My Initial driving question was "What is the impact concept maps have on student clarity for the learning objectives and achievement?"
I studied this for a semester, and considering the data I gathered, made the decision to modify my question for the upcoming semesters in order to better meet the needs of the students in my classroom. With the input of my professors and colleagues, my secondary driving question became:
"How can digital platforms help students gain clarity on the learning objectives, success criteria, and provide a way to monitor their learning progress in middle school science?"
The purpose of the study was to determine if using concept maps with students gave them more clarity regarding the learning goals and the success criteria for learning the new Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Concept maps have been used in instructional planning, but what is the impact of using them to connect different levels of understanding? In this study a two-week unit covering parts of two NGSS Middle School Life Science Standards, the concept map showing the different levels of understanding and how they are connected was shared with the students. Students monitored their progress towards the learning goals using the success criteria built into the concept map. The quantitative data collected through the pre and post test showed a significant increase in students learning the surface level knowledge. At the end of the study students answered self-assessment questions on a scale of one to five on how knowing the learning goals, success criteria, and a path to achieve the goals influenced their success. Overall scores indicated a positive impact on student clarity. Click to Read More
Background and Need, Rationale, etc.
There is a need for educators to continue to improve student achievement. On the 2016 California State Test (CST) for science only 53% of 8th grade students in Napa Valley Unified School District scored proficient or higher. With the district going to an integrated model implementing the NGSS, not only are the standards new, the content is 70% different in each of the grade levels. The curriculum to support the new standards hasn't been adopted by the district so we are designing our own curriculum and lessons.
The 2015 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) developed by Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ranked the United States 24th out of 71 developed Nations, with a mean score of 496, just above the OECD Average of 493. According to the The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), California has only 24% of 8th Grade students at or above proficiency in Science. This is 9% below the national Average of 33%. From 2009-2015, scores have gone up 6 points from 137 to 143, just above the basic score level of 140. There has been a steady increase in the numbers of English Language Learners (ELLs) in the school district were the study took place. It is essential to address how students are taught so they can access the knowledge and the science gap can be closed.
Click here to review the academic research papers that inspired my action research paper.