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America’s Lab Report: Investigations in High School Science
can be made today using emerging knowledge. Documented disparities to access should be eliminated now.
Systematic accumulation of rigorous, relevant research results and best practices from the field will clarify the specific contributions of laboratory experiences to science education. Such a knowledge base must be integrated with an infrastructure that supports the dissemination and use of this knowledge to achieve coherent policy and practice.
The committee suggests that partnerships may be most successful in addressing the weaknesses in current laboratory experiences and other problems we have outlined. Specifically, teachers, scientists, cognitive psychologists, education researchers and school systems, working together, are best able to design and test innovative approaches to laboratory experiences. Partnerships like these are well suited to the challenge of answering the many remaining questions about laboratory teaching and learning:
Assessment of student learning in laboratory experiences—What are the specific learning outcomes of laboratory experiences and what are the best methods for measuring these outcomes, both in the classroom and in large-scale assessments?
Effective teaching and learning in laboratory experiences—What forms of laboratory experiences are most effective for advancing the desired learning outcomes of laboratory experiences? What kinds of curriculum can support teachers and students in progress toward these learning outcomes?
Diverse populations of learners—What are the teaching and learning processes by which laboratory experiences contribute to particular learning outcomes for diverse learners and different populations of students?
School organization for effective laboratory teaching—What organizational arrangements (state and district policy, funding priorities and allocation of resources, professional development, textbooks, emerging technologies, and school and district leadership) support high-quality laboratory experiences most efficiently and effectively? What are the most effective ways to bring those organizational arrangements to scale?
Continuing learning about laboratory experiences—How can teachers and administrators learn to design and implement effective instructional sequences that integrate laboratory experiences for diverse students? What types of professional development are most effective to help administrators and teachers achieve this goal? How should laboratory professional development be sequenced within a teacher’s career (from preservice to expert teacher)?