With the increasing interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) curricula comes the need for evidence backing these programs. One such science program in the U.S. is The BSCS Inquiry Approach, a comprehensive high school science approach based on three key concepts: constructivism, coherence, and cohesiveness. The materials are built around the 5E process (engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate). Teaching focuses on evaluating students’ current understanding and using inquiry methods to move them to higher understandings. Each of the science disciplines (physical science, life science, earth science, and science and society) is composed of four chapters that repeat common themes, which advance over a three-year period. Designing and carrying out experiments in small groups is important in all topics. Teachers receive seven days of professional development each year, including a three-day summer institute and four one-day sessions, enabling sharing of experiences and introducing new content over time.
To determine the effects of The BSCS Inquiry Approach on student achievement, BSCS conducted a two-year cluster-randomized study of the intervention that compared students in grades 10-11 in nine experimental (n=1,509 students) and nine control high schools (n=1,543 students) in Washington State. A total of 45% of students qualified for free or reduced-price lunches. The evaluation findings were:
- At the end of two years, the BSCS students scored higher than controls (effect size=+0.09, p<.05) on the Washington State Science Assessments.
- Class observations identified that BSCS classrooms engaged students more frequently in activities that aligned with the framework for the Next Generation Science Standards.
Besides ,the authors suggested that the findings also demonstrated the combination of research-based curriculum materials and curriculum-based PD was effective.
Source (Open Access):Taylor, J. A., Getty, S.R., Kowalski, S.M., Wilson, C.D., Carlson, J., & Scotter. P.V. (2015). An efficacy trial of research-based curriculum materials with curriculum-based professional development. CO: BSCS Science Learning.