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Students leverage various resources to learn science

We not only want students to become proficient in the knowledge of biology (and other sciences) but also we want students to understand how the tools of biology can be leveraged to learn new things. To develop both of these knowledge bases students access various resources to learn. These can include material resources (i.e., books, microscopes) and also cognitive resources (i.e., prior knowledge of biology, prior life experiences, views of how knowledge develops). These studies focus on examination of some of these resources.

Study 01: Epistemic Resources

A key resource that students draw upon in learning science is their views of how knowledge is created (epistemic views) within the discipline of study (i.e. biology). This series of studies seeks to understand how performance-based assessments (such as sort tasks) can be used to assess students’ understanding of the epistemic practices of science.  This project began by taking an argument-based approach to validation of a sort task targeting student knowledge of scientific practices. Future research will examine classroom factors that support development of epistemic views of science.


Study 02: Representation of Science in elementary level science trade books

With the increased emphasis on reading and mathematics in primary grade levels, science is being pushed out of the curriculum. As such, in many schools the major interaction that students have with science (during the formal education) is by reading science trade books. These books are often filled with facts and key concepts in science but how do they represent science as a way of knowing? This project is analyzing science trade books that have won awards as the best science trade books from the National Science Teachers Association to determine the extent to which scientific practices are captured in the books.


These projects have recently begun. We will update publications as the project develops.


We would like to thank Boeing for supporting this project.