Components and Features of Student Learning

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The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) ask students to think and behave like scientists and engineers. When students understand how scientists and engineers do their work, and have opportunities to explore, investigate, and explain phenomena, they become more engaged in learning and increase their comprehension. The experience students have in the science classroom is directly impacted by the instruction provided by the teacher and culture and environment built by both teachers and students.

The Components and Features of Student Learning were developed to help teachers and administrators answer a critical question of implementation: What does it look like when students are engaged in high quality learning experiences in science?

The four key components of student learning connect to each other and help visualize what it looks and sounds like when students are engaged in learning that aligns with the vision of the standards. Each component is clarified by observable features of learning. Teachers should use these features to plan instruction to maximize student learning. Administrators might use these features to identify evidence of learning to coach and support teachers.

Components

Key Ideas

  • The components of student learning describe four main ideas that are shared across all content areas. Each component is clarified by observable features of student learning.
  • The observable features for each component describe sample evidence that might be seen in a classroom when learning is aligned to the vision of the California Next Generation Science Standards.
  • The activities and tasks associated with the Essential Learning Events of Component #2 are the core of powerful three-dimensional learning experiences for students in science. The other components should be embedded in these meaningful learning events.
  • The components and features connect to other instructional frameworks, including the 5 Dimensions of Teaching and Learning (UWCEL) and the BSCS 5E Model of Instruction. They extend and enhance these frameworks by considering the implications in content areas.
  • The components and features live within a supportive and safe classroom culture and environment.
  • The components and features are supported by key findings from the research on How People Learn - the engagement of prior knowledge; the organization of knowledge into a conceptual framework; the monitoring of one’s own thinking and learning; culture; and student motivation and goals.
  • Classroom culture is inclusive of the way teachers communicate with students and the expectations which are set for the ways students interact with one another. Classrooms should be learner-centered where students feel safe, valued, and respected. Students varied experiences and perspectives should be used as opportunities to learn from one another. 

  

Four Components of Student Learning

Component #1: Students understand what they are learning and why they are learning it

Observable Features

  • Students describe the aspect of the phenomenon or problem they are trying to figure out.
  • Students generate questions about the phenomenon or problem and articulate the questions they are trying to answer.
  • Students describe ideas they currently have which can help them answer questions they are asking.
  • Students explain the process or design solution they will use/are using to solve a problem or figure out how and why the phenomenon under study occurs.

 

Example Reflection/Coaching Questions

Before Instruction After Instruction
  • What is the purpose of this lesson? What do you expect students to learn?
  • How and when will the purpose be communicated to students?
  • How will students describe and explain what they are figuring out?
  • What phenomenon will students investigate and explain in this lesson?
  • What questions might students generate about the phenomenon under study?
  • What was the purpose of this lesson? What did you expect students to learn?
  • How was the purpose communicated to students?
  • How did students describe and explain what they were figuring out?
  • What phenomenon did students investigate and explain in this lesson?
  • What questions did students generate about the phenomenon?

 

Component #2: Students engage in essential learning events to build, extend, and apply understanding

Observable Features

  • Event 1: Students experience phenomena, make observations, and collect data through investigations.
  • Event 2: Students make sense of patterns and relationships in observations and data through representation, analysis, and interpretation.
  • Event 3: Students construct models and causal explanations of phenomenon using evidence and reasoning.
  • Event 4: Students revise ideas, models, and explanations through critique and argumentation.

 

Example Reflection/Coaching Questions

Before Instruction After Instruction
  • What learning events will students engage in during the lesson?
  • What science concepts and ideas will students need to understand and use to explain the phenomenon?
  • How will students use the Science and Engineering Practices and Crosscutting Concepts in this lesson?
  • What learning events did students engage in during the lesson?
  • What science concepts and ideas did students understand and use to explain the phenomenon?
  • How did students use the Science and Engineering Practices and Crosscutting Concepts in this lesson?

 

Component #3: Students use literacy and language to communicate in disciplinary ways

Observable Features

  • Students ask and answer questions to clarify thinking and to understand ideas, models, and explanations of phenomena or design solutions.
  • Students speak and listen to others to understand and communicate ideas, models, and explanations of phenomena or design solutions.
  • Students read and write to understand and communicate ideas, models, and explanations of phenomena or design solutions.

 

Example Reflection/Coaching Questions

Before Instruction After Instruction
  • What opportunities will exist for students to construct meaning through the literacy strands of reading, writing, speaking & listening, and language?
  • In what ways will students develop and demonstrate their understanding through communication (written and oral) with others?
  • What opportunities existed for students to construct meaning through the literacy strands of reading, writing, speaking & listening, and language?
  • In what ways did students develop and demonstrate their understanding through communication (written and oral) with others?

 

Component #4: Students self-assess and reflect on their learning and understanding

Observable Features

  • Students summarize ideas they have learned and those with which they still struggle.
  • Students connect new ideas and understanding to previous learning.
  • Students reflect on and describe how their understanding has changed.
  • Students generate new questions that have emerged.

 

Example Reflection/Coaching Questions

Before Instruction After Instruction
  • How will students summarize ideas they have learned or those with which they still struggle?
  • What opportunities will be provided for students to connect new ideas and understanding to previous learning?
  • How will students reflect on and describe how their understanding has changed?
  • What opportunities will be provided for students to generate new questions that have emerged?
  • How did students summarize ideas they have learned or those with which they still struggle?
  • What opportunities were provided for students to connect new ideas and understanding to previous learning?
  • How did students reflect on and describe how their understanding has changed?
  • What opportunities were provided for students to generate new questions that have emerged?