IDENTIFYING STUDENT CONCEPTIONS TO ENHANCE NEXT GENERATION SCIENCE STANDARDS (NGSS) ALIGNED CURRICULA
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) form the basis of the Michigan Science Teaching and Assessment Reform (Mi-STAR) curriculum for the middle grades (6, 7 and 8). The Mi-STAR curriculum is being developed by a partnership that includes K-12 teachers and is working towards the goal of supporting science and engineering education as an integrated body of knowledge that can be applied to study real-world phenomena and develop solutions to 21st-century problems. Mi-STAR is made possible by a grant from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation.
In the current stage of Mi-STAR unit development, small teams of teachers are working with content-area and pedagogical experts during two-week-long intensive development sessions, resulting in the creation of draft units. As part of this process, participating teachers identified pre- and mis-conceptions that their students hold about the topics in the specific unit being developed. These student conceptions identified by teachers were supplemented by information compiled from other reputable sources. This list of student conceptions was then explicitly linked to individual NGSS performance expectations and disciplinary core ideas, and was used to guide unit development.
The student conception document compiled during this process will be useful to others developing NGSS-aligned curricula as it will allow teachers to anticipate, and address, common pre- and mis-conceptions. Teachers can use this knowledge to select pre-instruction assessments (including performance-based tasks) to elicit prior knowledge and provide information that can be used to tailor instruction to address students’ needs.