Assessing and applying students’ understanding of the scientific practices and crosscutting concepts
The Model-Evidence-Link (MEL) and build-a MEL (baMEL) tasks are designed to engage students in scientific practices, including argumentation and critical thinking. We designed a rubric for teachers to assess the various practices and skills students use while completing a MEL or baMEL, based on several NGSS Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs) and Cross Cutting Concepts (CCCs). When applying this rubric, we suggest that teachers only focus on student performance with respect to one SEP or CCC each time they implement a MEL or baMEL. We also developed a transfer task to ascertain how well students are able to perform MEL-related thinking skills, such as identifying a scientific model and alternative (but non-scientific) models, lines of evidence, and plausibility of knowledge claims, in a grade appropriate scientific journal article. The near-transfer activity can help teachers gauge how well students apply their MEL/baMEL skills and can improve students’ scientific literacy.