Science is a process of defining and testing theories in disciplines such as physics, chemistry, life, the environment, etc. More importantly, science is an ongoing discovery of these topics, a fluid and dynamic system in which new knowledge is built on a strong foundation of past knowledge.
This being said, how can anyone expect students to truly internalize science from a dated textbook and stale test preparation materials alone? To begin to become science literate, one must know basic scientific rules and concepts, which very well could be learned in a lecture- and book-type setting. However, to fully obtain this literacy, the student must readily apply the basic definitions, concepts and processes of science to NEW problems. The only way this level of knowledge can be reached is through inquiry learning in a contructivist, student-centered setting.
Could a multiple-choice, standardized exam ever be an effective method of judging a student’s growth in this subject area? The answer is no in my opinion. Utilizing this method of assessment and pressuring schools to perform or perish only results in students knowing and regurgitating facts and a dislike for science. In addtion, as stated by Dr. Hoge, “mastery of facts is not necessarily understanding!”
In short, science, by nature, is a learn-by-doing subject that is driven by inquisitive minds. Why does this work? What will happen if I…? How often does this…? Without questions and hands-on manipulation of variables, science is merely Reading with more difficult terms. The best way, and in some cases the only way, to teach science is by introducing basic concepts a then letting students discover the rest with the teacher as a guide.