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Purposeful Engagement in Science Learning

The Project-based Approach

Kabba E. Colley

Purposeful Engagement in Science Learning provides a blueprint of how teachers and their students can engage in science learning that mirrors the way science is practiced. It is written for K–16 science educators as well as those in the informal science education sector. The framework for this book is based on the project cycle, which is consistent with the process of scientific inquiry. Chapter One reviews the historical, philosophical and psychological foundations of project-based scientific inquiry (PBSI) and the evolution of this approach in the U.S. Chapter Two examines and synthesizes the research on PBSI. Chapter Three explores how to plan PBSI and offers practical strategies for veteran and novice science educators alike. Chapter Four presents different strategies for implementing PBSI with particular emphasis on factors to consider, including the roles and responsibilities of teachers and students. Chapter Five provides selected case histories of successful PBSI. Chapter Six deals with the different methods of evaluating and assessing students’ learning in PBSI environments and provides examples of performance-based assessments suitable for evaluating students’ learning. Chapter Seven examines the relationship between PBSI, after-school programs and community involvement. Finally, Chapter Eight identifies and describes relevant resources that could be used to support and enhance PBSI. This book is organized in a way that allows science educators to address the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), while at the same time, helping students learn science in ways that are relevant to their lives.
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Chapter 6. Evaluating Project-based Science Instruction


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Chapter Overview

The evaluation of students’ science learning in a project-based science environment presents a number of challenges for science educators. According to Kanis (1991), “Our most pervasive goal as science educators is to make students effective problem solvers. There appears to be a paradox, however, between this goal and the means by which we assess our students” (p. 290). The purpose of this chapter is to identify the methods currently used to assess students’ science learning in project-based science environments and to critically examine their technical, curricula, economic, and social strengths and weaknesses.

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