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Mystery Science Theory of Action References

Research & Impact



Theory of Action


Discovery Education Research & Analytics

Grade Level:



Mystery Science

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Mystery Science by Discovery Education is built upon a theory of action about how best to enhance K-5 science instruction and the learning experience. Collectively, our theory of action statements describes the philosophical foundation to Mystery Science’s approach to science education. This document includes research to support these theory of action statements, outlined below, that hypothesize how specific actions taken by students, teachers, and administrators can lead to positive results for all.  
  1. When students construct their knowledge through active application of science practices, they
    deepen their understanding of scientific concepts.
  2. When students see how scientific ideas relate to their daily lives and personal interests, they
    are more motivated and engaged in learning.
  3. When students analyze scientific ideas through the lens of phenomena, they are able to solve real-world problems.
  4. When students feel welcome and included through conceptual and linguistic accessibility and
    learn from content that is diverse in representation, they are more engaged in learning.
  1. When teachers provide appropriately scaffolded instruction, students are more likely to grow their understanding of scientific concepts.
  2. When teachers relate lessons to prior knowledge, students are more likely to engage in the lesson and achieve the intended learning goals.
  3. When lessons include expectations that students apply scientific practices (e.g. solve problems, engage in argumentation, analyze data, develop and use models), students are more engaged, and deeper understanding and active learning takes place.
  4. When lessons include frequent opportunities for scientific discourse (e.g., sharing ideas during the investigation, making predictions, arguing for ideas using evidence, synthesizing findings), teachers can support students in developing and deepening their understanding of scientific ideas.
  1. When district and school-based leaders invest in, prioritize, and support the use of research-based, digital learning resources by teachers and students, engagement and achievement increases.
  2. When administrators prioritize science education by providing effective professional development, high-quality curricular resources, and ample instructional time, students are more likely to engage in science and achieve the intended learning goals.
  3. When district and school-based leaders invest in digital resources that are intuitive for users, teachers are more likely to use them for teaching and learning.

The research studies that support each theory of action statement provide guidance to the development of Mystery Science, as well as Discovery Education’s approach to professional learning and implementation teams.