Date of this Version
Presented to Discipline-Based Education Research Group, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Sept. 5, 2013.
Learning progressions are descriptions of increasing levels of sophistication of student reasoning about a topic based on empirical evidence. Our learning progression framework about student explanations of carbon-transforming processes (e.g. photosynthesis, cellular respiration) describes how student’s interconnected and mutually supporting ideas and practices are deeply embedded in discourse at all levels of achievement. My research is in two areas: 1) applying the learning progression framework for student explanations of carbon-transforming processes to describe the most productive pathways for student learning, 2) extending the research to student reasoning during inquiry activities about carbon-transforming processes. One finding is that students who consistently follow the rules of conservation of matter and energy in their explanations are better positioned to advance in their understanding of carbon transforming processes. Another finding is that during inquiry investigations, students who do not apply the laws of conservation of matter or connect the macroscopic level with the atomic-molecular level in their reasoning often misinterpret the purpose of the investigation. Teaching supports that scaffold student learning about conservation of matter may be important in guiding student learning about carbon transforming processes and student inquiry practices.