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4 minutes reading time (796 words)

The National Academies Report on Science Education

The National Academies Press is an exceedingly good source of free books and reports about a very wide range of science and engineering topics (Moursund, 2016b). This IAE Blog discusses a recent report, Seeing Students Learn Science: Integrating Assessment and Instruction in the Classroom (Beatty & Schweingruber, 2017).

The following quote describes the book:

Science educators in the United States are adapting to a new vision of how students learn science. Children are natural explorers and their observations and intuitions about the world around them are the foundation for science learning. Unfortunately, the way science has been taught in the United States has not always taken advantage of those attributes. Some students who successfully complete their K–12 science classes have not really had the chance to “do” science for themselves in ways that harness their natural curiosity and understanding of the world around them.

The introduction of the Next Generation Science Standards led many states, schools, and districts to change curricula, instruction, and professional development to align with the standards. Therefore, existing assessments—whatever their purpose—cannot be used to measure the full range of activities and interactions happening in science classrooms that have adapted to these ideas because they were not designed to do so. Seeing Students Learn Science is meant to help educators improve their understanding of how students learn science and guide the adaptation of their instruction and approach to assessment. It includes examples of innovative assessment formats, ways to embed assessments in engaging classroom activities, and ideas for interpreting and using novel kinds of assessment information. It provides ideas and questions educators can use to reflect on what they can adapt right away and what they can work toward more gradually.

In my opinion, this is an excellent addition to the science education literature. I particularly like the emphasis on learning by doing. Often this involves students working on projects (Moursund, 2016a) This has long been an important aspect of science education, and such a recommendation well deserves to be reiterated.

Here are the chapter titles:

  1. What’s Really Different?
  2. What Does This Kind of Assessment Look Like?
  3. What Can I Learn from My Students’ Work?
  4. Building New Kinds of Assessments into the Flow of Your Instruction.
  5. You and Your School, District, and State.

Notice the strong emphasis on assessment. As students learn by doing, the teachers need to be fully engaged in providing individualized and group feedback and help, and formative assessment. Moreover, assessment needs to move well beyond the memorize and regurgitate teaching and assessment that is so common in our schools.

Page vii of the book contains the following statement. It helps to provide an overview of current goals in science education.

[By] the end of 12th grade, all students [will] have some appreciation of the beauty and wonder of science; possess sufficient knowledge of science and engineering to engage in public discussions on related issues; are careful consumers of scientific and technological information related to their everyday lives; are able to continue to learn about science outside school; and have the skills to enter careers of their choice, including (but not limited to) careers in science, engineering, and technology.

Information and Communication Technology

I did three searches on this document: computer; simulation OR computer simulation; and model OR computer model. The number of hits that I found was pleasing to me. Clearly the document pays serious attention to roles of computers in teaching, learning, and making use of science.

What You Can Do

The Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) disciplines are part of every area of human intellectual endeavor. Thus, our schools face the task both of teaching these specific disciplines and appropriately integrating them into all areas of the school curriculum.

Similarly, parents who have children in school need to be able to interact with their children across all areas of the curriculum.

Thus, my recommendation is that all teachers, as well as parents and guardians of school age children, should familiarize themselves with the general ideas in Seeing Students Learn Science.

References and Resources

Beatty, A., & Schweingruber, H. (2017). Seeing students learn science: Integrating assessment and instruction in the classroom. The National Academies Press. Retrieved 3/29/2017 from

Moursund, D. (2016a). Project-based learning. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 3/29/2017 from

Moursund, D. (2016b). What is science? IAE-pedia. Retrieved 3/29/2017 from

Moursund, D. (6/5/2016). Virtual reality in the science lab. IAE Blog. Retrieved 3/29/2017 from

Moursund, D., & Sylwester, R., eds. (10/9/2015). Validity and credibility of information. Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. Download a free Microsoft Word file from Download a free PDF file from

Free Educational Resources from IAE

IAE publishes and makes available four free online resources:

Education for the Future: A Special Message for Te...
Vinton Cerf, Information and Communications Techn...


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Friday, 18 June 2021

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