Science Practices Diagram
Grouping the 8 Science Practices into Investigating, Sensemaking, and Critiquing
When thinking about the science practices, we find that it can be overwhelming (particularly for those new to NGSS) to think about each of the eight practices. In addition, the science practices are not independent, but rather they overlap and work synergistically in classrooms (Bell, Bricker, Tzou, Lee & Van Horne, 2012). Consequently, we developed 3 groups for the practices: Investigating Practices, Sensemaking Practices and Critiquing Practices (McNeill, Katsh-Singer & Pelletier, 2015).
The Investigating Practices focus on asking questions and conducting experiments about the Natural World. The product of those investigations is Data. The Sensemaking Practices analyze the data looking for patterns and relationships in order to develop Explanations and Models. A key element of science, which is often left out of k-12 instruction, is critique. The Critiquing Practices focus on evaluating and arguing about the different explanations and models in order to develop a stronger understanding of the natural world.
The table below illustrates one way to group the eight science practices into – Investigating Practices, Sensemaking Practices and Critiquing Practices.
1. Asking questions
3. Planning and carrying out investigations
5. Using mathematical and computational thinking
2. Developing and using models
4. Analyzing and interpreting data
6. Constructing explanations
7. Engaging in argument from evidence
8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information
This is an oversimplification, because any one practice (such as modeling) can fall into a different category depending on how it is being used in a lesson. However, we feel these groupings can be helpful to identify areas that need more focus in science curriculum and/or instruction (e.g. sensemaking or critiquing) as well as can be productive conversation starters for shifting science instruction to align more closely with the ambitious goals in NGSS.