ERIC Number: ED385492
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1995-Apr
Using Portfolios To Assess Students' Conceptual Understanding of Flotation and Buoyancy.
Erduran, Sibel; Duschl, Richard A.
The research described in this paper investigates the use of portfolio assessment techniques in middle school science classrooms. It explores how alternative assessment frameworks, such as portfolios, can be used by the classroom teacher and the students as an indicator of students' conceptual understanding and to facilitate changes in science learning environments where learners' development is promoted in the domains of epistemic, cognitive, and social goals. Interviews using the SEPIA (Science Education through Portfolio Instruction and Assessment) Student Interview, were conducted with 29 sixth-grade students selected from classes of 6 teachers in 5 schools in the same urban school district. The purpose of the interview was to develop a profile of students' conceptual understanding with respect to flotation and buoyancy; this understanding was assessed with respect to the three domains established within the conceptual framework of the lesson unit. Transcribed tapes were coded by use of concept maps which are an integral part of instruction. Results indicate that students' conceptual understanding of flotation and buoyancy in terms of operating forces was well established although relation to the underlying explanation in terms of water pressure and design features were underemphasized. A high percentage of students focused on vessel performance in water. Students' use of their portfolios during the interview suggest that certain portfolio items might be critical in bringing about effective instruction and assessment. Appendixes provide: The SEPIA Student Interview and Storyboards; concept maps; samples of student work; and forecast portfolio item. (Contains 17 references.) (ND)
Descriptors: Educational Objectives, Elementary School Science, Evaluation Methods, Grade 6, Informal Assessment, Intermediate Grades, Middle Schools, Nongraded Student Evaluation, Portfolio Assessment, Portfolios (Background Materials), Science Activities, Science Education, Scientific Concepts, Student Evaluation
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (San Francisco, CA, April 18-22, 1995).