Uncovering Student Ideas in Science

The Uncovering Student Ideas series in science is published by NSTA Press. The primary author of this series, Page Keeley, is also the developer and primary author of Curriculum Topic Study series. This series of books contains formative assessment probes that were developed using a CTS process- linking key ideas in the standards (CTs Section III or V) to common "misconceptions" cited in cognitive research studies (CTS Section IV). A question is then developed that probes whether students understand the key concept or may have a common misconception. For example, the "What's in the Bubbles" probe from Uncovering Student Ideas in Science-25 More Formative Assessment Probes (Keeley, Eberle, and Tugel, 2007) targets ideas about particles during a change in state. Research shows that some students do not recognize that the bubbles in boiling water are bubbles of water vapor- water in a gas state. They may believe the bubbles are made of heat, air, or atoms of oxygen and hydrogen (Barker, 2004). In addition to selecting a response that best matches their thinking, students must provide an explanation for their answer. All of the probes in this series use a similar CTS approach and are designed with 2 tiers- a selected response and a justification for their answer.


In addition, the extensive teacher notes that accompany each probe reflect CTS findings:
  • Explanation- CTS Section I
  • Curricular and Instructional Considerations- CTS Sections II and III
  • Related Ideas from National Standards- CTS Section III ir V 
  • Related Research- CTS Section IV
  • Suggestions for Instruction and Assessment- CTS Section II and IV
  • Related CTS Topic Study Guides- CTS topics that align with the probe are listed
The Uncovering Student Ideas Probes can be used in a variety of ways with CTs including but not limited to:
  • Elicitation of participants' ideas prior to engaging in CTS
  • Setting the context for studying a CTS topic by looking at student responses and then doing a CTS to learn more about the topic and student learning
  • An application task for designing your own CTS topic study
  • Examples used with the Designing CTS Formative Assessment Probes Module (CTS Leader's Guide Chapter 6)
  • Source of student work used in the CIEST protocol (CTS Leader's Guide Chapter 7)
  • Source of student data for CTS Action Research (CTS Leader's Guide Chapter 7)
  •  To see a list of probes aligned to CTS topics, click here.
Links to the NSTA Press publisher's page (with free samples) and ordering information (Note: Individual copies can also be ordered through the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance. For large workshop orders, contact NSTA)