A major goal of education is to help students think effectively with the knowledge they have. In science classrooms, this goal becomes manifest by engaging students in scientific reasoning. The emphasis on thinking and reasoning processes in assessments in science classrooms communicates messages about the nature of science. Knowledge and thinking are inextricably linked. A well-structured knowledge base can sustain higher levels of reasoning than poorly structured knowledge. Students use reasoning processes whenever they work to make sense of things while learning. Reasoning can occur in science classes while students listen to a lecture, read a text, do labs, run computer simulations, search library or Internet sources, participate in debates, do applied projects, prepare and give public exhibitions of their work, and so on. Verbal data gathered in interactive settings can provide a useful, but undertapped source of information about students' reasoning as they do science. Scientific reasoning fundamentally is a dialogic process, whether undertaken independently or with others. Using interactive protocols to assess students' reasoning can be quite time consuming and so, it can be especially challenging for teachers who must fit assessment activities into days filled with many other responsibilities. One practical suggestion is to hand over responsibility for interactive reasoning assessments largely to students.
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