Date of Award

Spring 2017

Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 2017 Haley Gerardi. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Educational Studies Department, Biology Department


An examination of student's epistemologies revealed a central theme around explanation and communication that was at the center of how students conceptualized models and their roles in biology. This theme emerged as students shared thoughts about models that existed within a larger discussion around, and centered on the notion of a model's purpose. Central to their epistemological beliefs was the ability of a model to accurately represent and explain the real world. It is under this unifying notion of purpose that I have characterized students' epistemologies to state that models should represent a complex reality with a level of detail that is explanatory without being distracting or occluding the general idea being communicated