CAREER: Redesigning a Learning Progression to Build upon Students' Intuitive Ideas about Motion and Support Teachers' Formative Assessment Practices

Principal Investigator: 
Project Overview
Background & Purpose: 

The study has two main purposes. The first is to explore the effects of a shift from a focus on misconceptions to a focus on productive intuitive ideas on a) the introductory high school physics curriculum, b) the conceptualization of learning progression(s) for concepts in the introductory high school physics curriculum, and c) pre-service teachers' ability to notice and respond to student ideas. The second is to investigate how teachers use learning progressions that honor students’ thinking to inform their formative assessment practices and whether this appears to influence student learning.


High school physics classrooms; university pre-service methods courses.

Research Design: 

The project uses a longitudinal and comparative research design and will generate evidence that is descriptive [case study and design research] and associative/correlational [quasi-experimental]. Original data are being collected on high school physics teachers and students as well as pre-service secondary science teachers using assessments of learning, observation [videography], survey research [computer assisted personal interview (CAPI)], and student work produced during instruction. The intervention includes curriculum redesign, professional development, and changes to pre-service methods courses. Results will be compared with in-service teachers' prior work (with different students) and a previous cohort of pre-service teachers.

This project will use an existing learning progression and associated assessment items [see Alonzo, A. C., & Steedle, J. T. (2009). Developing and assessing a force and motion learning progression. Science Education, 93, 389-421] and also develop new assessment items aligned with the learning progression(s) being developed as part of the project. In addition, both the old and new learning progression(s) will be used to evaluate other evidence of student understanding, such as that obtained through interviews and classroom work. Rubrics will be developed to evaluate in-service teachers' formative assessment practices and pre-service teachers' abilities to notice and respond to student ideas, drawing from prior work [e.g., Alonzo, A. (August, 2013). Exploring teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge as elicited through two video-based interviews. In C. von Aufschnaiter (Chair) Use of video to assess teachers’ competencies. Symposium presented at the biennial meeting of the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction, Munich, Germany].

The analyses will be primarily qualitative, seeking to understand teachers' practices and student learning as curriculum and other practices are changed through design research. Some numerical coding will be used to score student understanding relative to the learning progression(s) being developed and to evaluate teachers' practices. This coding will be used to make comparisons before and after interventions described above.


Findings will be posted as they become available.

Other Products: 

Learning progressions and associated assessment items, curriculum design principles.