(2) Engaging Learners in NGSS Science & Engineering Practices

Objectives  Learn how to use CSCS techniques to engage leaners in the science & engineering practices specified in Dimension 1 of the Next Generation Science Standards.

(Computer Supported Collaborative Science (CSCS) is a teaching methodology that uses collaborative web-based resources to engage all learners in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of individual data in the context of whole-class data. CSCS fosters scientific inquiry by using collaborative online resources to assess prior knowledge, collect and analyze student ideas, data, and comments, and provides instructors the opportunity to perform continuous formative assessments to inform and reform their own instruction. CSCS turns hands-on classroom activities into more authentic scientific experiences -- shifting the focus from cookbook data collection to thoughtful data analysis.The CSCS model engages all students in learning science and provides experience in how science is actually done. The CSCS model provides a pedagogical framework for science teachers seeking to implement the goals of Framework.) 

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(2.0) Introduction - Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
(2.1) Asking Questions & Defining Problems

NGSS Science & Engineeering Practice #1 - Secondary students struggle to develop researchable questions for inquiry activities or science fair projects.  Fortunately, teachers can guide students through this process with much greater efficiency using the CSCS model.  For example, a teacher can solicit research questions surrounding a particular phenomenon. Students enter their questions into a blog and simultaneously see the ideas of their classmates.  The teacher then highlights specific questions and illustrates how they may be refined into researchable questions. Students are then asked to post suggestions for their peers. The teacher monitors all activity and further clarifies the process of formulating researchable questions and defining researchable problems.  Students learn by seeing numerous examples edited and refined in the collaborative environment of the blog. 

(2.2) Developing & Using Models

NGSS Science & Engineeering Practice #2  - A key difference between novice learners and expert learners is that “experts notice features and meaningful patterns of information that are not noticed by novices.” (Bransford et. Al., 1999). The NRC recognizes the significance of pattern recognition by placing it as the first cross-cutting concept in Dimension 2 of the Framework (NRC, 2012).  Novice learners become expert learners by modeling the metacognitive strategies of experts. Novice learners gain metacognitive skills as they watch teachers describe their use of pattern recognition in the development of models and hypotheses. Collaborative cloud-based documents allow students to see patterns in class data as well as patterns in the way their peers develop models.

(2.3) Planning & Carrying Out Investigations

NGSS Science & Engineeering Practice #3  - In America’s Lab Report, The National Research Council states that  “Laboratory experiences provide opportunities for students to interact directly with the material world (or with data drawn from the material world), using the tools, data collection techniques, models, and theories of science.”  (NRC, 2006b).  According to the NRC, “The quality of current laboratory experiences is poor for most students.”  The NRC concludes that one reason for poor laboratory experiences is insufficient time to plan and carry out investigations.  The CSCS model makes planning and conducting investigations simpler by instantly aggregating all student data.  In a traditional student laboratory experience, a lab group of 2-3 students must complete all aspects of investigation by the end of the period and the grade they earn will be directly dependent upon their ability to accomplish this.  Students get little experience planning investigations because teachers must design them so they may be completed within the allotted time.  By contrast, the CSCS model allows investigations to be conducted using whole class data. Students complete an investigation by examining entire class data.  Using the CSCS model, teachers can divide data collection tasks among various lab groups so that the class can collect the necessary data even if individual lab groups are unable to do so.
(2.4) Analysing & Interpreting Data

NGSS Science & Engineeering Practice #4  - The CSCS model excels in teaching students how to analyze and interpret data. D’Alessio and Lundquist (2012) found that after using frequent CSCS activities, even students with limited science background begin to see data like experts see it.  Students “made significant gains in data interpretation skills compared to a control group that did more traditional laboratory activities without the public comparison of data that defines CSCS.”.

(2.5) Using Mathematical & Computational Thinking

NGSS Science & Engineeering Practice #5  - The CSCS model provides numerous opportunities to encourage the use of computational thinking.  Rather than viewing an isolated set of data, students must use statistics to evaluate whole class data.  Teachers include column headers in electronic quick-writes to perform basic computations on student input. (An electronic quick-write is a collaborative cloud-based spreadsheet in which columns represent individual questions and rows represent individual responses to those questions. (Herr et.al., 2012))  For example, if the teacher asks students to input their resting pulse rate, designated cells instantly report the maximum, minimum, and average pulse rates for the class while pre-defined graphs plot these statistics in a corresponding worksheet.  Students learn to perform spreadsheet calculations by entering their own formulae in cells as prompted by their instructors. Rather than walking around the class to see student calculations, the teacher simply scans the spreadsheet and formatively assesses the computational reasoning of their students. 

(2.6) Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

NGSS Science & Engineeering Practice #6  - Historians argue that Thomas Edison’s greatest invention was not the incandescent light bulb, motion pictures, recorded music, nor any of the other 1090 inventions for which he held patents, but rather the modern research laboratory in which he assembled top scientists and engineers to collaborate in the design and development of new products. Edison did not invent all of the items for which he received patents, but rather created an environment in which top scientists and engineers could collaborate to design solutions (Mintz, 2012).  In a similar fashion, CSCS creates an environment where students work simultaneously on collaborative online lab reports, drawings, spreadsheets, diagrams, photo albums, concept maps, presentations, wikis, and websites to construct explanations and design solutions.   

(2.7) Engaging in Argument from Evidence

NGSS Science & Engineeering Practice #7 - CSCS highlights the significance of evidence in learning science (d’Alessio, 2012; Herr et. al., 2010a, 2010b, 2011).  In a traditional science classroom, students argue only from their own data, but in a CSCS classroom, students examine entire class data before generating hypotheses or making conclusions.  Students learn to discern good data from bad data (d’Alessio, 2012) and learn the importance of patterns, trends, statistics, and outliers.  Just as professional scientists evaluate their results in light of evidence from other laboratories, so CSCS students evaluate their results in light of evidence from other students.

(2.8) Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

NGSS Science & Engineeering Practice #8 - CSCS creates an information-rich environment in which students work.  Unlike a traditional classroom in which a single student is called upon to an answer a question asked of the class, CSCS students are expected to answer all questions posed by the teacher all of the time.  Rather than raising hands, students input their answers to the collaborative spreadsheet that both teachers and students read.  Collaborative online documents provide the opportunity for the teacher to perform continuous formative assessments of student understanding (Herr et.al, 2012) while allowing students to see the input of their peers.  As students respond to teacher prompts, they communicate not only to the teacher, but also to their peers.  CSCS students respond in writing to each classroom question, and are also asked to evaluate the information communicated by their peers. 

HPCA-CSCS Proposed CSCS Investigations & Science & Engineering Practices Addressed