Portfolio Essay - Faculty Websites

University of Nevada at Las Vegas
Portfolio Essay
Curriculum and Instruction – Science Education
Anthony R Muraco, MA Candidate
Spring 2008
Portfolio Essay
By Anthony R. Muraco
Candidate M.A. Curriculum and Instruction Science Education Spring 2008
Note to Reader: All work can be accessed through hyperlinked text which will take you to the
document which supports the respective dimension, with the exception of the student section.
The student section layout provides the reader an opportunity to browse through students’ work,
which I believe is a reflection of quality instruction in 7th grade science.
The culminating experience essay reflects my ability to clarify and elaborate on
knowledge and experience I have acquired by studying science and science education, teaching
middle grades science and teaching professional development workshops. Within the last seven
years, I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Geological Sciences and at the University of
Nevada at Las Vegas I have become a candidate for a Master of Arts degree in Curriculum and
Instruction with an emphasis in Science Education. Through these distinct and meaningful years,
I have gained much knowledge and experience in university classrooms and the middle school
classroom, alike. It is through this portfolio, in which I will share with you the growth I have
experienced during my personal journey through the Science Education curriculum (see resume).
Theories and Applications in Science Education
A Shift from Traditional Approach to an Inquiry Approach
Traditional approaches in science education have resulted in a lack of science
achievement. This causal effect has produced the most current reform in science education.
Leading research that drives science education relates inquiry based instruction and curriculum
to an increase in achievement in science. National organizations like the National Science
Teachers’ Association (NSTA) have embraced inquiry by stating that inquiry “reflects how
scientists come to understand the natural world, and it is at the heart of how students learn,”
(NSTA, 2004).
Inquiry based reform is primitively based on the ideas of John Dewey. In a book titled,
Democracy and Education Dewey states “we learn from experience” and when students are
sitting in a classroom, “pupils learn a "science" instead of learning the scientific way”.
Traditional approaches in teaching science, supports the ideas that, “presenting (science) subject
matter in its perfect form is the royal road to learning.” Therefore, the “effect of science is thus to
change men's idea of the nature and inherent possibilities of experience (using science).”
Dewey’s ideas are grounded on the idea that science cannot be taught with books, facts and
experiments, but by experiences gained through discovery and inquiry. The pathway of learning
science is just as important of the scientific knowledge gained. These ideas prevail in the current
theories which drive science reform.
The science of learning has been studied heavily in the past few decades (NRC, 1996).
What has emerged from cognitive and developmental sciences are three main principle theories
describing how people learn science. Cognitive and developmental studies have shown that: 1.
Students possess misconceptions and preconceptions about science based on their experiences, 2.
Students possess a deep knowledge base and schema, and 3. Students benefit from a
“metacognitive” approach to learning (Donovan and Bransford, 2005). These principles shape
the theory of constructivism, in which inquiry based instruction and conceptual change model is
derived from.
Constructivism is based on the ideas of Bruner’s cognitive approach, in which “learning
is an active process where learners construct new ideas or concepts based upon their current and
past knowledge,” (Kearsley, 1994). This framework places the learner as the center of the
learning environment, in which they are responsible for decisions about where and how learning
will occur. The learner is expected to transform content and procedural knowledge by acquiring
new knowledge throughout the learning process.
Constructivism is a leading theory which has attributes of inquiry based teaching. Inquiry
based teaching, is described as “creating situations in which the learner takes the role of the
scientist,” (CIBL, 2000). Inquiry, is a not strictly defined, but has attributes which are useful for
classroom instruction, and for the science community, alike. Inquiry is a complex process, in
which the learner can “ask questions, act like a scientist, experience a concrete and active
learning environment, work collaboratively despite different developmental levels and learning
goals, and work on inter-disciplinary problems and issues,” (CIBL, 2000).
Supporting Inquiry and Collaboration
Inquiry is supported in my classroom as the primary tool for learning experiences
(see Instructional Methods Power Point). Although I view the teacher as the leader in the
classroom, I place the responsibility of learning on the learner, rather than myself. When students
are working on research or inquiry based activities, any observer would view students sharing
the following experiences amongst each other, which include: 1. Students making primary and
secondary learning decisions, 2. Students creating hypothesis and using scientific reason to
support ideas and thinking, 3.Students generating tests and experiments to test hypothesis, and 4.
Students working closely together to generate, share, and contend information and ideas.
Sharing the position and recommendation of the Clark County School District to
implement interactive notebooks in the science classroom, I have found that students have an
excellent tool to use on a daily basis. Students use the interactive notebook to fully support the
documentation of the inquiry experiences in science classes. It is a tool in which students can:
record notes and observations, generate questions and hypothesis, develop connections between
prior and current knowledge acquisition, and organize knowledge structures. Interactive
notebooks become a dialogue between student and teacher, as I have an area to assess students’
work and provide feedback. It becomes a very important tool in the science classroom, as it
records students’ growth as they approach eighth grade.
Collaboration in Science
Science is a collaborative endeavor in which ideas, knowledge, research information is
shared to purposefully benefit the advancement of scientific ideas and knowledge. Therefore, an
observer in my classroom often sees students working together, whether it is in a small/large
group, pair or whole class. This engages social behavior as students can share of ideas,
experiences and knowledge when working on research, manipulatives or experiments.
Knowledge is gained and transferred among students, if it is supported and reinforced
continuously in the learning environment. This example of science as a collaborative endeavor is
supported within the framework of the Social Development Theory by Vygotsky, which he
emphasizes that “social interaction plays a fundamental role in the development of cognition,”
(Kearsley, 1994).
Conceptual Change Model
The conceptual change model is a central theory of learning science. The theory has
several variations of how it is perceived by researchers within the scientific community. The
view in which I support is by Vosniadou (2007), in which she states, “Conceptual change is a
process that enables students to synthesize models in their minds, beginning with their existing
explanatory frameworks. This is conceived to be a gradual process that can result in a
progression of mental models.”
Essentially, students arrive to science class with models of how science works from prior
experiences. An argument exists with a student generated model and the accepted model science
presents. Through explicit instruction, it is the teachers’ role to facilitate instruction and activities
which lead them to accommodate, substitute, or rework knowledge so that it is in agreement or
alignment with the scientifically acceptable model. The role of teacher in this model of
instruction is to facilitate the acquisition of unbiased scientific knowledge and it is the learners’
responsibility to reshape their personal model to match the model presented by scientific
evidence (Vosniadou, 2002).
The conceptual change model is an explicit example of how science instruction can
evolve in the short term progression of a lesson or unit. Most researchers support that conceptual
change occurs over a longer period time, such as months or years. I have attempted to
incorporate the conceptual change model into inquiry experiences and activities in my
classroom. In certain occurrences, using the conceptual change model provides a sound structure
in which an instructor can see vast changes in the model progression of thinking of modeling
scientific knowledge. Professionally, I plan on spending more time and effort into investigating
conceptual change model and finding new methods to incorporate this into current instruction.
Supporting Conceptual Change
An example of how I have began the process of implementing conceptual change in my
science classroom occurred as I taught introductory lessons on Astronomy. The first activity for
students to complete was a model of what they thought the Universe looks like. They were
required to model what the universe looks like after the Big Bang Theory. As I circulated around,
I found that a majority of students were drawing the Solar System! I began to think that this
maybe their only idea of the objects in our Universe.
After teaching the activity of Hubble’s Law where students modeled the Universe with a
balloon, and inflated the balloon to show the movement of planets and stars away from a central
point, I believed I reached a few students. I asked them some of the difficulties of modeling the
Universe. They responded with “how can I model the universe accurately, if it always
expanding…” They were required to draw a diagram depicting the movement of the Universe,
where students in turn didn’t draw the Solar System, but a massive amount of stars, planets, and
other objects moving from a central point in space.
Supporting Technology in the Science Classroom
The principle use of technology in the classroom is to enhance the experience of the
learner. It can be used in various methods to improve the acquisition, synthesis, and display of
scientific knowledge. Technology can also be used as a collaboration tool among students and
teachers. The use of technology has been grounded in learning theories and has developed its
own theories which support the teaching and learning process. The engagement theory is based
on: 1. occurring in a group context, 2. project based, and 3. have an outside focus, so that
essentially, groups work on a meaningful project that can benefit someone outside of the
classroom. The core of this theory is that “technology can facilitate engagement in ways which
are difficult to achieve otherwise,” (Kearsley and Schneiderman, 1999).
The use of technology to present, learn and acquire new science knowledge is a common
occurrence as students are more apt to use technology in other settings prior to arriving to the
classroom. Integrating technology to enhance teaching and learning is an invaluable tool to
enhance science achievement. The use of technology without employing learning theories
squanders invaluable time and resources in the educational setting.
An area in which I support the use of technology is using data as a valuable tool of
information in an investigation or inquiry experience. I prefer to use data tables and spreadsheets,
whenever possible to create a tool in which students can use to create and interpret graphs and
information. Students which use spreadsheets and graphs have a better ability to analyze data and
evidence. Students also use technology to access new knowledge and synthesize information in
the creation of research presentations.
In addition to using technology as a means to acquire and display information, I also
implement the use of concept maps throughout instruction using paper and pencil and software
like Inspiration and Thinking Maps. In my five years experience of using concepts maps, I have
realized that they are an amazingly effective tool to use through the instructional process. Not
only, do they provide an avenue for students to generate prior knowledge, but it is a tool to
encourage learning, where I have students include new information in maps as they acquire the
knowledge. As a summative assessment tool, I have students create a final map where they can
reflect on their progression of acquiring knowledge through various lessons and experiences in
the course.
Many of the theories have attributes which provide substantial contributions to the
science classroom. Science curriculum has begun to recently place more emphasis on inquiry
based reform as a means to improve achievement in the classroom. It reflects a shift from
learning “science” to learning how to “think like a scientist”. Inquiry based teaching may result
in generating students who are more successful in scientific careers and endeavors.
Professional Philosophy
Within this section on professional philosophy, I speak from my personal experience.
Some will find my position to contrast their own personal philosophical beliefs. This is
particularly true as we are in a period of science reform, where issues like science literacy,
teaching methods, and diversity and equality are emphasized. Yet, as educators, we should be
able agree that to see large scale reform in science education, it begins with holding ourselves
accountable for initiating changes in our classrooms.
As a newly certified teacher, I have a mere five years of experience as a science educator.
I carry beliefs from the perspective of a student and from the perspective of a lifelong learner. As
a reflection of new growth as a professional, I will outline a few, yet important tenets which I
believe are the key to becoming a quality science educator. The following principles outline my
primary beliefs, in which I execute daily to provide a positive classroom experience for my
The first principle of my professional philosophy is the ability of every student to learn
science in their own capacity. Every student, regardless of their developmental ability, disability,
or lack of motivation will learn some aspect of science they will take with them to the next grade
or for the rest of their life. The key to this principle is creating an environment that is centered on
the students and addressing the needs of students. Enabling, motivating students is an important
aspect to engaging them in science. Whether they are taking control of their learning in a student
centered learning environment, or they are carrying out a research project at their home, one to
one contact with each student allows me to probe their knowledge and ability to learn science.
Allowing students to experience a safe environment, where the developmental process of
achieving an answer to a scientific problem is just as important as achieving the correct answer.
Reminding students that they control their destiny or fate in learning science is constant in my
classroom. Society will suffer, and their own personal lives will suffer if they’re not scientifically
literate and have some semblance of how the purpose of science benefits the greater society.
The second principle I believe strongly about, is the role of the teacher. My primary
responsibility is to facilitate knowledge in any method necessary to ensure science achievement.
Whether I facilitate knowledge by guiding students in an inquiry activity, provide a group
structure to facilitate group collaboration in an investigation or provide direction instruction, I
have the knowledge and ability to provide such structures when I feel necessary. In addition to
facilitating knowledge, my professional responsibility is to provide unbiased science knowledge
to students. Evidence of science that is empirical in nature, free of opinion, evidential and
analytical in nature, is the knowledge I am required to uphold to produce students who can
formulate their science knowledge structures.
Lastly, the standards and procedures scientists practice in their profession flows into my
science classroom. It is important for students to understand the process of learning science and
how scientist acquire new knowledge as they work through meaningful and often unique
experiences in their professional experience. Therefore, it is equally important that students
receive the opportunity to gather evidence, research and formulate their own hypotheses and
generate their own experiments and manipulatives to study science. It is through these
experiences that students will generate new knowledge and understanding of scientific
phenomenon, rather than opening a text and memorizing definitions. Certainly, there are
exceptions where students need the opportunity to gain content and procedural knowledge to
fully participate in the inquiry experience, and this can occur in a variety of activities and
To enact change to improve achievement in science begins in the classroom. Maintaining
strong philosophical values and providing an opportunity to execute them on a daily basis is only
one method to improve science instruction. Sustaining an awareness of other colleagues’
viewpoints and how they view and execute their professional responsibilities in the classroom is
important to professional growth. Reading professional journals and collaborating with other
professionals in and out of your subject area are effective methods to gaining insight into areas
when addressing professional growth opportunities.
Research: Criticizing and Analyzing
The need for educators, both pre-service and in-service, to become proficient in critiquing
and analyzing research, texts and position statements are an important area which can strengthen
the entire science education field. When appropriate modeling occurs of how to critique and
analyze others work, it benefits the consumers of research and it provides an experience to
deepen the understanding of the researcher’s intent in completing the study and potential future
Within the Curriculum and Instruction coursework, Research Methods proved to be an
invaluable and challenging course. The goals of the course were to define research methods,
critique and analyze research goals and create our own mock research project. As a result of this
class, I have experienced a familiarity of how research methods and work in science can be
closely related.
Among the areas I have developed an interest in pursuing and critiquing research is
within the field of integrating technology in the science curriculum. I view this area of research
as important for the following reasons: 1. Technology provides a tool to increase student
motivation, 2. Technology, when used appropriately, can enhance the user’s ability to acquire
new knowledge, accommodate knowledge and synthesize new ideas, and 3. Technology can
improve instructional methods of pursuing inquiry in the science classroom through the
implementation of hardware and software. The ability of an instructor to integrate technology to
support learning theories will continue to be an important aspect in improving future science
Although, I have not been involved directly with educational research, I have created a
mock research study and critique several pieces of work from research journals. The majority of
the articles in which I have critiqued have been written in the Journal of Research in Science
Teaching and the Journal of Research in Technology Education. I focus my attention on these
journals as they are noted to be leading journals in their respected fields.
I have critiqued an article titled, Learning Strategies and Performance In a Technology
Integrated Classroom, by Kathleen Debavac, Mei-Yau Shi and Vishal Kashyap (2006) attempts
to establish a relationship between achievement and the use of technology in a college
classroom. Researchers describe how 79 students used technology throughout the course in
addition to other traditional learning strategies. In this study, researchers concluded that
technology did enhance learning strategies and therefore improved achievement.
Critiquing another article titled Enacting Reform Based Science Materials by Schneider,
Kracjick, and Blumenfeld, investigated the professional development sequence of urban middle
school teachers and analyzed how they implemented new lessons that were grounded in
principles of inquiry. Researchers have found that this group of teachers ranged in performance
of how they were able to implement inquiry based teaching strategies. A scale was developed to
rate them based on various elements of the learning and teaching process, and a score was earned
by each participant. This article establishes the fact that despite a desire to improve the inquiry
process, it takes a dedicated and refined approach to achieving the appropriate methodology to
enact the inquiry process correctly.
The mock research study, created for a Research Methods course proposes that science
knowledge can be gained by using a methodology that I have experienced in several technology
classes at UNLV. Using a moodle-like forum in which students participate in a collaborative
setting is the basis for this research proposal. What I propose is that using a moodle-like forum
and wiki based software, students can complete problem based learning using a writing heuristic,
in addition to creating a wiki page to solve their problem or issue.
The research study is grounded in theories of constructivism and social learning theory.
Students form a group that pursues the same problem/research topic. Students develop research
on the topic using various forms of research mediums, and establish an experimental proposal to
solve their issue/problem. Using the moodle-like website, groups can communicate amongst
other groups and with each other. Students can post information, websites, research, and other
ideas related to their topic. After generating the experimental design and carrying out the
experiment, they are required to post their findings on the classroom website by using a science
writing heuristic. After developing new knowledge of their findings, the new knowledge is
accommodated within their original schema. This new knowledge would be added to a wiki
website. The wiki website is written by students displaying original knowledge, pre and
misconceptions. As a result of the experimentation process, students revise and edit the work
completed by individuals among their group. The focus is to develop a reflection of new
knowledge gained through the experimental process.
In a course titled, Nature of Science, we were required to analyze the nature of science
through our primary subject area we teach, in this case through a textbook analysis. Through this
experience I have developed a new perspective on the issue of nature of science, by analyzing
the nature of science implicitly and explicitly through the work of a textbook author. Otherwise,
I would have certainly been blind to the explicit and implicit nature of science provided in the
Throughout my coursework at UNLV, very few courses proved to challenge my skill set
as a graduate student, like Research Methods, Nature of Science, and Applications of
Technology in Science. It is through these courses where I learned to think critically about
research, develop new ideas, and to analyze the goals and intent of science education researchers.
I have benefitted greatly from the work set forth by researchers and professors in these courses.
Science Content
Some science educators would argue that having a great depth of knowledge in science is
better than a breadth of knowledge. This argument persists largely because of the required
knowledge base required to be a proficient science teacher. Whether a teacher possesses depth or
breadth, what is important is that they pursue opportunities to be a lifelong learner. From my
personal perspective, I have a personal desire to gain the most subject area knowledge and
pedagogical knowledge possible to remain a quality science educator.
My experience in learning science content truly began as an undergraduate freshman. I
attended a university to pursue a degree in meteorology. Due to the popularity of the
meteorology program, I wasn’t able to register in any required course, so I enrolled in an
introductory geology course. Immediately I was drawn to the coursework, and I was fascinated
with the content of the course. After completing one year of science courses in geology,
chemistry, I pursued a major in Geological Sciences and earned a Bachelor of Science. Interested
in the environmental aspect of geology, I completed a minor in Environmental Studies which
broadened my perspective of issues in which science has the potential of solving.
As an undergraduate science major, I shared the experience of taking rigorous calculus
based science courses in geology, physics, chemistry and biology. Most courses at the University
were based on eliminating pre-med majors from pursuing a degree, so the courses were
challenging to say the least. It was during college where I developed a strong work ethic and
realized the potential to pursue science as a career.
Among my favorite courses were geological science courses in hydrology, geophysics
and geological history. Having taken these courses, I developed a new found respect for the
amount of work and time scientists dedicate to pursuing research in the fields. Most coursework
required field work, so it was there where I could examine the scientific methods of obtaining
real-time data in real situations.
After exhausting my patience for studying geology, I wanted to pursue a meaningful
approach to studying science and decided to pursue a degree in science education. I desired to be
in the classroom teaching students, inspired mostly by university professors and high school
teachers. So I enrolled in a degree program to pursue a Master of Arts in Science Education.
In addition to the thorough science education coursework set forth by the guidelines of
the UNLV Masters Program, I took an additional science class at UNLV to fulfill the
requirements of an upper-level graduate science course. The geological science course, titled
Groundwater Hydrology was taught by a national renowned professor who has been published
over sixty times. It was during this course where I renewed my desire and respect for true
scientific endeavors. A rigorous course by nature, the focus of this course required patience, hard
work, extensive amount of preparation time, and a desire to succeed. Luckily, I escaped and
earned one of the highest grades in the class.
In addition to my own pursuit of science content knowledge, I have had the fortunate
opportunity to provide instruction for the Regional Professional Development Program (RPDP).
Last summer, I was chosen to instruct a portion of the Summer Science Institute at Green Valley
HS. The focus of the Institute was to instruct teachers on the subject of the Colorado River. It
was there which I developed a strong sense of my ability to instruct other teachers as I was able
to provide them support through their professional development experience.
As a result of success at the Summer Science Institute, I was able to take a position as a
part-time regional workshop instructor. For the past school year, I conducted workshops on
various topics in the 7th grade Clark County School District curriculum. As a result of this
experience, I was able to improve my own teaching, enhance the opportunities of colleagues, and
collaborate with other teachers in the field. I value this experience as I believe it made me more
aware of my teaching skills and areas in which I desired growth.
To provide an opportunity to visualize how I conducted these workshops, I emphasized
the following pedagogical characteristics, which included: 1. maintaining high quality learning
activities and experiences, 2. providing the opportunity for teachers to collaborate, 3. providing
challenging opportunities for teachers to experience cognitive growth. Throughout these
workshops, I also included different methods of how to incorporate technology to effectively
enhance a lesson or unit.
Professional Standards
The National Science Education Standards (NSES) outlines the following professional
standards, in which educators are expected to adhere to in order to promote the improvement of
science education: 1. Develop a Strong Scientific Background, 2. Possessing Pedagogical
Content Knowledge, , and 3. Participating in High Quality Integrated Professional Development
Opportunities, and 4. Developing a Sound View of How Science Teaching Occurs. The four
principles are equally important in growing as a professional science educator.
The first principle outlined by NSES, states that professional science educators should
develop a strong scientific background. To support this standard, I have earned a Bachelor of
Science degree in Geological Sciences, which was the most meaningful experience in my school
career. It was through earning this degree, where I developed a strong work ethic, a respect for
natural sciences and the work of professionals who pursue science as a career.
Without having an adequate background in the subject area in which I teach, it would
likely result in harmful consequences for my students. I wouldn’t feel apt to address
misconceptions and preconceptions students have in Earth Science. In addition, I would lack a
degree of confidence in teaching Earth science to the best of my ability, possibly opening up the
door to teaching misinformation to my students. Therefore, it is important to gain an
understanding of the scientific background and any associated standards which aren’t addressed
in an undergraduate program in order to be a proficient educator.
Another important aspect of the first principle in developing a strong scientific
background is the understanding of scientific inquiry and the ability to make cross-disciplinary
connections among subject areas. Possessing an understanding of inquiry requires extensive
experience in situations which explicitly promote inquiry. While, making cross-disciplinary
connections takes metacognitive skills in development. These are distinctive characteristics
which can’t be taught, but rather are developed as skills of an experienced educator and takes
time and motivation on the educators’ part.
The second principle outlined in NSES standards is the use of Pedagogical Content
Knowledge (PCK). PCK is often acquired explicitly through experience in the classroom. In any
classroom, variables exists which can inhibit the learning process, in which PCK is required by
the teacher to address individual, class and content needs. Some PCK is developed by trial and
error, yet some more effective ways would be to collaborate with other teachers who teacher a
similar or same subject area, or to take professional development courses and observer how the
workshop leader teaches the content. Although, these are merely suggestions, but I have used
these tools as a way to improve pedagogical content knowledge.
Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) is an important knowledge base an educator
possesses. PCK is an important knowledge base to possess, yet at times can be more important
than content. Throughout the trial and error process educators’ experience, a common realization
is that not all activities in the science classroom can be done with inquiry or constructivism as
the primary method. At various times through the instructional process, there are times when
content must be delivered in more traditional approaches. Therefore, it is imperative that an
instructor becomes proficient at not only inquiry and constructivism, but known when and how
to employ more traditional techniques.
The third principle involves participating in quality professional development
experiences. This principle describes the professional development qualities in which a science
educator would benefit most greatly from. Among the multiple requirements of quality
professional development, the following are considered important: 1. Educators are provided
feedback from colleagues about their own teaching skills and performance to be used to improve
their own practice, 2. Receive professional development opportunities from fellow colleagues,
professors and experts in their field, and 3. Having opportunities to access research, and to use
research skills to develop new knowledge and advance research opportunities.
Professional development is an important area in which most teachers can benefit from. It
provides an opportunity for professional growth that may not exist if teachers are isolated in their
classrooms. One of the most important keys to this principle is receiving feedback from other
teachers. This may be the most overlooked aspect of the development process that doesn’t occur
frequently enough, due to the nature of the educator’s daily routine and responsibilities. Quite
often, much can be gained by collaborating with other teachers to discuss the different facets of
delivering instruction, and other issues in and out of the classroom that may arise.
In my experience, I have benefited greatly from professional development opportunities,
which tend to focus on my weakest areas of instruction. It is important to make connections with
other professionals who are respected in their field to understand how they complete their
professional duties. I have benefited from taking education courses, attending various
conferences and professional development, collaborating with other educators, sharing
instructional practices, and activities, whether in the role of students, colleague, or instructor.
Each educator likely has something of value when they have the opportunity to share their
experiential knowledge.
The fourth principle involves developing a unified view of the current state of science education
so that strategies can be implemented for science reform to progress and benefit everyone
involved. This principle essentially states, that if science reform is to move forward, there is a
need to take into account the progress of science education in school and to make immediate and
long term plans so that the future benefits from the reform.
One are that needs to be addressed further by science educators is the appropriate
assessment of science achievement as it relates to inquiry. In a topic paper titled “Inquiry and
Standardized Tests,” I explored some of the issues that exist with using standardized tests as the
primary measurement of science knowledge in education. Fortunately, this is an issue that is
beginning to be addressed by researchers. With the development of inquiry based standards,
leading researchers support the idea that inquiry based assessments must be implemented into a
standardized testing format. Other proposals such as including performance based tasting, and
implementing software to manage standardized testing will continue to be explored.
Ideally, we as educators must look at ourselves within the context of society and define
the role we possess. If we can’t establish the goals to improve science education in our own
classroom, then as a whole entity progress will likely be fragmented and suffer. For this to occur,
educators must invest into the future of science education and forge the future by becoming
proponents and leaders of reform. This can occur by joining organizations like NSTA,
participating in nationwide and statewide conferences and rallying around the proponents of
education. The key to this principle is to get involved with organizations and professional
development opportunities to ensure professional growth.
The construction of this portfolio essay and related artifacts represents my growth as an educator.
From learning theories to professional development, this portfolio displays the best of my ability
to communicate to others the growth I have experienced throughout the past seven years as a
student, colleague and instructor. I certainly believe that the future of science education will look
different in the next ten years and I hope to continue to be a part of the current and future science
American Association for the Advancement of Science (1993). Benchmarks for science literacy.
New York: Oxford University Press.
Budnitz, Norman (2000). Center For Inquiry-Based Learning. Retrieved March 20, 2008, from
Duke University: Center For Inquiry-Based Learning Web site:
Donovan, M, & Bransford, J (2005). How Students Learn: Science In The Classroom.
Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press
Kaufman, D, Vosniadou, S, diSessa, A, & Thagard, P (2000). Scientific Explanation,
Systematicity, and Conceptual Change. Research in Cognitive Science, Retrieved2000, from
Kearsley, Greg (2008). Theory Into Practice. Retrieved March 19, 2008, from Theory Into
Practice Web site: http://tip.psychology.org/
Kearsley, Greg and Schneiderman, Ben (1999). Engagement Theory: A framework for
technology-based teaching and learning. Retrieved March 19, 2008, from Engagement Theory
Website: http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm
National Research Council, (1996). National Science Education Standards. Washington, DC:
National Academy Press
National Science Teacher Association (2004). National Science Teacher Association. Arlington,
Va. Retrieved from NSTA Website: http://www.nsta.org/about/positions/inquiry.aspx
Schneider, R. M., Krajick, J. S., & Blumenfeld, P. C. (2005). Enacting reform-based science
materials: The range of teacher enactments in reform classrooms. Journal of Research in Science
Teaching, 42(3), 283-312
Stepans, J. (1996). Targeting Students’ Misconceptions: Physical Science Concepts using the
Conceptual Change Model. Idea Factory, Riverview, Florida.
Vosniadou, Stella (2007). Conceptual Change and Education. Human Development. v50 n1 p4754
Additional Credits:
Student Work – 2007-2008: Visit this hyperlinked section which displays some of the work
produced by notable students in 7th grade science.
Classroom Narrative: Visit this hyperlinked section which displays pictures of my classroom,
student research, and interactive notebooks.