Ten science teachers are piloting a computer-based curriculum tool, Science Search, in one of their eighth-grade classes. Science Search is a Web search tool that helps students access a vast array of science Web sites for young people. Recommended use of the tool involves students forming into small groups (three or four) and meeting for one class period every month to develop a hypothetical scientific investigation for a current topic they are studying. Each group is expected to work together to produce in writing a valid scientific question, one or more specific hypotheses, and a workable methodology for using Science Search to gather relevant information.
The evaluation for the pilot phase of Science Search focuses on three broad formative evaluation questions, the answers to which will inform revisions to the curriculum: (1) How do students typically interact as they use Science Search? (2) How do teachers typically support the use of Science Search in class? (3) What is the quality of the work products that students generate when using Science Search? The evaluation team agree that in-class observations need to be conducted to answer the first two questions.
Your job is to recommend and justify an observation approach to the evaluators.