Constructing and Critiquing Arguments in Middle School Science Classrooms: Supporting Teachers with Multimedia Educative Curriculum Materials
This project is developing Earth and Space Science multimedia educative curriculum materials (MECMs) and a system to facilitate teachers' learning and beliefs of scientific argumentation. The project is investigating the impact of the MECMs on teachers' beliefs about scientific argumentation and their related pedagogical content knowledge. The overarching research question focuses on how can multimedia educative curriculum materials provide support to middle school science teachers in implementing standards for constructing and critiquing arguments.
This project between Lawrence Hall of Science and Boston College is developing Earth and Space Science multimedia educative curriculum materials (MECM) and a system to facilitate teachers' learning and beliefs of scientific argumentation. The MECMs include videos, voice-over narratives, diagrammatic representations, images of student writings, and text. The PIs are investigating the impact of the MECMS on teachers' beliefs about scientific argumentation and their related pedagogical content knowledge. The overarching research question, with four sub questions, focuses on how can multimedia educative curriculum materials provide support to middle school science teachers in implementing standards for constructing and critiquing arguments. The four sub questions are: What factors impact teachers' implementation of argumentation instruction in the classroom? How can MECMs be designed to positively impact teachers' beliefs and their pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) about argumentation? What is the relationship between teachers' beliefs about the value of argumentation and their implementation of argumentation in the classroom? What impact do MECMs have on teachers' beliefs and PCK?
A mixed method approach is being used to assess teachers' beliefs and pedagogical content knowledge. The PIs are developing and pilot testing teachers' beliefs about scientific argumentation. They will use an iterative design process for the MECMs that will involve 50 teachers. Twenty-five phone interviews will be conducted to investigate factors that impact teachers' implementations of scientific argumentation. Three iterative cycles of design and testing include focus groups, a pilot of the MECMs in six classrooms, and a national field test of 30 classrooms. One hundred teachers will field test the assessment followed by collection of six case studies and data analyses. The project's formative and summative evaluations include monitoring and providing feedback for all activities, and assessments of program implementation and impact.
Teachers need support using field tested multimedia educative materials (MECMs) in learning and delivering science content using a scientific argumentation process. By delivering and engaging the teaching and learning process through iterative design of Earth and Space Science multimedia educative curriculum materials, this project would provide, if successful, teachers and students with the necessary literacy and knowledge about scientific argumentation. The MECMs and approach has the potential for broad implementation in middle schools and beyond for delivering Earth and Space science material to support and teach scientific argumentation.
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.
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.
Cyber-enabled Learning: Digital Natives in Integrated Scientific Inquiry Classrooms (Collaborative Research: Wang)
This project investigated the professional development needed to make teachers comfortable teaching with multi-user simulations and communications that students use every day. The enactment with OpenSim (an open source, modular, expandable platform used to create simulated 3D spaces with customizable terrain, weather and physics) also provides an opportunity to demonstrate the level of planning and preparation that go into fashioning modules with all selected cyber-enabled cognitive tools framed by constructivism, such as GoogleEarth and Biologica.
There is an increasing gap between the assumptions governing the use of cyber-enabled resources in schools and the realities of their use by students in out of school settings. The potential of information and communications technologies (ICT) as cognitive tools for engaging students in scientific inquiry and enhancing teacher learning is explored. A comprehensive professional development program of over 240 hours, along with follow-up is used to determine how teachers can be supported to use ICT tools effectively in classroom instruction to create meaningful learning experiences for students, reducing the gap between formal and informal learning and improve student learning outcomes. In the first year, six teachers from school districts - two in Utah and one in New York - are educated to become teacher leaders and advisors. Then three cohorts of 30 teachers matched by characteristics are provided professional development and field test units over two years in a delayed-treatment design. Biologists from Utah State University and New York College of Technology develop four modules that meet the science standards for both states - the first being changes in the environment. Teachers are guided to develop additional modules. The key technological resource to be used in the project is the Opensimulator 3D application Server (OpenSim), an open source, modular, expandable platform used to create simulated 3D spaces with customizable terrain, weather and physics.
The research methodology includes the use of the classroom observations using RTOP and Technology Use in Science Instruction (TUSI), selected interviews of teachers and students and validated assessments of student learning. Evaluation, by an external evaluator, assesses the quality of the professional development and the quality of the cyber-enabled learning resources, as well as reviews the research design and implementation. An Advisory Board will monitor the project.
The project is to determine the professional development needed to make teachers comfortable teaching with multi-user simulations and communications that students use everyday. The enactment with OpenSim also provides an opportunity to demonstrate the level of planning and preparation that go into fashioning modules with all selected cyber-enabled cognitive tools framed by constructivism, such as GoogleEarth and Biologica.
This project is studying the impact of implementing a NSF-funded, high school mathematics curriculum that emphasizes mathematical habits of mind. This curriculum focuses on ways of thinking and doing mathematics in contrast with curricula that focus on mathematical topics. The project is studying the development of teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching and their capacity to align their instruction with the new curriculum.
The CME Project Mathematical Practices Implementation Study project (formerly called "Changing Curriculum, Changing Practice"), led by mathematics educators at the Education Development Center, is studying the impact of implementing a NSF-funded, high school mathematics curriculum that emphasizes mathematical habits of mind. This curriculum focuses on ways of thinking and doing mathematics in contrast with curricula that focus on mathematical topics. The project is studying the development of teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching and their capacity to align their instruction with the new curriculum. The project includes a moderate level of professional development and the development of valid and reliable instruments to assess teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching and their instructional practices.
This four-year, mixed-methods study is investigating the conjecture that high school teachers' implementation of a curriculum emphasizing mathematical habits of mind will lead to measurable changes in teachers' mathematical knowledge and their instruction. The investigators are also interested in the relationships among (1) teachers' prior knowledge, (2) their use of the curriculum and (3) the school-level support for implementation. The investigators are studying the implementation of the curriculum by 70 teachers in 12 schools that vary in socio-economic status of the students and geographic location. The research design includes observations of the instruction of a sub-sample of nine teachers to obtain a finer-grained measure of instructional practice. They are developing or adapting existing instruments that measure teachers' knowledge and alignment of instruction with the goals of teaching mathematical habits of mind. Using the Instructional Quality Assessment rubric during visits to the classroom, they are assessing students' opportunities to develop mathematical thinking skills. The use of mixed-methods approaches will allow the researchers to analyze the data from multiple perspectives.
This study is part of a long-term effort to help high school students develop specific mathematical habits of mind. The current study is building on previous curriculum development and also developing insights for future studies investigating students' adoption of mathematical habits of mind. The current project is an important effort to understand the roles teachers play in implementing curricular changes that have the potential for improving student achievement in mathematics. Teachers are the critical bridging agents who connect curriculum and learners. This study will help to explain how teachers' knowledge, teachers' instruction, and teachers' contexts within schools contribute to or detract from the faithful implementation of the goals intended by a curriculum. It will lay a foundation for understanding future efforts to assess what students learn and how they learn it.
This research and development project examines the impact of the Project-Based Inquiry Science (PBIS) middle school science curriculum. The research questions explored will look into efficacy, implementation, and teacher practice. A unique feature of the study’s design is an analytic focus on the conditions needed to implement the curriculum in ways that improve student learning in light of the Framework for K-12 Science Education.
This research and development project studies the impact of Project-Based Inquiry Science (PBIS) on 6th grade students in a large urban school district. PBIS is a comprehensive, 3-year middle school science curriculum that focuses on standards-based science content and that uses project-based inquiry science units to help students learn. NSF funded the development of PBIS over the past two decades, with major investments made in the design of materials and with associated teacher professional development designed to help teachers understand the content of the units and how to teach them. Prior small-scale studies of PBIS have shown positive impact on student achievement and motivation, and on teacher use of reform-based instruction. The research questions explored are:
1. Efficacy. What is the impact of PBIS on student learning? To what extent do students in PBIS perform better than non-PBIS students on measures of learning?
2. Enactment and teacher practice. What is the impact of the curriculum on teaching quality? What is the fidelity of classroom implementation? How does the depth and level of implementation relate to student outcomes?
The study involves both quantitative and qualitative methods; the use of an experimental design allows estimates of causal impacts when combining professional development with the curriculum materials. This is a randomized control trial to test the efficacy of PBIS in 42 middle schools and with ˜120 teachers (21 schools and ˜60 teachers per condition), and affecting approximately 8,500 6th grade students. The dependent variables for students include results on state-level achievement tests and measures of their ability to develop and use models and construct explanations in the context of the curriculum units. Mediational analysis measures the association between contextual factors such as fidelity of implementation and quality of the professional development experience and student learning, allowing a deeper understanding of results.
This work is critical to the ongoing effort to support standards-based curriculum reform in science. PBIS has enjoyed some success in urban settings with diverse groups of students, including those from historically underrepresented groups in science, and now moves to larger scale. This curriculum is among a small number of science curriculum initiatives that are at a stage in the research and development cycle where implementation efforts are focused on scaling to a broader range of schools and districts. The curriculum units are based on design principles drawn from theory and research on how students learn and are aligned with learning goals found in state and national standards. Moreover, its design reflects where the science education field is headed – teaching a few big ideas and integrating scientific practices. Project outcomes will provide evidence about the effects of a published and available inquiry-based science curriculum.
The University of South Florida is hosting a conference on Research on the Enacted K-12 Mathematics Curriculum. The purpose of the conference is to explicate the theory on mathematics curriculum enactment, defining key constructs and explaining how they are expected to interact, and why, in order to facilitate the systematic accumulation of knowledge about mathematics curriculum enactment that can guide policy and practice.
The University of South Florida is hosting a conference on Research on the Enacted K-12 Mathematics Curriculum. The purpose of the conference is to explicate the theory on mathematics curriculum enactment, defining key constructs and explaining how they are expected to interact, and why, in order to facilitate the systematic accumulation of knowledge about mathematics curriculum enactment that can guide policy and practice. The conference agenda builds on work of the Center for the Study of Mathematics Curriculum (CSMC) and work by NCTM to develop a research agenda for mathematics education. The conference proceedings will include the conceptual model developed during the conference, the priority research questions that were identified, and the instrument development agenda for addressing those questions.
The aim of this project is to explore the hypothesis that a curricular focus on quantitative reasoning in middle grades mathematics can enhance development of student skill and understanding about mathematical proof. The project is addressing that hypothesis through a series of studies that include small group teaching experiments with students, professional development work with teachers, and classroom field tests of curricular units that connect quantitative reasoning and proof in algebra.
The aim of this CAREER project led by Amy Ellis at the University of Wisconsin is to explore the hypothesis that a curricular focus on quantitative reasoning in middle grades mathematics can enhance development of student skill and understanding about mathematical proof. The project is addressing that hypothesis through a series of studies that include small group teaching experiments with students, professional development work with teachers, and classroom field tests of curricular units that connect quantitative reasoning and proof in algebra.
Work of the project will produce: (a) insights into ways of unifying two previously disconnected lines of research on quantitative reasoning and proof; (b) models describing realistic ways to support development of students' proof competencies through quantitative reasoning; (c) improvement in students' understanding of algebra through engagement in proof practices based on quantitative reasoning; (d) insights into middle-school students' thinking as they negotiate the transition from elementary to more advanced mathematics; and (e) increased understanding of teachers' knowledge about proof and their classroom practices aimed at helping students progress towards understanding and skill in proof.
The GENIQUEST (GENomics Inquiry through QUantitative Trait Loci Exploration with SAIL Technology): Bringing STEM Data to High School Classrooms
This project is developing and testing a website, software application, and supplemental instructional materials that use publicly accessible genomics data to foster scientific inquiry among high schools students. Outcomes for students and teachers include developing knowledge, skills, and understandings related to genetic inheritance; data investigation and analysis; the process of scientific inquiry; and collaboration.
This project has been completed, and the final report is available. Also available is the complete curriculum through Concord Consortium (www.concord.org).
This study explores the ways middle school mathematics teachers implement standards-based curriculum materials in urban schools. It takes the view that instructional materials are cultural tools and examines how teachers use these tools to plan and implement the curriculum in their classrooms. The study is using a mixed methods approach that combines surveys of teachers in 30 schools in the Newark Public Schools district and closer observations of teachers in selected case schools.