Glossary of science education terms

AssessmentMeasurement tools such as questionnaires, interviews, surveys, pre- and post-tests,
    and others.
EvaluationSystematic study using qualitative and/or quantitative assessments. Examples include program
    evaluation (Was the program conducted in accordance with its goals and objectives? Were
    its goals and objectives achieved?) and outcomes evaluation (How are participants changed by
    participating in the program?).
MatrixLayout or alignment of concepts and skills with respect to standards at a point within a semester-
    or year-long curriculum, grade level, and/or assessments. Matrices are often used to help teachers
    and administrators design curricula within and across grade levels, especially to determine the
    amount of time or attention to be spent on a given concept or skill.
OutreachEfforts by colleges, universities, research centers, museums, or science centers to provide technical,
    material, or personnel resources to precollege education settings, both formal (in classrooms with
    teachers) and informal (in museums, science centers, and science clubs with informal educators).
Outreach personnelPersonnel whose primary responsibility is to facilitate interactions and share resources among K–12
    students, their teachers, and research scientists.
PedagogyTeaching approaches and methodologies. Much science education research supports the idea of
    content-specific pedagogy, wherein particular content and skills are taught using certain content-
    specific methodologies (e.g., scientific inquiry is best taught by engaging students in designing
    and conducting experiments; see Bransford et al. 1999).
Science educatorPersonnel whose primary responsibility is teacher education.
Scientific inquiryThe process of asking and answering questions to better understand scientific concepts by designing
    and conducting experiments. Classroom inquiry can take many forms depending on the extent
    of direction by the teacher (i.e., What guidelines does the teacher provide?) vs. the students
    (i.e., How much autonomy do the students have?).
StandardsSpecific content and skills that a student is expected to know after completing a course or by a
    certain point in their education. For an in-depth discussion about standards, see the Winter 2002
    issue of Cell Biology Education (; Tanner and Allen 2002).
TeacherPerson whose primary responsibility is direct instruction of precollege students.
  • There is endless debate among scientists, science educators, and other professionals about how to define these terms, as well as entire fields dedicated to their study. For the purposes of this article, we have defined them above.