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Science, Technology Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)

Science and Technology/Engineering Concept and Skill Progressions

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is interested in the ongoing research on students learning in science. In order to learn more about this work, the Department solicited summaries of current research from educational researchers that focus on how to sequence student thinking and learning of common Science and Technology/Engineering (STE) topics. The researchers who authored and reviewed the concept and skill progressions presented in the documents below drew from research literature on students' pre-conceptions, conceptual change, and, where available, learning progressions.

What is a concept and skill progression?

Recent learning progression research is beginning to provide a framework for understanding student preconceptions, obstacles to learning, and transitional ideas about the world as they learn science over extended periods of time. Learning progression research is fairly new, however, so for the grade ranges, domains, and/or concepts for which learning progression research is not available, each author made informed recommendations about when certain concepts and skills should be introduced based on other available research, including pre-conception and conceptual change literature. The concept and skill progressions are idealized articulations of how students could progress; they help to convey how to move young children's initial conceptualizations to scientific theory over time. The concept and skill progressions are not, however, meant to limit students from progressing in different ways or at different rates.

The documents below present concept and skill progressions for selected topics within Earth and Space Science, Life Science (including Biology), Physical Science (including Introductory Physics and Chemistry), and Technology/Engineering. These research-based resources can inform work in curriculum development, instruction, and assessment to more effectively support student learning over time.

Please note that the concept and skill progressions are meant to inform and support curriculum and instruction, but are not meant to replace the current Science and Technology/Engineering standards. Curricular and instructional goals should continue to be aligned with current STE standards; the state's STE MCAS tests will also continue to reference current STE standards. A revised set of standards is anticipated in spring, 2012. For more information on the revision process, please see Review STEM page.

We are interested in your feedback

Please direct any questions, comments, feedback, resources or research that may inform edits or additions to these concept and skill progressions to mathsciencetech@doe.mass.edu.

Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document
Earth and Space Science
Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document
Life Science-Biology
Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document
Physical Science-Chemistry/Introductory Physics
Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document
Technology/Engineering


Last Updated: November 17, 2010
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