Fall 2019


Restricted Capstone Project

Degree Name



Anne Crampton

Content Expert

Kate Krieger


This project was focused on incorporating an outdoor investigation paired with scientific argumentation to determine student understanding of middle school science concepts. Students used the claims, evidence, reasoning (CER) framework to share knowledge related to sustainability and biodiversity, using a number of terms to support this understanding. This project seeks to clarify why and how outdoor investigations can be used on a school campus, along with guidelines for helping students to collect evidence, and develop claims and reasoning based on their data and known scientific concepts. Outdoor learning draws on the research of many, including James & Williams (2017) whom support the back and forth between classroom and field experiences to strengthen the long term learning of science concepts, the strengthening of relationships, and considerations when teaching and learning outdoors. Thomas (2019) summarizes the non-negotiable strategies for effective outdoor instruction, which involves students actually being outdoors, allowing experiential learning, challenging students by choice, and managing risk. Concerning CER, McNeill & Martin’s work (2011) lays the foundation, explaining the components that must be used for CER to be successful with secondary students. Students practiced skills using scientific vocabulary related to biodiversity and ecological sustainability to write an argument using a single point rubric to evaluate their work. From this project students develop and will maintain ongoing practice in scientific argumentation skills that will be used for future investigations in various units. Other educators in the district were provided with an in house example of how current and future science standards can be used to reach grade level standards as well as upcoming crosscutting concepts (scientific argumentation).

Project Type

Backyard Biodiversity


outdoor instruction, allowing experiential learning, challenging students by choice, and managing risk.








School of Education Student Capstone Projects