Best Practices in Science

Achieving Exemplary Intruction

Project 2061: Shifting Standards

This 1986 initiative set out to identify basic knowledge and skills needed in sciences, mathematics, and technology


Teach Fundamental Unifying Science Concepts:
  • Inquiry
  • Technology
  • Personal and Social Perspectives
  • History and Nature of Science

Instead of teaching disciplines for their own sake


Less focus on the facts and more empahsis preparing students with core knowledge to develop their ability to interpret claims and evidence

Why this approach?

The explosion of scientific knowledge has been so rapid that teaching facts is an outmoded approach.

It's more about inquiry!

  1. Knowing, using, and interpreting scientific explanations of the natural world
  2. Generating and evaluating scientific evidence and explanations
  3. Understanding the nature and development of scientific knowledge
  4. Participating productively in scientific practices and discourses


It is not a set process

Qualities of Best practices in science:


Evaluate Evidence, Determine Data Quality, and Make Explanations


  • As early as kindergarten students are able, competent, and capable of generating and evaluating scientific evidence and explanation


Understand Science as a Way of Knowing


  • Students need to understand what it means to create a scientific model, conduct systematic observations, and follow the historical development of core ideas

Extend Existing Conceptual Structures with New Evidence, Knowledge, or Experiences


  • Misconceptions may be necessary stepping-stones on a path toward more accurate knowledge. Deep understanding requires knowledge reorganization.



Fully Integrate Technology and Engineering with Science


  • Learning the design process of problem solving adds a rich dimension to students' scientific thinking


Balance Individual Learning and Collaborative Groups Work


  • Groups work causes students to think through scientific explanation as they are motivated to seek answers when they reach disagreements
Students Become More Metacognitive


  • Students become more able to monitor their own learning. They come to recognize when they do not understand and seek more information by asking questions


Assessment Probes for Students' Understanding, Reasoning, and Ability to Use Knowledge


  • More authentic assessments such as portfolios, interviews, performance tasks, and self-assessment better promote experiential work and thinking skills in science