Designing Robotics-based Science Lessons Aligned with the Three Dimensions of NGSS-plus-5E Model: A Content Analysis

Currently, 19 states have adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) while 16 states have revised their standards to mirror the NGSS. Transitioning from the previous standards to the NGSS requires in-depth teacher professional development (PD) that delves into the three-dimensional (3D) performance expectations (PE) of the NGSS. Each PE constitutes: science and engineering practices (SEPs), disciplinary core ideas (DCIs), and crosscutting concepts (CCCs). Teaching in the 3D model shifts the focus of science classrooms to environments where students use DCIs and CCCs with scientific practices to explore, examine, and explain scientific phenomena and to design solutions to problems. Recent literature argues that PD plays a key role in providing teachers with knowledge and skills to familiarize themselves with NGSS and assist them in successfully implementing new curricula and changing teaching practices.

During 2015-2017, each summer, we led a three-week robot-integrated PD program for middle school science and math teachers. To address the shift in 3D science teaching and learning, six teachers (three math and three science), who had previously participated in the PD program, were recruited for a new PD workshop in 2018. The goal of the PD was to support teachers in selecting the PE’s relevant to their middle school curriculum, in addition to using Bybee’s 5E instructional model, thus creating robotics-based NGSS-plus-5E lessons. The 5E’s include: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate. In the classroom, the teacher selects a science phenomenon for their first “E” and then takes students through a journey making the phenomenon clearer with each subsequent “E”. As part of the framework for this study, teachers became learners and went through four NGSS-plus-5E lessons created by PD facilitators to then create their own lessons.

The workshop was planned and conducted based on Desimone’s conceptual framework for effective PD, which suggests five key features: content focus, active learning, coherence, sustained duration, and collective participation. The paper addresses the following research questions: (1) To what extent are the lesson plans developed by science and math teachers aligned with the three-dimensional learning of the NGSS and 5E model? (2) How can the lessons be improved for three-dimensional learning? The methodology for the analysis is a qualitative case study of two groups of middle school science and math teachers. During the PD, the two teams of three middle school teachers each collaboratively developed lesson plans which focused on ways to implement the 5E inquiry-based and the NGSS-aligned science instruction. The science lesson plans developed by the participants were the main data sources in this study. We focused on two exemplary lesson units, which were analyzed using two vetted rubrics: the Educators Evaluating the Quality of Instructional Products (EQuIP) rubric for Science v3 and the 5E Inquiry Lesson Plan (ILP) rubric v2. The EQuIP rubric provides criteria by which to examine the alignment and overall quality of NGSS lessons. The 5E ILPv2 was developed for use in evaluating teachers’ inquiry-based 5E lesson plans and it comprises of a total of 21 items, each item being Likert-type with a range of 0-4 points. In this study, analyzing lesson plans using the rubrics provided opportunities for suggestions and feedback for improvement to developers and it informs the development of new lessons by the project team. All data were triangulated by the PD facilitators with the same perspectives to establish validity and reliability.

You, H. S., Chacko, S. M., Borges Rajguru, S., & Kapila, V. (2019). Designing robotics-based science lessons aligned with the three dimensions of NGSS-plus-5E model: A content analysis (Fundamental). Proceedings of the 2019 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition. Tampa, FL.