An Analysis of a Scientific Inquiry

    By the "header titles" this example emphasizes some important components of the assessment process. Any boundary between assessment and teaching is lost in this example. Students engage in an analytic activity that requires them to use their understanding of all the science content standards. The activity assumes that they have maintained journals throughout their high school career and have had much previous experience with analyzing scientific inquiry. It would be unreasonable to expect them to successfully complete such an analysis without prior experience. The assessment task requires the use of criteria developed by the class and the teacher together for self assessment and peer assessment. Students may elect to improve the analysis or do another. The teacher uses the data to decide what further inquiries, analyses, or evaluations students might do.

    [This example highlights Teaching Standards A, C, and E; Assessments Standards A, B, and E; and 9-12 Content Standard G.]

    SCIENCE CONTENT: This activity focuses on all aspects of the Content Standard on the History and Nature of Science: Science as a human endeavor, nature of scientific knowledge, and historical perspectives on science.

    ASSESSMENT ACTIVITY: Students read an account of an historical or contemporary scientific study and report on it.

    ASSESSMENT TYPE: Performance, individual, group, public.

    ASSESSMENT PURPOSE: The teacher uses the information gathered in this activity for assigning grades and for planning further activities involving analysis or inquiry.

    DATA: Students' individual reports; student reviews of their peers' work; and teacher's observations.

    CONTEXT: This assessment activity is appropriate at the end of 12th grade. Throughout the high school science program, students have read accounts of scientific studies and the social context in which the studies were conducted. Students sometimes read the scientist's own account of the investigation and sometimes an account of the investigation written by another person. The earlier the investigation, the more likely that the high school students are able to read and understand the scientist's original account. Reports by scientists on contemporary studies are likely to be too technical for students to understand, but accounts in popular science books or magazines should be accessible to high school students. Examples of contemporary and historical accounts appropriate to this activity include

    Goodfield's An Imagined World

    Weiner's The Beak of the Finch

    Watson's The Double Helix

    Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle

    Project Physics Readers

    In each student's science journal are notes on his or her own inquiries and the inquiries read about throughout the school science career, including an analysis of historical context in which the study was conducted. After completing each analysis, the science teacher had reviewed and commented on the analysis as well as on the student's developing sophis

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