Date of Award

Fall 8-2020

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Language

English

Degree Name

Master's of Science in Teaching (MST)

Department

Teaching

Advisor

Asli Sezen-Barrie

Second Committee Member

Michael Wittmann

Third Committee Member

Allison Gardner

Abstract

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) aims to reform science education for grades K-12 with a central focus on students becoming doers of science as opposed to just being knowers of facts. This historical shift in standards across the United States asks for teaching science content paired with eight Science and Engineering Practices. One of the eight Science and Engineering Practices is Engaging in Argument from Evidence, which is using empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to make sense of scientific phenomena.This study examined how the practice of Engaging in Argument from Evidence is conceptualized by Maine secondary science teachers, and how these teachers approached uncertainty when students are engaging in argumentation practice. The state of Maine officially adopted the NGSS in April 2019, making the 2019-2020 academic school year the first time the standards would be integrated into the public school’s secondary science classrooms. Therefore, this is a critical time to understand how secondary school teachers in Maine make sense of the scientific practices and make suggestions for future professional learning of teachers.

In this study, a statewide survey was distributed to Maine secondary science teachers that asked them a series of questions about their conceptualization and implementations of the practice Engaging in Argument from Evidence. Out of the 37 survey respondents, interviews were then conducted with 7 selected participants, who were asked to elaborate on their survey answers and provide examples of using argumentation practice in their classroom.

Results showed teachers paid attention to some aspects of the practice Engaging in Argumentation from Evidence from the participants more than others. The aspects that are frequently highlighted by these teachers included Making Sense of Data and Communicating Arguments when their students where actively engaging in the practice. Other characterizations included Use of Multiple Scientific Practices, Integrating Scientific Reasoning, Use of Prior Knowledge and Use of Reliable Resources. In the survey, teachers were asked if they integrated topics they considered to be uncertain, and if they did, if they allowed for competing claims when students were arguing these topics. When interview participants were asked about their integration of uncertainty when practicing scientific argumentation, there were three different interpretations of how their type of topics were integrated. These variations of uncertainty included Measurement Uncertainty, Students Lack of Prior Knowledge and Controversial Issues (uncertain topics).

Using the results, suggestions could be made on how teachers can integrate this practice in their classrooms to cohesively use. Future research can build upon how teachers implement uncertainty in their classroom by promoting opportunities for teachers to learn and actively engage with the such topics through the practice of Engaging in Argument from Evidence.

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