Science Teaching Series

Internet Resources

I. Developing Scientific Literacy

II. Developing Scientific Reasoning

III. Developing Scientific Understanding

IV. Developing Scientific Problem Solving

V. Developing Scientific Research Skills

VI. Resources for Teaching Science

Assessing Student Reasoning

Note: Please read chapter 6 in the Sourcebook for Teaching Science before beginning this assignment

Introduction: Much of secondary instruction focuses upon basic knowledge and comprehension, but fails to encourage the development of the higher order reasoning skills.  Fortunately, the sciences provide an environment which is conducive to the development of these higher order thinking skills, and teachers need to capitalize on this. In this assignment you will be writing questions to assess each of major the levels of reasoning outlined by Bloom in his taxonomy or reasoning skills. You will submit your questions to a peer in the

Practice: Identify the levels or reasoning for practice questions.

Artifact: Writing Questions at Different Levels of Reasoning   Select three specific scientific topics which might be discussed in one of the classes you plan to teach (e.g.. planetary motion, chemical reactions, electrostatics, ecology, etc.) and construct an 18 question exam.  Please look at some examples and follow the guidelines listed below:   

(a) Identify the theme for each set of six questions.

(b) Identify the course, grade level and ability level you are aiming at.  Your questions should be appropriate for this target audience.              

(c) Write six questions for each theme, one for each level of reasoning. You should write one knowledge question, one comprehension question, one application question, one analysis question, one synthesis question, and one evaluation question for each theme.

(d) Clearly label the level of reasoning required to answer each question.

(e) Include any background information which you believe is necessary for answering specific questions. For example, if one of your questions requires that a student refer to a data table, make sure that the data table is included.      

(f) Your questions must be clear and understandable.  Give your questions to another student in the class to critique before turning them in.  

(g) Write answers to each of your questions.

(h) At least half of your questions should be in multiple choice format.  (Many teachers avoid asking higher order questions because they generally difficult to grade.  This requirement is given to help you develop skills in constructing tests that are easy to grade and yet still test higher order skills.)

Peer Grading: When you are done writing, exchange your assignment with another member of the class who teaches a subject similar to yours. You will grade each others assignments using the following guidelines:

  • Missing Questions or Answers:  The student should have written a total of 18 questions. Subtract 1.5 points for each missing question or answer. Do not subtract more than 1.5 points per question.
  • Mis-categorization: The student should have written 6 questions for each topic, one at each of the six levels: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation. Subtract 1 point for each level omitted or mis-categorized.
  • Vague and unclear questions: Subtract 1 point for each question that is vague or unclear. State why you believe the question is vague or unclear and give a suggestion for how it may be clarified.
  • Irrelevant questions:  Subtract 1/2 point for each question not within the domain of the stated topic.  If, for example, the topic is momentum, all questions should deal with momentum.

Corrections: Review all of the comments and make corrections and/or responses to all comments.

Submit your work on Moodle