Identifying your learning goals for grades 13-16
At the end of the school year, there are certain conceptual understandings that we want our students to have. Achieving these learning goals lays the groundwork for more sophisticated understandings as students proceed through their learning experiences. Furthermore, developing instruction around particular learning goals can increase the effectiveness of instruction by helping instructors focus on what they really want students to understand. The Understanding Science Conceptual Framework is an effective tool for identifying a sequence of age-appropriate conceptual understandings (K-16) to guide your teaching. See the complete conceptual framework for all grade levels.
The Framework is divided into seven strands:
What is science | How science works | Hypotheses and theories | The social side of science | Science and society | What has science done for you lately | A scientific approach to life
|What is science: concepts for 13-16
- Science is both a body of knowledge and the process for building that knowledge.
- Science aims to build increasingly broad and coherent explanations of the natural world.
- Science focuses on natural phenomena and processes.
- Science works only with testable ideas.
- Moral judgments, aesthetic judgments, decisions about applications of science, and conclusions about the supernatural are outside the realm of science.
- Scientists strive to test their ideas with evidence from the natural world; a hallmark of science is exposing ideas to testing.
- Scientific knowledge is open to question and revision as new ideas surface and new evidence is discovered.
- Scientific ideas cannot be absolutely proven.
- Because it has been tested, scientific knowledge is reliable.
- Science is ongoing; answering one scientific question frequently leads to additional questions to be investigated.
|How science works: concepts for 13-16
- The real process of science is complex, iterative, and can take many different paths.
- The process of science involves observation, exploration, testing, communication, and application.
- Scientific observations can be made directly with our own senses or may be made indirectly through the use of tools.
- Scientists test their ideas (hypotheses and theories) by figuring out what expectations are generated by an idea and making observations to find out whether those expectations are borne out.
- Scientists can test ideas about events and processes long past, very distant, and not directly observable.
- Scientists test their ideas using multiple lines of evidence.
- All scientific tests involve making assumptions, but these assumptions can be independently tested, increasing our confidence in our test results.
- Scientists often try to generate multiple explanations for what they observe.
- Scientists use multiple research methods (experiments, observations, comparisons, and modeling) to collect evidence.
- Scientists look for patterns in their observations and data.
- Raw data must be analyzed and interpreted before we can tell whether a scientific idea is likely to be accurate or inaccurate.
- Analysis of data usually involves putting data into a more easily accessible format (visualization, tabulation, or quantification of qualitative data).
- Scientists try to be objective and work to identify and avoid bias.
- Different scientists may interpret the same data in different ways; data interpretation can be influenced by a scientist's assumptions, biases, and background.
- Researchers share their findings with the scientific community through scientific publications.
- Scientists aim for their studies to be replicable.
- When a study of a phenomenon cannot be replicated, it may suggest that our current understanding of the phenomenon or our methods of testing are insufficient.
|Hypotheses and theories: concepts for 13-16
- Hypotheses are proposed explanations for a narrow set of phenomena.
- Hypotheses are usually inspired and informed by previous research and/or observations. They are not guesses.
- Theories are powerful explanations for a wide range of phenomena.
- Accepted scientific theories are not tenuous; they must survive rigorous testing and be supported by multiple lines of evidence to be accepted.
|The social side of science: concepts for 13-16
- Science depends on communication within the scientific community.
- Scientists usually work collaboratively.
- Scientists scrutinize each other's work through peer review and other processes.
- Through a system of checks and balances (which includes peer review), the scientific community helps ensure science's accuracy and helps detect bias, fraud, and misconduct.
- The scientific community motivates researchers in their investigations by providing recognition and, sometimes, a sense of competition.
- Science relies on the accumulated knowledge of the scientific community to move forward.
- The scientific community is global and diverse.
- The diversity of the scientific community helps facilitate specialization and provides different points of view that invigorate problem solving and balance biases.
- Scientists are influenced by their personal experiences and cultures.
- Anyone can participate in science, but the pursuit of science as a career often requires extensive formal training.
- Scientists are creative.
- Scientific misconduct can occur when a scientist doesn't fairly evaluate other scientists' work, doesn't honestly report results, doesn't fairly assign credit, or doesn't work within the ethical guidelines of the community.
|Science and society: concepts for 13-16
- Science is embedded in, and influenced by, the broader society.
- Societies may influence the course of science by directing funds towards some research topics and away from others.
- Scientific research is often focused on topics with the potential to help meet societal needs.
|What has science done for you lately: concepts for 13-16
- Science builds knowledge about the world, but people decide how that knowledge should be used.
- Science contributes to many different sorts of new technologies.
- Advances in science often drive technological innovations, which may, in turn, contribute to new scientific discoveries.
- Scientific knowledge and research have led to many medical advances.
- Scientific knowledge helps us make decisions that affect our lives every day.
- Scientific knowledge informs public policies and regulations that promote our health, safety, and environmental stewardship.
|A scientific approach to life: concepts for 13-16
- Problem-solving and decision-making benefit from a scientific approach.
- Authentic scientific controversy and debate within the community contribute to scientific progress by encouraging careful examination of the research.
- Controversies about the ethicality of particular scientific methods or about the applications of scientific ideas may occur within the broader society, but do not necessarily represent a rift in science.