New Tool: Are there multiple instructional models that fit with the science and engineering practices in NGSS? (Short answer: Yes.)

Posted on September 26, 2014

Engaging students routinely in specific science and engineering practices is one of the signature elements of the new vision for science education in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The NRC Framework for K-12 Science Education, which provided the conceptual foundation for NGSS, describes each of the eight practices in science and engineering and dimensions of those practices. As people have started to implement NGSS, many conversations that we have been privy to about the practices implies that there specific instructional ways to engage students in the practices instructionally. Not surprisingly, the particular model of instruction described relates to the history, commitments, and context of the person talking. This could lead some people to think there is only a single way to "teach" the practices. Now, not all forms of instruction map onto the new vision, but it occurred to us and our collaborators that multiple forms of instruction can be used to engage students meaningfully in the science and engineering practices. So we crafted this STEM Teaching Tool to make this point and to highlight some of the leading instructional models that conceptually align with the 3-D model of learning in NGSS. Students can engage in the practice, learn and apply disciplinary core ideas, and make connections to cross-cutting concepts through project-based instruction, through emergent investigations, through a modified form of inquiry kit instruction, and many others. Details matter, of course. How the instructional approach gets enacted for students as part of the learning exeperience is the crucial place to watch for alignment with this 3-D model of learning.