Educational Psychology Review

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 105–117 | Cite as

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

  • P. Karen Murphy
  • Carla M. Firetto
  • Jeffrey A. Greene
Review Article


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.


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



This research was supported by the National Science Foundation, through Grant 1316347 to the Pennsylvania State University. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not represent the views of the National Science Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Karen Murphy
    • 1
  • Carla M. Firetto
    • 1
  • Jeffrey A. Greene
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Educational Psychology, Counseling, and Special EducationThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.The University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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