Practice Brief 25 -- Topics: Equity Assessment Instruction Practices Culture

How can formative assessment support culturally responsive argumentation in a classroom community?

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Why It Matters To You
  • Teachers need to understand and build on the cultural resources (knowledge, interests, experiences) students bring to the practice of scientific argumentation to increase engagement and inclusion, especially students from non-dominant communities.
  • District Staff & PD Providers should support teachers in integrating formative assessment with argumentation to promote inclusive science and engineering learning.
  • School Leaders should promote and resource the use of different forms of classroom-based formative assessment in the learning of scientific practices.

What Is The Issue?

Argumentation has long been seen as an important practice in science and thus in science education. Formative assessment can be used to help students value the contributions and perspectives of others as they engage in argumentation to make sense of natural phenomena. Educators can use these strategies to help foster argumentation that is culturally responsive, meaning it draws from and respects students’ cultural resources, backgrounds, and personal experiences. Culturally responsive formative assessment happens within a community of learners where the teacher has cultivated explicit norms for increasing student-centered discourse, making decisions for their own purposes through democratic processes, and using clear guidelines for maintaining mutual respect.



Reflection Questions

  • How do you engage students in constructing arguments from evidence? What cultural resources do you draw upon?
  • What kinds of evidence are considered valuable from a scientific perspective and from your students’ perspectives?
  • What experiences do your students need to become more effective at discussing and critiquing each other’s arguments? What kind of classroom norms and discourse strategies would help?

Things to Consider

In order to leverage the personal and cultural resources all students bring to scientific argumentation, three components of formative assessment can help students engage in this practice:

Attending to Equity

Recommended Actions You Can Take


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