Tips for Teachers and Classroom Resources

How to Measure Student Success in the Science Classroom

By Mark Robertson

In the science classroom we have to ask two basic questions in order to measure student success:

  1. What should students know?
  2. What should they be able to do?

Once you have identified what students need to know, teachers are able to identify the content students are accountable to learn. And once you’ve identified what students should be able to do then you need to identify the process skills that need to be integrated into the curriculum targets.  This is the value of methodologies.

Methodologies are teaching practices centered on the two key questions above. The value and success of methodologies are not dependent on matching learning “target A” with teaching “practice A”, but rather by creating multiple opportunities that facilitate students’ expanding their knowledge and skills through a set of differentiated mediums.

The success of methodologies depends upon creating a transformative learning environment. I’ve seen this played out in my classroom with regards to measuring learning gains. An iterative process that models “real world” application allows students to steer their efforts in a direction relevant and valuable to them, as well as the community they are part of. We need to take the same approach in teaching science methodologies.

All the methodologies in the world will not compensate for a student’s knowing only impressive trivia facts; we want to make them productive participants in society where they understand patterns and have the confidence to transfer their skills to unique situations. What students know about science is only as valuable as how they use it.

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