Scientific Sensemaking: A Critical Resource for Science Learning in School


Science consists of both a body of knowledge and a process by which the knowledge is produced. Historically, these two aspects were often assessed separately (i.e., test items on knowledge and test items on skills) and taught relatively separately (e.g., with an introduction section on skills or via isolated projects or labs). The last decade has been marked by a substantial shift to an integrated view of both how science should be taught and how science learning should be assessed. Now, consensus reports (e.g., NRC, 2007, 2011) assert that scientific processes (renamed practices) should be used to learn science content (e.g., by designing, conducted, and interpreting experiments, or by arguing from existing sources). Further, new science standards (e.g., NGSS) strongly claim that science practices must be demonstrated in use with scientific content and that scientific content must be demonstrated through use with scientific practices.

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