Murdoch University Research Repository

Welcome to the Murdoch University Research Repository

The Murdoch University Research Repository is an open access digital collection of research
created by Murdoch University staff, researchers and postgraduate students.

Learn more

The Thinking Frames Approach: A strategy to improve students’ written explanations of phenomena in science

McLure, F. (2021) The Thinking Frames Approach: A strategy to improve students’ written explanations of phenomena in science. In: 36th WAIER Research Forum: Research, Reflect, Redirect, 7th August 2021, University of Notre Dame, Fremantle


Secondary school students find it difficult to write elaborated causal explanations of scientific phenomena. They frequently present their own opinions and write descriptions of their observations rather than linking claims with evidence, reasoning, and theoretical frameworks. Science teachers also express difficulties in addressing the ACARA literacy general capability of composing texts and struggle to support students to improve their scientific writing skills. In order to improve students’ scientific explanations, a teaching strategy known as the Thinking Frames Approach (TFA) was introduced into Grade 8-10 classrooms. This approach makes use of the affordances of student-generated multiple representations, teacher-student questioning, and small group discussions to support students in constructing understanding. Students’ written responses to a number of higher order questions were collected over a nine-month period and analysed for causal relationships and in terms of the claims, evidence and reasoning that students used to justify their explanations. A significant improvement in students’ written explanations linking evidence with reasoning and scientific theories was observed over this period. The TFA appears to support students to develop skills in writing explanations by providing an appropriate level of scaffolding in the writing process. An added benefit of this approach was increased confidence in producing written explanations.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Education
Conference Website:
Item Control Page Item Control Page