Developing a Framework for Assessing Students' Understanding of Groundwater
thesisposted on 01.01.2016, 00:00 authored by Julia Spencer
Groundwater is an important part of the Earth's hydrologic system. The Next Generation Science Standards ask middle school students to incorporate groundwater into a model of resource distribution that requires an understanding of the mechanisms and scientific principles that influence groundwater movement and distribution. Physical models that replicate groundwater systems are an essential tool for helping students develop understanding of hidden phenomena such as groundwater, but are often expensive. Wyoming EPSCoR seeks to mitigate this challenge by providing a physical groundwater model to K-12 teachers within the state, however the provision and use of physical models poses its own set of challenges to teachers. Without appropriate training and integration into larger curriculum, models and toolkits often serve as isolated experiences with little to no lasting influence on students' scientific understanding. In addition assessment for student understanding during and after the use physical models is rarely incorporated. This research aims to answer the question of what are the essential components of an authentic assessment framework that measures student-learning outcomes from the use of a physical, interactive groundwater model at a middle school level. It provides an assessment framework meant to increase the utility of the model to teachers, and increase student understanding by incorporating it into a progression for learning and assessment of groundwater. This assessment framework also provides a means for EPSCoR to evaluate the efficacy of outreach materials in terms of student learning outcomes form the use of the model.