Science can seem like a wonderful mystery being unfolded to those who understand it and a mystery that just continues to get more complicated by the day to those who don’t.
The study of science encompasses within it the study of the universe and every single thing inside it. It has a very wide scope and usually takes an interdisciplinary approach which includes having to understand various mathematical constructs, comprehending scientific articles and studies written in advanced English, etc.
This, while seems wonderful, can become a daunting task for those who have learning differences. This is where Individualized Education Plans save the day and help students better access and understand the amazing world of science. This blog highlights what IEP goals for science can look like and different strategies to achieve them.
Science IEP goals
Students with special needs and learning differences do not tend to benefit from regular classroom education and curriculums. This is why Individualized Education Plans for students with special needs have been mandated by the government to ensure that they get the quality of education they deserve. A 2012 study did a comprehensive analysis of how the needs of students with learning differences can be met so that they benefit from science education. It found that various types of support and scaffolds from the teachers including IEPs, help these students better achieve their science goals, score at par with the rest of their class, and make overall education more inclusive and beneficial for all.
Another 2008 study found that when teachers involved in STEM programs, including Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math education, developed several workshops and a year-long educational program in science to help students in understanding their interests and consider science as a future career option, they received positive feedback from both parents and students. The same students who earlier found science to be tedious and troublesome and looked at it as something they can’t wait to stop studying, after these specialized workshops, found science to be extremely interesting and thought they could do well if they did decide to pursue it.
As evidenced, when implemented appropriately and used for all the opportunities they provide, Individualized Education Plans can turn a student’s biggest weakness into their lifelong strength, interest, and passion. Effectively implementing an IEP, requires setting appropriate goals. IEP goals for science can look like this:
- The student will accurately understand and use various rudimentary scientific terms. For example, the student will understand what encompasses chemistry, physics, and biology.
- The student will be able to relate abstract theoretical concepts to their real-life occurrences and application in their lives. For example, when learning about electricity, the student will be able to understand why inserting a metal object inside a switchboard is not a good idea.
- The student will be able to name and use various basic scientific instruments for making measurements and conducting experiments. For example, the student will know what a scale is, and how to weigh and measure different chemicals using test tubes before mixing them to create a reaction.
- The student will be able to explain the basic concepts they have previously learned that are important for understanding more advanced concepts. For example, the student will be able to explain various characteristics of atoms and molecules that affect different states of matter.
- The student will learn, remember and show all the steps while solving numerical questions.
- The student will learn various processes and differentiate among the ones previously learned. For example, when the student learns about evaporation, they will still be able to recall what condensation is and differentiate between them
- The student will be able to diagrammatically represent and name various parts. For example, parts of the human digestive system, parts of a plant, parts of the brain, etc.
- The student will be able to use the scientific principles learned in class to perform experiments. For example, the student will be able to create a reaction between baking soda and vinegar to create sodium acetate or hot ice.
- The student will be able to score a pre-decided percentage, for example, 75% in their school quizzes, tests, and assignments.
- The student will engage in self-study of the given material and prepare a list of questions based on what they understood. This can include doubts they had about the material, queries about how a phenomenon shows up in the real world, etc.
How can teachers ensure that the Science IEP Goals impact students positively?
Special Educators and teachers employ various strategies to ensure that an Individualised Education Plan is meeting its goals effectively. They make customized study materials, deliver one on one lessons, and constantly keep track of the individual’s progress. To further help meet these goals, educators and students can use various tools and techniques:
Science is the study of the world and life as we know it. Just studying theoretical concepts in books and hearing about them from the teacher isn’t doing justice to the vast applicability of the most basic of concepts.
Scientific principles like friction, gravity, cells of plants and animals and their parts, chemical reactions, etc. can be taught through first-hand experimentation.
This will directly involve the student in the learning process and ensure that they understand and retain the concept and its underlying theory for much longer.
2. Classroom Activities
Just engaging with scientific books full of theoretical jargon can get monotonous and boring. Inculcating various group games, competitions, and activities in the curriculum to teach, enhance and assess scientific knowledge can not only boost interest and participation in the class but in the subject as well.
The educator can prepare several activities for students to do like go out, find a plant and identify its various parts or engage them using contests by dividing the class into two teams and having a science trivia or treasure hunt.
3. Online Games
With the advancements in the field of educational technology, almost every possible topic related to science has a free online game available.
These games slowly but progressively increase in the level of difficulty, teaching the player an increasing amount of information, all while they are having fun.
Science is an incredibly fascinating subject that when taught effectively to students, can help them in their daily lives. Students with special needs and learning differences do not benefit from regular classroom methods of teaching and curriculums. This is where Individualized Education Plans save the day and implement goals that can help these students achieve their learning needs. Hence, from executive functioning to spelling, these goals can help the kids’ manifolds.
Furthermore, these can look like understanding basic scientific terms, relating abstract theoretical concepts with real-life phenomena, using basic scientific instruments, solving numerical while showing all the work, diagrammatically representing various parts and functions of an animal or body part, etc.
Using techniques like experiments, classroom contests and activities and online games can help in meeting these goals more swiftly and effectively.
- Villanueva, M. G., Taylor, J., Therrien, W., & Hand, B. (2012). Science education for students with special needs. Studies in Science Education, 48(2), 187-215.
- Lam, P., Doverspike, D., Zhao, J., Zhe, J., & Menzemer, C. (2008). An evaluation of a STEM program for middle school students on learning disability-related IEPs. Journal of STEM education, 9(1).