Assessing Science Inquiry: A Case Study of the Virtual Performance Assessment Project

Assessing Science Inquiry: A Case Study of the Virtual Performance Assessment Project

Jody Clarke-Midura (Harvard University, USA), Jillianne Code (University of Victoria, Canada), Nick Zap (Simon Fraser University, Canada) and Chris Dede (Harvard University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0068-3.ch006

Abstract

Science inquiry is a cognitive process that depends upon the active engagement of students and is something that students do and is minds-on. However, given its active nature, assessing science inquiry process skills remains a challenge for educators. In this chapter, the authors describe research being carried out to develop Virtual Performance Assessments (VPAs) that measure science inquiry practices. They provide a case study of how VPAs are being used to design summative assessments that measure middle school students’ scientific inquiry aligned with national standards. The goal is to provide educators with a model of how they can assess science inquiry skills in their classrooms.
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Background

Scientific inquiry is a major standard in most policy doctrines AAAS, 1990, 1993; College Board, 2009; NRC, 1996). The NSES define scientific inquiry as (NRC, 1996):

…the diverse ways in which scientists study the natural world and propose explanations based on the evidence derived from their work…also …the activities through which students develop knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas, as well as an understanding of how scientists study the natural world.

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