1. Barbara Buckley
  2. PI
  4. WestEd
  1. Daniel Brenner
  2. Co-PI
  4. WestEd
  1. Andrew Grillo-Hill
  2. Co-PI
  4. WestEd

SimScientists Human Body Systems


2015 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 9-12

The NSF-funded Human Body Systems (HBS) suite provides a systematically designed exemplar for fostering and assessing important science learning that integrates the core ideas, science practices, and cross-cutting concepts of NGSS. Our goal is to help high school biology students integrate and animate what they have learned into nested mental models of human body systems. In three instructional modules (IMs), students reason about tasks, generate and test predictions, and use evidence to revise their models. The benchmark assessment tests how well they can do that following the completion of the modules.
Our theoretical framework integrates model-based learning in science and complex systems within an iterative evidence-centered design process. Working with teacher co-developers, we specified the components, interactions, and emergent behaviors of the complex systems underlying the core ideas; and the science practices and cross-cutting concepts to be embodied in the IMs and tested in the benchmark assessment. IMs provide tailored feedback that supports model-building and enables successful task completion. The benchmark assessment provides similar tasks but no feedback. All modules generate reports for students and teachers. At scales ranging from molecules to the whole body, students investigate the mechanisms by which the nested systems of the human body support whole body functions.
We conducted pilot testing in schools with diverse populations to ensure the appropriateness of HBS modules for a range of students and to identify revisions prior to the RCT. We are currently conducting a small RCT with ~40 teachers and ~2000 students in high school biology classrooms.

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