might not.  So we ask, “Will using Design Process to promote metacognitive reflection (how?)* make POE-instruction more effective in helping students improve their ideas-and-skills knowledge?”

I'm humbly confident that “yes” is the best way to bet.  We have reasons to expect that using Design Process during POE could be especially beneficial for improving students' ideas (conceptual knowledge) about the nature of science, and their skills (procedural knowledge) in doing science;  and maybe also, in the long run, their understandings of scientific concepts because...

The main strategy for Conceptual Change is helping students recognize that Observations of reality (in Reality Checks) support one conception rather than another;  this is the main purpose of POE.  Design Process can help students understand the process of using Reality Checks.

POE-based instruction is often used as a scaffold, an intermediate step that helps students (and perhaps teachers) move from an absence of inquiry activities to doing science-inquiry, and maybe then design-inquiry.  And we can use POE to move from an absence of Design Process to using it.

* How should we "promote metacognitive reflection"?  A difficult challenge will be designing instruction that helps students learn principles of Design Process (and thus scientific logic) in ways that maintain flow-and-fun in a classroom or on a computer.


Scientific Logic and Science

Relationships between the logic of science (in POE) and the process of science (as a whole) are examined below, with

an example of POE-instruction and What's missing in Predict-Observe-Explain?



MORE about CER --


MORE about POE -- review of book - video by co-author - video 2 - 3 cups (I think the teacher "led" the students more than is ideal, and "explained" more, maybe due to wanting a short video for youtube; they could also do a POE-experiment by putting ice water into the cups and predicting "which feels coldest?")



An Example of POE-Instruction (for Simulations of Projectile Motion)

This activity illustrates Teaching Strategies that use Predict-Observe-Explain to help students improve their scientific reasoning:


I.O.U. - This section will be written soon, maybe in May.  Here are some of the ideas that — after revisions to clarify, condense, and supplement — will be in it:

Students can use this physics-simulation to improve their Ideas (about the motion of objects flying through the air, and the concept of Conflicting Factors) and Skills (of scientific reasoning, and how to optimize outcomes that are affected by conflicting factors).

Teachers can facilitate this learning by combining this activity (using the simulations) with models for scientific reasoning, with "Predict, Observe, Explain" and the strategic principles of Design Process.


The basis for this set of activities is a physics simulation for Projectile Motion designed by PhET with videos (such as 1 2 ) that was and added by me to the database of Playful Learning.

How?  Students can just play with the simulation, doing experiments by “trying things” to see what will happen.  And they can try to hit a target.  It also can be educationally useful to make a game where the goal is finding the launch-angle that produces maximum range (i.e. maximum horizontal distance) for the projectile.  The range depends on combining a large time of traveling (increased by a higher angle) and a large horizontal speed of traveling (which is increased by a lower angle).  When the angle is changed, these two factors are affected in different ways — e.g., with a higher angle the time of travel increases, but horizontal speed decreases — so they are Conflicting Factors.

After students have discovered the best angle to achieve maximum range, they can change one or more factors — by adding air resistance with factors that affect this force (drag coefficient, object size) and (along with object mass) its effects on range, plus initial speed (what does it and doesn't it affect?) and the altitudes of launch and landing — and do additional predicting & experimenting to find the angle that produces maximum range.  For each change, students can re-predict:  Will the angle change?  Will it be higher or lower?  Why?

This is an activity where students can build two-way educational bridges what they already know from life (for transfers-of-learning from life into school) and also build expectations for being able to use ideas-and-skills from school in everyday life (for transfers from school into life), especially for those who paly sports, or even just watch sports.


Conflicting Factors in Physics:  These occur because horizontal range (sideways distance traveled) depends on "sideways speed" and "time of travel" and changing the angle always increases one but decreases the other;  maximum range is the angle that optimizes the combination of these two factors, as explained here (on page 23/242).   /   Also, other parts of my book about "Physics: Power Tools for Problem Solving" will be relevant.  These are discussed generally here (with Quantitative & Qualitative Understanding, Physics Thinking) and more specifically in this section.

Conflicting Factors in Life:  A concept of “multiple factors” is useful in physics, and in many other areas of life.  I.O.U - Soon, I'll connect this with "understanding and respect" for avoiding the oversimplification of thinking that maximizing a particular factor will lead to a best overall result.   For example, if a teacher wants to be politically relevant (for citizens considering the government policies of a country) and controversial, students can think about why an optimal tax rate is somewhere between 0% and 100%, why it's not at either extreme.

Students can do all of these mini-activities in groups.  For example, to help students think about "conflicting factors" you can ask them (as individuals, and in small groups or whole-class discussions) to find a logical reason to “argue for” making the angle higher, and also for making it lower.  Then they can ask “which of these arguments is more persuasive?” or to explain why this question is not adequate, why it's an oversimplification of a situation that is more complex than is implied by the question.



What's missing in Predict-Observe-Explain?

We can think about this question in at least two ways, by describing the logic of science more thoroughly (this was done earlier) and (here) by comparing the logic of science with an overall process of science.

PHEOC (Problem, Hypothesis, Experiment, Observation, Conclusion) is a simple 5-step model for the process of science.   Summary of PHEOC - by KM Middle School and Myth Busters (TV show)

POE (Predict, Experiment, Explain), a simple model for the logic of science, contains some parts of PHEOC but not all.  Basically, PHEOC's Hypothesis is used for POE's Predict, and its Observe is Observe, and its Conclusion is mainly to Explain:

 P - Problem
 [ introduction ]  
 H - Hypothesis  
 P - Predict (≈)  
 E - Experiment  
 O - Observe
 O - Observe (=)  
 C - Conclusion  
 E - Explain (≈)  

The major science-activities (with thinking-and-action) that are missing in POE are:  defining a Problem (asking a Question) and designing an Experiment, which are done by the teacher;  also, performing the Experiment, which often is done by the teacher or is available on video, although this can be done as a student lab.

I.O.U. - Soon, maybe in mid-December, I'll finish this section, using the rough-sketch ideas below.


I.O.U. Below are some scraps (comments for myself, rough-draft ideas, links,... to possibly use) that you can ignore:


A model I find fascinating, partly because a long time ago (in the late 1990s) it was an important part of an impressive community of educators, and also due to its framework, is Learning By Design.  Their model-framework has two interconnected cycles – to Design/Redesign (when there is a Need to Do), and to Investigate & Explore (when there is a Need to Know).  These two cycles also are an important feature of Design Process, in its Design Cycles and Science Cycle.


POE is the essence of science, hypothetico-deductive logic (link to Diagram 3c?) - without complicating it by including other parts of a Science Project.

PHEOC (Problem, Hypothesis, Experiment, Observe, Conclusion) is the classic stereotype of THE Scientific Method, a rigid step-by-step method, criticized by educators who, by contrast, embrace the simplified version (not intending to be a full model for science) in POE, which is a sub-set of PHEOC.


re: the P in PHEOC -- do scientists solve Problems, or answer Questions? or both? objectives of design

the H of PHEOC is often interpreted as P (Prediction) due to confusions about the many meanings of Hypothesis -- Design Cycles and Science Cycle. Hypothesis is not the same as Prediction, although the term is often used with this meaning.

EO of PHEOC (in POE, the E is designed for students, before they begin POE, and the E often is done as demo by teacher or in video, although it can be done by student in lab)

design of E could be added to POE --> PEOE ?


maybe add these to main section at #poe ?

P and E -- do entire Science Cycle, trying out (w own model/predn foremost priority) based on mainly THE expmt (this expmt) but also from past -- Guided Generation

p4d? -- [make similar for 3b? yes, but as an optional extra phase -- how does Conceptual Change theory/practice recommend dealing with cognitive dissonance? describe and discuss it? ignore it? discuss without labeling?


in hw-im, PHET for great "activities" (= cm-ei.htm #three??) + ask for reflection "what did you do? why?" then what? (goal, as w POE, = DP Sci Cycle)


for dp-om2.htm more generally -- describe DP as a family of models (#dpfam) -- as w diff maps for diff purposes (@ giere's analogy, quote 1997, or 2005 if available -- use screenshots?)