Part one of the framework articulates its goal and a vision describing the learning environment that ensures the goal for all students by the end of 12th grade. Part two goes on to describe the three dimensions mentioned in the vision, and part three directs how these ideas should be integrated into the new science standards. So, the framework provided the guidelines for the development of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
Every NGSS standard has three dimensions: disciplinary core ideas (DCIs), scientific and engineering practices (SEPs), and cross-cutting concepts (CCs). These dimensions are identified and described In the framework.
Dimension 1: Practices
The science and engineering practices are described in the framework as follows:
“Dimension 1 describes (a) the major practices that scientists employ as they investigate and build models and theories about the world and (b) a key set of engineering practices that engineers use as they design and build systems. We use the term “practices” instead of a term such as “skills” to emphasize that engaging in scientific investigation requires not only skill but also knowledge that is specific to each practice..”
PRACTICES FOR K-12 SCIENCE CLASSROOMS
1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
2. Developing and using models
3. Planning and carrying out investigations
4. Analyzing and interpreting data
5. Using mathematics and computational thinking
6. Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
7. Engaging in argument from evidence
8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information
Dimension 2: Crosscutting Concepts
The crosscutting concepts are described in the framework as follows:
“In this chapter, we describe concepts that bridge disciplinary boundaries, having explanatory value throughout much of science and engineering. These crosscutting concepts were selected for their value across the sciences and in engineering. These concepts help provide students with an organizational framework for connecting knowledge from the various disciplines into a coherent and scientifically based view of the world.”
SEVEN CROSSCUTTING CONCEPTS OF THE FRAMEWORK
Cause and effect: mechanism and explanation
Scale, proportion, and quantity
Systems and system models
Energy and matter: flows, cycles, and conservation
Structure and function
Stability and change
Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas
The disciplinary core ideas are described in the framework as follows:
“The continuing expansion of scientific knowledge makes it impossible to teach all the ideas related to a given discipline in exhaustive detail during the K-12 years. But given the cornucopia of information available today virtually at a touch—people live, after all, in an information age—an important role of science education is not to teach “all the facts” but rather to prepare students with sufficient core knowledge so that they can later acquire additional information on their own. An education focused on a limited set of ideas and practices in science and engineering should enable students to evaluate and select reliable sources of scientific information, and allow them to continue their development well beyond their K-12 school years as science learners, users of scientific knowledge, and perhaps also as producers of such knowledge.
With these ends in mind, the committee developed its small set of core ideas in science and engineering by applying the criteria listed below. Although not every core idea will satisfy every one of the criteria, to be regarded as core, each idea must meet at least two of them (though preferably three or all four).
Specifically, a core idea for K-12 science instruction should:
1. Have broad importance across multiple sciences or engineering disciplines or be a key organizing principle of a single discipline.
2. Provide a key tool for understanding or investigating more complex ideas and solving problems.
3. Relate to the interests and life experiences of students or be connected to societal or personal concerns that require scientific or technological knowledge.
4. Be teachable and learnable over multiple grades at increasing levels of depth and sophistication. That is, the idea can be made accessible to younger students but is broad enough to sustain continued investigation over years.
Disciplinary Core Ideas
PS1: Matter and its interactions
PS2: Motion and stability: Forces and interactions
PS4: Waves and their applications in technologies for information transfer
LS1: From molecules to organisms: Structures and processes
LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, energy, and dynamics
LS3: Heredity: Inheritance and variation of traits
LS4: Biological evolution: Unity and diversity
Earth and Space Sciences
ESS1: Earth’s place in the universe
ESS2: Earth’s systems
ESS3: Earth and human activity
Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science
ETS1: Engineering design
ETS2: Links among engineering, technology, science, and society
*Each core idea listed above is broken into three or four component ideas.
Based on the framework’s recommendations, the NGSS are organized as performance expectations (PEs) that blend together the three dimensions. The following excerpt is quoted from the Framework:
“The three dimensions of the framework, which constitute the major conclusions of this report, are presented in separate chapters. However, in order to facilitate students’ learning, the dimensions must be woven together in standards,curricula, instruction, and assessments. When they explore particular disciplinary ideas from Dimension 3, students will do so by engaging in practices articulated in Dimension 1 and should be helped to make connections to the crosscutting concepts in Dimension 2.”
The three dimensions and their integration in the NGSS are a huge shift away from prior science education standards. For most educators, these shifts will require a new mindset—a new way of thinking about science education and a fundamental change in how we teach.
More on this in future weblog entries.