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Describing 'Science Practice' in Learning Settings

Abstract

"The term 'science practice' occupies significant airtime in current science education lit- erature. Much of this attention involves the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which reframe students' learning expectations around participation in science practices (Achieve, Inc., 2013). Thus far, the surge in science practice-related conversation aims to advance theories of science teaching and learning, to provide concrete recommendations for activities in and out of classrooms, and to facilitate the design of new material resources (i.e., curricula, textbooks, kits).

While such efforts could ultimately benefit student learning, two unresolved issues about science practice can potentially limit the impact of NGSS in learning settings. First, 'science practice' is not well defined in the field of science education. While we agree that students should engage in authentic science activities, there is little consensus about the specific dimensions of disciplinary work that students should learn (Duschl, 2008). Second, establishing a definition of science practice does not automatically result in opportunities for students to engage in such work. Many context-based factors, including people (e.g., teachers and administrators) and resources (e.g., curricula and materials), play crucial roles in providing (or limiting) opportunities for students to learn science practice (National Research Council, 2007, 2011)."

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