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Main | Activity 1-1 | Activity 1-2 | Activity 1-3

Step 1. Identify Learner Needs and Justify Project

ABOUT THIS STEP

In step 1 your team learns more about the key characteristics of inquiry-based classrooms by completing three activities. Through these activities your team identifies a target audience, partners with a school district, identifies the specific learner characteristics to be targeted as you design your investigation, and creates the first deliverable for the Virtual Design Center, your project rationale.

Alignment and Design Space
During step 1 you interview your partner school district and review the published literature to assess your audience. Your investigation involves questions such as, What are these learners like? What is their level of physical development? What are their strengths? What are their typical likes and dislikes? By considering your learners’ characteristics, you ensure that your design meets their needs and enhances their learning experience (see Figure 1).

Image showing figure 1- the learner characteristics parameter of the Virtual Design Center design space.  Please have someone assist you with this.

Figure 1. The learner characteristics parameter of the Virtual Design Center design space.

You use the characteristics of your learners to make decisions about the remaining five parameters of your design space. Focusing on the learner characteristics first helps you design a strong, well-integrated learning activity.

Dimensions of Inspiration
Understanding your target learners and their needs is essential for the design of inspiring learning activities. This activity helps you build initial expectations on the learners’ current level of understanding of the intended topic area (mental models). In order to inspire learners, the activity should provide the proper level of difficulty so that learners see themselves engaging in the activity (identity and self-efficacy). At the same time, it should give enough challenges so that they can have a sense of accomplishment and imagine themselves moving beyond their current academic levels (identity and imagination).

Activities and NASA Review Criteria Matrix
The matrix below summarizes the activities to be completed in this step and explains how to meet NASA’s product review criteria.

Activity

Summary/Deliverable

NASA’s Product Review

Review a learning environment that has met NASA’s product review criteria.

These activities address the following review criteria:

A-2. Quality and Appropriateness
B-4. Partnership/ Sustainability
F-12. Diversity

Read Virtual Design Center Step 1: NASA Criteria Connect

Identify a target audience and search for a partnering school district that will provide needs assessment data for your target population.

Interview your partner school district and review the key learner characteristics that describe your target audience.

Complete Deliverable 1: Project Rationale.

Start the activities and return to this page when you are finished.

DEBRIEFING
You have created a rationale and identified a partner school for your project. Now you have a better understanding of the characteristics of your learners. Your team is probably beginning to formulate ideas for the inquiry-learning activity. Take notes on the content area based on where you see more needs for your target learners.

Read the introduction on this page and reflect on the alignment, inspiration, and NASA criteria in relation to your activities. Once your team is satisfied with the step 1 deliverable, submit it to the discussion board and share your experience for step 1. Your facilitator will review your document and provide feedback.

In step 2 you will select national science standards that will serve as the learning goal for your inquiry-based activity. You will also select science resources to support the activity. When you are ready, go to step 2.

Main | Activity 1-1 | Activity 1-2 | Activity 1-3

 

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