Appendix B
Selecting Instructional Materials

Science teachers often ask about instructional materials that will help them implement inquiry-based instructional strategies and provide students with opportunities to develop the abilities and understandings of scientific inquiry. This appendix is intended to help identify and select such instructional materials. It begins with a brief summary of the different uses of the term “inquiry” presented early in this document, so that this section can stand alone and be shared with those responsible for selecting instructional materials.

INQUIRY IN THE NATIONAL SCIENCE EDUCATION STANDARDS

Inquiry is used several ways in the Standards.

  1. Scientific Inquiry. According to the National Science Education Standards, “Scientific inquiry refers to the diverse ways in which scientists study the natural world and propose explanations based on the evidence derived from their work” (p. 23). The Standards call for students to develop the abilities and understandings that will enable them to engage in this kind of activity. A key question when selecting instructional materials is the extent to which they support teachers in helping students achieve these goals.

  2. Inquiry-Based Teaching. The Standards state that “inquiry into authentic questions generated from student experiences is the central strategy for teaching science.” However, the importance of inquiry “does not imply that all teachers should pursue a single approach to teaching science.” Inquiry is a characteristic of both a desired form of teaching and particular kinds of classroom activities. It can be used to teach (1) subject matter of physical, life, earth and space sciences, (2) the nature of the scientific enterprise (i.e., about scientific inquiry), and (3) the abilities



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Appendix B Selecting Instructional Materials study the natural world and propose Science teachers often ask about explanations based on the evidence instructional materials that will help derived from their work” (p. 23). The them implement inquiry-based Standards call for students to develop instructional strategies and provide the abilities and understandings that students with opportunities to develop will enable them to engage in this kind the abilities and understandings of of activity. A key question when scientific inquiry. This appendix is selecting instructional materials is the intended to help identify and select extent to which they support teachers such instructional materials. It begins in helping students achieve these with a brief summary of the different goals. uses of the term “inquiry” presented 2. Inquiry-Based Teaching. The early in this document, so that this Standards state that “inquiry into section can stand alone and be shared authentic questions generated from with those responsible for selecting student experiences is the central instructional materials. strategy for teaching science.” How- ever, the importance of inquiry “does INQUIRY IN THE NATIONAL not imply that all teachers should SCIENCE EDUCATION pursue a single approach to teaching STANDARDS science.” Inquiry is a characteristic of both a desired form of teaching and Inquiry is used several ways in the particular kinds of classroom activi- Standards. ties. It can be used to teach (1) subject matter of physical, life, earth 1. Scientific Inquiry. According to and space sciences, (2) the nature of the National Science Education the scientific enterprise (i.e., about Standards, “Scientific inquiry refers to scientific inquiry), and (3) the abilities the diverse ways in which scientists 173 APPENDIX B

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required to conduct scientific inquiry. a thoughtful and effective process. Inquiry-based teaching is a means, not To be both usable and defensible, an end. the selection criteria must be few in 3. Inquiry-Based Learning. In the number and embody the critical Standards, inquiry also refers to tenets of accurate science content, learning processes. It is an active effective teaching strategies, and learning process — “something that appropriate assessment techniques. students do, not something that is The process described in the done to them” (p. 2). The Standards following pages can help teachers, tie inquiry-based learning both to curriculum designers, or other person- scientific inquiry and to studies of nel complete a thorough and accurate human learning. evaluation of instructional materials. To help make this examination both Clearly there are connections thorough and usable, references to among these uses of inquiry in the specific sections of the National Standards. The task of selecting Science Education Standards are instructional materials requires provided, as are worksheets to keep consideration of all these ways of track of the information needed to thinking about inquiry. analyze and select the best instruc- The selection of instructional tional materials. materials can be helped by standards- Selection of instructional materials based thinking. Instead of asking, parallels a guided inquiry in many “what standards will a particular set of respects. First, questions need to be materials meet?” it is better to ask, “if I identified that will guide the analysis want to accomplish a certain outcome, and eventually the selection. Such what materials do I need?” questions include: • Is “science as inquiry” evident as ANALYZING INSTRUCTIONAL content in the materials? MATERIALS • Is the presentation of inquiry as The process of analyzing and content accurate? selecting quality instructional • Is inquiry-based teaching evident materials includes determining the in the materials? degree to which they are consistent • Is there adequate time and oppor- with the goals, principles, and tunity for students to develop the criteria developed in the National abilities and understandings of scientific Science Education Standards. Well- inquiry and an understanding of science defined selection criteria help ensure subject matter concepts? 174 I N Q U I R Y A N D T H E N AT I O N A L S C I E N C E E D U C AT I O N S TA N D A R D S

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Second, an investigation of the • Analysis of inquir y-based materials needs to be designed and teaching conducted. The investigation requires • Analysis of assessment process systematic observations, accurate and • Evaluation of teacher’s guide consistent records, and clarification of • Analysis of materials use and the questions that guide the process. management Are the observations consistent between different sets of materials? In this appendix, criteria for analy- Were variables controlled, such as sis of instructional materials focus on design and layout versus accurate their usefulness for classroom teach- portrayal of inquiry? Were similar ers and their degree of alignment with techniques used to review all materi- the Standards. A thorough analysis of als? Are the same kinds of data instructional materials requires collected for all materials? considerable time, collaboration, and Third, recorded observations need attention to detail. Good working to be used to develop summaries of notes are helpful in this process. For the respective materials. These that purpose, analysis worksheets are summaries should be based on what included at the end of this section. was observed and should differentiate among the materials. OVERVIEW OF THE Fourth, rational arguments need to INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS be developed for the selection of (SEE WORKSHEET 1) materials. The arguments should be based on observations and address A quick overview of the materials alternatives and options. precedes a more detailed examination. Finally, the process and final The first consideration is whether the recommendation should be fully materials emphasize the key ideas and documented. This will be helpful for abilities from the “Science as Inquiry” final review by such decision-makers standard. To help make this determi- as administrators and school boards. nation, look at the table of contents, index, and glossary. Worksheet 1 contains terms related to science as ANALYSIS PROCEDURES inquiry taken from the Standards. The procedures outlined in this These terms will give a preliminary section include: indication of coverage of these funda- mental topics. • Over view of instructional Look through both student and materials teacher materials. • Analysis of science as inquiry 175 APPENDIX B

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ANALYSIS OF INSTRUCTIONAL • Are student outcomes listed? MATERIALS FOR INQUIRY AS • Are some of these inquiry CONTENT (SEE WORKSHEET 2) outcomes? Look for evidence in discussions in Look for student investigations or the text and in the student investiga- activities. tions of whether and how the funda- mental abilities and understanding are • Where are they located? Note addressed. (See Chapter 2 and that in some materials, student investi- Appendix A in this book, refer to a gations are integrated within the print copy of the National Science reading material. In others, they are Education Standards, or access the located in a separate section — Standards through the World Wide sometimes at the back of a chapter or Web at www.nap.edu/readingroom/ book or in a separate laboratory books/nses.) Examine several manual. lessons in the student and teacher • Do they come after teacher materials. To what degree do the explanations or lectures, or after lessons provide students the opportu- students have read in their books? Or nity to develop the abilities and are they used to engage students in understandings of scientific inquiry? exploring new ideas before explana- Read through the text narrative, tions are suggested? looking for student investigations and examining any suggestions for activi- Read several relevant paragraphs of ties outside of class time. Consider: student text material. • Are opportunities provided for • What is your judgment about the students to develop abilities of presentation of scientific inquiry? scientific inquir y such as posing • Are the concepts in the students’ their own questions, designing their text consistent with the fundamental own investigations, using appropri- concepts and abilities in the Stan- ate tools and techniques to gather dards? data, using evidence to communicate • Does the text include more, defensible explanations of cause and fewer, or different concepts? effect relationships, or using scien- • Do the photographs and illustra- tific criteria to analyze alternative tions provide further understanding of explanations to determine a pre- science as inquiry? ferred explanation? 176 I N Q U I R Y A N D T H E N AT I O N A L S C I E N C E E D U C AT I O N S TA N D A R D S

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• What opportunities are provided should be consistent with contempo- for students to develop a fundamental rary models of learning. The criteria understanding of scientific inquiry? in this section are based on character- istics of effective teaching proposed in In addition to the language of the Teaching Standards A, B, and E: text, examine the teacher’s guide for ways to discuss the role and limita- • Teaching Standard A — Teach- tions of scientific skills such as mak- ers of science plan an inquiry-based ing observations, organizing and science program for their students. interpreting data, and constructing • Teaching Standard B — Teach- defensible explanation based on ers of science guide and facilitate evidence. learning. • Teaching Standard E — Teach- • Is there a discussion of how ers of science develop communities of science advances through legitimate science learners that reflect the skepticism? intellectual rigor of scientific inquiry • Is there a discussion of how and the attitudes and social values scientists evaluate explanations of conducive to science learning. others by examining and comparing evidence, identifying reasoning that Using the following sequence of goes beyond the evidence, and sug- questions, examine several lessons in gesting alternative explanations for the student materials and the teacher’s the same evidence? guide. • Are there opportunities for students to demonstrate these same • Do the materials identify specific understandings as a part of their learning goals and outcomes for investigations? students that focus on one or more of the fundamental abilities and under- standings of Science As Inquiry? ANALYSIS OF PEDAGOGY • Study the opening pages of a (SEE WORKSHEET 3) relevant chapter or section. Does the What students learn about inquiry material on these pages engage and and the abilities they develop depends focus student thinking on interesting on many things, including the accu- questions, problems, or relevant racy and developmental appropriate- issues? ness of content and its congruence • Does the material provide a with the full intent of the content sequence of learning activities con- standards. Opportunities to learn nected in such a way as to help stu- dents build abilities of inquiry and 177 APPENDIX B

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fundamental understandings about different situations? For example, are inquiry or a subject matter concept? the students asked to explain new • Do the activities incorporate all situations with concepts they have five essential features of classroom learned? Are they asked to design inquiry described in Chapter 2? Are investigations into questions they have suggestions provided to help the not yet addressed? teacher keep students focused on the • Are assessment tasks fair for all purpose of the lesson? students? For example, does success • Does the teacher’s guide present on assessment tasks depend too common student difficulties in devel- heavily on the student’s ability to read oping inquiry abilities and understand- complex items or write explanations, ings? Does it suggest possible alterna- as opposed to understanding the tive conceptions or misconceptions fundamental concepts or being able to students may have and how to address think scientifically? them? Are suggestions provided for • Are suggestions for scoring teachers to find out what their student criteria or rubrics provided for the already know and can do? Are there teacher? learning activities designed to help students identify what they know and EVALUATING THE TEACHER’S build new concepts and abilities? GUIDE (SEE WORKSHEET 5) Examine several lessons in the ANALYSIS OF ASSESSMENT teacher’s guide to help answer the PROCESS (SEE WORKSHEET 4) following questions: Assessment criteria in this section are grounded in the Assessment • Does the teacher’s guide present Standards A to E. Examine several appropriate and sufficient background lessons in the student and teacher in science? materials for evidence to answer the • Are the suggested teaching following questions: strategies usable by most teachers? • Are suggestions provided for pre- • Is there consistency between and post-investigation discussions learning goals and assessment? For focusing on subject matter concept example, if instruction focuses on development, inquiry abilities, and building and understanding fundamen- inquiry understandings? tal concepts, do assessments focus on • Does the teacher’s guide recom- explanations and not on vocabulary? mend additional professional develop- • Do assessments stress applica- ment? tion of abilities and concepts to new or • Does the teacher’s guide indicate 178 I N Q U I R Y A N D T H E N AT I O N A L S C I E N C E E D U C AT I O N S TA N D A R D S

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the types of support teachers will need materials must be managed and for the instructional materials? orchestrated during a typical chapter, unit, or teaching sequence (e.g., student text, teacher’s guide, transpar- ANALYSIS OF MATERIALS USE encies, handouts, videos, and AND MANAGEMENT (SEE software)? WORKSHEET 6) • Does the teacher’s guide contain A high degree of alignment of the suggestions for effectively managing content, pedagogy, and assessment materials? criteria described in the Standards • Do the instructional materials does not necessarily guarantee that call for equipment, supplies, and instructional materials will be easy to technology that teachers may not manage. The Standards address the have? importance of professional develop- • Do the instructional materials ment, and some aspects of the pro- identify safety issues and provide gram standards apply as well. It is adequate precautions? useful to ask: • Is the cost for the materials and replacements reasonable? Are there • How many different types of special requirements? 179 APPENDIX B

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WORKSHEET 1: OVERVIEW OF THE INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS 1. Terms Location(s) Page(s) scientific questions __________ _______ investigation __________ _______ variables __________ _______ communication __________ _______ observation __________ _______ critical thinking __________ _______ logic __________ _______ reasoning __________ _______ experiments __________ _______ evidence __________ _______ explanations __________ _______ models __________ _______ theory __________ _______ skepticism __________ _______ Comments on breadth and depth of coverage: 2. Statements of expected student outcomes or inquiry abilities and understandings Examples: Location Page(s) a. _______________________________ __________ _______ b. _______________________________ __________ _______ 180 I N Q U I R Y A N D T H E N AT I O N A L S C I E N C E E D U C AT I O N S TA N D A R D S

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WORKSHEET 1 (CONTINUED) 3. Student investigations/activities Location Page(s) Titles of example investigations/activities: a. _______________________________ __________ _______ b. _______________________________ __________ _______ c. _______________________________ __________ _______ Comments: 4. Presentation of concepts and abilities Location Page(s) Paragraph 1 __________ _______ Comments: Paragraph 2 __________ _______ Comments: Overall impression from the overview of the materials: 181 APPENDIX B

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WORKSHEET 2: ANALYSIS OF INQUIRY AS CONTENT 1. What opportunities are provided for students to develop abilities of scientific inquiry? Cite specific examples: Page(s) a. Pose relevant questions ______ b. Plan and conduct investigations ______ c. Use appropriate tools and techniques to gather data ______ d. Use evidence to communicate defensible explanations of cause and effect ______ e. Use scientific criteria to analyze alternative explanations and develop a preferred explanation ______ Comments: 2. Opportunities to develop understanding of scientific inquiry Cite specific examples: Page(s) a. Discussion of both roles and limitations of skills such as organizing and interpreting data, constructing explanations ______ b. Discussion of how science advances through legitimate skepticism ______ 182 I N Q U I R Y A N D T H E N AT I O N A L S C I E N C E E D U C AT I O N S TA N D A R D S

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WORKSHEET 2 (CONTINUED) Page(s) c. Discussion of how scientists evaluate proposed explanations of others by examining and comparing evidence, reasoning that goes beyond the evidence, suggesting alternative explanations for the same evidence ______ d. Opportunities for students to demonstrate these same understandings as part of their investigations ______ Comments: Estimate of alignment with National Science Education Standards Inquiry Standard: Excellent [ ] Good [ ] Some [ ] Little [ ] None [ ] Rationale for alignment estimate: 183 APPENDIX B

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WORKSHEET 3: ANALYSIS OF PEDAGOGY Yes No 1. Do the materials identify specific learning goals and outcomes for students that focus on one or more of the fundamental abilities and understandings of inquiry? ____ ____ Comments: 2. Do the materials engage and focus student thinking on interesting questions, problems, or relevant issues rather than opening with statements of fact and vocabulary? ____ ____ Comments: 3. Do materials provide a sequence of learning activities connected in such a way as to help students build abilities of inquiry, understandings of inquiry, and/or fundamental science subject matter concepts? ____ ____ Does the material provide specific means (e.g., connections among activities, linkage between text and activities, building from concrete to abstract, and embedded assessments) to help the teacher keep students focused on the purpose of the lesson? ____ ____ Comments: 184 I N Q U I R Y A N D T H E N AT I O N A L S C I E N C E E D U C AT I O N S TA N D A R D S

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WORKSHEET 3 (CONTINUED) Yes No 4. Are student subject matter learning goals reached through an inquiry that contains all five essential features of classroom inquiry learning (Table 2-5, p. 25)? ____ ____ Comments: 5. Does the teacher’s guide present common student difficulties in learning inquiry abilities and understandings? ____ ____ Are suggestions provided to access prior abilities and understandings of students? ____ ____ Comments: Estimate of alignment with National Science Education Standards Teaching Standard: Excellent [ ] Good [ ] Some [ ] Little [ ] None [ ] Rationale for alignment estimate: 185 APPENDIX B

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WORKSHEET 4: ANALYSIS OF ASSESSMENT PROCESS Cite example or evidence of: Yes No 1. Consistency between learning goals and assessment ____ ____ 2. Assessments stressing application of abilities and concepts to new or different situations ____ ____ 3. Fairness of assessment tasks for all students — for example, task does not rely heavily upon the student’s ability to read complex items or write explanations, as opposed to demonstrating inquiry abilities of understanding fundamental science subject matter concepts ____ ____ 4. The inclusion of actual assessment instruments, scoring criteria or rubrics, and specific suggestions provided regarding their use ____ ____ Comments: Estimate of alignment with National Science Education Standards Assessment Standard: Excellent [ ] Good [ ] Some [ ] Little [ ] None [ ] Rationale for alignment estimate: 186 I N Q U I R Y A N D T H E N AT I O N A L S C I E N C E E D U C AT I O N S TA N D A R D S

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WORKSHOP 5: EVALUATING THE TEACHER’S GUIDE Yes No 1. Is appropriate and sufficient background in science presented? ____ ____ 2. Are the suggested teaching strategies usable by most teachers? ____ ____ 3. Are suggestions provided for pre- and post-investigation discussions focusing on subject matter, concept development, inquiry abilities, and inquiry understandings? ____ ____ 4. Is additional professional development recommended? ____ ____ 5. Are the types of support teachers will need for the instructional materials indicated? ____ ____ Comments: Estimate of usefulness of guide in overall instructional materials management: Excellent [ ] Good [ ] Fair [ ] Poor [ ] Rationale for alignment estimate: 187 APPENDIX B

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WORKSHEET 6: ANALYSIS OF MATERIALS USE AND MANAGEMENT 1. How many different types of materials must be managed and orchestrated during a typical chapter, unit, or teaching sequence (e.g., student text, teacher’s guide, student materials, transparencies, handouts, videos, software)? Comments: Yes No 2. Does the teacher’s guide contain suggestions for effectively managing instructional materials? ____ ____ Comments: 3. Do instructional materials call for equipment, supplies, and technology that teachers using these materials might not have? ____ ____ Comments: 4. Is the cost for the materials and replacements reasonable? ____ ____ Are there special requirements? ____ ____ Comments: Estimate of use and management: Easy [ ] Satisfactory [ ] Difficult [ ] Rationale for overall estimate: 188 I N Q U I R Y A N D T H E N AT I O N A L S C I E N C E E D U C AT I O N S TA N D A R D S