Authentic tasks...

and the scientific method.

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Background

The authentic task, also called authentic assessments, teaching strategy attempts to have students show what they have learned rather than determine if they test well. An authentic task have no specific definition, they are not tests, but they are any other type of assessment imagined; for example they range from observations, experiments, performance tasks, making videos, creating digital portfolios, to whatever the creative mind can dream. Teaching the scientific method matches particularly well with authentic tasks. The scientific method is a guide for scientists and is used extensively in the district in which I teach. Students must be familiar with it as they will use the process from sixth grade through until graduation.
The Big Bang Theory Scientific Method Clip Season 6 Episode 5

Example

The scientific method (click to see a serious explanation of the scientific method from Discovery.com, you will need a password and user id) is the backbone of conducting experiments. Due to the nature of the subject the steps of the scientific method require an understanding. I choose to teach the concept throughout the year building on previous lessons. Authentic assessments allow the perfect means for determining if a student understands the concept. The scientific method has specific steps that must be followed and allow for easy documentation. Through this repetition the students learn the scientific method.


My strategy, then, for teaching the scientific method is to scaffold in conjunction with the authentic task, building on prior knowledge, in a sense. Frankly, students have almost no prior knowledge of the topic. Though they have probably used it without realizing. To learn the concept first requires direct instruction followed by repeated practical application.


For this authentic task the students will create a document using digital media to help them recall the scientific method. Then, whenever a lab, or experiment is called for they will use the document to guide them. If created properly the experiment results will be added directly to the document.

Challenge

  • Create a document which allows your students to document the following five steps:
  • Ask a question -- which your students can test
  • Have the students identify a possible explanation for the question
  • Design a controlled experiment using variables
  • Collect and interpret data
  • Draw a conclusion
  • You have successfully completed the scientific method using an authentic task
  • Below are some examples of the scientific method in action
Scientific Method Monty Python
Feynman on Scientific Method.

Citations

Couch, A. (2012, December 2). The Big Bang Theory Scientific Method Clip Season 6 Episode 5.YouTube. Retrieved June 7, 2014, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7sSuhQ1_24


Distribution Access, (2004). Scientific Method: How It Works. [Full Video]. Available from http://www.discoveryeducation.com/


Fritz, J. (2011, January 12). Scientific Method Monty Python. YouTube. Retrieved June 7, 2014, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2MhMsLn9B0


nonstampcollector. (2011, February 18). Feynman on Scientific Method.. YouTube. Retrieved June 7, 2014, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYPapE-3FRw


Richard Feynman Picture Quotes 1. (2014, January 1). ImgQuotes. Retrieved June 7, 2014, from http://www.imgquotes.com/richard-feynman-picture-quotes-1/


Scientific Method Wallpaper. (2013, January 1). Adorable Wallpaper RSS. Retrieved June 7, 2014, from http://www.adorablewall.com/scientific-method-wallpaper/


Sekrain. (2014, January 1). Scientific Method by Sekrain on deviantART. Scientific Method by Sekrain on deviantART. Retrieved June 7, 2014, from http://sekrain.deviantart.com/art/Scientific-Method-328332900


What Are Some Types of Assessment?. (2008, July 15). Edutopia. Retrieved June 7, 2014, from http://www.edutopia.org/assessment-guide-description