NARST 2021

A Virtual Conference
April 7-10, 2021
Conference Website

The National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST) is a worldwide organization of professionals committed to the improvement of science teaching and learning through research. Since its inception in 1928, NARST has promoted research in science education and the communication of knowledge generated by the research. The ultimate goal of NARST is to help all learners achieve science literacy. The theme of the 2021 annual international conference is “Science Education, a public good for the good of the public? Research to empower, evoke, and revolutionize.”

Wednesday, April 7

Reconstructing Reality through Simulations to Enable Classroom Enactment of Science Practices

Hee-Sun Lee, Scott McDonald, Amy Pallant, Chris Lore, Jie Chao, Gey-Hong Gweon, Charles Conner, Trudi Lord, Lisa Hardy

1:45 PM – 3:15 PM (EDT) | Real-Time/Live

Scientific phenomena are often too complex or inaccessible to investigate as they occur in nature. In these cases, scientists create models to represent some constituents of reality that they believe are critical and responsible for the phenomena. This symposium focuses on computational models, also known as simulations, that have become a critical tool for scientists and students alike to study complex systems. This symposium features four simulation-based learning environments that are pedagogically configured to engage students in NGSS-aligned science practices such as using models, constructing explanations, using mathematics and computational thinking, and carrying out investigations. The goal of this session is twofold: (1) to delineate scientific and pedagogical design decisions made to transform scientific phenomena in the real world into structures and rules afforded in the computational space and (2) to illustrate the extent to which the simulation environments enhance and limit students’ engagement with targeted scientific practices.

Thursday, April 8

Teacher Discourse Practices Supporting Student Progressive Discourse in an Ambitious Science Classroom

Kraig Wray, Madison Botch, Scott McDonald, Amy Pallant, Hee-Sun Lee

9:45 AM – 11:15 AM (EDT) | Real-Time/Live

Participation in progressive discourse involves adhering to norms for utilizing community experiences to improve individual sensemaking. Student participation in this discourse requires multiple levels of support, including scaffolds provided by tools such as curricular materials, as well as teacher intervention. The actions of the teacher can provide opportunities to engage in the various “entailments” of progressive discourse. For this study, we focused on the talk moves in which preservice and veteran teachers engaged to support student sensemaking in regard to a phenomenon-based science unit. Analysis implies that preparation and mentoring with an emphasis on talk moves can result in enactment of those practices, but being responsive to student talk, and being purposeful in utilizing multiple moves, requires a deeper understanding of the purposes of specific moves and knowledge of the goal of the conversation. Finally, this study seeks to identify the additional support preservice teachers need in order to have a more nuanced implementation of purposeful questioning for the sake of accomplishing the goals stated above.

Exploring Plurality in Students’ Ways of Knowing with Learning Progression-Based Assessments of Computational Thinking

Beth Covitt, Carolyn Staudt, Dale Cope, Joyce Massicotte, Nathan Kimball

9:45 AM – 11:15 AM (EDT) | Real-Time/Live

Science education’s recently growing focus on computational thinking (CT) has occurred contemporaneously with growing focus in other areas of research and practice. These include calls to improve the science learning opportunities of students from historically nondominant communities and critiques of assessment frameworks such as learning progressions (LPs) as defining learning targets in overly narrow ways. This study lies at the confluence of these foci as they relate to assessing students’ CT in a weather prediction context. Within a middle school level project aimed at teaching CT through weather prediction in Alaskan villages, we explored the use of pluralistic, LP-based embedded assessments to meet CT assessment goals in ways that are culturally responsive to Indigenous students and that acknowledge and value not just formal, but also lifeworld (vernacular) ways of sense making. This exploratory assessment study emerged through the design-based research methodology that guides the Precipitating Change project.

Download the paper (PDF)

Automated Feedback to Support Students’ Revision of Scientific Arguments Based on Data from Simulations

Hee-Sun Lee, Gey-Hong Sam Gweon, Amy Pallant

11:30 AM – 1:00 PM (EDT) | Real-Time/Live

Writing a scientific argument at the end of an investigation can provide an opportunity for students to make sense of data. Students can use interactive computational models, also known as simulations, to collect and interpret data needed in constructing scientific argument. This study addresses how automated feedback can support students’ revision of scientific arguments when they collect data from simulations. The research question is whether and how the automated simulation feedback can help students improve their revisions as compared to automated argument feedback provided alone. This study makes the case for designing an intelligent feedback system that can be used for combined practices: text-based science practice as in argumentation and interaction-based science practice as in using models.

Supporting Progressive Discourse in Epistemically Authentic Geoscience Investigations

Scott McDonald, Kraig Wray, Jonathan McCausland, Kathryn Bateman, Amy Pallant, Hee-Sun Lee

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM (EDT) | Advance Viewing of Pre-recorded Presentations with 60-minute Real-Time/Live Q&A

Learning science involves students engaging in disciplinary discourses, and while the Next Generation Science Standards articulates a set of eight practices, they play out in subtly different ways across sub-domains of science. Our study examines middle school Earth science students engaged in an online module designed to support epistemically authentic investigations of plate tectonics through the use of interactive data visualization and simulation tools. Our study investigates how teacher questioning, curricular features, or other students’ talk scaffold progressive discourse as students use these geoscience investigatory tools. Preliminarily findings revealed that students’ participation in progressive discourse is predicated on synergistic scaffolding of student questioning and exploration, and conflicts between the purposes of scaffolds can lead to reversion to rote investigations and question answering discourse.

Friday, April 9

High School Students’ Ability to Connect Biological Processes when Studying Evolution

Rebecca Ellis, Louise Mead, Frieda Reichsman, Jim Smith, Kiley McElroy-Brown, Genevive Bondaryk, Maria Berry, Pete White

1:15 PM – 2:45 PM (EDT) | Real-Time/Live

We present evidence of students’ ability to connect biological processes (e.g., protein synthesis, inheritance, etc.) when describing the evolutionary phenomenon of mouse fur color in different populations. Research has shown that typical biology curricula tend to separate out these processes, leading to students compartmentalizing them and not recognizing that what happens in one process has consequences on another. Through the development of and data collection/analysis from the ConnectedBio Deer Mouse Case, we have found that with the right supports, students can make these connections, and can do so well.

“That’s not Evidence!”: Teacher’s Navigating Conceptual and Pedagogical Dilemmas in Earth Science Teaching

Jonathan McCausland, Jennifer Jackson, Scott McDonald, Amy Pallant, Hee-Sun Lee


To support a group of teachers in adopting new curriculum and teaching practices, teachers were engaged in a professional development centering co-design of an online curriculum. This study is focused on understanding how teachers, over the course of a four-day professional development, negotiated the tensions that arose between their conceptual understandings of science and their practical needs as teachers that emerged during the professional development. Analysis suggests that teachers leverage professional vision differently in order to find solutions to tensions and the community’s negotiation is the result of conflict that emerges from the co-design of a developed online curriculum.

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