The CBAL science competency model (Figure 1) and its related learning progressions were developed by reviewing existing literature from the learning sciences and science education fields, which have placed increasing emphasis on learners’ developing conceptual knowledge and their ability to apply their scientific knowledge in order to reason with evidence. Our competency model for science includes five general dimensions:

  • Core ideas (i.e., subdisciplinary conceptual knowledge, such as the theory of evolution in the discipline of the life sciences)
  • Science practices (i.e., knowledge of how to produce knowledge)
  • Crosscutting concepts (i.e., concepts that bridge disciplinary boundaries and provide organizational frameworks for connecting ideas)
  • Epistemic beliefs and metacognition (i.e., beliefs regarding knowledge and knowing, and strategies of knowing about knowing)
  • Motivation (i.e., values, interest, and engagement)

Our competency model is informed by and is consistent with research on teaching and learning (Duschl, Schweingruber, & Shouse, 2007), as well as current frameworks informing standards for science education in the United States, such as the National Research Council (NRC) framework for K-12 science education (NRC, 2012), and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS; NGSS Lead States, 2013). For reasons of feasibility and practicality, our current prototype tasks measure only three of these five dimensions: core ideas, science practices, and crosscutting concepts, which are the dimensions of the NGSS in which student proficiency will be assessed. The other two dimensions, that is, epistemic beliefs/metacognition and motivation, serve as important design principles that inform the design of the CBAL science tasks. Epistemic knowledge and metacogntive strategies as well as motivational dispositions are important in science learning because they have mediating effects on the the acquisition of knowledge that constitutes the core ideas, science practices, and crosscutting concepts. The dotted lines in Figure 1 between the two secondary dimensions and three primary dimensions (core ideas, science practices, and crosscutting concepts) represent mediating effects between dimensions. For example, the level of student motivation is predicted to mediate the development of students' conceptual understanding of science core ideas, students' level of understanding about the nature of science (i.e., epistemic knowledge), and students' ability to reflect on the status of their conceptual knowledge (i.e., metacognition). The competency model also predicts that the epistemic and motivational dimensions are interrelated and influence each other's development and quality.
competency model new 1.JPG
Figure 1. CBAL science competency model.

Note: The highlighted boxes indicate the three dimensions for which we currently are developing prototype tasks.


In our competency model, we identify the candidate core ideas, which are categorized into three broad domains: physical science, life science, and earth and space science. [read more]
The science practices include five central practices: developing and using models, constructing scientific explanations, constructing arguments, engaging in empirical investigations, and communicating and collaborating. [read more]
The crosscutting concepts that we focus on include systems thinking, cause and effect, and flow and conservation of matter and energy. [read more]
In other sections of this wiki, we describe specific definitions of each competency in the model and indicate the importance of each for becoming proficient in science.



such as the theory of evolution in the discipline of the life sciences