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Learning Progressions Research

 

Specific Research on: Biodiversity Carbon Water Citizenship Quantitative Reasoning

Learning Progressions

We have approached our work on student environmental science literacy through the lens of learning progressions. Learning progressions are descriptions of increasingly sophisticated ways of thinking about or understanding a topic.  Well-grounded learning progressions can serve as a basis for dialogue among science education researchers, developers of standards documents, assessment developers, and curriculum developers.  This approach is endorsed by both the National Research Council and the National Assessment Governing Board in the framework for the 2009 NAEP science test.

Learning progressions are a model in which learning is described as a path that students take toward mastery of a long term curricular goal that includes a series of building block ideas that the students must master before mastering the focal curricular goal. Level­-oriented learning progressions are “descriptions of the successively more sophisticated ways of thinking about a topic that can follow one another as children learn about and investigate a topic over a broad span of time (e.g., six to eight years)” (Duschl, Schweingruber, & Shouse, 2007).

The Main features of Learning Progressions:

  • Describes changes in student reasoning about a particular topic as students develop more sophisticated understandings of big ideas.
  • Spans grades – learning from middle to high school
  • Is anchored on one end by what we want students to know and be able to do by the end of high school related to the particular topic
  • Is anchored on the other end by the ways that students make sense of the world.
  • Is not about right or wrong but is about tracking student progress as they develop more sophisticated understandings.

How can Learning Progressions be used by teachers in the classroom:

  • Learning progressions can help teachers think about how students’ ideas change from their  initial ideas to more scientific thinking.
  • Learning progressions can help teachers recognize the connections between students’ experiences and how they are thinking about concepts at different points in their K-12 schooling.
  • Teachers can use this knowledge to help them rethink their curriculum choices to best help students learn based on where they are in their own learning.

How are Learning Progressions Developed?

  • Develop an initial learning progression framework
  • Develop/revise interview protocol and written assessment items; Collect data
  • Analyze data and identify patterns of students’ learning performances
  • Repeat this process, revising the learning progression framework as you learn more about student learning and understanding, collecting further data, and identifying patterns in student learning.


What do the upper and lower anchor in our learning progressions represent?

  • In the upper anchor learning goal, phenomena are parts of connected, dynamic systems that operate at multiple scales according to scientific principles. Models are abstractions of systems that focus on key features to explain and predict scientific phenomena.
  • In the lower anchor starting point, students recognize actors with purposes and/or needs that confront antagonists (hindering forces). Events are determined through the interplay of competing powers. Humans have most powers and abilities, but non-living entities can be actors, too. For example, a tree’s purpose is to grow. Enablers include sunlight, soil, and water. Antagonists include drought and logging.

2014 NARST Conference Materials

Anderson, C.W., (2014, April). Overview: Learning progressions that connect science practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas. Presented at the annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Pittsburgh, PA. Powerpoint.

Bianchini, J.A., Yestness, N.R., Nilsen, K.J., Hammond, L.M., Kim, J., Parker, S.D., and Berkowitz, A., (2014, April). Progression-Based Teaching Strategies in Environmental Science: Teachers’ Successes and Struggles in Implementation. Presented at the annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Pittsburgh, PA. Powerpoint. Paper.

Covitt, B.A., Syswerda, S.P, Caplan, B., and Cano, A.A., (2014, April). Teachers’ Use of Learning Progression-Based Formative Assessment in Water Instruction. Presented at the annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Pittsburgh, PA. Powerpoint. Paper.

Dauer, J.M., and Anderson, C.W., (2014, April). Learning from evidence in the context of global climate change. Presented at the annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Pittsburgh, PA. Powerpoint. Paper.

De los Santos, E.X., Stapleton, S.R., and Anderson, C.W.,(2014, April). Students’ ideas about sustainability of agricultural and fuel production systems. Presented at the annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Pittsburgh, PA. Powerpoint. Paper.

Doherty, J.H., Hartley, L., Harris, C., and Anderson, C.W., (2014, April). Developing Understanding of Evolution in Complex Contexts. Presented at the annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Pittsburgh, PA. Powerpoint. Paper.

Freed, A.L., Dauer, J.M., Doherty, J.H., Johnson, W.R., and Anderson, C.W., (2014, April). Connections between students’ explanations and interpretations and arguments from evidence. Presented at the annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Pittsburgh, PA. Powerpoint. Paper.

Gunkel, K.L., Covitt, B.A., and Salinas, I., (2014, April). Teachers’ Uses of Learning Progression-Based Tools for Reasoning in Teaching about Water in Environmental Systems. Presented at the annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Pittsburgh, PA. Powerpoint. Paper.

Hartley, L., Doherty, J.H., Harris, C., Moore, J.C., Berkowitz, A.R., and Anderson, C.W., (2014, April). Learning Progression Framework and Assessments for Community Ecology. Presented at the annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Pittsburgh, PA. Powerpoint. Paper.

Jin, H., Shin, H.J., Johnson, M., Kim, J., and Anderson, C.W., (2014, April). Promise and Problems of Learning Progression-guided Interventions. Presented at the annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Pittsburgh, PA. Powerpoint. Paper.

Miller, H., Freed, A., Doherty, J., Johnson, W., and Anderson, C.W., (2014, April). Components of productive level 3 reasoning. Presented at the annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Pittsburgh, PA. Powerpoint. Paper.

Moore, J.C., Hartley, L., Doherty, J.H., Harris, C., Berkowitz, A.R., and Anderson, C.W., (2014, April). Ecological Systems and Learning Progressions: Applications of Basic Principles across Multiple Scales of Organization. Presented at the annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Pittsburgh, PA. Powerpoint. Paper.

Wyner, Y. and Doherty, J. H., (2014, April). Unifying Life: Placing Urban Tree Diversity into an Evolutionary Context. Presented at the annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Pittsburgh, PA. Powerpoint. Paper.

To Learn More:

Anderson, C.W. (2013) Overview: Using Learning Progressions Research to Teach for Environmental Science Literacy. (download Powerpoint) Presentation from the Annual Meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, April 6-9, 2013.

Gunckel, K. L., Covitt, B. A., Salinas, I., & Anderson, C. W. (2012). A Learning Progression for Water in Socio-Ecological Systems. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 49(7), 843-868. doi: 10.1002/tea.21024.(link to JRST) 

Hartley, L., C. W. Anderson, A. Berkowitz, J. C. Moore, J. Schramm, S. Simon. (April, 2011) Development of a Grade 6-12 Learning Progression for Biodiversity: an Overview of the Approach, Framework, and Key Findings. (Powerpoint), Presentation from the Annual Meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching.

Jin, H. & Anderson, C. W. (2012). A Learning Progression for Energy in Socio-Ecological Systems. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 49(9), 1149-1180. doi:.10.1002/tea.21051. (link to JRST)

* This research is supported in part by grants from the National Science Foundation:Targeted Partnership: Culturally relevant ecology, learning progressions and environmental literacy (NSF-0832173). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.