LogoScience IDEAS Project: 2002-2009

Science IDEAS: Advanced Teaching Components

This section presents a set of Science IDEAS “advanced components”. Although the development of these components should be considered “in progress ”, all of the components have undergone significant field-testing with Science IDEAS teachers or in other settings. The development of the Science IDEAS advanced components was initiated during the latter part of the NSF/IERI project. The objective of this development imitative was twofold: (a) to provide Science IDEAS teachers with the tools and strategies for optimizing science instruction within Science IDEAS and (b) to provide the means for extending the applications of the research foundations of Science IDEAS to improving instruction in other content domains.

In Science IDEAS, the overall instructional architecture for teachers planning and implementing instruction provided a “conceptual focus” for science instruction that, as a “constraint” insuring knowledge-based instruction, allowed teachers a wide degree of flexibility at the day-to-day classroom level. In all cases, teachers planned for and used a sequence of Science IDEAS elements that focused explicitly on the concepts to be taught across multi-day lessons. Such concept-focused instruction resulted in the sequencing and repeating the use of different types of instructional activities as necessary to insure meaningful learning (e.g., reading multiple sources, doing a variety of hands-on activities, continued updating of journals). As long as the general requirements for using each element were met, teachers had substantial flexibility, not only in sequencing activities; but also in using their individual “teaching styles” styles to implement them.

Although research findings repeatedly confirmed the effectiveness of this operational Science IDEAS framework, it was also clear through a careful research-based analysis and discussions with Science IDEAS teachers that the capacity of teachers to accelerate student learning on a per-unit-time basis could be strengthened by building their proficiency on several key components of instruction. That is, while the Science Ideas model resulted in effective instruction, strengthening teacher proficiency in key areas of instruction had the potential to make it even more effective while providing teachers with skills applicable to instruction in other content areas. Of equal importance, the Science IDEAS advanced teaching components provide a means through which Science IDEAS can positively impact the quality of instruction in other instructional content domains (e.g., social studies, mathematics, literature).

The following shows the different teaching components of the Original and Advanced Science IDEAS models:  Advanced Science IDEAS Model Graph.

The specific Science IDEAS advanced teaching components are the following:

Curriculum-Based Classroom Assessment

This component allows teachers to focus instruction more precisely on different facets of science understanding by supporting their capacity to construct curriculum-based science assessment of student concept learning. The fundamental forms of science assessment that result in learning addressed by the assessment component include the following student outcomes: (a) identifying, constructing, or distinguishing between of examples illustrating the presence or absence of a concept in everyday scenarios, (b) predicting or describing how to produce a specific outcome in everyday scenarios, based upon knowledge of concept relationship(s), and (c) explaining plausible reasons for an occurrence based upon prior knowledge of relevant concept relationships (i.e., abductive reasoning).

Concept Introduction

Effectively introducing concepts in a time-efficient fashion provides an important means for increasing meaningful learning per-unit-time. The strategies in this advanced component are designed to be used as an introductory “front-end” to the form of extended, in-depth, concept instruction that occurs in Science IDEAS. Included among this component are strategies for introducing: (a) concepts, (b) concept relationships, (c) hierarchical concepts, and (d) process/performance skills. The methodological foundation of each of these strategies is teaching through patterns of examples and non-examples.

Student Motivation

Although fidelity of implementation monitoring has shown Science IDEAS classrooms to be affectively positive, this advanced component student motivation strategy is designed to make the linkage between conceptual learning in science (or increasing proficiency in reading comprehension) and student recognition of achievement progress more explicit on a continuing basis. In turn, such student recognition of learning progress provides a strong foundation for the strategy components that motivate students through future learning “challenges”. The complementary variants of the student motivation strategy are implemented through curricular-focused and formatted verbal interchanges between teachers and students.