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MUSE | Earth-Moon-Sun Dynamics | Research on Student Learning


Research on Student Learning

Our team is currently conducting research on student learning and achievement in several EMS classrooms within a single Midwestern high school. The EMS curriculum in this school is taught by four different teachers whose teaching experience ranges from 3 to 18 years. We have collected achievement data for two cohorts of ninth graders at this school: our 1998 cohort consisted of 180 students in nine classes and our 1999 cohort consisted of 220 students in ten classes.

The focus of much of our past research (described in more detail on this site: genetics research, natural selection research) has been on student understanding of scientific models and their ability to engage in argumentation about models. Measuring students’ knowledge about scientific modeling is also a goal of our studies in the EMS classes, but we are studying how our students develop that understanding throughout two years of mandatory science classes. This type of longitudinal study is fairly uncommon in qualitative educational research and affords an opportunity to document students’ use of knowledge in new, but related settings (from one science course to another). Publications summarizing our findings on student learning can be found by clicking here.

In addition to studying students’ understanding about science and modeling in science, we are also measuring their achievement of the astronomy-specific learning outcomes that are the focus of our course. These are described in detail within the course overview section and "mapped" to nationally backed learning outcomes as well (see Benchmarks & Standards).

Thus, our research seeks to document the following types of student achievement throughout two years of science studies:

  1. Knowledge of selected astronomy (EMS) concepts
  2. Knowledge about science as a modeling activity
  3. Skills associated with observation, modeling, and defense of models

Our preliminary results will be shared with various professional organizations.

  • Celestial Reasoning
    Madison Area Science Forum

    Sponsored by the Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers and the National Science Teacher’s Association, Sheraton Inn, Madison, WI, February 3, 2000

  • Assessing High School Students’ Abilities to Formulate, Communicate, and Defend Arguments through Scientific Posters

    NSTA Midwestern Area Convention
    Milwaukee, WI, October 19, 2000

  • Inspired Inquiry!: Science Teaching and Learning with MUSE

    Paper set proposed by James H. Stewart. To be presented at the National Association for Research in Science Teaching annual meeting, St. Louis, MO, March 25-28, 2001.

  • We anticipate submitting a manuscript describing student achievement in the EMS classes to a peer-reviewed journal prior to the spring of 2001.