The Elementary Students’ Science Beliefs Testsby: Mary Stein and David W. Goetz

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To help teachers guide their instruction, a university science educator who researches students’ science beliefs and a fifth-grade classroom teacher investigated how elementary students interpreted some of the ideas found within the National Science Education Standards. As a result, they developed an online test—The Elementary Students’ Science Beliefs Test—covering several essential K—4 understandings for elementary students in life, physical, and Earth sciences. What follows is a description of their experience and reflections after administering the test to a group of third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade students in a suburban Michigan school.

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Reviews (4)
  • on Mon Apr 04, 2011 10:22 PM

This is a terrific article that works well to remind teachers that there are big ideas out there to plan around. The simplicity of the true/false survey is easy to replicate, but as the author points out, the written responses that justify the answers provide so much more understanding about student thinking. For me, this article also serves as a reminder that every unit needs pre and post assessment. If the goal of teaching is to help each student move along their own continuum of understanding, then we need to know where the starting point is.

Caryn Meirs  (Smithtown, NY)
Caryn Meirs (Smithtown, NY)

  • on Mon Feb 07, 2011 7:36 PM

The author administered a test to third through fourth grade students to assess their understanding of science standards. Their findings uncovered several surprising misconceptions. The information was used to develop activities to develop student understanding. The article includes a list of the questions used to assess student understanding and would be an excellent method for replication in other districts.

Patricia McGinnis  (Pottstown, PA)
Patricia McGinnis (Pottstown, PA)

  • on Fri Oct 19, 2012 11:38 AM

This article introduces a test for grades K – 4 composed of twenty-four yes or no questions divided equally about basic concepts in Earth, life and physical science. The article provides a description of experiences and reflections by these authors after administering the test to a group of third, fourth, and fifth graders in a suburban Michigan school. Students were urged to tell if they had guessed about a statement or not as well. The correct response rate was 59%. Factored in were students reading levels on this computer generated test. There were several interesting results. Reading this article might help an elementary teacher provide a better understanding of certain topics.

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

  • on Tue Dec 28, 2010 7:47 PM

This incredibly well referenced article about baseline assessment is excellent documentation to take to any grade level or district meeting to support the need for more formative assessment of students. We need to give teachers the chance to reflect on what and how concepts are taught and Stein and Goetz created an easy to use instrument for assessment. This is not a how to article as much as a why to, and the list of quality references both in and beyond other NSTA journals provided me with much more information on a subject that is at the forefront of my district priorities right now.

Caryn Meirs  (Smithtown, NY)
Caryn Meirs (Smithtown, NY)

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