Cluster Randomized Trial of the Efficacy of Early Childhood Science Education for Low-income Children
The research goal of this project is to evaluate whether an early childhood science education program, implemented in low-income preschool settings produces measurable impacts for children, teachers, and parents. The study is determining the efficacy of the program on Science curriculum in two models, one in which teachers participate in professional development activities (the intervention), and another in which teachers receive the curriculum and teachers' guide but no professional development (the control).
The research goal of this project is to evaluate whether an early childhood science education program, Head Start on Science, implemented in low-income preschool settings (Head Start) produces measurable impacts for children, teachers, and parents. The study is being conducted in eight Head Start programs in Michigan, involving 72 classrooms, 144 teachers, and 576 students and their parents. Partners include Michigan State University, Grand Valley State University, and the 8 Head Start programs. Southwest Counseling Solutions is the external evaluator.
The study is determining the efficacy of the Head Start on Science curriculum in two models, one in which 72 teachers participate in professional development activities (the intervention), and another in which 72 teachers receive the curriculum and teachers' guide but no professional development (the control). The teacher study is a multi-site cluster randomized trial (MSCRT) with the classroom being the unit of randomization. Four time points over two years permit analysis through multilevel latent growth curve models. For teachers, measurement instruments include Attitudes Toward Science (ATS survey), the Head Start on Science Observation Protocol, the Preschool Classroom Science Materials/Equipment Checklist, the Preschool Science Classroom Activities Checklist, and the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS). For students, measures include the "mouse house problem," Knowledge of Biological Properties, the physics of falling objects, the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-Fourth Edition, the Expressive Vocabulary Test-2, the Test of Early Mathematics Ability-3, Social Skills Improvement System-Rating Scales, and the Emotion Regulation Checklist. Measures for parents include the Attitudes Toward Science survey, and the Community and Home Activities Related to Science and Technology for Preschool Children (CHARTS/PS). There are Spanish versions of many of these instruments which can be used as needed. The external evaluation is monitoring the project progress toward its objectives and the processes of the research study.
This project meets a critical need for early childhood science education. Research has shown that very young children can achieve significant learning in science. The curriculum Head Start on Science has been carefully designed for 3-5 year old children and is one of only a few science programs for this audience with a national reach. This study intends to provide a sound basis for early childhood science education by demonstrating the efficacy of this important curriculum in the context of a professional development model for teachers.
LOCUS (Levels of Conceptual Understanding in Statistics) is an NSF Funded DRK12 project (NSF#118618) focused on developing assessments of statistical understanding. These assessments will measure students’ understanding across levels of development as identified in the Guidelines for Assessment and Instruction in Statistics Education (GAISE). The intent of these assessments is to provide teachers and researchers with a valid and reliable assessment of conceptual understanding in statistics consistent with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
The goal of this project is to develop two tests (instruments) to assess conceptual understanding of statistics.
The instruments are based on the levels A/B and on level C of statistical understanding development as described in the American Statistical Association Guidelines for Assessment and Instruction of Statistics Education (GAISE) framework. These instruments will be used to assess knowledge of statistics by grades 6-12 students. The instruments will have multiple-choice and constructed response (CR) items. The CR items will have scoring rubrics. The assessments will be pilot tested in school districts in six states. The instruments will be used by teachers to analyze students' growth in understanding of statistics and will be useable for both formative and summative purposes. An assessment blueprint will be developed based on the GAISE framework for selecting and constructing both fixed-choice and open-ended items. An evidenced-based designed process will be used to develop the assessments. The blueprint will be used by the test development committee to develop items. These items will be reviewed by the advisory board considering the main statistics topics to be included on the assessments. Through a layering process, the assessments will be piloted, revised, and field tested with students in grades 6-12 in six states. A three-parameter IRT model will be used in analyzing the items. The work will be done by researchers at the University of Florida with the support of those at the University of Minnesota, the Educational Testing Service, and Kenyon College. Researchers from TERC will conduct a process evaluation with several feedback and redesign cycles.
The assessments will be aligned with the Common Core State Standards for mathematics (CCSSM) and made available as open-source to teachers through a website. The research team will interact with the state consortia developing assessments to measure students? attainment of the CCSSM. As such, the assessments have the potential of being used by a large proportion of students in the country. The more conceptually-based items will provide teachers with concrete examples of what statistics students in grades 6-12 should know.
The Lynch School of Education and the Urban Ecology Institute at Boston College are partnering with the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) to develop, test, evaluate and disseminate a year-long set of urban ecology course materials for use in high school-level capstone science courses. The standards-based materials emphasize locally-relevant field studies and incorporate principles of Universal Design for Learning and Educative Curriculum.
The Lynch School of Education and the Urban Ecology Institute at Boston College are partnering with the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) to develop, test, evaluate and disseminate a year-long set of urban ecology course materials for use in high school-level capstone science courses. The standards-based materials emphasize locally-relevant field studies and incorporate principles of Universal Design for Learning and Educative Curriculum. Other features include (1) an on-line resource center that links to professional development resources, (2) a student-written urban environment newspaper called "Green Times," and (3) a writing support toolkit. Evaluation and research studies focus on measuring effectiveness of the materials in promoting content understanding, self-efficacy in science and inquiry abilities of students in urban high schools, particularly those from underrepresented groups.
(Note: This project was originally awarded to the Lead Organization, Boston University under the Award #0628143 and for the Funding Period: Sun, 10/01/2006 - Thu, 09/30/2010. Due to a change in institution by the PI of the project, a new award was issued: Award # 1110524)
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.
This project examines the first-year implementation of a program that will provide low-cost netbook computers and specialized software to fifth and sixth grade students in four schools in Southern California. The PIs collect baseline and early implementation data to determine effects of the intervention on students' academic achievement in science, academic writing in science, and interest in further STEM study.
This is a RAPID award to investigators at the University of California, Irvine, to examine the first-year implementation of a program that will provide low-cost netbook computers and specialized software to fifth and sixth grade students in four schools in Southern California. The PIs collect baseline and early implementation data to determine effects if the intervention on students' academic achievement in science, academic writing in science, and interest in further STEM study. They also examine the extent to which participation in the program improves student access to, use of, and self-perceived proficiency with technology and how these attributes are mediated by socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and English learner status. Additionally, they examine the effect of the program on teachers' knowledge of and use of technology for instruction.
Four schools from the same school district with similar demographics serve as comparison schools in the study. Additionally, all fifth and sixth grade teachers participate in the study with four program teachers (two at fifth grade and two at sixth grade) participating more extensively as focus teachers. Both qualitative and quantitative methods are used to examine the effects of the program.
The products include analysis of extensive data on implementation, learning and attitudes. A total of 531 students are involved in the study as well as their teachers. The findings are likely to guide subsequent implementation and research on full implementation within the targeted schools.
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.