New Study Sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation Shows Investigation and Design Can Improve Student Learning in Science and Engineering
Centering science instruction around investigation and design can improve learning in middle and high schools and help students make sense of phenomena in the world around them. Current approaches to science in many classrooms do not reflect this approach and constrain the opportunities afforded to students, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Changing instructional approaches will require significant and sustained work by teachers, administrators, and policy makers, the report says.
“Students learn by doing, and science investigations provide an opportunity to do,” says Brett Moulding, co-chair of the committee that wrote the report and director of the Partnership for Effective Science Teaching and Learning. “Our report provides guidance on how teaching can shift toward investigations in a way that piques students’ curiosity and leads to greater interest in science.”
The term “investigation” refers to all aspects of engaging in science and engineering practices, whether in the laboratory or outside of it. In classrooms using these approaches, students ask questions, participate in discussions, create artifacts and models to show their reasoning, and continuously reflect and revise their thinking. Teachers guide, frame, and facilitate the learning environment to allow student engagement and learning. Thus, instead of discussing “laboratories” as one component of science classes, the report explains how to make “investigation” the central focus of what students do to learn science and engineering.
Science investigation and engineering design offer a promising vehicle for anchoring student learning in contexts that are meaningful to them, the report says. Interacting with real-world phenomena allows instructional choices that better connect to students’ lives, experiences, and cultural backgrounds than science instruction that is focused on discrete facts organized by discipline...