Science Education Department (SED)
 MOSART-LS: Misconceptions Oriented Standards-based Resource for Teachers in Life Science

The purpose of this NSF funded Research, Evaluation and Technical Assistance (RETA) project is to develop rigorous assessment tools that will aid in generating evidence-based measures of MSP projects’ impact on K-8 teachers’ life science subject-matter knowledge, and relevant pedagogical content knowledge aligned to the NRC’s National Science Education Standards in K-8 life science content. Building upon studies of student conceptions, we will generate specialized assessments that measure the degree to which teachers hold the accepted scientific view represented by each of the 31 K-8 Content Standards in life science. We will develop 250 valid new items and gather data from a nationally representative sample of 8000 students and their teachers, characterizing the content knowledge of both. Subsets of test items will be organized into instruments and validated by content experts. When added to our existing test item bank, these new life science items will also allow us to construct "general science" instruments to measure the concepts taught across all of the NRC content standards at the K-4 and 5-8 grade bands.

We will use these items also to generate assessments that measure the degree to which teachers hold the accepted scientific view represented by the national standards in life science and familiarity with their own students’ ideas, a measure of pedagogical content knowledge. The application of psychometric models aligned with cognitive research findings will help to establish scales and subtests that accurately gauge the scientific understanding needed for teaching elementary school and middle school life science.

The broadest impact of MOSART-LS will be that the availability of these tools will serve teacher preparation and enhancement programs by allowing for planning to strengthen teacher content knowledge and awareness of student ideas and measurement of program effectiveness through pre-and post-testing. We have found that coupling their own students’ performance on specific test items with the predictions of teachers provides a reflective group exercise that will reinforce the sharing of effective teaching practices. Use of these instruments will help to familiarize both teachers and professional developers with the national standards and benchmarks. Incorporation of K-4 and 5-8 tests into our online assessment system will make administration easier for NSF MSPs and allow the aggregation of data from participating MSP Institutes and teacher preparation programs. This synergy will help build a knowledge base to refine and create new courses and programs for teachers. National results from teachers’ classrooms will provide a basis for extension or revision of the national standards. Researchers and state policy makers will have additional tools to measure impact of subject matter knowledge on student gains.

A schedule of availability dates for the K-4 and 5-8 tests is kept updated on the Project MOSART home page.

P.I.: Philip Sadler

For more information, please contact: Hal Coyle, hcoyle@cfa (add


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