This Spotlight highlights research-based resources for educators seeking to improve science teaching and learning. The resources offer strategies for creating engaging and meaningful science environments for all students.
Designing High School Science Learning to Reach All Students
To achieve the ambitious goals set by the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and similar standards, today’s high school students need access to carefully designed learning experiences. Authentic Science Experiences: Designing High School Science Learning to Reach All Students explores several core principles that inform the design and facilitation of more effective and meaningful science learning experiences.
The resource, developed by WestEd’s NextGenScience, highlights five features of authentic science experiences and underlying research that support the design and implementation of meaningful and enriching science learning for high school students. It also includes a series of vignettes that illustrate what these features look like in a variety of high school science experiences from across the nation.
The five core features highlighted in the resource include:
- Students integrate skills with core knowledge of science and engineering professions.
- Students’ interests, culture, identities, and experiences are positioned as fundamental assets in the learning process.
- Students use science to explain the world around them and solve problems that matter to society.
- Students learn by engaging with both peers and adults.
- Students engaging in a variety of assessment processes that showcase ongoing learning and promote confidence.
The resource illustrates how science in a school environment connects better to science as a profession and the science we use in our everyday lives, making the field of science more accessible, relevant, and meaningful to students.
NGSS Instruction As A Powerful Lever for Equitable Learning
From 2014 to 2020, the California NGSS K–8 Early Implementation Initiative supported several K–8 school districts in implementing the Next Generation Science Standards.
This brief describes key results and takeaways from WestEd’s evaluation of the initiative, which found that NGSS teaching:
- Fosters strong student engagement and deep learning for K–8 students, particularly for students who have often been inadequately reached through traditional science instruction.
- Has a natural synergy with English language arts (ELA) and math and supports language development.
The brief also discusses how the NGSS engages students more deeply and integrates with other subjects more effectively—and why ensuring that all students have access to effective NGSS instruction is critical.
Promoting Inclusion and Engagement in STEM Learning
Participation in out-of-school time (OST) programs, especially in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), has proven to be beneficial for youth, particularly youth who are underserved. These benefits include promoting academic success, health and well-being, and identity development. Many OST programs and educators seek support for how to promote STEM learning with specific youth audiences, such as Indigenous learners, emergent multilingual learners, and learners experiencing differing physical and/or sensory abilities.
This guide is designed to provide practical strategies and guidance for OST professionals—including educators, program directors, administrators, curriculum developers, professional learning providers, and education researchers—who provide STEM learning activities to youth outside of a formal classroom setting. This guide reflects the collaborative work of WestEd and Northern Arizona University (NAU) through the Planetary Learning that Advances the Nexus of Engineering, Technology, and Science (PLANETS) program, with support from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Subscribe to the E-Bulletin
Stay informed about WestEd’s research, resources, services, events, and career opportunities by subscribing to our E-Bulletin. Our April 2023 issue explores how educators can provide high-quality science education to all learners. Topics include:
- Maximizing Instructional Time for Science
- Building Affirming Science Learning Environments
- NGSS Instruction Supports Science Equitable Learning
- Leading Voices Spotlight on Dr. Sharon Nelson-Barber
- Culturally Valid and Shared Measures for Indigenous Students
- Creating Authentic Science Experiences for High School Students
- Why Integrating Science and Math Education Makes Sense