1 Focus of the workshop and its relevance to the ASTE membership.
The adoption or adaptation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) by many states now calls on teachers to translate the new standards into classroom instruction that includes assessments unlike those in the past (Pellegrino, 2016). Three-dimensional assessments that drive student learning are difficult to develop. Developing assessments of student understanding aligned with the three dimensions of NGSS is a complicated process because students are required to demonstrate their understanding of scientific concepts via the application of science and engineering practices that connect science concepts across disciplines (Robelen, 2013).
A report from the National Research Council (2014) described how three-dimensional science assessments should be designed, noting that the tasks or prompts students respond to must include multiple components in order for students to demonstrate proficient use of eight different science and engineering practices. Additionally, the performance expectations of the NGSS require students to apply their conceptual understanding across disciplines via a variety of crosscutting concepts. The report (NRC, 2014) notes that student conceptual understanding will fall along a continuum and develop over time. Finally, teachers will require a system for interpreting evidence of student learning and need tools for determining next instructional steps. Teachers and ultimately science teacher educators will need resources and strategies that better prepare the next generation of teachers for an assessment system that currently counters the assessments present in many school districts.
How can science teacher educators support teachers in creating new assessments of student learning? How can formative assessments and instruction in science classroom be aligned to meet the characteristics described above? The focus of this workshop will be a process for developing multi-dimensional formative assessments alongside teachers. Additionally, strategies and tools for evaluating student responses to these assessments will be discussed so science teacher educators can work in partnership with teachers as they shift their instruction to the vision set forth by the NGSS.
Science teacher educators will need to work collaboratively to ensure high quality resources and assessment strategies are being developed in partnership with teachers attempting to translate NGSS. Furtak (2017) recently assembled a virtual issue of Science Education that identifies some complex “problems of practice” that teachers encounter when developing and using three-dimensional assessments in their classrooms. A few of the problems of practice identified included the complexity in developing tasks that elicit and assess students’ three-dimensional science learning (Kang, Thompson, & Windschitl, 2014), and an unrealistic expectation for teachers to design three-dimensional assessments without support (DeBarger et al., 2017). Moreover, K-8 teachers have unique needs for making and implementing instructional change. First, time devoted to elementary science has decreased dramatically due to accountability pressures (Griffith & Scharmann, 2008). Second, in a large national sample, over 60% of elementary teachers spent less than 6 hours in science-related professional development [PD] in the last three years (Trygstad, Smith, Banilower & Nelson, 2013). Finally, teachers face cognitive and motivational factors that hinder their willingness to adopt new teaching strategies, which are difficult to overcome without support (Dogan, Pringle & Mesa, 2015). We hope this workshop will bring together science teacher educators to meet these challenges in supporting teachers and consider a process we have successfully used with teachers to support instructional shifts toward NGSS.
The process we will describe and use with attendees has been developed through our work with two diverse sets of teachers in Kentucky in a multi-year partnership. Kentucky is an early adopter of the NGSS, so teachers are particularly eager to use instructional practices that will prepare their students for the new science assessment system being developed. One teacher group consisted of about 50 middle school teachers in a large urban school district. The second group consisted of 50 elementary and middle school teachers from seven small districts in rural western Kentucky. Although these groups teach in different circumstances, they faced similar challenges associated with aligning their assessment strategies and instructional practice to the demands of the NGSS. When teachers develop and use self-made, formative assessments aligned with NGSS, they develop a better understanding of what students are supposed to know and be able to do at the end of each grade band (Heredia, et al, 2016). Additionally, by utilizing an iterative planning cycle that moves between understanding various performance expectations and development of assessments, this professional development process aligns with the widely accepted “backwards design” model of curriculum development (Wiggins & McTigue, 2005).
2 Outline of the sequence and duration of workshop activities for a 2-hour workshop.
We plan on 20 minutes each for the following six workshop components:
I. Introduction, overview of workshop—NGSS and assessment. Format of the workshop will be an immersion model where attendees experience learning and reflection through both science teacher educator (STE) and classroom teacher lenses.
II. Using NGSS to plan for instruction: Deepen understanding of NGSS by organizing conceptual ideas, practices, and performance expectations to promote curricular coherence in a unit of instruction. (Teacher lens)
III. Using NGSS performance expectations to plan for classroom assessment: Deepen understanding of performance expectations and develop specifications to guide planning for formative assessments. (Teacher lens)
IV. Using performance expectations specifications to develop assessment tasks that can be embedded in instruction. (Teacher lens)
V. Examination and reflection on teacher-developed formative assessments, and teachers’ analysis and interpretation of student responses. What did teachers know and understand about NGSS, assessments and their students’ understanding? How can that help science teacher educators use this process? (STE lens)
VI. Wrap-up—what do we now understand about this process as used with teachers? How could it be used with pre-service teachers? Where can science teacher educators obtain more resources? (STE lens)
3 Learning objectives, instructional strategies, and evaluation
Three specific learning objectives for attendees include: 1) development of NGSS-aligned formative assessments in a process that could be used with teachers that will help teachers consider their instructional practices; 2) using interpretation approaches that could be employed with teachers for analyzing student work from these formative assessments and informing next instructional steps, and 3) sharing ideas about how this assessment focus on NGSS could be used with pre-service teachers in science methods or capstone courses.
We will introduce tools we have found helpful for teachers through brief direct instruction, then we will encourage attendees to use these tools in small working groups to organize thinking about a chosen performance expectation, create a formative assessment task that could be integrated into instruction, and examine a range of student work from previous teacher-created assessments along with examining a sample of teacher interpretations of that work.
We will evaluate attendee learning by examining changes in attendee thinking as the groups use the tools, create assessments, and comment on student work and teacher interpretations. We will use developed verbal prompts to elicit attendee understanding and a survey developed to measure preparedness for working with teachers. In addition, we will be soliciting new ideas from attendees on how these tools may be helpful (or not) with the pre-service teachers with whom they work.
4 Availability of Workshop Facilitators
We will be available for attendees’ questions or assistance needs by email or telephone after the workshop. We will also provide digital references for all materials we use so attendees can explore and use those post-workshop in their work with teachers.
5 Interest within the ASTE membership
The ASTE members most interested in this workshop would be both elementary and secondary methods instructors and science teacher educators who design and implement professional development programs for in-service teachers. We will be focusing on the use of a process to develop multi-dimensional formative assessments with K-8 teachers as a way to support teachers’ increased knowledge and comfort in aligning instruction according to the vision of the NGSS.
6 Expertise/experience of the workshop presenters to present in the topic area.
Stephanie Philipp is a faculty member in the Department of Middle and Secondary Education at the University of Louisville and has designed, implemented, and evaluated professional development programs and science methods courses for elementary and secondary science teachers in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio. She is a former middle school science teacher and has also taught high school chemistry and AP physics. She is on the editorial review board for the ASTE journal Innovations in Science Teacher Education.
Justin McFadden is an assistant professor of science education in the Department of Early Childhood and Elementary Education at the University of Louisville. He teaches elementary science methods and also designs and implements teacher professional development across the region with elementary and middle school teachers. He is a former high school science teacher.
7 Budget and Other Workshop Requirements
The workshop will not charge attendees a fee for attending. The workshop will be designed to serve up to 40 attendees. We request that attendees bring a paper or digital copy (via laptop or tablet) of the NGSS with them for reference (https://www.nextgenscience.org). We will need Wi-Fi access so attendees can use the NGSS website and other web-based resources during the workshop.