Our project is involved in creating tools and resources to support both the assessment and development of preservice elementary teachers’ CKT related to the topic of matter. Two tools and resources, described below, are accessible to registered users when logged in to the site. Click the link in the top right menu to create an account if you have not done so already.

CKT Assessments

Each CKT matter item is aligned to the “Work of Teaching Science” (WOTS) framework, which details the science-specific teaching practices that are most critical for beginning elementary science teachers (Mikeska, Kurzum, Steinberg, & Xu, 2018). To create each item, we had to use content-specific resources, such as research studies, educative curriculum guides and materials, and practitioner literature and knowledge, to generate a list of instructional scenarios that involve elementary science teachers leveraging their subject matter knowledge as they engage in these specific science teaching practices. This work involved identifying the content challenges elementary teachers face when teaching science within each of the five key topic areas within matter and its interactions (properties of matter and their measurements; changes in matter; conservation of matter; model of matter; and materials); these challenges include the work teachers do to identify and select instructional activities, science phenomena, demos, and models used within each of these topic areas. The instructional scenarios were intended to directly map onto the science teaching practices described in the framework.

Our CKT assessment development working groups leveraged a variety of content-specific resources to generate these instructional scenarios and identify the CKT required by elementary teachers in each topic area. For each topic area, we aimed to design CKT items targeting all seven instructional tools categories in the WOTS framework. Each CKT matter item was aligned to a specific science teaching practice within one of the WOTS instructional tool categories, as well as to a specific science topic (e.g., changes in matter).

Each CKT matter item includes an opening scenario that describes an instructional situation and provides relevant information, such as information about students, learning goals, a classroom, or where the activity is located within an instructional sequence. These CKT items may also include various static stimuli such as copies of students’ written work or images of science instructional materials, as well as more dynamic stimuli such as video or audio snippets providing access to student talk or work or showing students interacting with one another or teachers in an instructional setting. As a main goal of this work is to develop an instrument that can be scored efficiently and used as an indicator system on a large scale, we only developed discrete, automatically-scorable items.

CKT Packets

Educative curriculum materials (ECM) are designed to help “increase teachers’ knowledge in specific instances of instructional decision making but also help them develop more general knowledge that they can apply flexibly in new situations” (Davis & Krajcik, 2005, p. 3). In this project, we have created educative curriculum materials for teacher educators that are intended to provide them with support for developing elementary teachers’ CKT. Each set of materials focuses on CKT at the intersection of a specific content idea (e.g., conservation of matter) and a science teaching practice (e.g., eliciting student ideas).

The development of the CKT Packets was a collaborative effort, and followed an empirically and theoretically grounded design process. The CKT packet model was adapted with the authors permission from a model used in mathematics education (Nabors, Oláh, Howell, Lai, & Delucia, 2018; 2020). Similar to the ‘mini-cases’ in mathematics education (Oláh, Howell, Lai, & DeLucia, 2018), each CKT Packet is built around a particular task (similar to those on the assessment). These tasks are flexibly designed for use in a variety of course contexts (e.g., content courses or methods courses) and professional development settings. Educative features of the CKT packets are intended to support teacher educators in engaging elementary teachers and teacher candidates in the task in ways that support the development of their CKT. Specific supports are provided to help teacher educators anticipate, elicit, and understand elementary teachers’ thinking in regard to the focus CKT learning goals.


Davis, E. A., & Krajcik, J. S. (2005). Designing educative curriculum materials to promote teacher learning. Educational Researcher34(3), 3-14.

Mikeska, J.N., Kurzum, C., Steinberg, J., & Xu, J. (2018). Assessing elementary science teachers’ content knowledge for teaching science for the ETS Educator Series: Pilot results. ETS Research Report Series. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service. doi:10.1002/ets2.12207

Nabors Oláh, L., Howell, H., Lai, Y., DeLucia, M., Kim, E. (2020). Mr. Lee’s Dilemma: An Instructional Mini-Case on Evaluating Student Approaches to Comparing Fractions. (ETS Research Memorandum Series). Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.

Oláh, L.N., Howell, H., Lai, Y., & DeLucia, M. (2018, February). Using mini-cases to support pre-service teachers’ Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching. Paper presented at the meeting of the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE), Houston, TX.