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Uncovering Student Ideas In Earth And Environmental Science: A Comprehensive Guide

Jese Leos
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Published in Uncovering Student Ideas In Earth And Environmental Science: 32 New Formative Assessment Probes (Uncovering Student Ideas In Science 10)
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Science education research has shown that students come to school with a wealth of prior knowledge and ideas about the world around them. These ideas, which are often based on everyday experiences and informal learning, can influence how students interpret and learn new scientific concepts. In Earth and environmental science, it is particularly important to uncover student ideas because these concepts are often complex and interconnected, and students may have difficulty understanding them if their prior knowledge is not taken into account.

This article provides a comprehensive guide to uncovering student ideas in Earth and environmental science. It explores various methods to elicit and assess students' prior knowledge, misconceptions, and alternative frameworks, as well as strategies for using this information to inform instruction and promote conceptual change.

There are a variety of methods that can be used to uncover student ideas in Earth and environmental science. These methods can be divided into two broad categories:

  • Eliciting methods are designed to draw out student ideas without providing any prompts or guidance.
  • Assessment methods are designed to assess student ideas in a more structured way, often using standardized tests or rubrics.

Some common eliciting methods include:

  • Interviews: One-on-one interviews with students can be a rich source of information about their ideas. Interviews can be conducted informally or more formally, using a structured protocol.
  • Drawings and diagrams: Asking students to draw or diagram their understanding of a concept can help to reveal their ideas and misconceptions.
  • Concept mapping: Concept mapping is a technique that students can use to organize their ideas about a topic. Concept maps can be used to identify student misconceptions and alternative frameworks.
  • Think-pair-share: Think-pair-share is a cooperative learning strategy that can be used to elicit student ideas. Students first think about a question or topic individually, then pair up to discuss their ideas, and finally share their ideas with the whole class.

Some common assessment methods include:

  • Multiple-choice tests: Multiple-choice tests can be used to assess student understanding of factual knowledge and conceptual understanding.
  • Open-ended questions: Open-ended questions can be used to assess student understanding of complex concepts and their ability to apply their knowledge to new situations.
  • Performance assessments: Performance assessments can be used to assess student understanding of scientific inquiry and their ability to design and conduct investigations.

Once you have uncovered student ideas, it is important to use this information to inform your instruction. There are a number of ways to do this:

  • Address misconceptions directly: If you identify student misconceptions, you can address them directly in your instruction. This can be done through explicit instruction, demonstrations, or hands-on activities.
  • Build on prior knowledge: Prior knowledge can be a valuable resource for learning new concepts. You can build on student prior knowledge by connecting new concepts to familiar ones and by using analogies and examples.
  • Challenge alternative frameworks: Alternative frameworks can be more difficult to change than misconceptions. However, you can challenge alternative frameworks by providing students with evidence that contradicts their beliefs and by encouraging them to think critically about their ideas.
  • Promote conceptual change: Conceptual change is the process of changing one's mental model of a concept. You can promote conceptual change by providing students with new experiences, helping them to make connections between new and old ideas, and encouraging them to reflect on their understanding.

Uncovering student ideas is an essential part of effective science instruction. By understanding your students' prior knowledge, misconceptions, and alternative frameworks, you can tailor your instruction to meet their needs and promote conceptual change.

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