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  1. Jon Boxerman
  2. Principal Investigator
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. WestEd
  1. Daniel Brenner
  2. Principal Investigator
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. WestEd
  1. Matt Silberglitt
  2. http://simscientists.org/
  3. Senior Research Associate
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. WestEd

SIMSCIENTISTS CROSSCUTTING CONCEPTS: PROGRESSIONS IN EARTH SYSTEMS

NSF Awards: 1420386

2018 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 6-8

To meet the expectations of the NGSS, science educators are seeking resources to teach and assess crosscutting concepts and to promote science practices for developing and using models. Crosscutting concepts provide a unique lens for monitoring how student learning progresses over the course of a single year, while science concepts and topics vary from unit to unit. However, little research exists on this topic. This project organizes, promotes, and assesses learning for three crosscutting ideas within and across three Earth systems. By leveraging computerized, simulation-based instructional modules with embedded formative assessment, we aim to determine how learning of crosscutting concepts of Scale, proportion, and quantity (“Scale”); Systems and system models (“Systems”); Energy and matter: Flows, cycles, and conservation (“Cycles”) progresses across three topics in middle school Earth systems science (Ecosystems, Geology, and Weather and Climate). 
 
To date, we have created nine simulation-based formative and summative assessment modules for purposes of developing and testing the learning progressions for the three core crosscutting concepts. Additionally, we created exemplars of simulation-based instructional and assessment supplements for the crosscutting concepts. Currently, we are pilot testing these newly developed modules and curricular supplements in schools across the US. Data from the pilot test will be used to validate the three crosscutting concept learning progressions and modules themselves. The focus on crosscutting concepts for simulation-based science curriculum activities and assessments are important and necessary enhancements to curriculum programs because they can promote complex science learning and sustained investigation practices. 

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Original Discussion from the 2018 STEM for All Video Showcase
  • Icon for: George Hein

    George Hein

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 08:10 a.m.

     Thanks for introducing me to SIMSCIENTIST.  Valid assessments are something the STEM education field certainly needs. Is your goal to develop assessments that would be valid for any curriculum? Does your pilot testing include students who may not be using Simscientist as their curriculum? 

     
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    Jon Boxerman
  • Icon for: Jon Boxerman

    Jon Boxerman

    Lead Presenter
    Principal Investigator
    May 14, 2018 | 11:58 a.m.

    Hi George,
    Thank you so for your comment. We are grateful you appreciate the introduction to SimScientists!

    Our goal is to develop assessments and instructional supplements that are valid when paired with curriculum and instruction that covers the same topics (for example, plate tectonics, climate/weather) and NGSS practices, disciplinary core ideas, and crosscutting concepts targeted by the assessments. The pilot testing includes two samples of 20 classrooms each. Both samples cover all the same topics and complete the same independent pre/post measure; one sample has been using SimScientists throughout this school year and the other sample has not.

  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    Researcher
    May 14, 2018 | 08:32 a.m.

    I'd also be interested in hearing some more about the progressions you're hypothesizing, for example about population dynamics.   Have you written these up yet?

     
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    Jon Boxerman
    Matt Silberglitt
  • Icon for: Jon Boxerman

    Jon Boxerman

    Lead Presenter
    Principal Investigator
    May 14, 2018 | 12:00 p.m.

    Thank you for visiting our project about how learning of crosscutting concepts progresses across three topics in middle school Earth sciences! This exploratory project involves designing, developing, and testing instructional modules with embedded formative and summative benchmark assessments. In addition to any questions you may have about the project itself, please share ways you have successfully supported learning of the crosscutting concept content through your instruction.

  • Icon for: Rachel Shefner

    Rachel Shefner

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 01:13 p.m.

    Thanks for the video and tackling the critical and confounding topic of assessing the crosscutting concepts! We certainly struggle with that in our projects. I am also interested in more information about the progressions you developed. I am envisioning you were guided by progressions for the CCCs that are specified in the NGSS? How did you decide which elements were critical so as to arrive at the 5 levels? What did the timeline for assessing the crosscutting concepts look like as the students progressed through the 3 different modules? Do you expect to see a deeper understanding after each module? 

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Sarah Hampton
    Jon Boxerman
    Matt Silberglitt
  • Icon for: Matt Silberglitt

    Matt Silberglitt

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 03:52 p.m.

    Hi Brian and Rachel,

    Thank you for asking about the progressions for the three crosscutting concepts at the heart of this study. Working with our advisors, we drafted hypothetical progressions for each of these three crosscutting concepts. This work was informed by the learning progressions in the NGSS, which describe what students should know and be able to do at the end of each grade band. However, our aim is to support teaching and learning within a single year. Working with a teacher co-developer, and iteratively testing early prototypes and versions of the modules informed the development of levels that describe how student learning of a crosscutting concept might progress in this shorter timeframe. We're now collecting data and plan to evaluate our hypothetical progressions this summer. We plan to share the progressions and findings after that step is complete. 

  • Icon for: Sarah Hampton

    Sarah Hampton

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 11:37 p.m.

    I teach middle school physical science and am always looking for resources that help shift science ed "from recall of facts to multidimensional learning and application." I regularly use PhET and Simbucket, but SimScientists is new to me. Are the platform and/or your modules available to a wider audience than the pilot groups? If not, do you have a timeline in mind? Thanks for sharing your work!

     
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    Jon Boxerman
  • Icon for: Jon Boxerman

    Jon Boxerman

    Lead Presenter
    Principal Investigator
    May 16, 2018 | 02:42 p.m.

    Hi Sarah,  I appreciate the question about the availability of the modules for a wider audience. Currently these Earth sciences modules are available for participants in the pilot study. The many SimScientists modules developed through prior projects including suites on physical and life sciences are only available to alumni of prior SimScientists studies. We would like to make these modules more broadly available but we currently do not have the capacity to provide this functionality. The Learning Management System which is the backbone of the SimScientists assessment system requires a full time staff member to manage the Help Desk and support the teachers and students. To provide wider access is beyond our means for the nonce. We would love to provide these teaching, learning, and assessment tools to everyone, but we will need to find ways of making this financially feasible before this is possible. 

  • Icon for: George Hein

    George Hein

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 07:29 a.m.

    Matt,

    Yes, theoretical progressions are interesting, but, as I'm sure you know, the actual learning curves that students follow may be quite different.  It will be particularly interesting to see what you find for students who are not using SimScientist.

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Jon Boxerman
  • Icon for: Donna Charlevoix

    Donna Charlevoix

    Program Director
    May 15, 2018 | 04:29 p.m.

    Thanks for sharing. SimScientists is very interesting, I'm not familiar with it. Can it be adapted for use outside the classroom, in informal learning environments such as outdoor environmental centers? 

     
    1
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    Jon Boxerman
  • Icon for: Jon Boxerman

    Jon Boxerman

    Lead Presenter
    Principal Investigator
    May 16, 2018 | 02:54 p.m.

    Hi Donna, This is a wonderful question! The beauty of SimScientists is that it can pair well with a wide variety of learning environments. Each assessment module is organized around topics such as Predator-Prey interactions or Plate Tectonics. The items and tasks in the modules are aligned to NGSS practices, core ideas, and crosscutting concepts. In theory, instructors teaching the content using the NGSS could adapt these tools to use in their classrooms or informal learning environment. One caveat is the modules are Flash-based, which means they will not work on most mobile devices including Apple products and Android. We are in the midst of converting some of the suites to HTML5, which is compatible with mobile devices, but we do not yet have a timeline for when the Earth sciences modules will be ready  for mobile device use. To answer your question, SimScientists can absolutely be adapted for a wide variety of learning environments, but the modules for now must be completed using a laptop or computer that supports Flash.

  • Icon for: Mike Stieff

    Mike Stieff

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 21, 2018 | 10:57 a.m.

    Do you have future plans to target high school science classes as well? We've found many teachers struggling to incorporate cross-cutting concepts into traditional disciplinary frameworks, and I'm curious is SimScientists might help them in this work.

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