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Formative Assessment Probes: To Hypothesize or Not

Science and Children—December 2010

Formative assessment probes are used not only to uncover the ideas students bring to their learning, they can also be used to reveal teachers’ common misconceptions. Consider a process widely used in inquiry science—developing hypotheses. Perhaps you require your students to develop a hypothesis before engaging in the process of inquiry. If so, how well do you (and your students) really understand the meaning and use of a hypothesis? Before reading further, think how you would respond to the probe “Is It a Hypothesis?” (Keeley et al. 2008; Figure 1). Which of the statements A–N describe a hypothesis? Jot down your answers and think about your conception of what a hypothesis is (and isn’t).
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