Educating the Imagination will develop a studio approach to science for underrepresented high school students. The approach integrates scientific and artistic habits of mind and forms of engagement for meaningful learning in water-related sciences. Youth will a) investigate significant water-related phenomena, b) develop creative responses to the phenomena that foster new understandings and possibilities for action, and c) exhibit their responses community-wide to involve others in re-imagining water locally and globally.
TERC, in collaboration with the Boston Arts Academy is developing an innovative studio learning environment for students in grades 7-9. This pilot project focuses on object-centered inquiry about water and water-related problems of local and global significance. The project promotes student learning through multi-faceted studies involving hydrology, history, health, digital media, web-based artifact generation, real world data collection, interactions with scientists and artists, and community exhibitions of student work. The primary goal of the Educating the Imagination project is to develop a more effective model for engaging and improving the science learning and achievement of underrepresented urban students.
Studio learning intentionally integrates experimentation with practices of analysis, interpretation, critique of work and conceptual development. During a four week summer studio program, students, guided by teachers and scientists, will produce research-based projects about water and create plans to exhibit their work in the Boston area during the school year. Students will be assessed along multiple dimensions ranging from the depth of their understanding of water science ideas, their ability to make claims and arguments, their use of multiple tools and modes of representation, and the quality of their presentations. Over a two year period researchers will collect data on the studio design model and student learning to determine which aspects of the studio are effective in engaging students in object-oriented inquiry related to important water science ideas and problems.
Educating the Imagination will provide valuable insights about the studio design model and its application to promote science learning. In addition, this project directly addresses the problem of inequality in opportunities to learn and participate in science by developing and testing an innovative, non-traditional learning model with underrepresented urban students. The results of this project could significantly change how we think about and structure STEM learning environments in urban settings.
This project designs, constructs, and field-tests a web-based, online collaborative environment for supporting the teaching and learning of inquiry-based high school physics. Based on an interactive digital workbook environment, the team is customizing the platform to include scaffolds and other supports for learning physics, fostering interaction and collaboration within the classroom, and facilitating a design-based approach to scientific experiments.
This project, under the Tufts University Center for Engineering Education and Outreach (CEEO) designs, constructs, and field-tests a web-based, online collaborative environment for supporting the teaching and learning of inquiry-based high school physics. Based on prior NSF-funded work on RoboBooks, an interactive digital workbook environment, the team is customizing the platform to include scaffolds and other supports for learning physics, fostering interaction and collaboration within the classroom, and facilitating a design-based approach to scientific experiments. The InterLACE team hypothesizes that technology seamlessly integrating physics content and process skills within a classroom learning activity will provide a wide variety of student benefits, ranging from improved learning outcomes and increased content knowledge to gains in attitudinal and social displays as well.
The hypothesis for this work is based on research that indicates teachers believe proper implementation of design-based, inquiry projects are time consuming and can be difficult to manage and facilitate in classrooms without great scaffolding or other supports. Using design-based research with a small number of teachers and students, the PIs iteratively develop the system and supporting materials and generate a web-based implementation that supports students through the various stages of design inquiry. A quasi-experimental trial in the final years of the project is used to determine the usability of the technology and efficacy of the system in enhancing teaching and learning. Through the tools and activities developed, the researchers anticipate showing increases in effective inquiry learning and enhanced accessibility to meet the needs of diverse learners and teachers, leading to changes in classroom practice.
Through this project the PIs (1) gain insights that will enable them to refine the InterLACE platform so it can be implemented and brought to scale in the near terms as a support for design-based inquiry science projects, and (2) advance theory, design and practice to support the design of technology-based learning environments, and (3) understand how connecting students? hypotheses, ideas, and data impacts their learning of physics content and scientific inquiry skills.
This workshop developed a new, comprehensive, research-based framework for assessing environmental literacy. By bringing together, for the first time, experts in research, assessment, and evaluation from the fields of science education, environmental education, and related social science fields, this project accessed and built its work on the literature and the insights of many disciplines.
Efficacy Study of Metropolitan Denver's Urban Advantage Program: A Project to Improve Scientific Literacy Among Urban Middle School Students
This is an efficacy study to determine if partnerships among formal and informal organizations demonstrate an appropriate infrastructure for improving science literacy among urban middle school science students. The study aims to answer the following questions: How does participation in the program affect students' science knowledge, skills, and attitudes toward science; teachers' science knowledge, skills, and abilities; and families engagement in and support for their children's science learning and aspirations?
This is an efficacy study through which the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the Denver Zoo, the Denver Botanic Gardens, and three of Denver's urban school districts join efforts to determine if partnerships among formal and informal organizations demonstrate an appropriate infrastructure for improving science literacy among urban middle school science students. The Metropolitan Denver Urban Advantage (UA Denver) program is used for this purpose. This program consists of three design elements: (a) student-driven investigations, (b) STEM-related content, and (c) alignment of schools and informal science education institutions; and six major components: (a) professional development for teachers, (b) classroom materials and resources, (c) access to science-rich organizations, (d) outreach to families, (e) capacity building and sustainability, and (e) program assessment and student learning. Three research questions guide the study: (1) How does the participation in the program affect students' science knowledge, skills, and attitudes toward science relative to comparison groups of students? (2) How does the participation in the program affect teachers' science knowledge, skills, and abilities relative to comparison groups of teachers? and (3) How do families' participation in the program affect their engagement in and support for their children's science learning and aspirations relative to comparison families?
The study's guiding hypothesis is that the UA Denver program should improve science literacy in urban middle school students measured by (a) students' increased understanding of science, as reflected in their science investigations or "exit projects"; (b) teachers' increased understanding of science and their ability to support students in their exit projects, as documented by classroom observations, observations of professional development activities, and surveys; and (c) school groups' and families' increased visits to participating science-based institutions, through surveys. The study employs an experimental research design. Schools are randomly assigned to either intervention or comparison groups and classrooms will be the units of analysis. Power analysis recommended a sample of 18 intervention and 18 comparison middle schools, with approximately 72 seventh grade science teachers, over 5,000 students, and 12,000 individual parents in order to detect differences among intervention and comparison groups. To answer the three research questions, data gathering strategies include: (a) students' standardized test scores from the Colorado Student Assessment Program, (b) students' pre-post science learning assessment using the Northwest Evaluation Association's Measures for Academic Progress (science), (c) students' pre-post science aspirations and goals using the Modified Attitude Toward Science Inventory, (d) teachers' fidelity of implementation using the Teaching Science as Inquiry instrument, and (e) classroom interactions using the Science Teacher Inquiry Rubric, and the Reformed Teaching Observation protocol. To interpret the main three levels of data (students, nested in teachers, nested within schools), hierarchical linear modeling (HLM), including HLM6 application, are utilized. An advisory board, including experts in research methodologies, science, informal science education, assessment, and measurement oversees the progress of the study and provides guidance to the research team. An external evaluator assesses both formative and summative aspects of the evaluation component of the scope of work.
The key outcome of the study is a research-informed and field-tested intervention implemented under specific conditions for enhancing middle school science learning and teaching, and supported by partnerships between formal and informal organizations.
Beyond Bridging: Co-education of Preservice and Inservice Elementary Teachers In Science and Mathematics
This project will implement and study a professional community designed to alleviate the mismatch between the expectations of student teachers in mathematics and science and their mentor in-service teachers. The project is creating a neutral forum for the exchange of perspectives on issues of pedagogy with the expectation that student teachers would implement inquiry-based science and problem-solving mathematics pedagogies with the knowledgeable support of their mentor teachers.
The University of Arizona is partnering with the Tucson Unified School District to implement and study a professional community designed to alleviate the mismatch between the expectations of student teachers in mathematics and science and their mentor in-service teachers. This vexing problem often arises when student teachers expect to implement reform-based pedagogies while their mentor teachers insist on traditional approaches. The project is creating a "third space," a professional community that includes 40 pre-service and 50 in-service teachers, university scientists and mathematicians, science and mathematics education faculty, and school district administrators. The third space is providing a neutral forum for the exchange of perspectives on issues of pedagogy with the expectation that student teachers would implement inquiry-based science and problem-solving mathematics pedagogies with the knowledgeable support of their mentor teachers. The project is being implemented in two low-income, culturally and linguistically diverse elementary schools with a comparison school used as a control.
The evaluation/research component is a qualitative study led by Horizon Research, Inc. The fundamental research question is whether the third space model establishes interpretive systems that foster enactment of inquiry-based and problem-solving teaching practices. Data collection will include all participants in the third space forum, but focuses on the pre-service and in-service teachers through written products and discussions of lesson design activities, videotapes of teaching by pre-service and in-service teachers, and analysis of comments made in a web-based forum. Instruments to be used are the Reform Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP), the Experiences Patterns Explanations (EPE) framework, and the Inquiry-Application Instructional Model (I-AIM).
The main product of this project is the third space model and the research that supports its success. The model will be disseminated broadly and if replicated widely, it would represent a major improvement in the professional development of teachers in the areas of inquiry-based science and problem-solving mathematics.
Studying Topography, Orographic Rainfall, and Ecosystems (STORE) with Geospatial Information Technology
This project is using innovative Geospatial Information Technology-based learning in high school environmental science studies with a focus on the meteorological and ecological impacts of climate change. The resources developed are using ArcGIS Explorer Desktop and Google Earth software applications to increase students' learning and interest in science and careers and will be adaptable for teachers to improve classroom implementation.
STORE is developing and piloting classroom uses of GIS-based interactive data files displaying climatological, topographical, and biological data about an especially ecologically and topographically diverse section of mid-California and a section of western New York State, plus projected climate change outcomes in 2050 and 2099 from an IPCC climate change model. Both areas contain weather stations. The participating students and teachers live in those areas, hence the place-based focus of the project.
To help teachers make curricular decisions about how to use these data with their students, the project has, with input from six design partner teachers, produced a curriculum module exemplar consisting of six lessons. The lessons start with basic meteorological concepts about the relationship between weather systems and topography, then focus on recent climatological and land cover data. The last two lessons focus on IPCC-sanctioned climate change projections in relation to possible fates of different regional species. Technology light versions of these lessons send students directly to map layers displaying the data for scientific analysis. Technology-heavy versions address the additional goal of building students' capacities to manipulate features of geographic information systems (GIS). Hence, the technology-heavy versions require use of the ARC GIS Explorer Desktop software, whereas the technology light versions are available in both the ARC software and in Google Earth. Google Earth makes possible some student interactivity such as drawing transects and studying elevation profiles, but does not support more advanced use of geographic information system technology such as queries of data-containing shape files or customization of basemaps and data representational symbology.
Answer keys are provided for each lesson. Teachers have in addition access to geospatial data files that display some storm systems that moved over California in the winter of 2010-2001 so that students can study relationships between actual data about storm behavior and relationship to topography and the climatological data which displays those relationships in a summary manner. This provides the student the opportunity to explore differences between weather and climate.
To increase the likelihood of successful classroom implementation and impact on student learning, the professional development process provides the conditions for teachers to make good adaptability decisions for successful follow-through. Teachers can implement the six lessons or adapt them or design their own from scratch. The project requires that they choose from these options, explain on content representation forms their rationales for those decisions, and provide assessment information about student learning outcomes from their implementations. The project provides the teachers with assessment items that are aligned to each of the six lessons, plus some items that test how well the students can interpret the STORE GIS data layers.
All of this work is driven by the hypothesis that science teachers are more likely to use geospatial information technology in their classrooms when provided with the types of resources that they are provided in this project. In summary, these resources include:
1. tutorials about how to use the two GIS applications
2. sufficiently adaptive geospatial data available in free easily transportable software applications
3. lessons that they can implement as is, adapt, or discard if they want to make up their own (as long as they use the data)
4. supportive resources to build their content knowledge (such as overview documents about their states' climates and information about the characteristics of each data layer and each data set available to them).
The growth and evolution of the teachers' technological pedagogical content knowledge is being tracked through interviews, face-to-face group meetings, and classroom observations. Also being tracked is the extent to which the teachers and students can master the technology applications quickly and on their own without workshops, and how well teachers provide feedback to the students and assess their learning outcomes when implementing STORE lessons. As the project moves into its third and final year, we will be studying outcomes from the first classroom implementation year (i.e. year two of the project) and determining to what extent the professional development strategies need to be revised in relation to how the teachers are responding to the project resources and forms of professional support. In the end, the project will contribute to the knowledge base about what professional development strategies are appropriate for getting teachers to use these types of resources, what decisions teachers make about how to use the resources for different courses and student groups they teach, and what are the outcomes of those uses in terms of curricular material, instructional strategies, and student learning.
This exploratory study develops and pilot-tests a model for improving science teaching and learning with middle school ELLs. Study goals include: (1) clarifying pedagogical constructs of language-rich science inquiry and the academic language of science and their relationships across the learning contexts of middle school science classrooms, teacher professional development and family science workshops, (2) developing and refining instruments to study these constructs in context, and (3) conducting pilot tests of the model and instruments.
This exploratory study develops, pilot-tests, and refines a model for improving middle school English Language Learners' (ELLs) science learning. The model incorporates two pedagogical constructs (language-rich science inquiry and academic language development); and three learning settings (teacher professional development workshops, middle school science classrooms, and parent-student-teacher science workshops). The specific objectives of the study are: (1) to clarify the two pedagogical constructs and their relationships across the three learning contexts, (2) to develop and refine instruments that will be useful for the study of these constructs in these learning contexts, and (3) to conduct pilot tests of the model and instruments.
The study's development phase consists of the production, adaptation, and pilot testing of instructional strategies for teachers and learning materials for students. Instructional strategies for teachers are centered on three key inquiry practices: (a) coordinating theory and evidence, (b) controlling variables, and (c) cause and effect reasoning across 6th grade earth science, 7th grade life science, and 8th grade physical science. Learning materials for students consist of lessons in a workbook with units highlighting the study of academic language. Also, this phase of the study includes the development of resources to support parents' participation and measurement instruments to gather data during the research phase of the study.
The research phase of the study consists of pilot testing of the model. Two research questions guide the study: (1 What is the value for ELL students, their teachers and their parents of an instructional model that highlights language-rich science inquiry practices and academic language development strategies?; and (2)What is the value for ELL students, their teachers and their parents of an instructional model that is enacted in the contexts of middle school science classrooms, student-parent-teacher science workshops, and teacher professional development workshops? Assuming a quasi-experimental, pretest-posttest design, a power analysis defined a sample size of 1,000 middle school students (800 for the treatment group, and 200 for the control group) in 40 classrooms of three middle schools in the state of Georgia. A total of 12 teachers (8 science teachers and 2 English for Students of Other Languages teachers) were selected using a targeted strategy; and 40 randomly selected parents constitute the remaining population sample. The intervention consists of the use of teacher instructional strategies focused on exploring and elaborating cause-effect relationships, differentiating between evidence and theory, and identifying and controlling variables; students' use of instructional materials on academic language; and exploration of parents' science funds of knowledge. Data gathering strategies employ five instruments: (a) a teacher-focus-group interview protocol, (b) a teacher observation protocol, (c) a parent-student interview protocol, (d) a student academic language writing test, and (e) a student-constructed-response science inquiry test. Data interpretation strategies include qualitative analysis using narrative and semantic structure analysis and statistical analyses. An advisory board and an evaluator conduct the evaluation component of the study, inclusive of formative and summative aspects.
The outcome of this study is a research-informed and field-tested science instructional model focused on the improved learning of ELLs and a set of valid and reliable measuring instruments.
This project conducts interdisciplinary research to advance understanding of embodied learning as it applies to STEM topics across a range of current technology-based learning environments (e.g., desktop simulations, interactive whiteboards, and 3D interactive environments). The project has two central research questions: How are student knowledge gains impacted by the degree of embodied learning and to what extent do the affordances of different technology-based learning environments constrain or support embodied learning for STEM topics?
This project conducts interdisciplinary research to advance understanding of embodied learning as it applies to STEM topics across a range of current technology-based learning environments (e.g., desktop simulations, interactive whiteboards, and 3D interactive environments). The project builds on extensive research, including prior work of the PIs, regarding both embodied learning and statistical learning. The PIs describe embodied learning as engaging the neuromuscular systems of learners as they interact with the world around them visually, aurally, and kinesthetically in order to construct new knowledge structures. Statistical learning is described as the ability to learn, often without intent, which sequences of stimuli are consistent with a set of rules. An example of statistical learning is pattern recognition, which is central to mastery of complex topics in many STEM disciplines including physics and mathematics.
The project has two central research questions: How are student knowledge gains impacted by the degree of embodied learning and to what extent do the affordances of different technology-based learning environments constrain or support embodied learning for STEM topics? To investigate these questions, the PIs are conducting three series of experiments in five phases using two physics topics. The first four phases are developmental and the final phase implements and assesses the two modules in schools (20 plus teachers, 700 plus K-12 students) in Arizona and New York (15 total sites, 10 plus public schools, minimum one Title I school).
The aim of this project is to meld these two research trajectories to yield two key outcomes: 1) basic research regarding embodiment and statistical learning that can be applied to create powerful STEM learning experiences, and 2) the realization of exemplary models and principles to aid curriculum and technology designers in creating learning scenarios that take into account the level of embodiment that a given learning environment affords.