Responsive Teaching in Science

Developed by: Fred Goldberg, Sharon Bendall, Mike McKean, and Jennifer Radoff

middle schoolhigh schoolintro collegeinter-mediateupper levelgrad school   other

 Intro College Calculus-based
calc based
 Intro College Algebra-based
alg based
 Intro College Conceptual

Mechanics  Electricity / Magnetism  Waves / Optics  Thermal / Statistical  Modern / Quantum +4
Lecture - Small (<30 students)  Recitation/Discussion Session  Lab  Studio

What? A practice of attending and responding to the substance of students' thinking. The instructor's next moves are based on students' emerging ideas, and informed by specific learning goals. Resources include launching questions and annotated videos of responsive teaching in elementary classrooms.

Why? Responsive teaching supports students in developing their own explanations and models that are grounded in cause and effect, evidence, and logical reasoning. At the same time that students learn science concepts, they also learn about the kinds of activities that constitute science.

Why not? Responsive teaching requires skill and training to implement effectively. Teachers must be prepared to respond creatively to unexpected ideas. This approach is not guaranteed to "cover" traditional science content.

Example materials


Classroom video

Student skills developed

Can be adapted for:
  • Designing experiments
  • Metacognition

Instructor effort required

  • High

Resources required

  • Simple lab equipment

Developer's website: Responsive Teaching in Science

You can find free examples of responsive curricula and instructions for enacting them from the Responsive Teaching in Science website.

Bronze Validation
This is the third highest level of research validation, corresponding to:
  • at least 1 of the "based on" categories
  • at least 1 of the "demonstrated to improve" categories
  • at least 1 of the "studied using" categories
(Categories shown below)

Research Validation Summary

Based on Research Into:

  • theories of how students learn
  • student ideas about specific topics

Demonstrated to Improve:

  • conceptual understanding
  • problem-solving skills
  • lab skills
  • beliefs and attitudes
  • attendance
  • retention of students
  • success of underrepresented groups
  • performance in subsequent classes

Studied using:

  • cycle of research and redevelopment
  • student interviews
  • classroom observations
  • analysis of written work
  • research at multiple institutions
  • research by multiple groups
  • peer-reviewed publication