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THE ROLE OF THE TEACHER/RESEARCHER AND
CLASSROOM-ORIENTED RESEARCH PARTNERSHIPS
IN ADVANCING OUR UNDERSTANDING AND ASSESSMENT
OF STUDENT LEARNING
NEIL STILLINGS
School of Cognitive Science, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA 01002
[email protected]
The paper begins with a conceptual description of higher-order cognitive
outcomes in science learning. The current theoretical and empirical basis
for these constructs in cognitive psychology is sketched. This discussion
provides the theoretical framework for a two-fold argument: First, that
higher-order cognitive outcomes should be a goal of science instruction at
all levels, in all disciplines, and in all courses; and second, that the search
for and refinement of appropriate strategies of instruction and assessment
requires a continuous integration of curriculum development and research.
In particular, it is argued that the formative and summative assessment of
students' achievement of higher-order cognitive outcomes has an intrinsic
research dimension. Teachers can not simply passively adopt current "best
practices" in assessment. Advances in science teaching and learning
require that they become active and reflective researchers in cognition and
education. Educational/psychological researchers' relatively abstract
theories and limited implementation experience do not justify the dictation
of either instructional or assessment practices to teachers. A consequence
is that sustained partnerships between teachers and researchers are a key
element in the continuing effort to understand the dynamics of science
teaching and learning and to design appropriate assessments. Illustrations
are given from a partnership between the author's research team and the
introductory biology faculty at a large university.
Copies of the paper will be distributed at the STEMTEC Pathways conference and will be
available from the author after the conference at [email protected]