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Assessing Scientific Literacy as Participation in Civic Practices: Affordances and constraints for developing a practice for authentic classroom assessment of argumentation, source critique and decision-making
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4615-3646
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis takes a departure from a view of scientific literacy as situated in participation in civic practices. From such a view, it becomes problematic to assess scientific literacy through decontextualised test items only dealing with single aspects of participation in contexts concerned with science. Due to the complexity of transferring knowledge, it is problematic to assume that people who can explain scientific theories will automatically apply those theories in life or that knowledge will influence those people’s behaviour. A common way to more fully include the complexity of using science in different practices is to focus participation around issues and study how students use multiple sources to reflect critically and ethically on that issue. However, participation is situated in practices and thus becomes something specific within those practices. For instance, shopping for groceries for the family goes beyond reflecting critically and ethically on health and environment since it involves considering the family economy and the personal tastes of the family members. I have consequently chosen to focus my studies on how to assess scientific literacy as participation in civic practices. The thesis describes a praxis development research study where I, in cooperation with teachers, have designed interventions of assessments in lower secondary science classrooms. In the research study I use the theory of Community of Practice and Expansive Learning to study affordances and constraints for assessing communication, source critique and decision-making in the science classroom. The affordances and constraints for students’ participation in assessments are studied through using a socio-political debate as an assessment tool. The affordances and constraints for communicating assessment are studied through peer assessments of experimental design. The affordances and constraints for teachers to expand their assessment repertoire are studied through assessment moderation meetings. Finally, the affordances and constraints for designing authentic assessments of scientific literacy are studied through a review of different research studies’ use of authenticity in science education. The studies show that tensions emerge between purposes of practices outside the classroom and practices inside the classroom that students negotiated when participating in the assessments. Discussion groups were influential on students’ decisions on how to use feedback. Feedback that was not used to amend the designs was still used to discuss what should count as quality of experiments. Teachers used the moderation meetings to refine their assessments and teaching. However, conflicting views of scientific literacy as either propositional or procedural knowledge were challenging to overcome. Different publications in science education research emphasised personal or cultural aspects of authenticity. The different uses of authenticity have implications for authentic assessments, regarding the affordances and constraints for how to reify quality from external practices and through students’ engagement in practices. The results of the studies point to gains of focussing the assessment on how students negotiate participation in different civic practices. However, this approach to assessment puts different demands on assessment design than assessments in which students’ participation is compared with predefined ideals for performance.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Mathematics and Science Education, Stockholm University , 2015.
Keyword [en]
scientific literacy, assessment, authentic, communities of practice, expansive learning, argumentation, peer assessment, moderation meetings
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Science Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-119866ISBN: 978-91-7649-221-5 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-119866DiVA: diva2:849059
Public defence
2015-10-02, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: Accepted. Paper 2: Submitted. Paper 3: Submitted. Paper 4: Manuscript.

Available from: 2015-09-10 Created: 2015-08-27 Last updated: 2015-09-09Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Affordances and Constraints of Using the Socio-Political Debate for Authentic Summative Assessment
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Affordances and Constraints of Using the Socio-Political Debate for Authentic Summative Assessment
2015 (English)In: International Journal of Science Education, ISSN 0950-0693, E-ISSN 1464-5289, Vol. 37, no 15, 2577-2596 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article reports from an empirical study on the affordances and constraints for using staged socio-political debates for authentic summative assessment of scientific literacy. The article focuses on conditions for student participation and what purposes emerge in student interaction in a socio-political debate. As part of the research project, a socio-political debate was designed for assessing student competences of scientific literacy in classroom practices. The debate centred on a fictive case about a lake where a decline in the yield of fish had been established. The students were assigned the task of participating in the debate from appointed roles as different stakeholders. Data were collected with video recordings of the enacted student debates. Student participation was analysed with the theoretical framework of communities of practice. The results show that multiple conflicting purposes of the socio-political debate as an assessment task emerged. The emergent purposes were: (I) putting scientific knowledge on display versus staying true to one’s role, (II) putting scientific knowledge on display versus expressing social responsibility, (III) putting scientific knowledge on display versus winning the debate, (IV) using sources tactically versus using sources critically. As these purposes emerged in classroom practice, tensions between different ways of enacting participation in the debates became manifest. Based on these findings, this paper discusses the affordances and constraints for using a socio-political debate for classroom-based assessment of scientific literacy and argumentation in terms of validity, reliability and affordability.

Keyword
authentic assessment, argumentation, communities of practice, scientific literacy, citizenship, validity, reliability
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Science Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-119872 (URN)10.1080/09500693.2015.1087068 (DOI)000362725500008 ()
Available from: 2015-08-27 Created: 2015-08-27 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved
2. Using and Rejecting Peer Feedback in the Science Classroom: A Study of Students’ Negotiations on How to Use Peer Feedback When Designing Experiments
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Using and Rejecting Peer Feedback in the Science Classroom: A Study of Students’ Negotiations on How to Use Peer Feedback When Designing Experiments
(English)In: Research in science education, ISSN 0157-244X, E-ISSN 1573-1898Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Abstract [en]

To date, the failing effects of using peer assessment have been explained by deficits of the feedback, for example, the lack of clear suggestions on how to improve the work or students having different views of what counts as high-quality work. However, there is a need to further study the dialogicity of students as both providers and receivers of feedback in a social process of the science classroom. The study was conducted in four lower secondary school classes, school year 8 and 9, in two different schools. An intervention study was designed focussing on the topic of experimental design, involving the students in a process of peer assessment where they designed experiments individually, and then exchanged their designs, conducted each other’s experiments, provided feedback to each other and revised their original design after discussing the feedback in groups. Data were collected in the form of audio recordings of student discussions and written work. The peer feedback included varied aspects of the experiment regarding personal relevance, scientific inquiry or confirmation of what students already knew of health. Students could be supported in rejecting feedback, convinced to address feedback, or even renegotiate what counted as high quality in the discussion groups. The results show that the feedback the students provided to each other was used as frequently as the feedback they had received when they revised their design. Peer feedback that did not result in revisions could still be used for defining the quality of the experimental design. The potential for using peer assessment in science education could not only be evaluated through the students’ revisions.

Keyword
peer assessment; experiment; inquiry; feedback; science education
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Science Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-119873 (URN)
Available from: 2015-08-27 Created: 2015-08-27 Last updated: 2017-12-04
3. Challenging and Expanding Science Teachers’ Assessment Repertoires Through Social Moderation
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Challenging and Expanding Science Teachers’ Assessment Repertoires Through Social Moderation
(English)In: Assessment in education: Principles, Policy & Practice, ISSN 0969-594X, E-ISSN 1465-329XArticle in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Abstract [en]

Curriculumreforms in Sweden have gradually shifted science education syllabi towards amore citizen-oriented science. Swedish science teachers have expresseduncertainty how to assess new syllabi standards concerning communication,source critique and decision-making. Research indicates that assessmentmoderation meetings, where teachers meet and assess together, are more helpfulto teachers in development of a joint assessment practice than externallyproduced tests. This article reports from an intervention study thatinvestigates the possibilities for using assessment moderation meetings forexpanding teachers’ assessment repertoires for challenging aspects of thescience subjects’ syllabi. Assessment moderation meetings were studied in twoschools with different discourses for assessing science and analysed with thetheory of expansive learning. Teachers for one of the schools constantlyelicited science and interpreted students’ answers, whereas the teachers fromthe other school demanded that their students elaborated scientific aspects intheir replies and expressed themselves clearly. The teachers in both schoolsalso expanded their assessment practices in different directions depending onhow they identified contradictions between prior assessment practices and newdemands. The meetings forced the teachers to listen to the multiple voices inthe group and negotiate collective changes in the assessment practice. However,teachers could choose not to follow the expansions of their colleagues.

Keyword
assessment, science education, scientific literacy, decision-making, moderation, expansive learning
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Science Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-119875 (URN)
Available from: 2015-08-27 Created: 2015-08-27 Last updated: 2017-12-04
4. In Pursuit of Authenticity in Assessment of Scientific Literacy
Open this publication in new window or tab >>In Pursuit of Authenticity in Assessment of Scientific Literacy
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In this article we present a systematic review of how authenticity is used in science education research and discuss the implications these uses have for designing authentic classroom assessments. Authenticity of assessments have been discussed in education generally for decades, and depending on what is regarded as authentic science, assessment in science education becomes different. In this article we review research articles published between 2013 and 2014, in the three highest ranking journals in science education, regarding how authenticity is framed in science education. Our findings suggest that the uses vary greatly from referring to externally defined practices to student relevance. The findings are discussed with the notions of cultural and personal authenticity to suggest important aspects involved with designing science classroom assessments authentic to the different references. As a conclusion, we present a strategy for balancing assessment between cultural and personal authenticity.

Keyword
authenticity, assessment, scientific literacy, review
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Science Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-119876 (URN)
Available from: 2015-08-27 Created: 2015-08-27 Last updated: 2016-01-29Bibliographically approved

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