More Emphasis Conditions

The More Emphasis conditions (National Science Education Standards, NRC, 1996) describe changes that are necessary to achieve the visions for science education described in the standards. They reflect actions and activities pertaining to teaching, professional development, assessment, content, program, and system related standards, on which more emphasis should be placed in contrast to actions and activities that should receive less emphasis (Less Emphasis conditions) [National Research Council, 1996, 2000].

According to both the National Science Education Standards (NSES) and the new Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), at every grade level, students are expected to be undertaking complete investigations. To arrive at this destination, achievement of at least the teaching, assessment, content, and professional development More Emphasis conditions is necessary. Thus, the NSES More Emphasis conditions are important for achievement of both the NSES and NGSS!

Dr. Yager writes in his Foreword, “Look at Us Now! Making Scientific Practices Matter in the Classroom…and Beyond illustrates the needed features of reform in science teaching. The examples included in this book provide models for all who are interested and ready for this real reform to take place—reform that leads to the meeting of all four goals of the National Science Education Standards (NSES). Many classrooms and science teachers continue to use the discipline organization and teaching indicated in the Less Emphasis features. These were in contrast to the More Emphasis conditions which were the focus for what was envisioned in the 1996 National Standards. The narratives contained within the chapters of this book describe not only the practices that each teacher author executed with his/her students, but also what it was they put into place to establish the More Emphasis conditions used to address the Standards. Landsman and his team of teacher authors share their experiences and insights regarding the impact of change in their classroom culture when the More Emphasis conditions are naturally woven through the students’ research investigations."

The chapters in Look at Us Now! describe the research investigations conducted by students and the minor to major modifications made by their teachers (and, in many cases, the students) to attain the More Emphasis conditions that supported successful scientific inquiry-based teaching and learning. Some of the modifications that the teachers describe include subtle changes such as allocating time for students to ask questions or reflect. Others include extensive adjustments to what was traditionally occurring in the classroom, such as involving outside partners or using the process of scientific inquiry as an intervention primarily targeting the learning of non-science standards-based content.

The More Emphasis conditions were and still are considered important for achievement of the National Science Education Standards (NSES) and now the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). These conditions are essential for any standards approach that stresses inquiry as a critical element. Scientific inquiry is content and ways to teach and learn as recommended in both the NSES and NGSS. It is encompasses the “scientific practices” that define the first of three Dimensions for the new Framework from which the NGSS were developed (National Research Council, 1996; 2012, p. 41).


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