Document Type



Doctor of Education


Education, Teaching-Learning Processes

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

James A. Shymansky


Natalie Bolton

Charles Granger

Gayle Wilkinson


Learning progressions are the latest tool to understand the ways science learning occurs and they underlie the structure and framework of the Next Generation Science Standards.Prior research indicated a variety of ways to develop and validate learning progressions and learning progression’s general positive impact on students’ science learning. However, no study has explicitly employed science notebooks as the cornerstone to the development and/or validation processes. Therefore, the research question is: what is the impact on students’ science learning outcomes when a middle school science learning progression is developed and validated using science notebooks as part of an inquiry-based instructional intervention? A rock cycle learning progression based on the systems thinking hierarchy model was developed. Using a causal-comparative case study, the study validated the rock cycle learning progression by implementing a three-week instructional intervention with 22 rising 8thgrade students in an urban charter school. Data were Rock Cycle Assessment pretest and posttest scores, symbolic media, and reflective conclusions. Three important results emerged: a) a statistically non-significant relationship existed between posttest scores of the On-campus and Learning Progression groups, but there was a statistically significant relationship between posttest scores of the Off-campus and Learning Progression groups; b) intervention participants were partially able or unable to describe their science learning; and c) there was moderate to strong association between each symbolic media categorical descriptor and the inquiry phase in which it was produced. The results suggest that the phase-placement of symbolic media in science notebooks influences science learning outcomes.