National Academies Press: OpenBook

Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12: Investigation and Design at the Center (2019)

Chapter: Appendix A: The Role of Assessment in Supporting Science Investigation and Engineering Design

« Previous: 10 Conclusions, Recommendations, and Research Questions
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: The Role of Assessment in Supporting Science Investigation and Engineering Design." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12: Investigation and Design at the Center. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25216.
×

Appendix A

The Role of Assessment in Supporting Science Investigation and Engineering Design

A reader of this report may notice the absence of a chapter titled Assessment. This was a deliberate choice by the committee, first recognizing the contribution of the report Developing Assessments for the Next Generation Science Standards (National Research Council, 2014), and second, noting the importance of seamlessly integrating assessment throughout the vision of science investigation and engineering design articulated throughout the report. Table A-1 below provides a guide to the reader of the places in the report most relevant to assessment. The next section contains an overview of three empirically supported ideas for assessment systems that provide strong evidence of student learning in science investigations and engineering design. We then provide some worked examples of the design and enactment of classroom assessment that can be used to support science investigation and engineering design (Kang, Thompson, and Windschitl, 2014) to illustrate ways that this approach can be used with investigation and design. Finally, the last section includes an example of how discourse can be used as assessment (Coffey et al., 2011). This approach can also be applied to assessment of engineering design (Alemdar et al., 2017; Purzer, 2018).

EMPIRICALLY SUPPORTED IDEAS FOR ASSESSMENT SYSTEMS

  1. The Assessment Triangle (National Research Council, 2001) identifies three components of an assessment system that when aligned provides strong evidence of student learning: the learning goals (cognition), the tasks (observation), and the system of interpretation,
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: The Role of Assessment in Supporting Science Investigation and Engineering Design." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12: Investigation and Design at the Center. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25216.
×
  1. including the coding rubric (interpretation). As learning goals have shifted to Framework-inspired (National Research Council, 2014) three-dimensional (3D) learning, modifications to assessment tasks and interpretation systems that maintain this alignment must be considered.

  2. Classroom-based investigation and design assessment systems have the following characteristics, regardless of whether they are used for formative or summative purposes:
    1. The student’s performance on the tasks reveal evidence of progress on 3D learning along a continuum between expected beginning and ending points relative to the learning expectations.
    2. The coding rubric and system of interpretation provide evidence of students’ progress across a range of student abilities (Gotwals and Songer, 2013).
    3. The tasks and coding rubric provide a range of opportunities for students to demonstrate 3D learning with and without guidance, such as scaffolds (e.g., Kang, Thompson, and Windschitl, 2014; Songer, Kelcey, and Gotwals, 2009).
    4. The coding rubric and system of interpretation are specific enough to be useful in guiding teachers in either next instructional steps (formative) or in determining the amount and rate of progress in 3D learning (summative) (National Research Council, 2014).
  3. Research studies demonstrate that three-dimensional assessment tasks of a short answer and/or scaffold-rich format can provide stronger evidence of 3D learning than multiple choice items. For example, a research study conducted with 1,885 Detroit Public School sixth graders in 22 classrooms evaluated the relative amount of information on 3D learning demonstrated through embedded, multiple choice (called standardized) and 3D learning tasks (called complex) in association with a 3D learning-fostering 8-week unit on ecology and biodiversity. Results demonstrated that the embedded assessment tasks revealed both the largest amount of information and the greatest range of information across student abilities (Songer, Kelcey, and Gotwals, 2009). A similar study also demonstrated that 3D assessment systems provided opportunities for students at a range of ability levels to demonstrate evidence of both successes and challenges in 3D learning along a unit learning progression (Gotwals and Songer, 2013).
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: The Role of Assessment in Supporting Science Investigation and Engineering Design." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12: Investigation and Design at the Center. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25216.
×

TABLE A-1 Where Is Assessment in This Volume?

Chapter Subject Focus Pages
4 How Students Engage with Investigation and Design Communicate reasoning to self and others 97–98
5 How Teachers Support Investigation and Design Embedded assessment 127–129
Features come together for investigation and design 131–138
6 Instructional Resources for Supporting Investigation and Design Assessment and communicating reasoning to self and others 162–163
7 Preparing and Supporting Teachers to Facilitate Investigations Equity and inclusion 205
10 Conclusions and Recommendations Conclusion #5 270
Conclusion #7 271–272
Recommendation #2 275–276
Research questions 278

Worked Examples of the Design and Enactment of Classroom Assessment

Kang and colleagues (2014) described five different types of scaffolding in formative assessment tasks. These scaffolds appear to show promising benefit for student learning. They help to support students in making their ideas explicit and providing guidance to students as they develop higher-quality explanations. Examples of each of these different scaffolding types for formative assessment tasks are shared here from Kang, Thompson, and Windschitl (2014):

1. Allowing students to draw in combination with writing to explain focal phenomena

When students were asked to draw unobservable underlying mechanisms that caused an observable phenomenon or event, they engaged in the scientific practice of modeling and in more challenging intellectual work. The example shown below (see Figure A-1), taken from a 9th-grade biology classroom (p. 679), illustrates how students are asked to show how a paramecium gets everything it needs to survive.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: The Role of Assessment in Supporting Science Investigation and Engineering Design." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12: Investigation and Design at the Center. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25216.
×
Image
FIGURE A-1 Worked example of Paramecium questions.
SOURCE: Kang et al. (2014)

2. Asking a question with a contextualized phenomenon

Contextualized phenomena also help students provide better explanations. That is, rather than asking students to explain a generic event or scientific idea, these tasks ask students to place the idea in context. An example is provided below (p. 679):

A skater girl is flying down the big hill on 102nd (right in front of Steve Cox Memorial Park, where that cabin is, behind McLendon’s Hardware) when she realizes that some jerk has built a huge brick wall across the road. She knows that she won’t be able to stop in time. What should she do to minimize, or decrease, her injuries? Explain why this is the best option for the skater girl.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: The Role of Assessment in Supporting Science Investigation and Engineering Design." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12: Investigation and Design at the Center. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25216.
×

3. Providing sentence frames

Teachers used both focusing and connecting sentence frames to help students draw their students to focal phenomena and lead in to explanations. While some sentence frames helped students get started with their explanation (e.g., “What I saw was _______________” . . . “I know this because_______________,”) higher-quality, connecting sentence frames helped students to more deeply connect evidence and reasoning to make scientific explanations. These sentence frames included, for example, starters such as “Evidence for _________ comes from the [activity on] _______________ because ______________.”

4. Scaffolding by providing students with a checklist

An additional form of scaffolding is a checklist, which can either provide students with a word bank to use when creating an explanation or a model (called a “simple checklist”) or an “explanation checklist” that prompts students to provide information about aspects of a model or explanation or relationships among ideas (see Figure A-2).

Image
FIGURE A-2 Checklist.
SOURCE: Kang et al. (2014)
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: The Role of Assessment in Supporting Science Investigation and Engineering Design." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12: Investigation and Design at the Center. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25216.
×

5. Scaffolding by providing a rubric

Consistent with studies performed in other disciplinary areas (e.g., Andrade, 2010; Kang, Thompson, and Windschitl, 2014) found that providing a rubric in a task also helped explicitly provide students with criteria that helped raise the quality of their explanation. The example of the “skater girl” assessment, shown below (see Figure A-3), illustrates how such a rubric with points for higher-quality work can be embedded into a task, making clear the ways in which students’ work will be evaluated by the teacher (p. 680).

Image
FIGURE A-3 Worked force and motion assessment.
SOURCE: Kang et al. (2014)
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: The Role of Assessment in Supporting Science Investigation and Engineering Design." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12: Investigation and Design at the Center. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25216.
×

Combining multiple scaffolds in one assessment

These different forms of scaffolds can be combined in one assessment, as illustrated by the task shown below (see Figure A-4), which illustrates a contextualized phenomenon, a sentence frame, and the combination of drawing plus writing (Kang et al. 2014, Figure 5, p. 692).

Image
FIGURE A-4 Worked assessment on seasonal change.
SOURCE: Kang et al. (2014)
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: The Role of Assessment in Supporting Science Investigation and Engineering Design." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12: Investigation and Design at the Center. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25216.
×

INFORMAL ASSESSMENT THROUGH CLASSROOM DISCOURSE: THE EXAMPLE OF TERRY’S CLASSROOM DISCUSSION

Assessment does not need to use a formal instrument. It can occur by way of classroom discourse. Box A-1 provides an example of how this was done in a high school chemistry course.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: The Role of Assessment in Supporting Science Investigation and Engineering Design." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12: Investigation and Design at the Center. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25216.
×
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: The Role of Assessment in Supporting Science Investigation and Engineering Design." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12: Investigation and Design at the Center. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25216.
×
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: The Role of Assessment in Supporting Science Investigation and Engineering Design." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12: Investigation and Design at the Center. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25216.
×

REFERENCES

Alemdar, M., Lingle, J.A., Wind, S.A., and Moore, R.A. (2017). Developing an engineering design process assessment using think-aloud interviews. International Journal for Engineering Education, 33(1), 441–452

Andrade, H., Du, Y., and Mycek, K. (2010). Rubric-referenced self-assessment and middle school students’ writing. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 17, 199–214.

Coffey, J.E., Hammer, D., Levin, D.M., and Grant, T. (2011). The missing disciplinary substance of formative assessment. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48(10), 1109–1136.

Gotwals, A.W., and Songer, N.B. (2013) Validity evidence for learning progression-based assessment items that fuse core disciplinary ideas and science practices. The Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 50(5), 597–626.

Kang, H., Thompson, J., and Windschitl, M. (2014). Creating opportunities for students to show what they know: The role of scaffolding in assessment tasks. Science Education, 98(4), 674–704.

National Research Council. (2001). Knowing What Students Know: The Science and Design of Educational Assessment. Washington. DC: The National Academies Press.

National Research Council. (2014). Developing Assessments for the Next Generation Science Standards. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Purzer, S. (2018). Engineering Approaches to Problem Solving and Design in Secondary School Science: Teachers as Design Coaches. Paper commissioned for the Committee on Science Investigations and Engineering Design for Grades 6–12. Board on Science Education, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Available: http://www.nas.edu/Science-Investigation-and-Design [October 2018].

Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: The Role of Assessment in Supporting Science Investigation and Engineering Design." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12: Investigation and Design at the Center. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25216.
×

Songer, N.B., Kelcey, B., and Gotwals., A.W. (2009). When and how does complex reasoning occur? Empirically driven development of a learning progression focused on complex reasoning about biodiversity. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, (46)6, 610–631.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: The Role of Assessment in Supporting Science Investigation and Engineering Design." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12: Investigation and Design at the Center. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25216.
×
Page 285
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: The Role of Assessment in Supporting Science Investigation and Engineering Design." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12: Investigation and Design at the Center. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25216.
×
Page 286
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: The Role of Assessment in Supporting Science Investigation and Engineering Design." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12: Investigation and Design at the Center. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25216.
×
Page 287
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: The Role of Assessment in Supporting Science Investigation and Engineering Design." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12: Investigation and Design at the Center. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25216.
×
Page 288
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: The Role of Assessment in Supporting Science Investigation and Engineering Design." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12: Investigation and Design at the Center. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25216.
×
Page 289
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: The Role of Assessment in Supporting Science Investigation and Engineering Design." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12: Investigation and Design at the Center. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25216.
×
Page 290
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: The Role of Assessment in Supporting Science Investigation and Engineering Design." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12: Investigation and Design at the Center. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25216.
×
Page 291
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: The Role of Assessment in Supporting Science Investigation and Engineering Design." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12: Investigation and Design at the Center. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25216.
×
Page 292
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: The Role of Assessment in Supporting Science Investigation and Engineering Design." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12: Investigation and Design at the Center. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25216.
×
Page 293
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: The Role of Assessment in Supporting Science Investigation and Engineering Design." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12: Investigation and Design at the Center. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25216.
×
Page 294
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: The Role of Assessment in Supporting Science Investigation and Engineering Design." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12: Investigation and Design at the Center. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25216.
×
Page 295
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: The Role of Assessment in Supporting Science Investigation and Engineering Design." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12: Investigation and Design at the Center. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25216.
×
Page 296
Next: Appendix B: Public Agenda for Meeting #1 - May 2017 »
Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12: Investigation and Design at the Center Get This Book
×
Buy Paperback | $49.95 Buy Ebook | $39.99
MyNAP members save 10% online.
Login or Register to save!
Download Free PDF

It is essential for today’s students to learn about science and engineering in order to make sense of the world around them and participate as informed members of a democratic society. The skills and ways of thinking that are developed and honed through engaging in scientific and engineering endeavors can be used to engage with evidence in making personal decisions, to participate responsibly in civic life, and to improve and maintain the health of the environment, as well as to prepare for careers that use science and technology.

The majority of Americans learn most of what they know about science and engineering as middle and high school students. During these years of rapid change for students’ knowledge, attitudes, and interests, they can be engaged in learning science and engineering through schoolwork that piques their curiosity about the phenomena around them in ways that are relevant to their local surroundings and to their culture. Many decades of education research provide strong evidence for effective practices in teaching and learning of science and engineering. One of the effective practices that helps students learn is to engage in science investigation and engineering design. Broad implementation of science investigation and engineering design and other evidence-based practices in middle and high schools can help address present-day and future national challenges, including broadening access to science and engineering for communities who have traditionally been underrepresented and improving students’ educational and life experiences.

Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12: Investigation and Design at the Center revisits America’s Lab Report: Investigations in High School Science in order to consider its discussion of laboratory experiences and teacher and school readiness in an updated context. It considers how to engage today’s middle and high school students in doing science and engineering through an analysis of evidence and examples. This report provides guidance for teachers, administrators, creators of instructional resources, and leaders in teacher professional learning on how to support students as they make sense of phenomena, gather and analyze data/information, construct explanations and design solutions, and communicate reasoning to self and others during science investigation and engineering design. It also provides guidance to help educators get started with designing, implementing, and assessing investigation and design.

  1. ×

    Welcome to OpenBook!

    You're looking at OpenBook, NAP.edu's online reading room since 1999. Based on feedback from you, our users, we've made some improvements that make it easier than ever to read thousands of publications on our website.

    Do you want to take a quick tour of the OpenBook's features?

    No Thanks Take a Tour »
  2. ×

    Show this book's table of contents, where you can jump to any chapter by name.

    « Back Next »
  3. ×

    ...or use these buttons to go back to the previous chapter or skip to the next one.

    « Back Next »
  4. ×

    Jump up to the previous page or down to the next one. Also, you can type in a page number and press Enter to go directly to that page in the book.

    « Back Next »
  5. ×

    Switch between the Original Pages, where you can read the report as it appeared in print, and Text Pages for the web version, where you can highlight and search the text.

    « Back Next »
  6. ×

    To search the entire text of this book, type in your search term here and press Enter.

    « Back Next »
  7. ×

    Share a link to this book page on your preferred social network or via email.

    « Back Next »
  8. ×

    View our suggested citation for this chapter.

    « Back Next »
  9. ×

    Ready to take your reading offline? Click here to buy this book in print or download it as a free PDF, if available.

    « Back Next »
Stay Connected!