There is a growing research interest in mechanistic reasoning (MR) in the field of science education, as this type of reasoning is perceived as an essential thinking skill for science education. This literature review synthesized 60 science education studies on MR published from 2006 to 2021. The findings showed three common aspects of conceptualizations of MR in science education: (1) causality in relation to MR, (2) use of entities and their associated activities, and (3) use of entities at (at least) one scale level below the scale level of a target phenomenon. While most of the reviewed studies related the importance of MR to cognitive aspects, a smaller number associated its value with scientific modelling. Three main difficulties in generating MR were categorized: (1) identifying and using unobservable entities, (2) assigning activities to entities, and (3) identifying and using an appropriate number of entities. Various types of support for fostering MR were identified. Implications and future studies are discussed.
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