Science Instructional Strategies and Programs
Before selecting studies reviewed on this web site or making decisions based on these studies, please read the following background information about research on science instruction.
The Iowa Department of Education organized a team of science educators to review research in science education, so that Iowa school districts could access quality research results when selecting professional development content for their teachers. This Iowa Science Content Network has been charged with locating and reviewing available research on instructional strategies and student learning in science. The team is using the Handbook of Research on Teaching and The Handbook of Research on Science Teaching and Learning as well as searches conducted by team members to guide the selection of studies and categories. In selecting research for this database, studies that meet the definition of quality research as outlined in No Child Lift Behind legislation were emphasized. The studies were reviewed using a standard method and form established by the Iowa Department of Education. All research is rated by quality of research design based on the established evaluation criteria. It is critical that users remember that the rating applies to the research design, not to the quality of the intervention studied or how powerful the method, strategy, or approach is in influencing overall student achievement.
Iowa school districts' science standards are aligned with the National Science Education Standards. The science content network team used the national science standards' content categories to organize the studies reviewed. These categories include Inquiry, Life Science, Physical Science, Earth/Space Science, Science & Technology, and History of Science. Users can also search by grade bands, K-4, 5-8, 9-12 or by topics such as diverse learners, graphic organizers, teaching strategies, and the areas of reading, writing, and speaking in science.
It is important to work toward the goal of improved student
achievement in science without losing the vision of the science education
reform movement that is outlined in the National Science Education Standards
and in the AAAS publication, Science for All Americans: Project 2061 (http://www.project2061.org/tools/bsl/default.htm).
It is recommended that districts incorporate the research content into
this vision. To maintain that "big picture" vision while working
on targeted student achievement gains, review the elements of successful
science programs listed below.
It is critical that schools employ evidenced-based instructional
strategies in their school science programs that will result in improved
student learning. This collection of studies is intended to assist districts
in that endeavor. Currently thirty-seven studies have been rated and summarized.
These are generally small scale studies, but collectively can serve to
guide districts and teachers toward instruction that results in improved
student learning. Meta-analyses and summaries of research indicate that
inquiry-oriented teaching can result in outcomes that include scientific
literacy, familiarity with science processes, vocabulary knowledge, conceptual
knowledge, procedural knowledge, critical thinking, and positive attitudes
Criteria for the selection of studies were established by the
team. The criteria used by the science content network are:
The science content network also used a common definition of
student achievement that includes the following outcomes:
The collection of research and reviews found on this website is preliminary and not to be considered exhaustive. The team is currently working on additional studies to be added to this online resource in the future.