Cause and Effect in Science Microcredential #2
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Microcredential ID : 2853
Elementary Science Endorsement: Cause and Effect in Science
0.5 USBE Credit


Title: Asking and Refining Scientific Questions About Causal Relationships This microcredential is the second in the Cause and Effect in Science microcredential stack. This stack, when completed, meets Requirement Area #4 of the Elementary Science Endorsement. Through this microcredential, applicants demonstrate the ability to ask and refine scientific questions that lead to descriptions and explanations of causal relationships that can be empirically tested as a way to understand the natural world.

  • Utah Effective Teaching Standards > Standard 2: Instructional Design Clarity
    Element 1: Content - Demonstrating a comprehensive understanding of Utah Core Standards, communicating relevance of content, communicating clear pathways to student mastery and designing learning experiences aligned to clear learning intentions and success criteria.
How To Earn This Microcredential

To earn this microcredential you will need to collect and submit two sets of evidence demonstrating your effective and consistent use of appropriate science instructional strategies. You will also complete a short written or video reflective analysis.

A fee of $20.00 will be assessed once the microcredential is submitted for review.

This stack of microcredentials must be completed sequentially starting with Microcredential #1 in the Cause and Effect in Science stack.

This microcredential is not available for educators with a secondary certification.

As previously stated, this microcredential stack completes the competencies for one requirement area of the Elementary Science Endorsement. These competencies are the same regardless of the pathway the educator selects to complete, microcredential stack or university course. Also of note, these competencies are structured to lead the educator through a series of experiences. First, the educator analyzes the purpose of the Learning Intentions and demonstrates proficiency in them (This is typically the first and possibly the second microcredential in the stack). Then, the educator plans, implements, and reflects on instruction for the identified Learning Intentions. The last microcredential in the stack involves educators reaching out to support others in their school, district, state, or nation. This focuses on developing leadership skills and promotes building a professional network of support. Through these experiences, the educator demonstrates competency of the knowledge, skills, and dispositions for the specific requirement area of the educator endorsement.

Important Terms

Events have causes, sometimes simple, sometimes multifaceted. Deciphering causal relationships, and the mechanisms by which they are mediated, is a major activity of science and engineering.


A system is an organized group of related parts that make up a whole that can carry out functions that its individual parts cannot.

Background Scenario / How This Will Help You

Research from A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas (National Research Council, 2012), states that “a major activity of science is investigating and explaining causal relationships and the mechanisms by which they are mediated. Such mechanisms can then be tested across given contexts and used to predict and explain events in new contexts” (p. 84). This document also asserts that “one goal of instruction about cause and effect is to encourage students to see events in the world as having understandable causes, even when these causes are beyond human control. The ability to distinguish between scientific causal claims and nonscientific causal claims is also an important goal” (p. 88). Additionally, this document is the foundational resource that informed the development of the current Utah Science with Engineering Education (SEEd) Standards (USBE, 2019). Within these standards, the concept of cause and effect is included as a crosscutting concept and the expectation is that elementary students should progress in their understanding of cause and effect within the science concepts that students encounter during science instruction. However, for teachers to include appropriate concepts about cause and effect as well as using scientific questioning to support sensemaking into instruction, they must also understand this content knowledge and ways of communicating it appropriate to the discipline of science (Geddis, 1993; Lemley et al. (2019). This microcredential focuses on teacher content knowledge and discipline practices that provide a foundation for building effective science instruction in Grades K-6.

References: Geddis, A. N. (1993). Transforming subject-matter knowledge: The role of pedagogical content knowledge in learning to reflect on teaching. International Journal of Science Education, 15, 673-683.

Lemley, S. M., Hart, S. M., & King, J. R. (2019). Teacher inquiry develops elementary teachers' disciplinary literacy. Literacy Research and Instruction, 58(1), 12-30. doi:10.1080/19388071.2018.1520371

National Research Council. (2012). A framework for K-12 science education: Practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas. Committee on a Conceptual Framework for New K-12 Science Education Standards. Board on Science Education, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Evidence Options
Be sure to submit the type and number of pieces of evidence specified below.
Category: Preparation and Planning

Submit the evidence listed below to demonstrate your effective and consistent preparation and planning for elementary science instruction.

Learning Intentions and Success Criteria:

Submit an explanation for why the following learning intention is important for your learners to understand. Also, submit success criteria for how you will determine student proficiency for this learning intention:

  1. Students can generate scientific questions of causal relationships and mechanisms in systems. Cite the sources you used to develop explanations.
Category: Implementation

Submit the evidence listed below to demonstrate your effective and consistent implementation of appropriate pedagogical practices for elementary science instruction.

Student Work:

Educator demonstrates an understanding of causal relationships and mechanisms through the use of refining scientific questions to develop explanations of how the natural world works for the following bulleted concepts. For each bullet, submit a scientific question, investigation, and explanation of the causal relationships and mechanisms of the disciplinary core idea:

❏ Identify traits from parent to offspring to predict traits and survivability in future generations (LS1.A, LS3.A, LS3.B), emphasizing the role of structure and function (LS1.A).

❏ Determine how combinations of forces, sometimes of different types, can cause changes in the motion of objects (PS2.A, PS2.B.)*

❏ Identify complex chains of causal relationships through which living things, including humans, can cause changes to earth systems (ESS2.E, ESS3.C).*

❏ Explain how natural hazards (e.g., severe weather, volcanoes, earthquakes) impact humans and use patterns to predict these hazards (ESS3.B).*

  • Disciplinary Core Ideas found in A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas.

Review Criteria

Evidence of Preparation and Planning

Criterion 1: Evidence demonstrates educator can explain why the learning intention is important for students to understand and what appropriate success criteria for the learning intention may entail.

Evidence of Implementation

Criterion 2: Evidence demonstrates educator understands causal relationships and mechanisms of included concepts.

Criterion 3: Evidence demonstrates educator can craft appropriate scientific questions to provide evidence for explanations of causal relationships and mechanisms in the science discipline and can provide appropriate explanations for what questions and explanations students should be able to provide about this concept.

Criterion 4: Evidence demonstrates educator can provide and cite appropriate sources for explanations in the science discipline.

Reflection Prompts

How do you plan to develop your understanding of asking scientific questions as a way to describe and explain causal relationships and mechanisms in systems in the future? Submit your response in approximately 150 words.

How does your knowledge of asking scientific questions support your students' conceptual learning about causal relationships and mechanisms in science? Submit your response in approximately 150 words.

Review Criteria

Criterion 1: The reflective analysis indicates the educator continually learns and increases their knowledge base.

Criterion 2: The reflective analysis indicates the educator builds students' conceptual understanding of the causal relationships and mechanisms found in various systems. Additionally, analysis indicates an awareness of why asking scientific questions can support student sensemaking.

A Framework for K-12 science education: Practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas

A teacher friendly research document that explains the three dimensions of science including science and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas. Each dimension is explained in depth within its own chapter. The disciplinary core ideas are grouped into major disciplines (i.e., Physical Sciences; Life Sciences; Earth and Space Sciences; Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science). Each discipline is explained in a separate chapter. The report also describes developmentally appropriate learning progressions.

SEEd Content Courses for Grades K-8

These Grade K-8 courses are developed specifically for elementary educators and Grade 6-8 middle school science teachers. The purpose of these courses is to build and support teacher science conceptual knowledge of the disciplinary core ideas (DCIs) used within the SEEd Standards.These courses are free for participants and are self-paced. Educators may register at any time. Successful completion of each component within the course is worth between .5 and 1.0 USBE Credits.

Implementing the Utah Science with Engineering Education (SEEd) Standards K-12

This Canvas-based course contains six modules: Introduction to the SEEd Standards, Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs), Crosscutting Concepts (CCCs), Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs), Engineering Design, and Using Phenomena. The course’s purpose is to support educators in understanding shifts to instruction that are required to effectively implement the Utah SEEd Standards The course is free for participants and is self-paced. K-12 educators may register at any point. Successful completion of the entire course is worth 2.0 USBE Credits. Credit will be assigned three times during the year.

Camie Simpson

Camie Simpson
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