Designing a Webcast Assessment

Students answering questions during a Smithsonian Science How webcast

Students ask questions during a live Smithsonian Science How webcast. Every webcast offers viewer participation using live chat and polls. Smithsonian photo by Wei Qian.

Assessing Impact on Students of Smithsonian Science How Webcast Packages

The Smithsonian Science How webcasts with Topic Resources can support your curriculum in leading to mastery of performance expectations from the Next Generation Science Standards.

In designing assessments of student understanding, consider the following strands of science learning (National Academies 2010). The most effective science learning mirrors the real practice of science, embodied by these strands. Look for the types of assessment opportunities featured below as you use the Smithsonian Science How webcasts and related resources. 

Strand 1– Sparking interest and excitement

Experiencing excitement, interest, and motivation to learn about phenomena in the natural and physical world.

  • Level of participation in online polls, e.g. What percent of students posted a response?
  • Degree of expressed excitement about live webcasts, e.g. Do students ask to participate in more webcasts? 
  • Independent student engagement with websites or videos from the Topic Resources, e.g. What percentage of students self-report visiting websites or videos?
Strand 2- Understanding scientific content and knowledge Generating, understanding, remembering and using concepts, explanations, arguments, models, and facts related to science.
  • Science understandings in online polls, e.g. How accurate are students' responses?
  • Science knowledge in live webcast conversations with experts, e.g. Do student questions demonstrate knowledge?
  • Skill of students in navigating lessons from the Topic Resources, e.g. Are students comfortable with the methodologies?

Strand 3- Engaging in scientific reasoning

Manipulating, testing, exploring, predicting, questioning, observing, and making sense of the natural and physical world.

  • Evidence of reasoning in questions posed to scientists in live webcasts, e.g. Do student questions display logical thinking?
  • Nature of engagement with lessons from the Topic Resources, e.g. Are students able to apply their knowledge in different contexts?
  • Ability to analyze videos provided in the resource package, e.g. Can students explain the science processes demonstrated in the videos?

Strand 4- Reflecting on Science

Reflecting on science as a way of knowing, including the processes, concepts, and institutions of science. 



  • Evolution of questioning in live webcasts, e.g. Do student questions improve over time as they participate in more live webcasts?
  • Amount of student reflection about videos provided in the resource package, e.g. How much do students share ideas about what they viewed?

Strand 5- Using the tools and language of science

Participation in scientific activities and learning practices with others, using scientific language and tools

  • Sophistication of questions posed in live webcasts, e.g. Do students use scientific terms in their questions?
  • Skill of students in navigating lessons from the Topic Resources, e.g. Are students comfortable using scientific tools such as measuring devices?

Strand 6- Identifying with scientific enterprise

Coming to think of oneself as a science learner and developing an identity as someone who knows about, uses, and sometimes contributes to science.

  • Nature of response to science role models, e.g. Do students have positive reactions to the featured science role models?
  • Orientation towards STEM careers, e.g. Do students express interest in STEM-related careers?
Adapted from Fenichel, M., and Schweingruber, H.A. (2010) Surrounded by Science: Learning Science in Informal Environments. Board on Science Education, Center for Education, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press