Water Strand Overview
A scientific, model-based understanding of water is necessary for citizens to be able to explain and predict the pathways that water and substances in water will follow through natural and engineered systems and the implications of these pathways for local and global water supplies. For example, if a local developer proposes to build a new shopping center, citizens should be able to use scientific knowledge to evaluate experts’ claims about the impact of runoff from the roofs and parking lots of the shopping center on stream flows, local flooding, groundwater supplies and water quality. Citizens should also be able to participate in public discussion about how these potential impacts should be managed.
Students often learn school science narratives where they memorize terminology and places, but often fail to be able to apply their understandings to real world problems. A scientific, model-based account of water describes the structure of natural and human-engineered components of surface, atmospheric, soil/groundwater, and biotic systems; the processes of evaporation, infiltration, runoff, and transpiration that move water; the forces that drive water through these systems (e.g., gravity, pressure, thermal energy); and the factors that constrain rate and direction of water moving through systems (e.g., permeability, topography). A model-based account of substances in water includes the nature of the electrochemical properties of substances, whether substances move in suspension or solution, and the processes that mix and separate substances from water as it moves through natural and human components of systems. Importantly, a scientific model-based account of water includes how water moving through these pathways impacts water supplies and how human decisions and actions impact these pathways.
The water systems learning progression has four levels of achievement, from informal force-dynamic accounts to scientific, model-based accounts.
Level 4: Scientific Model-based Accounts – Accounts acknowledge driving forces and constraining factors on pathways for water and substances in water.
Level 3: Incomplete School Science Accounts – Accounts provide detailed, although frequently incomplete, stories of water pathways. These stories include hidden and invisible aspects of systems.
Level 2: Force-dynamic Accounts with Mechanisms – Accounts rely on actors or perceived natural tendencies of water to explain water movements or changes in water quality.
Level 1: Human-Centric Force-dynamic Accounts – Accounts identify water in visible, familiar contexts, focus on human uses and experiences with water and rely on humans to move water or change water quality.
Our project has developed the following resources for teachers and researchers:
Assessments – Open-response assessment items and an annotated key of student performance based on the learning progression
- School Water Pathways – A week-long inquiry science unit focused on supporting students in developing more model-based accounts of water moving along multiple pathways through natural and human-engineered systems. The unit is focused around the question, “How much water falls on our schoolyard during a year and where does it go?” This unit includes teacher and student pages, formative assessment prompts, and student tools for reasoning.
- Substances in Water Unit – A week-long inquiry science unit focused on supporting students in understanding how substances mix and move with water through natural and human-engineered systems. This unit includes teacher and student pages, formative assessment prompts, and student tools for reasoning
- Formative Assessment Packages – Four formative assessment packages that include student prompts and interpretative materials for teachers.
- Tools for Reasoning – Graphic organizers to support students in considering driving forces and constraining factors for tracing water and substances in water along multiple pathways
Water Professional Development Materials
Materials were developed and used with K-12 teachers in California, Colorado, Maryland, and Michigan from 2008-2013. These materials are directed at both content knowledge and pedagogy, with materials focusing on how to use learning progressions while teaching about water in the classroom.
Journal Articles, Book Chapters, Conference Presentations, and Papers
- Covitt, B.A., Syswerda, S.P, Caplan, B., and Cano, A.A. 2014. Teachers’ Use of Learning Progression-Based Formative Assessment in Water Instruction. Presentation from 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. Teachers’ Uses of Learning Progression-Based Tools for Reasoning in Teaching about Water in Environmental Systems.Presentation from the Annual Meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Pittsburgh, PA. Powerpoint. Paper.
- Caplan, B., Gunckel, K. L., Warnock, A., & Cano, A. (2013). Investigating water pathways in schoolyards. Green Teacher, 98(Winter), 28-33.(download Paper)
- Salinas, I., Covitt, B. A., & Gunckel, K. L. (2013). Sustancias en el Agua: Progresiones de Aprendizaje para Diseñar Intervenciones Curriculares. Educacion Quimica, 24(4), 391-398.
- Covitt, B.A. & Gunckel, K. L., (2012, March). Using a water systems learning progression to design and test formative assessments and tools for reasoning. Paper presented at the 2012 Annual International Conference of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Indianapolis, IN. (download Powerpoint , Paper)
- 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 (abstract)
- Gunckel, K. L., Mohan, L., Covitt, B. A., & Anderson, C. W. (2012). Addressing challenges in developing learning progressions for environmental science literacy. In A. Alonzo & A. W. Gotwals (Eds.), Learning progressions in science (pp. 39-76). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers. Book
- Caplan, B., and Covitt, B.A. (2011, September). Tracing water and substances in water through pathways in the schoolyard: A new perspective on teaching the water cycle. Sustaining the Blue Planet Global Water Education Conference, Bozeman, MT. (download)
- Covitt, B.A., Gunckel, K. L., Salinas, I., & Anderson, C. W. (2011, September). Learning Progression Based Reasoning Tools for Understanding Water Systems. Sustaining the Blue Planet Global Water Education Conference, Bozeman, MT. (download)
- Covitt, B. A., Gunckel, K. L., & Anderson, C. W. (2010, April). A Learning progression for understanding water in socio-ecological systems. Poster presented at the 91st Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Denver, CO. (download)
- Gunckel, K. L., Covitt, B. A., & Anderson, C. W. (2010, March). Teacher responses to assessments of understanding of water in socio-ecological systems: A learning progressions approach. Paper presented at the 2010 Annual International Conference of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Philadelphia, PA. (download Paper)
- LaDue, N., Covitt, B., Gunckel, K. 2010. Exploring Teacher and Student Conceptions of Groundwater through Drawings. Conference of the North American Association for Environmental Education, Buffalo. (download)
- Covitt, B. A., Gunckel, K. L., & Anderson, C. W. (2009). Students’ developing understanding of water in environmental systems. Journal of Environmental Education, 40(3), 37-51. Abstract
- Gunckel, K. L., Covitt, B. A., & Anderson, C. W. (2009, June). Learning a secondary Discourse: Shifts from force-dynamic to model-based reasoning in understanding water in socio-ecological systems. Paper presented at the Learning Progressions in Science (LeaPS) Conference, Iowa City, IA. (download Paper Powerpoint)
- Gunckel, K. L., Covitt, B. A., Dionese, Dudek, & Anderson, C. W. (2009, April). Developing a learning progression for student understanding of water in environmental systems. Paper presented at the 2009 Annual International Conference of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Garden Grove, CA. (download Paper, Poster)
Development of these materials was supported by a grant 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.