Our work on developing learning progressions for Competency X began with adapting a definition from National Research Council's Taking science to school: Learning and teaching science in grades K-9:
Learning progressions in science are testable hypotheses about how students’ understand of, and ability to use, core scientific concepts and explains and related scientific practices grow and become more sophisticated over time, with appropriate instruction.
We believe that mastery of core ideas in science disciplines is by itself not useful enough for learners. We want our scholars to achieve mastery of the process of scientific inquiry. Well-designed learning progressions provide a map that our learners can use to reach this destination (NRC Science Framework). Competency guides will serve as the map with articulated learning goals derived from NGSS and ACT Science Standards. The destination will be a digital badge validated by our industry and post-secondary partners. Using a digital portfolio, our scholars will curate evidence and reflect on how it represents their personalized path through the competency guide towards earning a badge. Badges themselves will also map out a progression for our learners across all four grade levels about how to become a competent scientific investigator. This learning progression, with badges as mile markers, will increase in sophistication and depth across the grade levels.
The science and engineering practices that make up the processes of scientific inquiry are grouped by our team into 3 categories: a) experiments, b) analysis, and c) communication. Below are description of what practices fall into these categories:
Experimenting: Planning, conducing, and evaluation experiments.
Analyzing: Analyzing data, claims, theories, and models produced by scientists.
Communication: Presenting arguments in writing or oral presentations based on evidence collected from experimental or text based research.
These categories allow us to differentiate badges and allow for personalization by the learner. Some badges will be required and others will allow a scholar to select a specific badge to represent their practices in a particular category. Some badges will be co-created by the learner and be sponsored by a scientist that will validate the evidence that they selected to represent specific practices.
For the required badges, we will create clear learning progressions and identify the performance tasks that will be used by learners to curate evidence of their competency. Learning progressions will be articulated in 2 ways in our system. Each is illustrated in the figure below.
As seen in the figure, the badges across all four grade levels will describe the progression of skills and knowledge to reach mastery within a particular category of science and engineering practices (e.g., experiments, analysis, and communication). These badges will be the working hypothesis by our team (i.e., teachers and industry partners) about how learners will grow with their science and engineering practices to become a competent scientist. Also, there will be learning progressions within each badge that will be delivered through competency guides. Each competency guide describes what a learner should be able to do as a scientist to earn a particular badge.
The most profound shift we hope to see is within our learners. We hope these progressions will empower them to personalize how they represent and use their practices as a laboratory scientist. Also, we hope to develop a better understanding of how progressions with practices interact with content.
As an example of what this looks like for our Spectrophotometry badge, visit the following digital portfolio of one of our 10th grade scholars:
At the top, you’ll see our hypothesis of our learning progression for this practice of spectrophotometry. Below, you’ll see her reflection and selected artifacts that represent her understanding. In all of this work, she is going back to the learning progression, which we call the “competency guide.” She curated these artifacts from her work in the classroom and wrote up her reflections to help inform her future use of this practice in future work in science.
Learning progressions will be the foundation that is used to build digital badges for our scholars. We are even more excited about the potential for scholars to build their own badges that are linked to this progression and get sponsored by industry and postsecondary scientists. We can't wait to see this thing up and running next school year.