Tag Archives: Next Generation Science Standards

New Grant to Improve Assessment and Instruction in Elementary Science Classrooms

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia, representing more than a third of the U.S. student population, have adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) since their release in 2013, and more are expected to follow. To make the most of NGSS, teachers need three-dimensional assessments that integrate disciplinary core ideas, crosscutting concepts, and science and engineering practices.

We are delighted to collaborate with the Learning Sciences Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago and UChicago STEM Education on a new grant funded by the National Science Foundation to build teacher capacity and develop and test classroom assessments for formative use that will promote high-quality science instruction and student learning in grades 3-5. These assessments will enable students to put their scientific knowledge into use through engaging in science practices and provide teachers with insight into students’ ability to address specific three-dimensional NGSS standards.

The project will work with teachers and other experts to co-develop formative assessment tasks and associated rubrics, and collect data for evidence-based revision and redesign of the tasks. As teachers are using the assessment tasks in their classrooms, the project will study their usage to further refine teacher materials and to collect evidence of instructional validity. The project will also develop teacher support materials and foster a community around use of the assessment tasks. The goal is to build the capacity of teachers to implement and respond formatively to assessment tasks that are diagnostic and instructionally informative.

The project will seek to answer two research questions:

  • How well do these assessments function with respect to aspects of validity for classroom use, particularly in terms of indicators of student proficiency, and tools to support teacher instructional practice?
  • In what ways do providing these assessment tasks and rubrics, and supporting teachers in their use, advance teachers’ formative assessment practices to support multi-dimensional science instruction?

 

 

 

 

CODAP Helps Students in Puerto Rico Understand the Effects of Extreme Weather

Students in the Luquillo Schoolyard Project in Puerto Rico are jamming on data. Large, long-term environmental data! And our free, online tool CODAP (Common Online Data Analysis Platform) joined their Data Jam to help students visualize and explore data in an inquiry-oriented way.

El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System, was hit hard in 2017 by Hurricane Maria. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Forest Service.)

Data has become increasingly critical to understanding countless issues from business and politics to medicine and the environment. It’s hard to imagine a profession in the future that will not require data analysis skills. But while the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) feature data analysis and interpretation as part of the science and engineering practices, it’s hard for teachers to develop realistic activities using large datasets.

The Luquillo Schoolyard Project has developed a unique way to engage teachers and their students in local environmental issues while learning about big data, science, and research—and they draw and sing, too—all part of a Data Jam!

Data Jam is an outreach project of the National Science Foundation-funded Luquillo Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program in the El Yunque tropical rainforest. Students in a Data Jam work together on real data analysis projects, learning to formulate research questions, explore, analyze, and summarize environmental data, and come up with interpretations.

Students using CODAP to investigate environmental data from El Yunque National Forest during a Data Jam. (Photo: Noelia Báez Rodríguez)

Having recently experienced a drought followed by a Category 4 hurricane, Puerto Rico’s middle and high school students know firsthand the impact of weather on the environment. “It’s extremely impressive how resilient these kids are,” said Steven McGee, research associate professor of learning sciences at Northwestern University and president of The Learning Partnership, during a recent Concord Consortium data science education webinar. “We have kids whose school doesn’t have electricity, but they’re so devoted to science that they are coming out to the rainforest to do research.”

Led by teachers who have completed professional development training, students dive into authentic long-term research data from the Luquillo LTER, the Luquillo Critical Zone Observatory, and the U.S. Geological Survey. “Giving students real scientific datasets to explore introduces the messiness of data analysis that motivates the reasons why students should be engaging in basic data analysis strategies,” says McGee. “If students are only exposed to artificial datasets, the learning of basic analysis techniques seems like school exercises.”

Originally the project used Excel to created graphs, but they recently switched to CODAP, our web-based data analysis and visualization tool. “CODAP provides a platform for students to explore different ways to analyze the data,” McGee explains. “It’s easy for students to generate different types of graphs as a means to examine the data from different perspectives. This feature hopefully enables students to reflect on the type of information that can be gleaned from different types of graphs.”

A student presents her research data at the annual student symposium at the University of Puerto Rico. (Photo: Carla López Lloreda)

Successful Data Jam projects present their findings at a public symposium and poster session at the University of Puerto Rico. “A large number of scientists involved with the LTER program come and interact with the kids,” said Noelia Báez Rodríguez, coordinator of the Luquillo LTER Schoolyard program, during the webinar. Students also develop creative ways to communicate their results, including skits, drawings, short stories, poems, and songs—even a rap.*

If their goal is to get students interested in STEM careers, the Luquillo Schoolyard Project has a lot to jam about. Even in the midst of an ongoing environmental crisis, they’re getting students and teachers excited about data science. We’re proud to be a part of their success.

*By students Paul Ortiz and Jonathan Rodriguez as part of the 2016 Data Jam.