Evaluation of online teacher and student materials for the Framework for K-12 Science Education: science and engineering crosscutting concepts
The National Research Council developed and published the Framework for K-12 Science Education, a new set of concepts that many states were planning on adopting. Part of this new endeavor included a set of science and engineering crosscutting concepts to be incorporated into science materials and activities, a first in science standards history. With the recent development of the Framework came the arduous task of evaluating current lessons for alignment with the new crosscutting concepts. This study took on that task in a small, yet important area of available lessons on the internet. Lessons, to be used by K-12 educators and students, were produced by different organizations and research efforts. This study focused specifically on Earth science lessons as they related to earthquakes. To answer the question as to the extent current and available lessons met the new crosscutting concepts; an evaluation rubric was developed and used to examine teacher and student lessons. Lessons were evaluated on evidence of the science, engineering and application of the engineering for each of the seven crosscutting concepts in the Framework. Each lesson was also evaluated for grade level appropriateness to determine if the lesson was suitable for the intended grade level(s) designated by the lesson. The study demonstrated that the majority of lesson items contained science applications of the crosscutting concepts. However, few contained evidence of engineering applications of the crosscutting concepts. Not only was there lack of evidence for engineering examples of the crosscutting concepts, but a lack of application engineering concepts as well. To evaluate application of the engineering concepts, the activities were examined for characteristics of the engineering design process. Results indicated that student activities were limited in both the nature of the activity and the quantity of lessons that contained activities. The majority of lessons were found to be grade appropriate. This study demonstrated the need to redesign current lessons to incorporate more engineering-specific examples from the crosscutting concepts. Furthermore, it provided evidence the current model of material development was out dated and should be revised to include engineering concepts to meet the needs of the new science standards.