Framing and Assessing Scientific Inquiry Practices

  • Russell TytlerEmail author
  • Peta White


In this chapter, we argue that the focus on STEM as an interdisciplinary construct has placed greater emphasis on the contextual applications of science and mathematics practices. For science, this has resulted in a need to more clearly articulate the nature of scientific epistemic practice, including supporting and assessing scientific inquiry skills. We describe a project that involved the development and trialing of secondary level practical inquiry activities representing contemporary STEM practices and ideas. Teachers and students engaging with these activities were introduced to an inquiry scaffold tool that articulated key features of scientific practices and made explicit how to develop and refine practical work to focus on specific skills. We argue, from this experience with secondary science teachers, the need to develop strategies to focus on these specific practices and the need to develop compatible assessment approaches. As examples of how these skills might be assessed in practice, we draw on a separate project in which we refined a set of assessment tasks that situated inquiry skills within engaging contexts and procedures for teachers to make judgments about student performance levels. We outline our experiences of working with teachers with examples of tasks and rubric development.


Science inquiry skills development Inquiry skills assessment processes Formative assessment 



ASELL for Schools—Victorian Node academic team included Leader Associate Professor Kieran Lim and Dr. John Long along with Dr. Peta White. The ASELL for Schools project was funded under the Australian Maths and Science Partnership Program. Science Inquiry Assessment team included Professor Russell Tytler, Dr. Gail Chittleborough, and Dr. Peta White. The development and validation process was funded by the Victorian Department of Education and Training.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Arts and EducationDeakin UniversityGeelongAustralia

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