National Research Council Holds Meeting on SBS Sciences in K-12 Education

November 21, 2011

by Paula Skedsvold

On November 17-18, 2011, the National Research Council’s Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education held a meeting to discuss strategies for increasing attention to the social and behavioral sciences in K-12 education. The planning meeting was held in response to the lack of attention given to the SBS sciences in the NRC’s report, A Framework for K-12 Science Education, released in July 2011. The framework will be used to create science standards for all students through 12th grade.

In the Framework report, the NRC describes the omission of the SBS sciences (as well as statistics and computer science) as a limitation. The NRC Committee stated that “…these important disciplines need their own framework for defining core concepts to be learned at the K-12 level and that learning (the development of understanding of content and practices) in the physical, life, earth, and space sciences and engineering should be strongly linked with parallel learning in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences.”

The goal for the planning meeting was to “examine the state of practice and research on teaching social, behavioral and economic sciences in K-12 education” and possible roles for the NRC in supporting the teaching of these sciences in K-12. Although the meeting title, goals, and agenda set the stage for a discussion of the SBS sciences in K-12 broadly, a major focus of the discussion centered on the place of SBS sciences within the K-12 science curriculum.Sessions included: History of Efforts to Include SBE Sciences in K-12 Education; The State of SBE Sciences in K-12 Education; Research on Teaching and Learning in the SBE Sciences; Options for Inclusion or Expansion of SBE Sciences in the K-12 Curriculum; and Strategies and Lessons from Other Disciplines. Attendees also met in small groups to discuss strategies for more fully integrating SBS sciences in K-12 education. 

Both long- and short-term goals and strategies emerged from the discussions. These included: the transformation of “science” to ensure inclusion of the SBS sciences; the infusion of SBS sciences in the K-12 science curriculum; development of SBS chapters that parallel those for other sciences in the Framework report; development of recommendations for research in this area; and the creation of assessments to support the infusion of SBS sciences in the curriculum. 

The meeting generated many ideas and enthusiasm for moving forward, but specific next steps are still under consideration. The NRC may have a role in preparing a report for the SBS sciences in K-12 STEM Education, but there is also a need for networking and collaboration across SBS scientific societies to reach the goals. FABBS will keep its societies abreast of any developments in this area.

See meeting agenda and other details »