Uncovering Student Ideas in Physical Science, Vol.1: 45 New Force and Motion Assessment Probes
by Page Keeley and Rand Harrington

Price at time of review: $29.95
214 pp.
NSTA Press
Arlington, VA
ISBN: 9781935155188

Grade Level: K-12

Reviewed by Thomas Brown
Retired Science Teacher

This new book,which is part of a highly popular series, provides an invaluable tool set that allows teachers to examine student understanding of essential concepts in physical science. The authors provide a rich resource for teachers to guide instruction in areas such as forces, motion, mass, weight, and gravity.

The comprehensive preface explains how the book is organized, and there is important information on using the assessments in elementary, middle, and high school classes. An excellent introduction explains how these probes can strengthen student understanding of challenging dynamics concepts. The activities are designed to allow teachers at all levels to use these simple activities for the purpose of adjusting their instruction.

The book’s structure is designed to be easily used by any teacher. Each chapter opens with a concept matrix that allows teachers to reference the specific probes that could be used for their students. Each assessment probe contains the same information, making it easy for teachers to incorporate them into their lessons. There is an explanation of the probe, a simple description of how to administer the assessment, and suggestions for incorporating additional instruction and assessment based on the results of the original probe. All of the assessments have simple student handouts that are easy to reproduce in a number of ways. Teachers can copy the pages, use the information orally, or adapt them to their own classroom.

The authors also provide many references for each probe, and these might be used by teachers to strengthen their own instruction based on the results of the probes. These references not only describe the research about why these concepts are important but in many cases also provide additional ideas for activities that could be used to teach the specific concept.

This book would be superb resource for a teacher needing help in developing a wider range of assessment tools. While some of these probes may be done in an informal manner, all of them can also become formative assessments with little or no difficulty and thus provide a rich variety of interesting and handy tools for improving student understanding.

Review posted on 6/22/2010

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