Transforming science education through research-driven innovation

AERA 2023

You won’t want to miss the sessions provided by BSCS Science Learning at this year’s AERA Annual Meeting in Chicago, April 13-16, 2023! Details listed below, or click here for more information (enter in search bar: “BSCS”).

Using Rasch Measurement to Develop 3-D Assessment Tasks to Measure Students’ Understanding of Energy


Cari F. Herrmann-Abell, BSCS Science Learning (Presenting Author)
George E. DeBoer, American Association for the Advancement of Science (Non-Presenting Author)


This study describes the role that Rasch measurement played in the development of assessments aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards, tasks that require students to use science practices along with disciplinary core ideas and cross-cutting concepts to make sense of energy-related phenomena. A set of 27 three-dimensional, multi-item tasks were developed and field tested along with a set of multiple-choice test items focused on disciplinary core ideas. Data was collected from elementary, middle, and high school students from across the U.S. Rasch modeling was used to investigate the fit of the data to the model, the dimensionality of the data, differential functioning of the tasks, the relative difficulties of the tasks, and the performance of students by grade band.


Marriott Roundtable 3

Roundtable Session

Rasch Analysis in K–12 Settings

Date, Time, and Location

Thursday, April 13, 2023, 11:40 a.m.-1:10 p.m. (CDT), Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile, 7th Floor, Grand Ballroom Salon III

“I’m Going to Make a Lake”: Material Agency in Micro-Bit Coding


Sherry H. Hsi, BSCS Science Learning (Presenting Author)
Madalyn Wilson-Fetrow, University of New Mexico (Presenting Author)


While we commonly treat humans as having agency—and even define agency as a human property—research on design has long troubled this notion by treating designing as a conversation with materials (Schön, 1992). From this stance, the materials we offer learners might be unalterable, used functionally but unchanged, or modified dramatically in use (Svihla et al., 2020). In this paper, we examine ways learners treated various materials in a designed paper computing kit. Specifically, we investigated:

  • How do learners negotiate their agency with materials in the context of an informal STEM camp focused on making and radio communications?

Theoretical framework
Posthumanist design looks at design not only in the context of humans, but in the relationships between humans and non-human artifacts (Forlano, 2017). In decentering humans, we consider the ways materials have agency imbued by their creation and form (Knappett & Malafouris, 2008; Pickering, 1993). In problem contexts, multiple agencies exist in tension both from human and non-human agents (Erofeeva, 2019).

Designers decide not only how to arrive at a solution, but the attributes of the solution . We term the ability to make decisions about how to approach a problem as framing agency (Svihla et al., 2021). We pair this with the idea that computing and technology is learned through the lens of students’ own perspectives and cultures (Jackson, 1993; Scott et al., 2015).

Method and Data Sources
We conducted this study as first-cycle design-based research (The Design-Based Research Collective, 2003) aiming to theorize human and material agency. We collected video recordings, interviews, and artifacts of youth participation in a week-long camp. We selected focal students for the current study to highlight variability (N=4).

The camp aims to develop student understanding of wireless radio communication through making. We used micro:bits, the small, BBC-developed computer with its block programming software (Austin et al., 2020) and my:Talkies: a pair of paper templates a micro:bit is mounted into and then folded into a box. The established nature of the my:Talkies indicate they have high agency (White, 2019) and could be potentially coercive.

Students were posed a design scenario for a community in their town in need of radio communication systems. Students completed a pre-ideation activity focused on supporting creativity and empathy (Svihla & Kachelmeier, 2022) before individually planning (Anderson et al., 2017). They had several hours over two days to develop and create their solution. The constraints included needing to communicate to another micro:bit.

Substantiated Conclusions and Scholarly Significance
Students received the same context and base papercraft form (my:Talkies), however, students created a divergent set of designs. They showed low agency over the base form of the my:Talkies, not altering the paper itself. However, they demonstrated their negotiated agency through adding to the my:Talkies and through the coding process. Using the scenario of designing for a city’s future, students generated unique pro-social narratives. The inputs and outputs provided on the micro:bit (i.e. accelerometer, LED) also allow students to make choices.

Structured Poster Session

Whose Agency? What Learning? Whence Power?

Date, Time, and Location

Friday, April 14, 2023, 9:50-11:20 a.m. (CDT), Hyatt Regency Chicago, West Tower – Ballroom Level, Regency A