This is one of 25 assessment probes from the book,” Uncovering Student Ideas in Life Science, Volume 1: 25 New Formative Assessment Probes”, by Page Keeley. All assessment probes in this collection are aligned to a particular science concept and field-tested by several teachers in classes of diverse student backgrounds. The “Light and Dark” formative assessment probe elicits student ideas about the relationships among photosynthesis, respiration, and light in plants. The probe presents statements from five fictitious students who are discussing whether plants carry out photosynthesis and respiration under conditions of light and dark. The probe might be used to reveal student ideas before, during, or after instruction on the processes of photosynthesis and respiration. The probe might also be paired with a demonstration or investigation in which students collect empirical evidence to support their response to the probe.
An assessment probe is a purposefully designed, multi-grade level question that asks students to provide a two-part response. Part one consists of a selected response, and part two asks students to provide an explanation. This format helps teachers identify students’ existing ideas about phenomena or concepts, which can help inform further instruction. Assessment probes can also be used to engage students, encourage thinking, and promote sharing of ideas. When implementing probes in the classroom, the authors suggest using the probe to encourage teacher-student, student-teacher, and student-student feedback on learning. Each probe is accompanied by teacher notes that include information on the purpose of the probe, related science concepts, an explanation of all answer choices, curricular and instructional considerations, suggestions for administering the probe, related standards (National Science Education Standards, 1996), related ideas in Benchmarks for Science Literacy (AAAS, 1993), related research, description of common student misconceptions, suggestions for instruction and assessment, and related NSTA science store publications and journal articles.