Moving Beyond Conceptual Models: Developing Assessments to Validate and Study Learning Progressions

Principal Investigator: 
Project Overview
Background & Purpose: 

Learning progressions are a novel and transformative approach that provides a theoretical framework for developing curricula and assessments that support student learning of big ideas in science over multiple grades and grade bands. In principle, learning progressions provide a framework for making decisions about what to teach, when and how to teach it, and what we can expect that students be able to do at different points along the progression. Learning progressions hold the promise of transforming the field. However, the transition from developing a theoretical progression to studying and validating it in science classrooms is challenging and requires the integration of expertise across the domains of cognitive science, curriculum design, and assessment of learning. The proposed project aims to develop the field’s knowledge and capacity to incorporate the different expertise needed to move the scholarship on learning progressions to the next level.

Specifically, we have funding to support a weeklong workshop on designing, developing, and using assessments to study and validate learning progressions. The workshop is intended predominantly for early career researchers and senior graduate students engaged in the development and study of learning progressions in science. The goal of the workshop is to provide young scholars with working knowledge and support to extend their research efforts about learning progressions into the level of empirical testing and validation.

Other Products: 

We anticipate the main product of this project to be a web site with resources for researchers engaged in learning progressions research (particularly in regard to assessment). The site will include a brief overview of learning progressions, a list of select research articles on learning progressions, and an online guide to assessment development for learning progressions. The guide will be the central focus of the site and will include a summary of important considerations when designing assessments, a description of the process, samples of assessment items, etc.