students’ development of more sophisticated understanding of crosscutting concepts, disciplinary core ideas, and scientific and engineering practices—and therefore to conceptual change—constitutes an important research agenda. Furthermore, the effectiveness of the instructional approach used—and for what groups of students it is effective—is a matter for empirical testing.

Question 4. General and discipline-specific norms and instructional practices define the expectations for students’ and teachers’ interactions in the classroom. “Classroom learning communities” and how they develop to support effective learning are currently a subject of considerable research in science education. Every such community is distinguished by norms for work and interactions, ranging from when and how people collaborate to how they speak with one another. Some of those norms are general, rooted in the understanding of schools in a democratic society; others are discipline specific—that is, what it means to do mathematics differs from what it means to do chemistry or history. In all cases, the relationships between particular classroom norms and learning outcomes of interest for particular groups of students—for example, distinguished by ethnicity or gender—are a matter for empirical investigation. Another example is that the framework includes a number of discourse practices among the science practices; because such discourses are relatively rare in science classrooms at present, research that focuses on how teachers and students develop the related norms for them will be needed.


Question 5. Assessing students’ engagement in instructional activities requires research on how young people of different backgrounds, cultures, races, genders, abilities, and languages can enter and become full participants in the scientific classroom community. Such research is especially needed if the framework’s expectation that all students will have opportunities for accomplished scientific and engineering learning is to succeed. How best to develop and sustain students’ interest in science is an important part of research in this area.

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