Development and Implementation of Climate Change Learning Progressions
Thompson, Allison E.
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United States educators are under pressure to design curricula that improve science scores in the area of complex reasoning. In the present study, a 14-week curricular unit called 'SPECIES' was created using learning progressions (Songer, Kelcey, & Gotwal, 2009) as a foundation to encourage complex thinking in science. Learning progressions promote deeper thinking about a topic and encourage students to apply what they are learning systematically over several curricular units and years (Songer et al., 2009). The online SPECIES interface was created using the foundation of learning progressions to allow greater accessibility and deeper conceptualization of the curricular unit for students. The curricular unit was implemented in 8 schools in the Midwest and Eastern region of the United States. Two middle schools and 6 high schools participated. Of the 8 schools, 5 were located in a non-urban setting and 3 were located in an urban setting. Twenty classes were chosen, which included 399 students in total. The teachers were given thorough instruction on the curricular unit and were asked to implement the unit into their lessons as time allowed. Students were administered a pre-implementation assessment and a post-implementation assessment. Due to the formative evaluation phase that the study is currently in, overall learning gains for the entire assessment test were not found. However, when students were assigned to a high score group (less than 6 points deducted) and a low score group (greater than 6 points deducted), learning gains for urban students and non-urban students were found. Individual learning gains were also reported for 4 of the test questions. These findings provide insight into improving the design of the curricular unit and assessment items. This study serves as a foundation for subsequent education studies focusing on the benefits of learning progressions in science.