Concord Consortium Research Results Shed Light on Evolution Learning and Scientific Argumentation

Concord Consortium projects recently presented results of their ongoing research at two national research conferences, the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST). These results from ongoing projects help fill out the picture of how digital curricula can help students learn concepts and skills as diverse as the important concepts behind biological evolution and the intricate skills of scientific argumentation.

Evolution Readiness research presented at AERA by Boston College project researcher Laura O’Dwyer described details about how fourth-grade students who learned evolution-related concepts through our computational model curriculum fared significantly better than students in a control group. This project developed a custom assessment instrument for important “big ideas” in evolution. These early results demonstrate useful patterns about what central concepts young students take on most readily through this curriculum, and form the basis for additional analysis and findings from the project.

Concord Consortium researchers from the High-Adventure Science project described how the project engages secondary students in understanding how scientists explore unanswered research questions in Earth and Space Science. At NARST, the project presented their findings, validating new measures of students’ uncertainty and conditions of rebuttal, two useful but frequently neglected elements characterizing scientific arguments. This research, currently being prepared for submission to a refereed journal, supports a key project goal of helping students develop scientific argumentation skills.