Reviewed by Jean Worsley
Retired Biology Teacher
In the development of the Next Generation Science Standards argumentation is one of the practices of science that receives increased emphasis. In this book, a framework designed to increase the level of scientific literacy in grades 9–12 is presented. The author seeks to inspire teachers to enhance the teaching–learning process by incorporating inquiry and argumentative based initiatives in science classes.
Numerous strategies and examples vividly illustrate how these initiatives may be formulated and implemented. Teachers are invited to embark on a journey that requires a new paradigm as they move from a "teacher–centered" to a “learner–centered” classroom. This framework focuses on teachers developing a philosophy that immerses students in an atmosphere of questioning, examining, debating, and reasoning in order to acquire critical thinking skills needed to compete in a global society in the 21st century.
The author states that many inquiry–based resources are available for elementary and middle schools but are very limited in high schools. This edition was written to fill this gap. A historical perspective of National Science Education Standard (NSES); A Framework for K–12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting, Concepts, and Core Ideas; Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Common Core State Standards is presented. It is suggested that facilitators can be successful if they have an opportunity to examine their beliefs as well as understanding the tenets on which these standards are based. In addition, teachers seeking NBC (National Board Certification) will find information needed to complete Entry 2: Active Scientific Inquiry in their portfolio. In eleven chapters, teacher friendly formats consist of major topics and subtopics.
Vignettes of inquiry– and argumentative–based activities, charts, models, concept maps, graphs, and case studies are used to validate major ideas. At the end of each chapter, extensions are provided with thoughtful questions for reflection and discussion. First and foremost, understanding the meaning of inquiry is of utmost importance. A broad definition is provided in order to help teachers form a reasonable workable definition and incorporate critical, logical, and creative thinking skills. Another important area defined is argumentation. Further, a thorough correlation of argumentation with CCSS (Common Core State Standards), NSES (National Science Education Standards), A Framework for K–12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards is delineated. Some strategies explored include scaffolding, brainstorming, and Q–C–E–E (Question, Claim, Evidence, Explanation) sheets. Additional insight about inquiry and argumentation is provided through case studies. Several misconceptions, myths, and hindrances are also described. As in any field of study or endeavor, facilitators are encouraged to develop a philosophy. The author describes the philosophy of constructivism and why it needs to be embraced in order to become an effective inquiry–based teacher.
The historical development of constructivism reviews contributions by Dewey, Piaget, and Vygotsky. A description of a traditional vs. a constructivist classroom is presented followed by a discussion of metacognition and the 5–E learning cycle. It is of interest to note the numerous avenues presented to modify traditional science labs into inquiry–argumentative based labs.
A major concern is safety. The current debate about high school labs as they relate to science standards is included. Also, a detailed case study shows how a traditional lab was revised using the 5–E Learning Cycle. Managing and monitoring inquiry based classrooms and labs can indeed be challenging however the primary factors appear to be time management and organization. Among the techniques described to solve these problems are concept maps, organized workstations, teaching essential core concepts, and using questions effectively. Four instruments described to help facilitators manage inquiry–based classrooms are EQUIP (Electronic Quality of Inquiry Protocol, SMOP (Science Management Observation Protocol), an Inquiry Rubric, and an Inquiry Self–Assessment.
Without a doubt, questions that are well–defined are perhaps the most important element in scientific literacy. In chart form, an overview of Bloom’s taxonomy vividly outlines the different levels of questions, science related process verbs, and sample questions. This is followed by a concise discussion of the purpose of questions, kinds of questions, and questioning techniques. A three–step approach to questioning is provided along with a detailed chart describing seven segments of science inquiry with exploratory questions and prompts. Several forms of formative and summative assessment tools are suggested. The author states that a new paradigm to assess students should not only include answers but questions. Consequently, assessment is an ongoing process. A wide range of assessment tools includes traditional methods, constructed response questions, interviews, rubrics, and concept maps. The value, importance, and effectiveness of scientific inquiry are given credence by assessing the level of performance of teachers and students.
At this point, this journey has provided a philosophy and techniques for restructuring and retooling traditional classrooms into inquiry–argumentative–based classrooms. The author states that this journey will only be completed if the culture in the classroom is changed. Children must be creative, enthusiastic, and feel free to ask questions, debate, exchange ideas, examine, reason, and research as they seek to understand the natural world. It is believed that this environment can only be accomplished by the ABC’s (attitudes, behaviors, and competencies) exhibited by teachers and students. If teachers choose to move in this direction, they will become inquiry–based teachers and the author believes that the level of scientific literacy will be heightened.
Acknowledgements and information about the author are included. At the end of the book, facilitators will find the following resources: Print Resources on Scientific Inquiry and Argumentation, Print Resources on Inquiry–and Argument–Based Investigations, Print Resources on Constructivism, Print Resources on Science Standards and Science Literacy, Print Resources on Assessment, Print Resources on General Science Areas, Multimedia Resources on Scientific Inquiry and Argumentation, Online Resources on Scientific Inquiry and Argumentation, Professional Organization, Bottle Handout, References, and an Index. This book is a comprehensive resource to aid teachers who are interested in initiating a “student–centered “classroom and improving scientific literacy of their students in an effort to meet national science standards.
Review posted on 2/27/2013