Strategies and challenges to changing the focus of assessment and instruction in science classrooms

Richard A. Duschl, Drew H. Gitomer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The improvement of science education in accord with the current science reform agenda requires the development of sophisticated instructional strategies that are grounded in a clear recognition of student understanding. We describe a pedagogical strategy, the assessment conversation, that helps teachers elicit student understanding and then use elicited and diverse student understanding as the instructional basis for achieving conceptual and reasoning goals in the classroom. We then illustrate the potential and challenges of using the assessment conversation through examples that have emerged from Science Education through Portfolio Instruction and Assessment (SEPIA), a project attempting to reform practices of assessment and instruction in middle school science classrooms. We conclude with a discussion of issues facing any substantial reform of science education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-73
Number of pages37
JournalInternational Journal of Phytoremediation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1997
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Plant Science


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