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Enhancing Understanding of Concepts and Practices of Science (EUCAPS)


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The EUCAPS project is designed to support K-8 teachers transition toward the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The NGSS narrow the scope of the curriculum and provides instructional targets specific to various grade levels. Perhaps more importantly, there is an increased emphasis on language as an embedded component of science instruction and along with it, greater importance placed on student abilities to think and reason (as in the construction and critique of evidence-based arguments). These new standards represent a considerable shift in the conceptualization of teaching and learning. The EUCAPS project is designed to work with teachers on immersing students in what we think of as Argument-Based Inquiry.
Argument Based Inquiry is inquiry that is intended to build students grasp of scientific practices while simultaneously developing an understanding of disciplinary big ideas. Within this approach, construction and critique of knowledge are centrally located throughout science instruction by engaging students in posing questions, gathering data, and generating claims supported by evidence. From this perspective argument is a tool to learn science content and practices.
Toward this end, teachers engage in rich discussions of how students learn and build meaning in science, how knowledge is constituted in science, and their role in the science classroom. Further they experience first-hand instructional approaches such as the Science Writing Heuristic (one example of an Argument-Based Inquiry approach) and Concept Mapping that they work to adapt to their own instructional contexts.