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  • ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE LITERACY RESEARCH GROUPMichigan State UniversityWorking Groups: Carbon, Water, BiodiversityPartnersLong Term Ecological Research (LTER) NetworkAlan Berkowitz, Baltimore Ecosystem StudyAli Whitmer, Santa Barbara CoastalJohn Moore, Shortgrass SteppeUniversity of California, BerkeleyUniversity of MichiganNorthwestern UniversityAAAS Project 2061

  • PRESENTATION OVERVIEW Environmental Science Literacy in K-12 Ed What is and why is it important?Learning ProgressionsUpper Anchor Framework (scientific reasoningHypotheses about Lower Anchor (informal reasoning)Lower Anchor and Transitions ResearchWhats Next?Comments & Questions

  • THE NEED FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE LITERACYHumans are fundamentally altering natural systems that sustain life on EarthCitizens need to understand science to make informed decisions that maintain Earths life supporting systemsCitizens act in multiple roles that affect environmental systems: as learners, consumers, voters, workers, volunteers, and advocates

  • BRINGING SCHOOL SCIENCE IN LINE WITH CURRENT SCIENCE PERSPECTIVESStudy of natural sciences has undergone shiftsFrom individual disciplines (e.g., geology) to interdisciplinary fields (e.g., earth systems science) From focus on natural systems to coupled human and natural systems From retrospective (reconstructing past) to prospective (projecting future)

  • RESPONSIBLE CITIZENSHIP and ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE LITERACYEnvironmental science literacy is the capacity to understand and participate in evidence-based decision-making about the effects of human actions in coupled human and natural environmental systems [LTER: socioecological systems]. (Anderson, et al., 2006)

  • PRACTICES OF ENVIRONMENTALSCIENCE LITERACYEngage in scientific inquiry to develop and evaluate scientific arguments from evidenceUse scientific accounts of the material world as tools to predict and explainUse scientific reasoning in citizenship practices of environmental decision-making

  • LEARNING PROGRESSIONSLearning progressions describe knowledge and practices about topics that are responsive to childrens ways of reasoning, and reflect gradually more sophisticated ways of thinking. (Smith & Anderson, 2006)

  • LEARNING PROGRESSIONSUpper Anchor What high school students should know and be able to do

    Lower AnchorHow children think and make sense of the worldTransitions

  • Upper Anchor Inquiry: Finding and Explaining Patterns in Data

  • UPPER ANCHOR INQUIRYFINDING AND EXPLAINING PATTERNSIN DATAAcquiring dataStandards: Accuracy and reproducibility rather than experientially real (seeing is believing)Methods for acquiring accurate and reproducible dataFinding patterns in dataExperimental designUses of representations: tables, graphs, etc.Explaining patterns in dataCritiques of investigations conducted by others.

  • LOWER ANCHOR INQUIRYLEARNING FROM EXPERIENCEActive engagement with the material world leading embodied experience: Tacit understanding of how the world works Rolling ballsTowel dryingGrowing up on a farmPractical knowledgeKnowing how to rather than knowing how or whyOrganized around practices rather than models

  • Upper Anchor: Producing and Using Accounts

  • UPPER ANCHOR ACCOUNTS FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES Structure of SystemsAtomic/molecular scaleMacroscopic scaleLarge scaleConstraints on ProcessesTracing matterTracing energyTracing informationChange over timeMultiple causes and feedback loopsEvolution by natural selection

  • UPPER ANCHOR ACCOUNTS STRANDS, SYSTEMS, AND PROCESSES Carbon: Environmental systems create, transform, move, and destroy organic carbonLiving systems at multiple scalesEngineered systems at multiple scalesWater: Environmental systems create and move fresh waterAtmospheric water, surface water, ground water, water in living systems, engineered water systemsBiodiversity: Environmental systems maintain complex structure and function at multiple scalesHomeostasis: maintaining structure and functionResponse to environmentChange through natural and human selection

  • LOWER ANCHOR ACCOUNTS INFORMAL REASONING Stories connected by metaphorsWhat stories do people tell about environmental systems and how do they connect them?Alike and differentHow do people name or identify systems, processes, materials, forms of energy, etc.Which ones do they see as alike and different?EgocentrismHow important are human uses and relationships to humans in accounts and ways of describing systems, processes, etc.?

  • LOWER ANCHOR ACCOUNTS STORIES CONNECTED BY METAPHORS Process 1 Process 2 Process 3Model-based connections:Narrow focus across many storiesStories: Accounts that encompass many aspects of a social and material processMetaphorical or analogical connections among stories

  • UPPER AND LOWER ANCHORSCITIZENSHIP PRACTICES Understanding science (or socioecological systems): See Inquiry and AccountsWho do you trust? Deciding which knowledge claims to believe.Source credibility theory: Identity and group membershipEpistemological stances: Perry; Belenky et al.Evaluating quality of arguments from evidence (upper)What should I do? Deciding on positions or actionsDecision research (Slovic): Experiential (identify, affiliation, personal stories) and analytical (cost-benefit or risk-benefit analysis) systemsSources and nature of agency with respect to environmental issues (including understanding of socioeconomic, cultural, and political systems and how they work?)

  • LOWER ANCHOR AND TRANSITIONSRESEARCH METHODSData SourcesPaper and pencil assessmentsTeaching experiments, mostly aimed at seeing and understanding student reasoningInterviews

    Data AnalysisDeveloping progress variables that we can connect with both upper and lower anchors

  • General Trends from Elementary to High SchoolFrom stories to model-based accountsShift from why to how--purposes to mechanisms BUT lack knowledge of critical parts of systemsFrom macroscopic to hierarchy of systemsIncreased awareness of atomic-molecular and large-scale systemsBUT little success in connecting accounts at different levelsIncreasing awareness of constraints on processesIncreasing awareness of conservation lawsBUT rarely successful in constraint-based reasoningIncreasing awareness of invisible parts of systemsIncreasing detail and complexity BUT gases, decomposers, connections between human and natural systems remain invisible

  • WHATS NEXT?Increase emphasis on inquiry and citizenship in addition to accounts

    Refine assessments

    Conduct teaching experiments to refine understanding of how students engage with and learn about environmental science

    Use research to Inform development of curriculum materialsInform development of new standards for formal K-12 science education


    MORE INFORMATIONPaper, tests and other materials are available on our website athttp://edr1.educ.msu.edu/EnvironmentalLit/index.htm

    Science as typically taught in schools does not represent the science that is currently happening. There are some big shifts in the focus of scientific research that informs our understanding of environmental problems today. In order to prepare citizens who can use scientific accounts to make responsible environmental decisions, school science needs to pay more attention to how science is shifting.This talk will focus primarily on the scientific accounts, with important connections to citizenship practices

    Learning progressions describe knowledge and practices about topics that are responsive to childrens ways of reasoning, and that reflect gradually more sophisticated ways of thinking.

    Learning progressions are anchored on one end by what we know about the conceptual understanding and reasoning of students at incremental grade levels.

    First we need to define the upper & lower anchors. Upper anchor what we want HS students to know and be able to doLower anchor how children think and make sense of the world

    Then we need to figure out reasonable steps between the upper and lower anchors that are responsive to childrens ways of thinking and reflect gradually more sophisticated ways of thinking.

    Childrens developing understanding is traced using Progress VariablesHighlight Inquiry text and arrowHighlight Using and application arrowProvide Hand-Outs of Upper Anchor TableProvide Hand-Outs of Upper Anchor TableProvide Hand-Outs of Upper Anchor TableProvide Hand-Outs of Upper Anchor TableProvide Hand-Outs of Upper Anchor Table-Our data sources were a one time assessment given to 120 students ranging from third grade to 11th grade.

    -The assessment items focused on the role of water in coupled human and natural systems

    -Our analysis focused on identifying patterns in students responses that illuminate how students understand water in environmental systems. We also looked for developmental trends across the grade levels.Im not sure I have the principles rightI think we could make the point about decomposers being invisible in the carbon presentation, so we wouldnt need it here.Do we still have the question about development of antibiotic resistance in bacteria in this years test? Could we use it to make the same points as the cheetah question? It would be nice to have a version that emphasizes evolution as a contemporary process.


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