DLA #6 - Resources

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Testing Scientific Skills: Exploring a protocol to construct exam questions to assess scientific thinking

29th February - 4th March 2016

Inquiry activities are usually time-consuming, but they are important for the development of key competences, especially regarding Inquiry scientific skills.

The PISA definition of Scientific Competence includes three major components: Conceptual (to know and use scientific models to solve problems), Procedural (to design investigations, analyse scientific data and other scientific skills) and Epistemic (related to the understanding of the nature of Science and the way scientific knowledge is constructed and validated).

However, such skills are difficult to assess, and we get into a contradictory situation: we use a lot of class time in high-cognitive demand and high-pedagogic-value inquiry activities, but our assessment remain based on tests containing low-cognitive-demand (remembering, describing,..) and low pedagogic value questions.

Even if other assessment approaches (ePortfolios, rubrics,...) could help, it implies a methodological change in assessment that isn't always easy and can be complex to combine with Inquiry activities. So, improving conventional tests remain the most reasonable option.

The PISA tests demonstrates that this is possible to test such dimensions, and, in particular those scientific skills taking part in the procedural component. Since 2011 the expert has lead EduWikiLab, a group of teachers that undertook this subject and developed and applied several Exam Questions. As a result of this work, a Protocol to construct several kinds of exam questions assessing Scientific Skills arose. During this Distance Learning Activity, the expert will introduce and explain this protocol and give you guidance on how you may apply it to your own teaching situation.