• Stage 1 would involve the identification of the subject areas for study and the key concepts that students must comprehend in order to understand each subject area. Assessment tools that allow for a test of comprehension of these concepts, including tests of the degree to which students’ understanding supports new learning (transfer), would also be developed at this stage.

  • Stage 2 would consist of a review of existing research that explores the preconceptions that students bring to that subject area and an extension of the research into areas that have not been adequately explored.

  • Stage 3 would involve the development of learning opportunities and instructional strategies that build on, or challenge, those preconceptions. These might include experiments in physics that produce results contradicting initial understandings, or research tasks in history that show the same event from multiple perspectives, challenging good-guy/bad-guy stereotyping.

  • Stage 4 would involve experimental testing of the newly developed learning tools and instructional strategies, with the assessment tools developed in stage 1 used as a measure of comprehension.

The final products of this research in each disciplinary area would include written reports of research results, as well as descriptions of tested instructional techniques for working with student preconceptions. The findings could be incorporated into videotaped model lessons (project area 4 above) or those used in the pedagogical laboratories proposed in project area 15.

Develop Tools for Effective Communication of the Principles of Learning as They Apply to Educational Materials

8. Develop an interactive communications site that provides information on curricula by field. Participants in this study suggested a high level of frustration with the task of sorting through and evaluating curricula. A central source of information on curricula and their major features would be highly valued. A means of meeting this need would be the development and maintenance of an interactive communications site that provides information about design principles for effective curricula, and relates these principles to particular curricula by subject area. The curriculum review and development recommended above would provide a solid foundation of information for creation of the site.

Comparing and rating curricula can be a difficult business. A good curriculum will need to balance coverage of information with in-depth exploration of concepts. But there is no magic balancing point. One curriculum may provide more opportunities to explore interesting scientific narratives, whereas another may offer more opportunities for valuable experimentation. But if the difficulty in evaluating curricula means backing away entirely

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