Plenary Speaker Profile (2007)
Richard Duschl
Professor of Science Education
Rutgers University
Assessing Science Learning in 3 Part Harmony

New 'science studies' views about the nature of science focus on understanding the social, cognitive and epistemic processes taking place in the refinement and articulation of scientific theories and scientific models. New tools, theories and technologies are shaping the images of scientific inquiry. Recommendations from the NRC report "Taking Science to School: Learning and Teaching Science in Grades K-8" advocate similar refinement and articulation processes in young students science learning processes as they build theories and models. I will present a curriculum, instruction and assessment model based on Project SEPIA classroom research that seeks to develop epistemic (i.e., knowledge building) communities of practice. Two key features for building epistemic classroom communities will be presented; 1) employing the 'Assessment Conversation' instruction strategy to promote dialogic discourse processes; and 2) formative assessment strategies in 3 goal domains – conceptual goals, epistemic goals and social goals. Focusing on the scientific practices and argumentation discourse processes associated with theory-building and model-based reasoning has implications for the design of instruction sequences that promote learning progressions across grade bands.

Prior to joining the Rutgers faculty, Dr. Duschle chaired Science Education at King's College London, and prior to that was Professor of Science Education at Vanderbilt University. One focus of his research examines how the history and philosophy of science can be applied to science education. The research agenda is to better understand the social and cognitive dynamics for making science classrooms inquiry and epistemic communities. Scientific inquiry, then, is seen as fundamentally focusing on the evidence and the argumentation discourse processes that lead to scientific decisions. A second focus of his research is the design of instructional sequences that promote assessment for learning. With NSF support from several grants, this research has led to many new ideas about how formative assessment strategies can help learners and teachers make scientific thinking visible. He also has expertise in informal science education and in earth science education. Respected among scholars in science education and learning domains, Duschl publishes widely in U.S. and international journals on inquiry, science teaching, learning, cognition, and assessment. Dr. Duschl has served as editor of Science Education and was a member of the NRC committee that wrote the Inquiry Addendum for the National Science Education Standards. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland at College Park.