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To What Extent Should Students Learn Science Content Through Engaging in the Practice of Doing Science? Teacher Beliefs and NGSS Attitudes vs. Reported Classroom Practice

Abstract

One issue that will influence how teachers adopt NGSS-aligned standards is teachers'
preexisting beliefs and attitudes about what constitute effective methods for science teaching and learning (Banilower, Trygstad, and Smith, 2015; Trygstad, Smith, Banilower, and Nelson, 2013). The Framework and NGSS describe a vision for science education in which students will primarily learn science concepts by engaging in SEPs. Students are to generate and interpret evidence and develop explanations through sustained investigations, all while increasing their
capacity to direct all aspects of the process over time (National Research Council, 2012). This contrasts with the current state of science education in many classrooms, in which students primarily learn concepts through direct instruction with occasional reinforcement through engagement in SEPs (Banilower et al., 2015). According to results from the 2012 National Survey of Mathematics and Science Education (Banilower et al., 2013), around 60% of teachers believe that hands-on experimentation should reinforce concepts students have already learned, 40-50% of teachers believe that they should explain a concept to students before the students consider evidence related to the concept, and 90% of teachers believe that
vocabulary should come before conceptual understanding. Interventions to support teachers in adopting NGSS-aligned standards will need to take into account that many educators' beliefs may not align with the notion of consistently teaching science content through SEPs, as envisioned by authors of the Framework and NGSS.

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