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


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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