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Inquiry and the National Science Education Standards: A Guide for Teaching and Learning
with others. Saying that learners construct their own knowledge does not imply that they do so alone. Research indicates that learners benefit from opportunities to articulate their ideas to others, challenge each others’ ideas, and, in doing so, reconstruct their ideas (Rosebery et al., 1992). Students in every vignette in Chapter 3 had all these opportunities as they developed explanations for basic observations like dying trees, moon phases, and murkiness of lake water. Teachers in Chapter 5 similarly experienced and then recognized the benefits of collaboration to their learning of both science and pedagogy.
Research Finding 5: Effectivelearning requires that studentstake control of their own learning. Students need to learn to recognize when they understand and when they need more information. They need to be able and know when to ask: What kinds of evidence do I need in order to believe particular claims? How can I build my own theories of phenomena and test them effectively (White and Frederiksen, in press)? Good learners articulate their own ideas, compare and contrast them with those of others, and provide reasons why they accept one point of view rather than another. They are “metacognitive,” that is, they are aware and capable of monitoring and regulating their thoughts and their knowledge (American Psychological Association, 1993). Students in all four Chapter 3 vignettes worked hard to devise clear arguments for their conclusions; Mr. Gilbert’s students went further by reflecting on how good the models were that they used to explain moon phases and how they needed to account for the models’ deficiencies. In Chapter 5, Sandy and her teacher colleagues shared student work and videos of their teaching to reflect on how what they were doing did or did not help their students learn. Research underscores the value of student self-assessment in developing their understanding of science concepts, as well as their abilities to reason and think critically (Black and Wiliam, 1998b; Duschl and Gitomer, 1997). As Black and Wiliam (1998b) note, it is only when students are trained in and given opportunities for self-assessment that “they can understand the main purposes of their learning and thereby grasp what they need to do to achieve.” (p. 143)
Research Finding 6: The ability toapply knowledge to novel situations, that is, transfer of learning,is affected by the degree to whichstudents learn with understanding. In order to use what they learn, learners must achieve an initial threshold of knowledge, practice using the knowledge in a variety of contexts, and then get feedback on how well they did. To be able to use