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Inquiry and the National Science Education Standards: A Guide for Teaching and Learning
What opportunities are provided for students to develop a fundamental understanding of scientific inquiry?
In addition to the language of the text, examine the teacher’s guide for ways to discuss the role and limitations of scientific skills such as making observations, organizing and interpreting data, and constructing defensible explanation based on evidence.
Is there a discussion of how science advances through legitimate skepticism?
Is there a discussion of how scientists evaluate explanations of others by examining and comparing evidence, identifying reasoning that goes beyond the evidence, and suggesting alternative explanations for the same evidence?
Are there opportunities for students to demonstrate these same understandings as a part of their investigations?
What students learn about inquiry and the abilities they develop depends on many things, including the accuracy and developmental appropriateness of content and its congruence with the full intent of the content standards. Opportunities to learn should be consistent with contemporary models of learning. The criteria in this section are based on characteristics of effective teaching proposed in Teaching Standards A, B, and E:
Teaching Standard A — Teachers of science plan an inquiry-based science program for their students.
Teaching Standard B — Teachers of science guide and facilitate learning.
Teaching Standard E — Teachers of science develop communities of science learners that reflect the intellectual rigor of scientific inquiry and the attitudes and social values conducive to science learning.
Using the following sequence of questions, examine several lessons in the student materials and the teacher’s guide.
Do the materials identify specific learning goals and outcomes for students that focus on one or more of the fundamental abilities and understandings of Science As Inquiry?
Study the opening pages of a relevant chapter or section. Does the material on these pages engage and focus student thinking on interesting questions, problems, or relevant issues?
Does the material provide a sequence of learning activities connected in such a way as to help students build abilities of inquiry and