Graduate Research Papers


Graduate Research Paper (UNI Access Only)


Next Generation Science Standards (Education); Science--Study and teaching--Iowa;


Education today is faced with a variety of new challenges brought on in an ever-changing world. With the rise in use of new technologies, in particular the internet, instruction and assessment of learning also have invited the need to adapt with the times (Anderson, de los Santos, Bodbyl, Covitt, Edwards, Hancock, & Welch, 2016). The technological age we currently live in calls for a change in how we teach students in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The accessibility to information has placed more of an emphasis on problem solving, modeling, and reasoning skills. With the emphasis being placed on these skills, the traditional form of testing does not adequately measure the required standards appropriately. Of these issues, one stands out as an area for educational improvement but is lacking in the literature. The State of Iowa has become the 15th State to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and the Dubuque Community School District has been implementing the standards into the curriculum since 2015 (Next Generation Science Standards, n.d.). Questions that are asked on assessments should relate to the learning targets that address the standard written in the NGSS (Moss and Brookhart, 2012.

Arguments can be made for a variety of reasons why this shift to writing explicit learning targets is occurring. Some administrators may think it’s a way to improve graduation rates, some teachers might think it’s an idea to create more work for themselves and to rewrite tests, and parents might think it’s the best way to be fair to their child. Regardless of what causes this push, the end goal is the same for everyone, that being improved student achievement. Administrators, teachers, and parents all want their students to get an exceptional and fair education. Post-secondary professionals want their incoming students to have a good background knowledge so that they succeed in their classes, programs, and college or university. The aim of this study is directed at testing whether or not the presence of learning targets within assessments, as well as their position within the assessment impacts student achievement.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Education


Science Education Program

First Advisor

Jeff Morgan, Advisor

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (32 pages)



File Format


Off-Campus Download