Assessing Scientific Inquiryby: Erin Peters

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Assessing student-led, open-ended scientific inquiry holds a unique problem for classroom teachers because of the diverse skills and content that emerge from student work. This article provides tangible strategies for teachers to assess divergent student-generated inquiry in a manner that is manageable for teachers, informative for students, and that demonstrates measurable academic growth. By developing a culture of assessment as information, planning lessons that allow open-ended communication, and establishing tangible criteria for scientific thinking, teachers can be well informed about student growth.

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Reviews (5)
  • on Sat Apr 19, 2014 11:13 PM

This article contains various ideas on how to incorporate inquiry into your teaching. It is a MUST READ for all teachers! Great strategies to use with all ages of students.

Katie Marco
Katie Marco

  • on Tue Dec 14, 2010 10:40 AM

The author states that: “Another way to create an environment where assessment is not seen as a judgment is to develop methods of peer assessment and self-assessment.” The author has provided three charts that can be used to accomplish the goal stated in the quote. Students assess their own work as well as the work of others in the classroom by answering questions related to the ways of knowing in science, processes of science and science content. This is done in two different charts. Students judge the product they are evaluating to see if it meets expectations, or could use some improvement. There is also a column for general comments. The assessment journal (the last chart) tracts the comments made by teacher and students over three different dates. This is a great deal of work but even application of the first two charts would help develop a better understanding of scientific inquiry.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Mon Feb 28, 2011 8:07 AM

The author suggests a method that allows teachers and students a method for evaluating work that provides students with "just the facts, " instead of judgment. It is suggested that this method will lead to better student progress. Strategies suggested include informal assessment like two-way journaling, peer assessment, self-assessment, use of standard scientific protocols, correct use of science process skills & explanation of science content. Sample rubrics are given for self and peer assessment and teacher-student dialogue.

Ruth Hutson  (Westmoreland, KS)
Ruth Hutson (Westmoreland, KS)

  • on Wed Dec 29, 2010 7:52 PM

I liked the tables students can included in the figures of the article which showed ways students can organize their thinking during inquiry tasks.

LeRoy A
LeRoy A

  • on Fri May 13, 2011 10:38 AM

While the assessment rubrics are valuable contribution to those struggling with assessing inquiry, the idea of applying these to group journals is questionable. Group assessment does not address the need for individual feedback. Peer assessment and self assessment requires greater maturity than is typical among middle school students. These ideas might be more workable with older, high school and college level students


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