Learning Sciences Research Institute scholars to create assessments for elementary science teachers

Brian Gane, UIC visiting research assistant professor of learning sciences.

Researchers from UIC’s Learning Sciences Research Institute (LSRI) are teaming with scholars from UChicago STEM Education to lead a four-year, $3 million research and development project supported by the National Science Foundation’s Discovery Research PreK-12 program.

The collaborative project, which merges a $1.6 million grant to LSRI and a $1.4 million grant to UChicago STEM Education, involves developing assessments for use in elementary science classrooms and assisting science teachers in grades 3-5 to instruct and assess students in ways that are aligned with contemporary science education frameworks and the Next Generation Science Standards.

“This project is exciting because it will enable Illinois teachers and researchers to work together to improve elementary students’ science learning environments,” said Brian Gane, UIC visiting research assistant professor of learning sciences and the project’s principal investigator. “In tandem, we will also be creating a virtual learning community that will extend our reach to teachers across the nation, as they collaboratively work together to develop best practices for science teaching and assessment.”

The research team is partnering with elementary teachers from Chicago Public Schools and Indian Prairie School District 204 on the design of assessment tasks and rubrics, and will help teachers learn about assessment and instruction that supports students’ “three-dimensional” science learning through the integration of disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts.

To create these new science assessments, the research team is drawing on earlier work from LSRI and partner institutions that produced an online suite of middle school science assessment tasks aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards.

The team will work with teachers to test the developed assessments in diverse settings and create an online resource where teachers can view and share resources that support science teaching and communicate with other teachers about pedagogy and practice. The website will be modeled after UChicago STEM Education’s Virtual Learning Community for elementary mathematics educators.

In addition to Gane, members of the project team are Jim Pellegrino, Sania Zaidi, Krystal Madden, and Diksha Gaur of UIC; and Liz Lehman, Meg Bates, and Debbie Leslie of UChicago STEM Education.

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