Information Brief 2013-47

ACT National Curriculum Survey®: K–12 and College Science Educators’ Ratings of Science Content Topics and Science Process Skills

Average Importance Ratings for Science Content Topics and Science Process Skills

Elementary School2.5723.003
Middle School3.0482.956
High School3.0182.795

Note: Importance ratings in the survey were labeled as follows: 0 = Not Important, 1 = Low Importance, . . . 4 = High Importance.

Topics in science curricula fall into two broad categories: content (the “what” of science; that is, the established body of knowledge about physical and natural phenomena) and process (the “how” of science; e.g., making observations and measurements, designing and refining experiments, considering variables, making predictions, and drawing inferences and conclusions).

In the 2012 ACT National Curriculum Survey, on average, college instructors who teach entry-level courses in all science disciplines rated discipline-specific content topics lower in importance than process skills as a prerequisite for success in their courses, but their middle school and high school counterparts generally rated content topics higher in importance than process skills.1 Within K–12, only elementary school teachers rated process skills higher than content topics.

1 ACT, Inc., ACT National Curriculum Survey 2012: Science (Iowa City, IA: Author, 2013).

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