Finding Learning beneath the Surface: Monitoring Student Progress with Science Practice Learning Progressions

By Paysnick, Rebecca | Science Scope, October 2010 | Go to article overview

Finding Learning beneath the Surface: Monitoring Student Progress with Science Practice Learning Progressions


Paysnick, Rebecca, Science Scope


"We found worms and larvae!" my students call to me as they come running down the hill next to our local pond. Our class is conducting investigations in a local ecosystem as part of an ecology unit. The group of students digging for worms is investigating a question they generated after making observations during an earlier visit to the pond: If there are leaves and dirt at Jamaica Pond, why aren't there any worms? Students are participating in open inquiry--the type of inquiry in which students ask their own questions and figure out their own answers.

Although students digging for worms may appear to be a simple activity, we as science teachers know the high degree of preparation necessary in order to provide students with the opportunity to learn through open inquiry. As practitioners of inquiry-based science education, we create lessons that simultaneously develop students' understanding of content and enhance their ability to carry out scientific inquiry. We give our students opportunities to ask their own questions and gather and interpret their own data. We do this because we know that in order for students to learn to make their own discoveries beyond our classes, they need the opportunity to engage in science as part of the curriculum.

If we want our students to become capable practitioners of scientific inquiry, we should not stop at providing opportunities to do inquiry. We need to be intentional about assessing and teaching the competencies necessary for inquiry. Just as teaching a student to play the piano entails more than providing the opportunity to play, teaching a student to conduct scientific inquiry entails more than just providing the opportunity to practice it. Like the piano teacher, we need to pay attention to the abilities a student brings to the table, consider our goals for the student, and figure out a way to take the student from where he or she is to where we want the student to be.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Students are better able to learn through inquiry when they have developed the ability to employ science practices. This does not mean we should try to teach these practices in isolation before giving our students the opportunity to learn through inquiry. It does mean, however, that we should recognize where students are in their development and incorporate the teaching of these practices into our instruction. While the best instruction in science integrates the development of science practices with concept development, the most meaningful assessment in science measures these competencies separately. We need to do the work of uncovering student abilities in order to provide instruction that builds on prior knowledge.

I began monitoring the development of my students' abilities to employ science practices because I wanted to be able to see their growth as scientists over time. The ability to conduct scientific inquiry can be difficult to assess. There is a complex network of abilities that students develop over the course of several years. Because of the long-term nature of this learning process, I created a monitoring tool that lends itself to tracking progress over time. The Science Practice Learning Progressions (see Figure 1) describe progressions by which students develop the ability to employ science practices over a period of years. Advocacy for using learning progressions can be found in the National Research Council's (NRC) preliminary public draft of the new science education framework (see Resources). The terms "learning progressions" and "science practice" and the titles for the four levels used here come from the NRC's new document.

The science practices I elected to include in these learning progressions were selected for their ability to be taught in the classroom and for their importance across various fields of scientific study. To use the Science Practices Learning Progressions, the teacher selects a practice on which to focus, gathers information about students' abilities, uses this information to determine students' levels, and then plans instruction accordingly. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Finding Learning beneath the Surface: Monitoring Student Progress with Science Practice Learning Progressions
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.