on research on problematic student conceptions to describe in detail both explicit learning goals and also difficulties in reasoning and understanding that students are likely to encounter as they progress toward scientifically accurate understanding of the material.
Minstrell acknowledged how difficult it can be for teachers to adopt this approach, noting that one teacher with whom he has worked for many years had explained: “[Y]ou are thinking on your feet constantly. It is draining because you become so intensely involved with your students.” Moreover, Minstrell added, “the devil is in the details.” Teachers need support not only in how to collect the formative data, but also in how to use it. In response to concerns about how to take the successes the program has had with small groups of teachers to a larger scale, Minstrell added, he and his colleagues have developed a web-based program, called Diagnoser Instructional Tools, which provides learning goals, questions designed to elicit student thinking, developmental lessons, and tools for reporting data to students and teachers students. All the tools are based on the research-based facet clusters.1
There is also a need for much more research to support the development of such tools as the facet clusters, Minstrell explained. Much of the existing research on formative assessment has focused on the area of literacy. To reflect the practices of science, research in other kinds of skills will be needed. Moreover, relatively little has been done to explore the ways that formative assessments, such as the BOLT approach, can be used to elicit the cultural influences and perspectives that previous speakers discussed.