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Assessing Science Skills in 3D: The Next Generation of Education




Three-dimensional Science Assessment


Three-dimensional science assessment is a type of assessment that measures students' abilities to apply scientific practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas in a three-dimensional manner. It is a relatively new type of assessment that was developed in response to the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). This article will discuss what three-dimensional science assessment is, the company that started it, what the questions assess, an example lesson, and the questions that would be given for that lesson.



The 3D science assessment was created by the National Research Council (NRC) as part of its efforts to improve science education in the United States. In 2011, the NRC published "A Framework for K-12 Science Education," which laid out a vision for science education that emphasizes three key dimensions: science and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas.


The framework was designed to provide a new approach to science education that focuses on helping students develop a deep understanding of scientific concepts and practices. It emphasizes the importance of teaching science in a way that is relevant to students' lives and helps them develop the skills they need to be successful in a rapidly changing world.


Why Was It Created

The 3D science assessment was created as a way to measure students' progress in these three key dimensions. Unlike traditional science assessments, which typically focus on factual recall and rote memorization, the 3D assessment is designed to measure students' ability to apply their knowledge in real-world situations, think critically, and solve problems.


The 3D science assessment is based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which were developed by a team of experts from 26 states and the National Research Council. The NGSS are designed to provide a new vision for science education in the United States, and they emphasize the importance of integrating science and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas in the classroom.


The 3D science assessment is seen as a major improvement over traditional science assessments because it provides a more accurate and comprehensive picture of students' understanding of scientific concepts and practices. It helps teachers identify areas where students need additional support, and it provides a framework for designing science instruction that is more engaging and effective.


Overall, the 3D science assessment was created by the NRC as part of its efforts to improve science education in the United States. It is designed to measure students' progress in three key dimensions of science education and to provide teachers with a framework for designing more effective science instruction.


Improved Measurements


Three-dimensional science assessments are designed to measure students' abilities to apply scientific practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas. The scientific practices include skills such as asking questions, developing and using models, planning and carrying out investigations, analyzing and interpreting data, using mathematics and computational thinking, constructing explanations, and engaging in argument from evidence. Crosscutting concepts are concepts that apply across all scientific disciplines and include things like patterns, cause and effect, scale, systems and system models, energy and matter, and stability and change. Disciplinary core ideas are the big ideas in science that students are expected to learn and understand, such as the structure and function of living organisms, the Earth's systems, and the properties of matter.


Better Than Traditional

Three-dimensional (3D) assessment is a better form of assessment than traditional assessment because it measures a student's ability to apply scientific practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas in an integrated and authentic manner. Here are three reasons why 3D assessment is better than traditional assessment:


1. More Authentic Assessment

Three-dimensional assessment measures a student's ability to apply scientific practices in real-world contexts. This type of assessment reflects the ways in which scientists and engineers use their knowledge and skills to solve problems in the real world. Traditional assessments often focus on memorization of information and recall of facts, which do not reflect the authentic ways in which science is practiced. In this way, 3D assessments provide a more authentic measure of students' understanding of science concepts and practices, and how they can apply these concepts in real-world situations.


Moreover, 3D assessments offer a more equitable approach to testing, especially for students from underrepresented backgrounds. Traditional assessments often rely on rote memorization of information, which can disadvantage students who come from low-income or non-English-speaking households. By assessing students' abilities to apply scientific practices in real-world situations, 3D assessments provide a more equitable approach to science education that is accessible to all students.


2. Emphasis on Scientific Practices

Three-dimensional assessment places a greater emphasis on scientific practices than traditional assessment. Scientific practices include skills such as asking questions, developing and using models, planning and carrying out investigations, analyzing and interpreting data, using mathematics and computational thinking, constructing explanations, and engaging in argument from evidence. These practices are essential for students to develop scientific literacy and prepare them for future careers in STEM fields. Traditional assessments often focus more on the memorization of facts, and less on the application of scientific practices.


By emphasizing scientific practices, 3D assessments provide a more comprehensive assessment of a student's understanding of science. Furthermore, 3D assessments help to prepare students for future careers in STEM fields by promoting the development of skills that are highly valued by employers.


3. More Integrated Approach

Three-dimensional assessment takes a more integrated approach to science education than traditional assessment. It assesses a student's ability to apply scientific practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas in an integrated and coherent manner. This approach reflects the interconnected nature of science, where concepts from different disciplines are often related.


By taking an integrated approach, 3D assessments provide a more complete assessment of a student's understanding of science. Traditional assessments often focus on specific topics in isolation, which can lead to a fragmented understanding of science. By assessing students' abilities to apply concepts from different disciplines in an integrated manner, 3D assessments promote a more holistic understanding of science.


Example Assessment

An example lesson that could be used to assess students' understanding of scientific practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas is one on photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is a process that occurs in plants, algae, and some bacteria, where they use light energy to convert carbon dioxide and water into glucose and oxygen. The following questions could be used to assess students' understanding of photosynthesis:


1. Scientific practices:

a. What questions could you ask to investigate the process of photosynthesis?

b. How could you design an investigation to measure the rate of photosynthesis?

c. What data would you collect to support your investigation?


2. Crosscutting concepts:

a. What patterns can you observe in the process of photosynthesis?

b. How does photosynthesis contribute to the cycling of matter in ecosystems?

c. What is the relationship between energy and matter in photosynthesis?


3. Disciplinary core ideas:

a. What is the chemical equation for photosynthesis?

b. What are the different types of chlorophyll and how do they contribute to photosynthesis?

c. How do environmental factors such as temperature and light intensity affect photosynthesis?


Conclusion

Three-dimensional science assessment is a type of assessment that measures students' abilities to apply scientific practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas in a three-dimensional manner. The National Research Council developed the concept of three-dimensional science assessment as part of its framework for K-12 science education, which was later used as the basis for the NGSS. Three-dimensional science assessments are designed to assess students' understanding of scientific practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas, and can be used in a variety of science lessons.


Citations

  1. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2019). Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12: Investigation and Design at the Center. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25216.

  2. NGSS Lead States. (2013). Next Generation Science Standards: For States, By States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

  3. National Research Council. (2011). A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13165.

  4. Smith, E. L., Trochim, W. M. K., & Dealing, K. J. (2013). Using the Three-Dimensional Learning Framework in a Large-Scale Assessment: A Case Study. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 50(6), 723-744. doi: 10.1002/tea.21096.





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