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Promise and Problems of Learning Progression-Guided Interventions

Abstract

"This study aims to examine the promise and problems of learning progression-guided interventions of an important science topic: using the knowledge of photosynthesis and cellular respiration to explain plant growth. In particular, a Learning Progression Framework (LPF) was developed to describe the conceptual change from force-dynamic reasoning that frames phenomena in terms of plants using enablers (e.g., water, air, and soil) to achieve their goals, toward scientific model-based reasoning that traces matter, traces energy, and connects scales in specialized ways. This LPF served as a framework for the development of a coordinated set of resources, including student assessments, teacher assessments, a teaching unit, and professional development programs. Teachers and students across four research sites participated in two cycles of professional development and teaching interventions. The results suggest both promise and problems related to student outcomes, teacher knowledge, and teachers' impact on student outcomes. First, students across research sites demonstrated significant learning gains. Most students progressed from force-dynamic reasoning to transitional reasoning about organic molecules and forms of energy. Second, we developed LPF-based measures of teacher knowledge. The results suggest positive associations between teacher knowledge, including content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge, and student outcomes. The results also indicate two challenges confronting teachers: adaptively applying conservation laws and understanding students' intuitive ideas. Finally, teacher knowledge and the coverage of curriculum by teachers are two important factors affecting student outcomes. Implications and limitations of the study are also discussed."

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