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Student walking outside Peabody Hall


to the EPIC Learning site. The purpose of this site is to share information and resources about an innovative approach to teaching. The approach highlights Socio-Scientific Issues (SSI) as curricular contexts for learning. SSI represent complex societal issues that relate to science such as climate change, access to water, emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria, and global pandemics. We believe that these issues provide ideal contexts for helping students develop reasoning competencies, content knowledge, and disciplinary practices. In doing so, students become better prepared to thoughtfully negotiate other complex problems that will inevitably emerge.

Our approach highlights learner engagement in Epistemic practices, that is knowledge building practices, such as modeling and argumentation. The idea is that engaging in epistemic practices changes what learners know about the world and how they think about it. Much of our work focuses on opportunities for students to engage in the practice of scientific modeling. When students create, evaluate, and use models of scientific phenomena and processes, they consider underlying mechanisms, system interactions, causal connections, and/or predictive relationships. By engaging with epistemic practices such as modeling while students make sense of SSI, they become actively involved in constructing and critiquing knowledge that empowers them to develop solutions and positions in response to the challenges facing their communities.


Epistemic Practices

We engage students in practices, such as scientific modeling, to support sense making and development of the ability to use scientific ideas and principles to thoughtfully negotiate complex problems. Our perspective on practice and disciplinary knowledge are consistent with the Next Generation Science Standards.


We prioritize opportunities for collaboration among teachers, educational researchers, and designers. We use Collaborative Curriculum Design to engage teachers in creation of EPIC learning materials.

Tools for Teaching

One of our goals is to create a series of tools to support teachers as they design and implement learning opportunities to engage students in SSI and epistemic practices.