The concept of bounded rationality was used to understand how a middle school science teacher dealt with the complexities of teaching two classes differing in levels of student achievement. The teacher constructed a mental model of teaching for her two classes based on her perceptions, beliefs, emotions, and affects about student characteristics. The teacher had the same mental model for the two classes, despite the fact that the two classes were quite different in achievement levels. Compared to the objective reality of differences between the two classes, her mental model of equal treatment seemed subjective. Her teaching behavior in the two classes was generally consistent with her mental model of teaching. The findings indicate patterns of teacher thinking and behavior that can largely be explained within the framework of bounded rationality. The findings also suggest implications for teacher change.
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