Learning about matter serves as an important and critical foundation for understanding many other scientific ideas. Understanding what matter is, forms in which it exists, properties of matter, and conservation of matter in the elementary grades supports students in being able to explain a variety of phenomena including melting and freezing, as well as larger processes such as the water cycle. However, despite its importance as a foundation to science learning, the concept of matter is both complex to teach and difficult to learn (Talanquer, 2009; Tsarpalis & Sevian, 2013). Furthermore, the Next Generation Science Standards represent a fundamental shift in how matter is taught at the elementary level. In particular, addressing the idea that “matter exists as particles that are too small to see” (rather than identifying specific particles such as atoms) at the elementary level places new demands on elementary teachers to determine how and when to develop students’ understanding of this matter concept to explain real-world phenomena.
Effective teaching requires understanding that goes beyond merely knowing the subject matter and includes professional knowledge that teachers draw upon as they engage in the work of teaching within a specific discipline–content knowledge for teaching (CKT).
Supporting the development of teachers’ CKT for matter requires that we have valid and reliable assessments to measure the impact of professional development programs and instructional materials developed for use in teacher education.
Western Washington University and ETS are collaborating to develop resouces to support the development and assessment of elementary teachers’ CKT for teaching matter. Use the menu options above to learn more about our project. You can create a free account in order to access CKT assessment items and instructional materials for teacher educators.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grants DRL-1814275 and DRL-1813254. This four year project from 2018 to 2022 consists of the research and development of assessment instruments and instructional materials to support the development of elementary teachers’ content knowledge for teaching about matter. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.