How Students Learn: Science in the Classroom (National Research Council)


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Zeichner, for example, argued that teacher action research is an important aspect of effective professional development. According to Zeichner, to improve their learning and practices, teachers should become teacher researchers, conduct self-study research, and engage in teacher research groups.

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These collaborative groups provide teachers with support and opportunities to deeply analyze their learning and practices. Shulman defined seven knowledge bases for teachers: content knowledge, general pedagogical knowledge, curriculum knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge PCK , knowledge of learners and their characteristics, knowledge of educational context, and knowledge of educational ends, goals, and values.

According to Shulman, among these knowledge bases, PCK plays the most important role in effective teaching. Thus, to make effective pedagogical decisions about what to teach and how to teach it, teachers should develop both their PCK and pedagogical reasoning skills. Koehler and Mishra argued that for effective technology integration all three knowledge elements content, pedagogy, and technology should exist in a dynamic equilibrium.

According to McCrory, science teachers need to possess adequate knowledge of science to help students develop understandings of various science concepts. Having adequate pedagogical knowledge allows teachers to teach effectively a particular science concept to a particular group of students. Furthermore, well-developed knowledge of technology allows teachers to incorporate technologies into their classroom instruction.

TEC was designed to help secondary science teachers develop necessary knowledge and skills for integrating technology for science-as-inquiry teaching. TEC was a yearlong, intensive program, which included a 2-week-long summer introductory course about inquiry teaching and technology tools and follow-up group meetings throughout the school year associated with an online course about teacher action research. A LeMill community Web site was created at the beginning of the program.

Participant teachers created accounts and joined the TEC community Web site. Through this Web site, teachers interacted with the university researchers and their colleagues and were able to share and discuss lesson resources. Teachers engaged in inquiry-based activities while they were learning these technology tools. For example, teachers implemented a cookbook lab experiment about the greenhouse effect following the procedure given by the university educators. Teachers then modified this activity to be inquiry based. Through implementation, discussions, and reflections, teachers developed their understanding of inquiry and effectiveness of technology tools in student learning and inquiry.

Throughout the entire program teachers were encouraged to reflect on their classroom practices. Teachers each wrote about their experiences with technology tools and inquiry in their blogs on the LeMill community Web site. After learning about technology tools, teachers created lesson plans that included technology tools and loaded these lesson plans onto the LeMill Web site. Furthermore, each teacher developed a technology integration plan to follow in the subsequent school year.

During the school year, the teachers and the university educators met several times to discuss the constraints teachers had experienced in the integration of technology to practice reform-based science instruction. In addition, during the school year teachers used the LeMill site to ask questions, share lesson plans and curricula, and reflect on their teaching. In the online discussions and face-to-face meetings, the members of the learning community, the teachers and the university educators, engaged in numerous conversations about how to overcome these barriers e.

In spring , the teachers were formally engaged in teacher action research. They designed and conducted action research studies to reflect upon their practices and learning about technology. During this phase, university educators and teachers worked collaboratively. Teachers each prepared a Google document with their action research report and shared it with university educators and other teachers. The researchers provided necessary theoretical knowledge for teachers to design their studies.

Conducting action research allowed teachers to see the effectiveness of using technology tools in student learning. During this phase, the collaboration among teachers and the university educators fostered the growth of the learning community. The teachers in this study were the participants in the TEC professional development program that focused on technology integration in science classrooms. Eleven secondary science teachers enrolled in the program.

These teachers had varying levels of teaching experience, ranging from 1 to 17 years. Five of them were experienced and 6 of them were beginning secondary science teachers. Only beginning teachers were invited to participate in the present study since they had more commonalities with each other than with experienced teachers. For example, the beginning teachers all graduated from the same teacher education program and were all teaching their academic specialty. The teachers had recently completed preservice coursework focused on inquiry-based teaching and implementing science instruction with technology tools.

The other two beginning teachers did not participate in the study, as they did not have enough time to devote to the research study. More information about teachers can be found in Table 1. Pseudonyms are used for all teacher participants. In this study, triangulation was achieved through the various techniques of data collection as in Patton, Electronic surveys were sent to teachers four times during the program. To find what, when, and how teachers used technology tools and inquiry-based teaching during the fall semester, we sent a survey at the end of the semester.

Finally, after completing the online course, teachers received another survey that included questions about their overall experience in the program, what they learned, and how they applied their knowledge in their instruction. Interviews were conducted at the beginning and end of the summer program. Questions included were a How do your students learn science best? Teachers were required to write a technology integration plan at the end of the summer course.

In their plans, teachers explained in what ways, when, and how they could use technology tools in their classrooms during the upcoming school year. In addition, in their plans teachers talked about the constraints they might face while integrating technology into their teaching and how they could overcome these obstacles. Teachers were observed in their classrooms at least two times during the school year.

Observations were deliberately scheduled during a time when the teacher was using technology. Teacher artifacts such as lesson plans and student handouts were also collected. During spring , each teacher designed and conducted action research studies. Teachers reflected on their practices by identifying their own questions, documenting their own practices, analyzing their findings, and sharing their findings with university educators and other teachers.

A range of topics were addressed by the teachers. Many teachers, for example, focused on impact of a particular technology tool e. As the incidents were coded, we compared them with the previous incidents that coded in the same category to find common patterns, as well as differences in the data as in Glaser, As discussed in Merriam , categories emerging from the data were exhaustive, mutually exclusive, sensitizing, and conceptually congruent and reflected the purpose of the study. For example, the following categories were created for participant Cassie: misunderstanding of inquiry, lack of technological resources, unwillingness to change, mixed beliefs about technology, feeling of isolation, undeveloped conception of science, and weak teacher-student relationships.

At this time, we wrote case studies for each teacher based on the most salient categories that provided memos. The emergent salient categories were previous experiences with technology; beliefs about teaching, learning, and technology; the use of technology in classroom instruction; and the implementation of inquiry-based teaching. Case studies were written as recommended in Yin In the last phase of the analysis, we defined major themes derived from the data.

At the end of the program, the participant teachers of this study, Jason, Brenna, Matt, and Cassie met all the requirements for completing the program. However, teachers were each found to integrate technology into their teaching to various degrees. Jason was a first-year teacher at a suburban high school. He taught 9th- and 10th-grade biology. Before participating in the program, Jason had some experience with technology tools.

He felt comfortable using concept mapping tools CMap and Inspiration , temperature and pH probeware, and digital microscopes. At the end of the summer course, Jason designed a technology integration plan, in which he specifically explained which technology tools he was planning to use during the school year. Jason was excited to use VeeMaps and CMap tools in his classroom. They are much better at helping students clarify their previous knowledge, experimental procedure and implications of their work. As a beginning teacher Jason could not make effective decisions about how and when to use VeeMaps.

TEC had been his first experience with the concept of VeeMaps, and he did not feel comfortable using them in his classroom. On the other hand, Jason used CMaps once a month in his instruction. Results of this study encouraged Jason to use this tool more frequently in the next teaching year.

In addition to these tools, Jason created a Web site on his school server. He posted all his notes online for students to access. His students submitted their homework electronically. Since Jason had limited access to the probeware in his school, he did not incorporate it into his teaching. Jason was an advocate of inquiry-based teaching. Whether small guided activities or full inquiry labs, inquiry-based instruction is important to implement in place of typical cookbook labs. During the program, Jason learned how to turn the cookbook labs into inquiry activities.

Jason had a rigid conception of inquiry. For him, all inquiry lessons, technology integrated or not, should allow students to. Student experiments should reduce their investigation into a single variable. In the observed inquiry lesson on bacteria, students investigated antibacterial products on strains of bacterial colonies.

Students posed their own research questions; they set up experiments and then tested variables such as detergent, soap, and toothpaste on bacterial growth. This inquiry activity did not involve any technology tools. Brenna was a second-year teacher at a suburban middle school. She taught eighth-grade Earth science. Prior to participating in the program, Brenna did not have much previous experience with many of the basic technology tools. She was not comfortable with using computers for sharing and collaboration. However, she knew about probeware, Google Earth, and CMap tools.

She had not used many of the tools previously since she did not know how to solve technology-related problems. Before participating in the program, Brenna used only Powerpoint presentations and some Google Earth demos in her teaching. After learning various tools in the program, Brenna decided to create a 3-year technology integration plan. For example, in an observed lesson, Brenna asked her students to design their density lab in which they compare the density of different materials of their choice.

Brenna provided many materials, such as vinegar, vegetable oil, and irregular shapes of solids like pennies and rocks. In their VeeMaps students wrote hypotheses, a list of new words, procedures, results, and conclusions of their experiments. Brenna was also observed while she used clickers in her teaching. Clickers, also known as student response systems or classroom response systems, help teachers create interactive classroom environments.

In her classroom, Brenna used clickers to get information about student learning. This approach allowed Brenna to see student feedback in real time and address the areas where students had difficulty understanding. Even though Brenna integrated many of the technology tools that she learned in the program, she felt that she still needed more training with technology. She was not comfortable with using many of the tools. For example, during one of the observed classes, Brenna used a PowerPoint presentation when suddenly the computer screen turned black. Brenna could not figure out how to solve the problem.

Ten minutes later, she sent a student to the administration office to find the technology teacher and asked him for help. While waiting for the technology teacher to come and fix the problem, a student offered Brenna help to figure out the problem. The student found that the computer turned off since Brenna forgot to plug in the power cord. After the minute long chaos, Brenna fixed the problem and then continued her lesson. Another concern that Brenna had was that she needed more time creating technology-enhanced curriculum units. Brenna thought that collaboration among her colleagues might help her to create technology-rich lesson plans because it was time consuming otherwise.

Brenna implemented a few inquiry activities in her classroom. According to her, she took the ordinary labs that she implemented before and changed parts of them to be more inquiry based. In addition, during the inquiry activities rather than facilitating students Brenna was mostly directing them on what to do and what not to do. Matt was a third-year science teacher in a private middle school.

He taught eighth-grade physical science and life science.

David Didau - What can science tell us about how students learn?

Prior to participating in the program, Matt had previous knowledge and experience with many technology tools. As Matt put it,. I taught in a method that used shared CMaps to elicit student understandings about concepts I was teaching about.

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After engaging students in activities that challenged their understandings we had a class discussion that built a class consensus around the results of the activity. The activities included: examining the variables that affect elastic interaction, how a constant force affects a low friction car, and what affect added mass has to acceleration.

Matt uploaded many of these maps to his class Web site. Matt valued online discussions since he believed that they encourage students to participate in and more deeply analyze the course materials. In addition to concept mapping and online student discussion boards, Matt also implemented probeware several times in his teaching after he participated in the program. Students were involved in a multiday environmental study at a local creek, and they made quick measurements of temperature and pH using probeware.

Another tool that Matt gave priority to in his teaching was simulation. Matt was a proponent of inquiry-based teaching. He believed that students learn science best while they are doing it. Thus, he frequently used inquiry activities in his classroom. Although some of these activities were long term science projects such as testing water quality in the creek, others were one-class-period-long inquiry activities. Recognizing these convergent factors, the Carnegie Corporation of New York provided funding for a two-stage process of standards development.

In the first stage the NRC developed the framework ; in the second stage, now under way, a consortium of 26 states coordinated by Achieve, Inc. The framework is designed to help realize a vision for education in the sciences and engineering in which students, over multiple years, actively engage in science and engineering practices and apply crosscutting concepts to deepen their understanding of the core ideas in these fields. NRC , pp. Although state standards for K—12 science education have existed since the mids, the new framework incorporates several innovations that represent significant advances in approaches to learning and teaching.

First, science and engineering consist of both knowing and doing; simply memorizing discrete facts or the steps in a design process does not lead to deep understanding and development of flexible skills. Instead, the practices of science and engineering—what scientists and engineers actually do—must have a central place in science classrooms. Second, the framework focuses on a set of core ideas investigated in increasing depth over multiple years of schooling as well as crosscutting concepts that are important across science and engineering disciplines.

These innovations are described in the sections below. Unfortunately, at present many K—12 students do not have access to opportunities that allow them to experience science and engineering as envisioned in the framework NRC ; Schmidt and McKnight This problem is particularly acute for students in schools that enroll higher concentrations of non-Asian minority students and for students in high-poverty schools NRC a; Weiss et al.

The vision of the framework takes on this problem of access, emphasizing that all students can learn science and engineering and should have opportunities to engage in the full range of science and engineering practices. The overarching goal of the framework is to ensure that by the end of 12th grade, all students have some appreciation of the beauty and wonder of science and engineering; possess sufficient knowledge of science and engineering to engage in public discussions on related issues; are informed consumers of scientific and technological information related to their everyday lives; can continue to learn about science and engineering outside school; and have the skills to enter careers of their choice, especially in science, engineering, and technology.

The framework is based on a rich and growing body of research on teaching and learning as well as nearly two decades of efforts to define foundational knowledge and skills for K—12 science and engineering. The NRC committee members—learning scientists, educational researchers, or educational policymakers or practitioners—were charged with identifying the scientific and engineering ideas and practices that are most important for K—12 students to learn.

The committee and design teams reviewed evidence including research on learning and teaching in science and engineering, national-level documents that provide guidance on what students should know in science and engineering, and evaluations of previous standards efforts. They also carefully considered NRC reports published over the last decade. The committee concluded that K—12 science and engineering education should support the integration of knowledge and practice, focus on a limited number of disciplinary core ideas and crosscutting concepts, and be designed so that students continually build on and revise their knowledge and abilities through the years.

In support of these aims, the framework consists of a limited number of elements in three dimensions: 1 scientific and engineering practices, 2 crosscutting concepts, and 3 disciplinary core ideas in science and engineering see Box 1. To support learning all three dimensions need to be integrated in standards, curricula, instruction, and assessment and should be developed across grades K— Box 1 Dimension 1: Scientific and Engineering Practices. Dimension 1 focuses on important practices used by scientists and engineers, such as modeling, developing explanations or solutions, and engaging in argumentation.

Engaging in the full range of scientific practices helps students understand how scientific knowledge develops and gives them an appreciation of the wide range of approaches to investigate, model, and explain the world. Similarly, engaging in the practices of engineering helps students understand the work of engineers and the links between engineering and science. It also provides opportunities for students to apply their scientific knowledge. Research shows that students best understand scientific ideas and engineering design when they actively use their knowledge while engaging in the practices.

A major goal of the framework is to shift the emphasis in science education from teaching detailed facts to immersing students in doing science and engineering and understanding the big picture ideas. This might look different in 2nd grade, 8th grade, and 10th grade, but at all levels students have the capacity to think scientifically and engage in the practices.

By engaging in and reflecting on the full range of science and engineering practices, students develop their understanding of not only the topic at hand but also both the nature of science and the rigorous process by which the scientific community comes to accept one explanation as better than another in describing a phenomenon. Likewise they learn how engineers apply similarly rigorous analysis in a systematic way in developing, testing, and revising designs for solutions to problems.

Dimension 2 defines seven key crosscutting concepts for science and engineering. These concepts provide students with ways to connect knowledge from the various disciplines into a coherent and scientific view of the world. Throughout their science and engineering education, students should learn about the crosscutting concepts in ways that illustrate their applicability across all of the core ideas. Dimension 3 describes disciplinary core ideas for the physical sciences, life sciences, and earth and space sciences because these disciplines are typically included in K—12 science education.

Engineering, technology, and applications of science are featured alongside these disciplines for three critical reasons: to reflect the importance of understanding the human-built world, to stress the applications of science in the lives of students, and to integrate the teaching and learning of science, engineering, and technology and thus demonstrate their value for learning both science and engineering design.

In developing the core ideas the committee sought both to limit the number of discrete ideas included and to illustrate the rich, conceptual nature of explanations in science. The focus on a limited number of core ideas is designed to allow for deep exploration of important concepts as well as time for students to develop meaningful understanding, to actually practice science and engineering, and to reflect on their nature.

Research on learning shows that to develop a thorough understanding of scientific explanations of the world, students need sustained opportunities to engage in the practices and work with the underlying ideas and to appreciate the interconnections among those ideas over a period of years rather than weeks or months NRC The design of the framework is intended to support this kind of coherence across grades.

Thus, in addition to explaining the core and component ideas, the committee described which aspects of each core idea should be learned by the end of grades 2, 5, 8, and Importantly, these progressions begin in the earliest grades. Thus, before they even enter school children have developed their own ideas about the physical, biological, and social worlds and how they work.

By listening to and taking these ideas seriously, educators can build on what children already know and can do. The implication of these findings for the framework is that building progressively more complex explanations of natural phenomena should be central throughout K—5, as opposed to focusing only on description in the early grades and leaving explanation to the later grades.

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Similarly, students can engage in scientific and engineering practices beginning in the earliest grades. As noted, one of the major innovations of the framework is the integration of engineering across all three dimensions. Engineering and technology were included in previous national standards, but at the state level either science standards do not include them or they are not implemented in the classroom.

Although most states have adopted the Standards for Technological Literacy ITEEA , the teacher corps for delivering this content is an order of magnitude smaller than that for science. Once the knowl- edge to be learned is well defined, assessment is required to monitor stu- dent progress in mastering concepts as well as factual information , to un- derstand where students are in the developmental path from informal to formal thinking, and to design instruction that is responsive to student progress. An important feature of the assessment-centered classroom is assess- ment that supports learning by providing students with opportunities to revise and improve their thinking.

They may be quite informal. A physics teacher, for example, reports showing students who are about to study structure a video clip of a bridge collapsing. He asks his students why they think the bridge. In giving their answers, the students reveal their preconceptions about structure. Differences in their answers provide puzzles that engage the students in self-questioning.

As the students study structure, they can mark their changing understanding against their initial beliefs. Assessment in this sense provides a starting point for additional instruction rather than a summative ending. Formative assessments are often referred to as "class- room-based assessments" because, as compared with standardized assess- ments, they are most likely to occur in the context of the classrooms. How- ever, many classroom-based assessments are summative rather than formative they are used to provide grades at the end of a unit with no opportunities to revise.

In addition, one can use standardized assessments in a formative manner e. Ultimately, students need to develop metacognitive abilities--the habits of mind necessary to assess their own progress--rather than relying solely on external indicators. A number of studies show that achievement improves when students are encouraged to assess their own contributions and work. For example, in quantitative courses such as physics, many students simply focus on formulas and fail to think first about the problem to be solved and its relation to key ideas in the discipline e. When students are helped to do the latter, their performance on new problems greatly improves.

Early activities or problems given to students are designed to make student thinking public and, therefore, ob- servable by teachers. Work in groups and class discussions provide students with the opportunity to ask each other questions and revise their own think- ing. In some cases, the formative assessments are formal, but even when informal the teaching described in the chapters involves frequent opportuni- ties for both teachers and students to assess understanding and its progress over time.

Community-Centered Classroom Environments A community-centered approach requires the development of norms for the classroom and school, as well as connections to the outside world, that support core learning values. Learning is influenced in fundamental ways by the context in which it takes place.

Every community, including classrooms and schools, operates with a set of norms, a culture--explicit or implicit--that influences interactions among individuals. This culture, in turn, mediates learning. The principles of How People Learn have important im-. She gives the teachers the following scenario p. How would you approach these problems if you were teaching second grade?

What would you say pupils would need to understand or be able to do before they could start learning subtraction with regrouping? The responses of teachers were wide-ranging, reflecting very different levels of un- derstanding of the core mathematical concepts.

Some teachers focused on the need for students to learn the procedure for subtraction with regrouping p. Some teachers in both the United States and China saw the knowledge to be mas- tered as procedural, though the proportion who held this view was considerably higher in the United States.

Many teachers in both countries believed students needed a concep- tual understanding, but within this group there were considerable differences. Some teachers wanted children to think through what they were doing, while others wanted them to understand core mathematical concepts. The difference can be seen in the two explanations below. They have to understand what the number 64 means. I would show that the number 64, and the number 5 tens and 14 ones, equal the I would try to draw the comparison between that because when you are doing regrouping it is not so much knowing the facts, it is the regrouping part that has to be understood.

The regrouping right from the beginning.

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This explanation is more conceptual than the first and helps students think more deeply about the subtraction problem. But it does not make clear to students the more fundamental concept of the place value system that allows the subtraction problems to be connected to other areas of mathematics. In the place value system, numbers are "composed" of tens. Students already have been taught to compose tens as 10 ones, and hundreds as 10 tens.


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A Chinese teacher explains as follows p. The answer is simple: Ask students how many ones there are in a 10, or ask them what the rate for composing a higher value unit is, their answers will be the same: However, the effect of the two questions on their learning is not the. When you remind students that 1 ten equals 10 ones, you tell them the fact that is used in the procedure. And, this somehow confines them to the fact.


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When you require them to think about the rate for composing a higher value unit, you lead them to a theory that explains the fact as well as the procedure. Such an understanding is more powerful than a specific fact. It can be applied to more situations. Once they realize that the rate of composing a higher value unit, 10 is the reason why we decompose a ten into 10 ones, they will apply it to other situations.

You don't need to remind them again that 1 hundred equals 10 tens when in the future they learn subtraction with three-digit numbers. They will be able to figure it out on their own. Emphasizing core concepts does not imply less of an emphasis on mastery of pro- cedures or algorithms.

Rather, it suggests that procedural knowledge and skills be orga- nized around core concepts. Ma describes those Chinese teachers who emphasize core concepts as seeing the knowledge in "packages" in which the concepts and skills are related. While the packages differed somewhat from teacher to teacher, the knowledge "pieces" to be included were the same. She illustrates a knowledge package for sub- traction with regrouping, which is reproduced below p.

The two shaded elements in the knowledge package are considered critical. That ability is viewed as both conceptual and procedural. Subtraction with regrouping of large numbers Subtractions with regrouping of numbers between 20 and The composition of Subtraction without numbers within regrouping Addition and subtraction within 20 The rate of composing Addition without carrying a higher value unit Addition and subtraction within 10 The composition of 10 Composing and decomposing a higher value unit Addition and subtraction as inverse operations SOURCE: Ma Illustration reprinted with permission of Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Consider the finding that new learning builds on existing conceptions, for example. If classroom norms encourage and reward students only for being "right," we would expect students to hesitate when asked to reveal their unschooled thinking. And yet revealing precon- ceptions and changing ideas in the course of instruction is a critical compo- nent of effective learning and responsive teaching. A focus on student think- ing requires classroom norms that encourage the expression of ideas tentative and certain, partially and fully formed , as well as risk taking. It requires that mistakes be viewed not as revelations of inadequacy, but as helpful contri- butions in the search for understanding.

Through asking questions of other students, skills at monitoring understanding are honed, and through answering the questions of fellow students, understanding of what one has communicated effectively is strength- ened. To those ends, classroom norms that encourage questioning and al- low students to try the role of the questioner sometimes reserved for teach- ers are important. While the chapters in this volume make few direct references to learn- ing communities, they are filled with descriptions of interactions revealing classroom cultures that support learning with understanding.

In these class- rooms, students are encouraged to question; there is much discussion among students who work to solve problems in groups. While teachers may fully grasp the importance of working with students' prior conceptions, they need to know the typical conceptions of students with respect to the topic about to be taught. For example, it may help science teachers to know that students harbor misconceptions that can be problematic, but those teachers will be in a much better position to teach a unit on light if they know specifically what misconceptions students typically exhibit when learning about light.

Moreover, while teachers may be fully convinced that knowledge should be organized around important concepts, the concepts that help organize their particular topic may not be at all clear. History teachers may know that. To make this observation is in no way to fault teachers.

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Indeed, as the group involved in this project engaged in the discussion, drafting, and review of various chapters of this volume, it became clear that the relevant core concepts in specific areas are not always obvious, transparent, or uncontested. Finally, approaches to supporting metacognition can be quite difficult to carry out in classroom contexts. Some approaches to instruction reduce metacognition to its simplest form, such as making note of the subtitles in a text and what they signal about what is to come, or rereading for meaning.

The more challenging tasks of metacognition are difficult to reduce to an instructional recipe: to help students develop the habits of mind to reflect spontaneously on their own thinking and problem solving, to encourage them to activate relevant background knowledge and monitor their under- standing, and to support them in trying the lens through which those in a particular discipline view the world. The goal is to provide for teachers what we have argued above is critical to effective learning--the application of concepts about learning in enough different, concrete con- texts to give them deeper meaning.

To this end, we invited contributions from researchers with extensive experience in teaching or partnering with teachers, whose work incorpo- rates the ideas highlighted in How People Learn. The chapter authors were given leeway in the extent to which the three learning principles and the four classroom characteristics described above were treated explicitly or implicitly.

Most of the authors chose to emphasize the three learning prin- ciples explicitly as they described their lessons and findings. The four design characteristics of the How People Learn framework Figure are implicitly represented in the activities sketched in each of the chapters but often not discussed explicitly. Interested readers can map these discussions to the How People Learn framework if they desire.

While we began with a common description of our goal, we had no common model from which to work. One can point to excellent research. There are also examples of excellent curricula, but the goal of these chapters is to give far more atten- tion to the principles of learning and their incorporation into teaching than is typical of curriculum materials. Thus the authors were charting new terri- tory as they undertook this task, and each found a somewhat different path. This volume includes four science chapters. Following the introductory Chapter 2, the science part treats three very different topics: light and shadow at the elementary school level Chapter 3 , gravity at the middle school level Chapter 4 , and genetics and evolution at the high school level Chapter 5.

The topics in this part of the volume were chosen at the three grade levels for the opportunities they provide to explore the learning principles of interest, rather than for their common representation in a standard curricular sequences. Light as a topic might just as well appear in middle or high school as in elementary school, for ex- ample, and physics is generally taught either in middle school or high school. The major focus of the volume is student learning. It is clear that suc- cessful and sustainable changes in educational practice also require learning by others, including teachers, principals, superintendents, parents, and com- munity members.

For the present volume, however, student learning is the focus, and issues of adult learning are left for others to take up. The willingness of the chapter authors to accept this task represents an outstanding contribution to the field. First, all the authors devoted consider- able time to this effort--more than any of them had anticipated initially.

Second, they did so knowing that some readers will disagree with virtually every teaching decision discussed in these chapters. But by making their thinking visible and inviting discussion, they are helping the field progress as a whole. The examples discussed in this volume are not offered as "the" way to teach, but as approaches to instruction that in some important re- spects are designed to incorporate the principles of learning highlighted in How People Learn and that can serve as valuable examples for further dis- cussion.

In , Nobel laureate Richard Feynman, who was well known as an extraordinary teacher, delivered a series of lectures in introductory physics that were recorded and preserved. Feynman's focus was on the fundamental principles of physics, not the fundamental principles of learning. But his lessons apply nonetheless. He emphasized how little the fundamental prin- ciples of physics "as we now understand them" tell us about the complexity of the world despite the enormous importance of the insights they offer. Feynman offered an effective analogy for the relationship between under- standing general principles identified through scientific efforts and under-.

We do not know what the rules of the game are; all we are allowed to do is to watch the playing. Of course, if we watch long enough, we may eventually catch on to a few of the rules. The rules of the game are what we mean by fundamental physics. Even if we knew every rule, however, we might not be able to understand why a particular move is made in the game, merely because it is too complicated and our minds are limited. If you play chess you must know that it is easy to learn all the rules, and yet it is often very hard to select the best move or to understand why a player moves as he does.

Aside from not knowing all of the rules, what we really can explain in terms of those rules is very limited, because almost all situations are so enormously complicated that we cannot follow the plays of the game using the rules, much less tell what is going to happen next. Feynman's metaphor is helpful in two respects. First, what each chapter offers goes well beyond the science of learning and relies on creativity in strategy develop- ment. And yet what we know from research thus far is critical in defining the constraints on strategy development.

Second, what we expect to learn from a well-played game in this case, what we expect to learn from well-concep- tualized instruction is not how to reproduce it. Even if we could replicate every move, this would be of little help. In an actual game, the best move must be identified in response to another party's move. In just such a fashion, a teacher's "game" must respond to the rather unpre- dictable "moves" of the students in the classroom whose learning is the target.

This, then, is not a "how to" book, but a discussion of strategies that incorporate the rules of the game as we currently understand them. The science of learning is a young, emerging one. We expect our understanding to evolve as we design new learning opportunities and observe the out- comes, as we study learning among children in different contexts and from different backgrounds, and as emerging research techniques and opportuni- ties provide new insights. These chapters, then, might best be viewed as part of a conversation begun some years ago with the first How People Learn volume.

By clarifying ideas through a set of rich examples, we hope to encourage the continuation of a productive dialogue well into the future. National Research Council, Lionni, National Research Council, , p. Needham and Baillargeon, Vosniadou and Brewer, Carey and Gelman, ; Driver et al.

Hanson, Judd, ; see a conceptual replication by Hendrickson and Schroeder, White and Fredrickson, Bransford and Schwartz, Brown, ; Flavell, Keeney et al. Palincsar and Brown, Aleven and Koedinger, Thorndike, Brown et al. Wood and Sellers, National Research Council, , Chapter 2. Bruner, , pp. Barron et al. Leonard et al. National Research Council, , pp. Ma, Brown and Campione, ; Cobb et al. Feynman, , p. An effective metacognitive strategy--Learning by doing and explaining with a computer-based cognitive tutor. Cognitive Sci- ence, 26, American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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How Students Learn: Science in the Classroom (National Research Council) How Students Learn: Science in the Classroom (National Research Council)
How Students Learn: Science in the Classroom (National Research Council) How Students Learn: Science in the Classroom (National Research Council)
How Students Learn: Science in the Classroom (National Research Council) How Students Learn: Science in the Classroom (National Research Council)
How Students Learn: Science in the Classroom (National Research Council) How Students Learn: Science in the Classroom (National Research Council)
How Students Learn: Science in the Classroom (National Research Council) How Students Learn: Science in the Classroom (National Research Council)
How Students Learn: Science in the Classroom (National Research Council) How Students Learn: Science in the Classroom (National Research Council)
How Students Learn: Science in the Classroom (National Research Council) How Students Learn: Science in the Classroom (National Research Council)
How Students Learn: Science in the Classroom (National Research Council) How Students Learn: Science in the Classroom (National Research Council)

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