Research in Benchmarks
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Scientific inquiry is built on the interaction of evidence and logical reasoning-the importance of careful observation, the role of observations in supporting a line of reasoning, and the value of reasoning in suggesting new observations. For basic literacy, students should be able to observe and describe things accurately and understand why those things are important in scientific inquiry. At the same time, they should understand what constitutes good reasoning, and practice judging reasons in others' arguments and in their own.

Instructionally, it may be helpful to think about the benchmarks in this map in conjunction with the scientific content in the other chapters of Benchmarks, particularly when student-inquiry activities involve observation, gathering evidence, and making arguments. Related topics in Benchmarks that will be mapped in the next edition of Atlas will provide further context for the benchmarks in this map. They include measurement, estimation, and the use of technology to improve observation and measurement.


Many early ideas and skills come together in the 3-5 benchmark "Scientists do not pay much attention to claims...," which has a wide fan of connections to later benchmarks. It provides a reasonably good summation of the central ideas, framed in language appropriate to the 3-5 level.

The lines of reasoning strand progresses from giving and looking for reasons in K-2, to evaluating reasons in 3-5, to evaluating lines of reasoning in 6-8 and 9-12 (when students have some understanding of logic and inference). This strand also includes a benchmark about how reasoning can be distorted, which is also in the Avoiding Bias in Science map. Further benchmarks on detailed principles of reasoning can be found in Benchmarks Chapter 9: THE MATHEMATICAL WORLD and will appear in the next edition of Atlas.

In the observations and evidence strand, the relationship between evidence and theory is hinted at in four early-grades benchmarks that also appear in the Scientific Theories map. In addition, the 9-12 benchmark in that strand, "Sometimes, scientists can control conditions...," appears in and is supported by benchmarks in the Scientific Investigations map.