Inquiry and the National Science Education Standards

A Guide for Teaching and Learning

Committee on Development of an Addendum to the National Science Education Standards on Scientific Inquiry

Center for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education

National Research Council

National Academy Press

Washington, D.C.



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Inquiry and the National Science Education Standards A Guide for Teaching and Learning Committee on Development of an Addendum to the National Science Education Standards on Scientific Inquiry Center for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education National Research Council National Academy Press Wa s h i n g t o n , D . C .

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NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS • 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW • Washington, DC 20418 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. The Center for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education (CSMEE) was established in 1995 to provide coordination of all the National Research Council’s education activities and reform efforts for students at all levels, specifically those in kindergarten through twelfth grade, undergraduate institutions, school-to-work programs, and continuing education. The Center reports directly to the Governing Board of the National Research Council. This study by the Center’s Committee on Development of an Addendum to the National Science Education Standards on Scientific Inquiry was developed under grants from the National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Governing Board Initiative of the National Academies. Any opinions, findings, or recommendations expressed in this report are those of the members of the committee and do not necessarily reflect the views of the funders. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Inquiry and the National Science Education Standards : a guide for teaching and learning / Center for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education, National Research Council. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-309-06476-7 (pbk.) 1. Science—Study and teaching—Standards—United States. 2. Inquiry (Theory of knowledge) I. Center for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education. LB1585.3 .I57 2000 507.1′073—dc21 00-008103 Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academy Press, 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW, Lock Box 285, Washington, DC 20055. Call (800) 624-6242 or (202) 3334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area). This report is also available online at http://www.nap.edu. Printed in the United States of America. Copyright 2000 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

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National Academy of Sciences National Academy of Engineering Institute of Medicine National Research Council The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autono- mous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal govern- ment and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.

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COMMITTEE ON DEVELOPMENT OF AN ADDENDUM TO THE NATIONAL SCIENCE EDUCATION STANDARDS ON SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY Peter Dow (Chair), First Hand Learning, Inc. Richard A. Duschl, School of Education, King’s College London Hubert M. Dyasi, City College (City University of New York) Paul J. Kuerbis, The Colorado College Lawrence Lowery, University of California at Berkeley Lillian C. McDermott, University of Washington Lynn Rankin, Exploratorium Institute for Inquiry Mary Lou Zoback, Western Earthquake Hazards Program, U.S. Geological Survey Staff, Center for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education Rodger Bybee Kristance Coates Linda DePugh Jay Hackett Susan Loucks-Horsley Steve Olson Harold Pratt Lisa Vandemark Tina Winters v

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COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE EDUCATION K–12 Jane Butler Kahle (Chair), Miami University, Oxford, OH J. Myron Atkin, Stanford University, Stanford, CA Caryl Edward Buchwald, Carleton College, Northfield, MN George Bugliarello, Polytechnic University, Brooklyn, NY Beatriz Chu Clewell, The Urban Institute, Washington, DC William E. Dugger, Technology for All Americans, Blacksburg, VA Norman Hackerman, The Robert A. Welch Foundation, Houston, TX Leroy Hood, University of Washington, Seattle, WA William Linder-Scholer, SciMathMN, Roseville, MN Maria Alicia Lopez Freeman, California Science Project, Monterey Park, CA John A. Moore, University of California, Riverside, CA Darlene Norfleet, Flynn Park Elementary School, University City, MO Carolyn Ray, Urban Systemic Initiative, Cleveland, OH Cary Sneider, Boston Museum of Science, Boston, MA Rachel Wood, Delaware State Department of Public Instruction, Dover, DE Robert Yinger, School of Education, Baylor University, Waco, TX vi

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Reviewers Ken Bingman, Shawnee Mission This report has been reviewed in West High School draft form by individuals chosen for Al Janulaw, California Science their diverse perspectives and techni- Teachers Association and cal expertise, in accordance with Creekside Middle School procedures approved by the National Dean Kamen, DEKA Research and Research Council’s Report Review Development Corporation Committee. The purpose of this John Layman, University of Mary- independent review is to provide land (Retired) candid and critical comments that will Michael Martinez, University of assist the authors and the Center for California at Irvine Science, Mathematics, and Engineer- Joseph Mcinerney, Johns Hopkins ing Education in making the published University School of Medicine report as sound as possible and to Gail Paulin, Tucson Unified School ensure that the report meets institu- District tional standards for objectivity, evi- Laurie Peterman, Anoka-Hennepin dence, and responsiveness to the School District study charge. The review comments Ursula Sexton, WestEd and draft manuscript remain confiden- tial to protect the integrity of the Although the individuals listed deliberative process. The committee above have provided many construc- wishes to thank the following individu- tive comments and suggestions, als for their participation in the review responsibility for the final content of of this report: this report rests solely with the authoring committee and the National Lloyd Barrows, University of Research Council. Missouri vii

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Contents FOREWORD: A SCIENTIST’S PERSPECTIVE ON INQUIRY xi PREFACE xv 1 INQUIRY IN SCIENCE AND IN CLASSROOMS 1 2 INQUIRY IN THE NATIONAL SCIENCE EDUCATION STANDARDS 13 3 IMAGES OF INQUIRY IN K-12 CLASSROOMS 39 4 CLASSROOM ASSESSMENT AND INQUIRY 75 viii

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5 PREPARING TEACHERS FOR INQUIRY-BASED TEACHING 87 6 MAKING THE CASE FOR INQUIRY 115 7 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT INQUIRY 131 8 SUPPORTING INQUIRY-BASED TEACHING AND LEARNING 143 REFERENCES 153 APPENDIX A EXCERPTS FROM THE NATIONAL SCIENCE EDUCATION STANDARDS A-1 FUNDAMENTAL ABILITIES OF INQUIRY 161 A-2 FUNDAMENTAL UNDERSTANDINGS OF INQUIRY 168 B SELECTING INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS 173 C RESOURCES FOR TEACHING SCIENCE THROUGH INQUIRY 189 INDEX 193 ix

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Foreword: A Scientist’s Perspective on Inquiry When I was growing up in the task was to explain why our govern- 1950s in the suburbs of Chicago, the ment was paying farmers for not educational experiences that meant growing a crop. In the eighth grade I the most to me were all associated had to explain to the rest of my class with my struggling to meet a chal- how a television set works. And in the lenge that had captured my interest ninth grade I remember poring over and initiative. I remember writing a books on spectroscopy in the Chicago long report on “The Farm Problem” public library to prepare a report on in the seventh grade in which my its uses in chemistry. xi

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All three of these tasks, and many participants. They fail to see how this others that interested me as a student, type of knowledge will be useful to involved what we now call “inquiry.” them in the future. They therefore Teaching science through inquiry lack motivation for this kind of “school allows students to conceptualize a learning.” question and then seek possible Most important, this kind of teach- explanations that respond to that ing misses a tremendous opportunity question. For example, in my field of to give all students the problem- cell biology, cell membranes have to solving, communication, and thinking be selectively permeable — they have skills that they will need to be effec- to let foodstuffs like sugars pass tive workers and citizens in the 21st inward and wastes like carbon dioxide century. pass out, while holding the many big Inquiry is in part a state of mind — molecules that form the cell inside. that of inquisitiveness. Most young What kind of material could have children are naturally curious. They these properties and yet be able to care enough to ask “why” and “how” expand as the cell grows? questions. But if adults dismiss their It is certainly easy to remember incessant questions as silly and another and more familiar type of uninteresting, students can lose this science teaching from my childhood. gift of curiosity. Visit any second- In this approach — which remains grade classroom and you will gener- depressingly common today — ally find a class bursting with energy teachers provide their students with and excitement, where children are sets of science facts and with technical eager to make new observations and words to describe those facts. In the try to figure things out. What a worst case, this type of science teach- contrast with many eighth-grade ing assumes that education consists of classes, where the students so often filling a student’s head with vocabu- seem bored and disengaged from lary words and associations, such as learning and from school! mitochondria being “the powerhouses The National Science Education of the cell,” DNA being the “genetic Standards released by the National material,” and motion producing Research Council in 1995 provide “kinetic energy.” Science classes of valuable insights into the ways that this type treat education as if it were teachers might sustain the curiosity of preparation for a quiz show or a game students and help them develop the of trivial pursuit. sets of abilities associated with scien- This view of science education has tific inquiry. The Standards empha- many problems. Most students are size that science education needs to not interested in being quiz show give students three kinds of scientific xii FOREWORD

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skills and understandings. Students variability to differences in the lengths need to learn the principles and of the strings. This leads to graphing concepts of science, acquire the as a means of displaying the data for reasoning and procedural skills of future work with pendulums. Ideally, scientists, and understand the nature the teacher should use this particular of science as a particular form of sequence of lessons to teach students human endeavor. Students therefore about the history of clocks, emphasiz- need to be able to devise and carry out ing the many changes in society that investigations that test their ideas, and ensued once it became possible to they need to understand why such divide the day and night into reliable investigations are uniquely powerful. time intervals. Studies show that students are much Contrast this science lesson with a more likely to understand and retain more traditional lesson about pendu- the concepts that they have learned lums. In such a lesson, the teacher this way. does most of the talking and demon- For example, one skill that all strating. Often, students display their students should acquire through their knowledge about such variables as science education is the ability to length of the pendulum, weight, and conduct an investigation where they starting height by filling in a series of keep everything else constant while blanks on a worksheet. changing a single variable. This The challenge for all of us who want ability provides a powerful general to improve education is to create an strategy for solving many problems educational system that exploits the encountered in the workplace and in natural curiosity of children, so that everyday life. The Lawrence Hall of they maintain their motivation for Science in Berkeley, California, has learning not only during their school developed a set of fifth-grade science years but throughout life. We need to lessons that give students extensive convince teachers and parents of the experience in manipulating systems importance of children’s “why” with variables. These lessons begin questions. I’m reminded of the with the class working in groups of profound effect that Richard four to construct different sized Feynman’s father had on his develop- pendulums from string, tape, and ment as a scientist. One summer, in washers. After each group counts the the Catskills Mountains of New York number of swings of their pendulum in when Feynman was a boy, another boy 15-second intervals — yielding quite asked him, “See that bird. What kind different results among groups — the of bird is that?” Feynman answered “I groups conduct further trials that haven’t the slightest idea.” The other eventually trace the source of the boy replied, “Your father doesn’t teach xiii FOREWORD

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look at the bird and see what it’s you anything!” But his father had doing — that’s what counts.” taught Feynman about the bird — though in his own way. As Feynman The book you are about to read recalls his father’s words: illuminates this approach to teaching science. It builds on the discussion of “See that bird? It’s a Spencer’s inquiry in the National Science Educa- warbler.” (I knew he didn’t know the real name.) “. . . You can know tion Standards to demonstrate how the name of that bird in all the those responsible for science educa- languages of the world, but when tion can provide young people with the you’re finished, you’ll know opportunities they need to develop absolutely nothing whatever about their scientific understanding and the bird. You’ll only know about ability to inquire. The process must humans in different places and begin in kindergarten and continue, what they call the bird. So let’s with age-appropriate challenges, at each grade level. Students must be challenged but also rewarded with the joy of solving a problem with which they have struggled. In this way, students recognize that they are capable of tackling harder and harder problems. As they acquire the tools and habits of inquiry, they see them- selves learn. There can be nothing more gratifying, or more important, in science education. Bruce Alberts President, National Academy of Sciences xiv FOREWORD

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Preface In December 1995 same roles. The result the National Research was a document that, Council (NRC) since its release, has released the National been a driving force behind improvements Science Education Standards, which, as in U.S. science educa- stated in the “Call to tion. Action” at the begin- A prominent feature of ning of the Standards, the Standards is a spell out “a vision of focus on inquiry. The science education that term “inquiry” is used will make scientific in two different ways in literacy for all a reality in the 21st the Standards. First, it refers to the century.” The release of the Standards abilities students should develop to be was the culmination of an extensive able to design and conduct scientific process of consensus-building. In investigations and to the understand- 1991 the President of the National ings they should gain about the nature Science Teachers Association, among of scientific inquiry. Second, it refers others, asked the NRC to coordinate to the teaching and learning strategies efforts to develop national standards that enable scientific concepts to be for science education. Between 1991 mastered through investigations. In and 1995, groups of teachers, scien- this way, the Standards draw connec- tists, administrators, teacher educa- tions between learning science, tors, and others organized by the NRC learning to do science, and learning produced several drafts of the Stan- about science. dards and submitted those drafts to As required by the charge to its extensive review by others in these authoring committee, Inquiry and the xv FOREWORD

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K-12 Classrooms,” examines science National Science Education Standards has been designed to serve as a as inquiry by presenting and discuss- practical guide for teachers, profes- ing a series of classroom vignettes at sional developers, administrators, and the elementary school, middle school, others who wish to respond to the and high school levels. I Chapter 4, “Classroom Assess- Standards’ call for an increased emphasis on inquiry. ment and Inquiry,” discusses the The committee charge further varied functions of and strategies for called for: assessment in inquiry-oriented class- rooms. I Chapter 5, “Preparing Teachers • a background discussion of inquiry; for Inquiry-Based Teaching,” dis- • a summary of pertinent research cusses the professional development and scholarly writings that argue of teachers from undergraduate convincingly for the value of inquiry in preparation to continuous learning science education; throughout their careers. I Chapter 6, “Making the Case for • Actions that teachers, administra- tors, parents, and others need to take; Inquiry,” describes the results of and research into inquiry-based teaching • A bibliography of resources for and learning. I Chapter 7, “Frequently Asked planning and implementation assis- tance. Questions About Inquiry,” gives short answers to some of the questions In response to this charge, the frequently asked by classroom teach- guide is divided into eight chapters ers, administrators, parents, and and three appendices: others. I Chapter 8, “Supporting Inquiry- I Chapter 1, “Inquiry in Science Based Teaching and Learning,” and in Classrooms,” sets the stage for describes how leadership from princi- describing the multiple roles of pals and other administrators can inquiry by comparing a geologist’s further the use of inquiry in teaching scientific inquiry with that of a class of and learning. I The appendices provide elabora- fifth-grade students and their enter- prising teacher. tions of the abilities and understand- I Chapter 2, “Inquiry in the ings of inquiry from the Standards; guidelines for selecting inquiry- National Science Education Stan- dards,” clarifies the vision of scientific oriented instructional materials; and a inquiry framed in the Standards. list of resources related to inquiry- I Chapter 3, “Images of Inquiry in based science education. xvi P R E FA C E

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directly to improve teaching and A number of the chapters in the learning. School administrators and report feature vignettes of teachers members of the public can use it to and students engaged in using and understand and promote inquiry- learning about inquiry. These vi- based teaching and learning. Profes- gnettes are based on actual experi- sional developers and teacher educa- ences witnessed by committee mem- tors can use it to improve the ways bers and contributors to the report. they work with teachers and better to Some details have been altered to model and design inquiry-oriented emphasize particular points. The learning experiences for prospective purpose of the vignettes is to illustrate and practicing teachers. University the key ideas in the text, not to repre- science faculty can use it to rethink sent idealized classroom and profes- the content and teaching strategies sional development scenarios. they use in courses attended by This guide has been produced preservice teachers. Scientists can under the direction of the Committee use it to guide their work with teach- on Science Education K-12 (COSE K- ers. And the many other individuals 12), a standing board within the and groups who believe that the Center for Science, Mathematics, and process of inquiry should be part of Engineering Education at the National every science classroom can use it to Research Council. COSE K-12 formed spark discussion and guide their the Committee on Development of an efforts to effect change. Addendum to the National Science Readers who choose not to read Education Standards on Scientific this book from cover to cover should Inquiry and charged the committee begin with Chapters 1 and 2, which with producing a document that would provide a foundation for the remaining help educators improve the quality of chapters. In Chapter 3 the vignettes teaching, learning, and assessment represent different grade spans, through the use of inquiry. Funding depending on their grade level inter- for the project came from the National est, so readers may want to be selec- Science Foundation, the National tive in which vignettes they read. Aeronautics and Space Administration, Other chapter selections will depend and the Governing Board Initiative of on the particular role and need of the the National Academies. reader. For example, Chapter 5 The committee has written this speaks especially to teacher educators guide to be used in a number of ways. and professional developers and Classroom teachers, science depart- Chapter 8 to administrators and other ment chairs, science supervisors, and leaders of science reform initiatives. professional developers can use it This guide is the first in a series of xvii P R E FA C E

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planned addenda to the Standards. Vasquez, and Henry Heikkinen, who Addenda on science and technology advised us on early drafts; and the and on classroom assessment are many teachers and teacher developers also being prepared. The Center whose inquiry-based teaching experi- also has produced several other ences illustrate the ideas in these documents that support standards- pages. We especially thank Susan based reform in science education, Loucks-Horsley and Jay Hackett, who including publications about select- served as project directors for differ- ing instructional materials, design- ent phases of this report; other dedi- ing multi-year curriculum programs, cated Center staff who helped us and using the findings of the Third conceptualize, improve, and produce International Mathematics and this report, including Rodger Bybee, Science Study to improve science Harold Pratt, Lisa Vandemark, curricula and teaching. Kristance Coates, Linda DePugh, and On behalf of the committee, I Tina Winters; writer Steve Olson acknowledge with deep appreciation whose editing greatly improved the the contributions of Elizabeth Stage, report; and dozens of teachers and Ron Anderson, Jim Minstrell, Denis administrators who participated in Goodrum, Maryellen Harmon, Doris workshops where our ideas and Ash, Lezlie DeWater, and David frameworks were tried out, for their Hartney, who produced written invaluable feedback. material; Mike Atkin, Kathy DiRanna, Sally Crissman, Kathy Stiles, JoAnne Peter Dow, Committee Chair xviii P R E FA C E

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xix P R E FA C E

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