The real reason for using the CER framework in science
Curious kids like to explore ideas. They’re naturally inquisitive, and they take the initiative in their learning.
The rest of your students, however, need your guidance in discovering the authenticity of scientific claims using data and reasoning skills. That’s why science teachers are designing science lessons around an inquiry-based framework called CER (claim, evidence, reasoning).
By introducing the CER framework in science, you are teaching your students the deeper skills of inquiry they need to be successful academically and in the real world. Analytical thinkers are capable of deducing cause and effect, analyzing data and interpreting results, evaluating reasonability, and synthesizing information.
Students that apply the CER framework articulate coherent explanations about their inquiries.
The CER Framework
The Claim-Evidence-Reasoning framework provides a scaffold for thinking about science and explaining phenomena. The framework helps students connect their experiences and the content they’ve already learned to new experiences in three steps:
- Claim: Students make a statement about something that has occurred. The statement takes the form of a conclusion, but it should not be easily answered with a yes or a no. The best claims show the relationship between two ideas or conditions.
- Evidence: Next, students gather evidence and data relevant to the claim. There must be enough evidence to prove or disprove the statement, and this evidence may be quantitative or qualitative.
- Reasoning: In the third leg of the framework, students connect the claim with the evidence they uncovered. They must justify their reasoning and apply scientific principles to it.
The process enables students to provide scientific reasoning in logical and well-organized explanations based on evidence.
How can teachers implement the CER framework in lessons? Think about discussion-oriented opinion statements that could have worldwide appeal and/or impact, including some of these:
- Organic fruits and vegetables are healthier for you than foods treated with antibiotics.
- More people are attending college than ever before.
- Streaming radio outpaces all other media forms.
- Vincent van Gogh is the most celebrated artist of France.
- Most people around the world name blue as their favorite color.
Your students will want first to debate the statements. The CER framework isn’t about debate. It’s about finding the quantitative evidence to support a claim and applying scientific reasoning skills to evaluate authenticity.
Why the CER framework is critical for successful learning
Any explanation of scientific phenomena requires justification.
To say that something is so doesn’t make it a reality. Flat-earthers, for example, may deny the spherical shape of the Earth, but evidence and data indicate that the Earth is not flat. Students cannot assume or accept at face value any claim. The CER framework pushes students into inquiry so they can evaluate the claim’s authenticity.
Scaffolds like the CER framework provides a natural bridge to exploration in other content areas as well, such as social studies, mathematics, or English language arts. By designing inquiries in science, teachers are showing students how to think critically in developing reasonable explanations.
As a result, the real reason to use the CER framework in science is to inspire curiosity and teach deep thinking across the curriculum.