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.
This project will investigate the implementation of a Teacher Residency Academy model to recruit, license, induct, employ, and retain middle school and secondary science teachers for high-need schools that serve more than 119,000 diverse students. The Alliance will: create a high-quality, rigorous, and clinically-based teacher preparation program for aspiring middle and secondary science teachers; recruit and support diverse science educators and contribute to the knowledge base regarding the implementation of a clinically-based science teacher.
Teacher residency academies (TRAs) are gaining attention as a powerful tool for teacher preparation and professional development; however, there is a lack of empirical study demonstrating their merit. The goal of the Teacher Residency Academy Alliance (TRA2) - a partnership among Jackson State University, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Xavier University of Louisiana, and seven diverse urban and rural school districts in Mississippi and Louisiana - is to investigate the implementation of a TRA model to recruit, license, induct, employ, and retain 28 middle school and secondary science teachers for high-need schools that serve more than 119,000 diverse students. The Alliance will accomplish its goal by completing the following specific objectives: create a high quality, rigorous, and clinically-based teacher preparation program for aspiring middle and secondary science teachers; recruit, prepare, employ, and support an increased number of diverse (e.g., African American), effective middle and secondary science educators in high-need urban and rural schools; and contribute to the knowledge base regarding the implementation of a clinically-based science teacher preparation for middle and secondary classrooms in diverse schools. The project will enable one cohort of 28 teachers to successfully complete the TRA2 program and obtaining state licensure/certification in science teaching, a master's degree, and initiation to National Board certification.
The project's focus on middle school and secondary science helps make TRA2 unique in its approach to increase the number of high quality, culturally responsive, and licensed middle and secondary science teachers prepared to teach in the nation's high-need urban and rural schools. Project outcomes of this two year project are expected to inform the design of additional TRAs that will serve as a novel alternative to the traditional teacher preparation and post-baccalaureate certification programs common throughout the nation.
The study design will be formative. The data obtained through surveys of teachers, district leaders, and principals, telephone interviews of mentors, and from extant data, will provide important information regarding the implementation of TRA2.
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.
Examining Formative Assessment Practices for English Language Learners in Science Classrooms (Collaborative Research: Solano-Flores)
This is an exploratory study to identify critical aspects of effective science formative assessment (FA) practices for English Language Learners (ELLs), and the contextual factors influencing such practices. FA, in the context of the study, is viewed as a process contributing to the science learning of ELLs, as opposed to the administration of discrete sets of instruments to collect data from students. The study targets Spanish-speaking, elementary and middle school students.
This is a two-year exploratory study to identify critical aspects of effective science formative assessment (FA) practices for English Language Learners (ELLs), and the contextual factors influencing such practices. Three institutions join efforts for this purpose: University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Colorado at Denver, and University of Washington. FA, in the context of the study, is viewed as a process contributing to the science learning of ELLs, as opposed to the administration of discrete sets of instruments to collect data from students. The study targets Spanish-speaking, elementary and middle school students. Findings from this study contribute to advance knowledge and understanding of FA as an inherent component of the science learning process in linguistically diverse classrooms, and to define a research agenda aimed at enhancing science teachers' ability to enact equitable and effective assessment practices for this student subpopulation.
Three research questions guide the work: (1) What FA practices are occurring in science classrooms that serve predominantly mainstream students and in those serving predominantly ELLs?; (2) How are teachers' FA practices for mainstream students different from or similar to those used with ELLs?; and (3) How do contextual factors and teachers' cultural and linguistic competencies influence FA practices? To address these questions, two conceptual frameworks are used--one for characterizing FA events; the other for examining FA events as a communication process. The study employs a mixed-methods research approach with emphasis on case studies. The sample size consists of three school districts in Colorado and Washington, 16 classrooms (8 elementary, 8 middle school), 16 teachers, and 96 ELLs. Classrooms are selected to represent a particular combination of four factors: (a) teacher ethnicity, (b) teacher formal academic preparation in teaching ELLs, (c) type of linguistic student background, and (d) grade level. Students are selected through a stratified random sample, identified by achievement level (i.e., low, medium, high), and linguistic background (i.e., mainstream, ELL). Data collection strategies to document the implementation of FA at the beginning, during, and at the end of a science unit include: (a) classroom observations, (b) classroom video-recording, (c) video/artifact simulated recall, (d) assessment of artifacts, (e) student interviews, (f) teacher questionnaires, (g) teacher interviews, (h) school principal interviews, and (i) school observations. Reliability and validity of most of the data-gathering instruments is determined through pilot studies. Data interpretation strategies include: (a) coding based on the two conceptual frameworks, (b) scoring rubrics to identify levels of effectiveness, and (c) narratives and profiles to describe FA patterns. Publications and the development of a website constitute the main dissemination strategies. A technical advisory board is responsible for formative and summative evaluation. Key evaluation questions are: (1) To what extent does the project enhance research on ELL FA practices through case studies?, and (2) How effectively do the project dissemination activities facilitate understanding of FA practices?
Major project outcomes include: (1) a description of the patterns of formal and informal FA practices for ELLs; (2) a comparison of the FA practices observed in classrooms that vary on the dimensions of teacher characteristics and linguistic diversity; and (3) an empirically and theoretically informed set of findings and strategies for supporting teachers to enact and enhance FA practices sensitive to cultural and linguistic diversity. Three main products are developed: (1) a monograph describing the FA practices observed across the different classrooms with concrete examples; (2) a description of possible professional development strategies to improve in-service FA practices for linguistically diverse students; and (3) a research-informed approach for analyzing FA practices. Besides filling the existing research gap on FA with ELLs, outcomes and products serve as a foundation for a future research agenda and a comprehensive project aimed at ensuring equitable science learning for all students, including ELLs.
Further Development and Testing of the Target Inquiry Model for Middle and High School Science Teacher Professional Development (Collaborative Research: Yezierski)
This project scales and further tests the Target Inquiry professional development model. The model involves teachers in three core experiences: 1) a research experience for teachers, 2) materials adaptation, and 3) an action research project. The original program was implemented with high school chemistry teachers, and was shown to result in significant increases, with large effect sizes, in teachers' understanding of science inquiry and quality of instruction, and in science achievement of those teachers' students.
This project scales and further tests the Target Inquiry (TI) professional development model. The TI model involves teachers in three core experiences: 1) a research experience for teachers, 2) materials adaptation, and 3) an action research project. The original program was implemented with high school chemistry teachers at Grand Valley State University (GVSU), and was shown to result in significant increases, with large effect sizes, in teachers' understanding of science inquiry and quality of instruction, and in science achievement of those teachers' students. The scale-up and further testing would involve adding physics, biology and geology at Grand Valley State University, and implementing the program at Miami University (MU) with chemistry teachers. Three research questions will be studied:
1) How do the three TI core experiences influence in-service high school science teachers' (i) understanding of the nature of science; (ii) attitudes and beliefs about inquiry instruction; and (iii) classroom instructional methods in the derivatives of the TI model?
2) How does teacher participation in TI affect students' process skills (scientific reasoning and metacognition) and conceptual understanding of science in the derivatives of the TI model?
3) What are the challenges and solutions related to implementing TI in science disciplines beyond chemistry and in other regions?
The research design is quasi-experimental and longitudinal, incorporating implementation with research, and using quantitative and qualitative methods blended in a design research framework. A total of 54 middle and high school science teachers are being recruited for the study. The TI group is completing the TI program (N = 27; 15 at GVSU; 12 at MU) while the comparison group (same sizes and locations) is not. The comparison group is matched according to individual characteristics and school demographics. All teachers are being studied, along with their students, for 4 years (pre-program, post-RET, post-MA, post-AR/post-program). TI teachers are taking 15 credits of graduate level science courses over three years, including summers. Courses include a graduate seminar focused on preparing for the research experience, the research experience in a faculty member's science lab during the summer, application of research to teaching, action research project development, adaptation and evaluation of inquiry-focused curricula, and interpretation and analysis of classroom data from action research. Consistent feedback from professional development, teachers, and evaluation, including the previous implementation, contributes to a design-based approach. Teacher factors being studied include nature of science, inquiry teaching knowledge and beliefs, and quality of inquiry instruction. Student factors being studied include scientific reasoning; metacognition, self-efficacy, and learning processes in science; and content knowledge and conceptual understanding. Only established quantitative and qualitative instruments are being used. Quantitative analysis includes between-group comparisons by year on post-tests, with pre-tests as covariates, and multi-level models with students nested with teachers, and teachers within sites, with the teacher level as the primary unit of change. Trends over time between the treatment and comparison groups are being examined. The evaluation is using a combination of pre/post causal comparative quantitative measures and relevant qualitative data from project leaders and participants, as well as from the comparison group, to provide formative and summative evaluation input.
Outcomes of the project include documentation and understanding of the impacts on science teachers' instruction and student outcomes of research experiences for teachers when they are supported by materials adaptation and action research, and an understanding of what it takes to scale the model to different science disciplines and a different site. The project is also producing a website of instructional materials for middle and secondary science.
Taking Foundation Science to Scale -- Digitally: Transforming a Print Curriculum into an Innovative Learning Tool for Commercial Distribution
This project provides a model of how existing, tested digital enhancements can increase student learning. Increasing the quality of science education requires careful coupling of effective, research-based curricula with innovative digital features that deepen and enhance science learning and teaching. This RAPID is to ensure that the content and pedagogical expertise is present during the development of the digital version of Foundation science.
The print version of Foundation Science, a comprehensive high school science curriculum, has been extensively field tested and shown to be effective in increasing student learning and changing teacher practice. Carolina Biological Supply is scheduled to publish a digital version of Biology and Chemistry portions of Foundation Science that goes well beyond the conversion of print text to digital delivery by September 2012. Many digital enhancements have been developed and tested in the biology unit of Foundation Science, which was used as a model to develop a system to incorporate Universal Design for learning features in materials development and in on-line professional development for cross-over teachers. Some of the digital resources include a digital book reader; a notebook in which notes can take various forms such as text, drawing, voice recording; separate unscored assessments; an interactive glossary; graphing capabilities and an online research tool.
Thus this project provides a model of how existing, tested digital enhancements can increase student learning. Increasing the quality of science education requires careful coupling of effective, research-based curricula with innovative digital features that deepen and enhance science learning and teaching. This RAPID is to ensure that the content and pedagogical expertise is present during the development of the digital version of Foundation science.
This project investigates the outcomes of a teacher education model designed to foster prospective mathematics teachers' abilities to notice and capitalize on important mathematical moments in instruction. The project engages prospective teachers in research-like analysis of unedited teacher-perspective classroom video early in their teacher education coursework in order to help them learn to identify, assess the mathematical potential of, and respond to important student ideas and insights that arise during instruction.
This CAREER awardee at Michigan Technological University is investigating the outcomes of a teacher education model designed to foster prospective mathematics teachers' abilities to notice and capitalize on important mathematical moments in instruction. The researcher engages prospective teachers in research-like analysis of unedited teacher-perspective classroom video early in their teacher education coursework in order to help them learn to identify, assess the mathematical potential of, and respond to important student ideas and insights that arise during instruction.
The research is based on a quasi-experimental design and involves three cohorts of prospective teachers. Practicing teachers from local schools collaborate with the research team. The data collected consists of classroom video. The video is coded and analyzed using Studiocode, which allows for real-time coding and for multiple users to code and annotate video segments.
The research findings are integrated into the institution's teacher education program and are also disseminated more broadly through publication and presentations at professional meetings.
Investigating and Supporting the Development of Ambitious and Equitable Mathematics Instruction at Scale
This project is supporting and investigating the implementation of reformed mathematics instruction at the middle school level in two large school districts. The primary goal of the project is to develop an empirically grounded theory of action for implementing reform at school and district levels. The researchers are investigating reform within a coherent system that focuses on leadership and school-based professional development.
The Development of Ambitious and Equitable Mathematics Instruction project is supporting and investigating the implementation of reformed mathematics instruction at the middle school level in two large school districts. Project researchers are asking: What does it take to support mathematics teachers' development of ambitious and equitable instructional practices on a large scale? The project has built on what was learned in a previous, successful project studying the implementation of a middle school mathematics curriculum. The primary goal of the new project is to develop an empirically grounded theory of action for implementing reform at school and district levels. The researchers are investigating reform within a coherent system that focuses on leadership and school-based professional development. In addition, they are facilitating a longitudinal study of the curriculum implementation by continuing the data collection from the original study.
In order to build a theory of action, the project team is synthesizing data from a variety of domains including instructional systems (e.g., curriculum, materials, professional development, support for struggling students, and learning communities), mathematics coaching, networks of teachers, school leadership, and district leadership. Investigators are using a variety of analytic techniques to successfully integrate both quantitative and qualitative data as they seek to understand how school district strategies are playing out in schools and classrooms and how those strategies can be revised in order to improve student learning of mathematics.
An empirically grounded theory of action for implementing reform will help the mathematics education community to implement and to understand the process of reforming mathematics instruction at the middle school level. Many advances in mathematics instruction have been documented within a limited context, but researchers and practitioners need to understand the full range of action necessary to achieve similar successes at a district-wide level. The model developed from this project, in conjunction with longitudinal data, has the potential to guide future reform efforts that seek to provide ambitious and equitable mathematics instruction.
Developing and Testing a Model to Support Student Understanding of the Sub-microscopic Interactions that Govern Biological and Chemical Processes
This project designs, develops, and tests coherent interdisciplinary instructional materials to support high school students' integrated understanding of the forces and energetics involved in interactions that occur between atoms and molecules, and explores how students' learning progresses across time. The project will be implemented in three Michigan school districts with students who traditionally do not succeed in science.
This project designs, develops, and tests coherent interdisciplinary instructional materials to support high school students' integrated understanding of the forces and energetics involved in interactions that occur between atoms and molecules, and explores how students' learning progresses across time. Instructional materials focus on physical science core ideas identified in "A Framework for K-12 Science Education" (NRC, 2011), and "College Board Standards for College Success" (College Board, 2009). The two research questions are: (1) How does learning progress over time when students experience a set of interdisciplinary instructional materials designed to help them advance toward important learning goals related to interactions at very small scales?; and (2) How do the various learning activities support the development of integrated understanding? The project is implemented in three Michigan school districts with students who traditionally do not succeed in science. Two of the school districts serve urban communities with ethnically diverse student populations; the third serves a rural, primarily Caucasian community.
To develop and test instructional materials and associated assessments, the project joins efforts with the Concord Consortium and employs the Construct-Centered Design process (a principled process based on evidence-centered assessment and learning goal-driven designs); uses physical and computer-based models and simulations; and draws on previous and ongoing work on a learning progression of the hypothetical students' path in their understanding of the structure, properties, interactions, and transformations of matter. Four instructional units are produced: (1) Introduction to Electrical Forces, (2) Water, (3) Larger Molecules, and (4) Bio-Molecules, with a duration of two to six weeks each. After testing for usability, the units go through two additional phases. Phase I comprises pilot testing with at least one teacher at two sites, two classrooms each, yielding information from 100-120 students per unit. Phase II consists of field testing the units with a larger sample. Using a power analysis to determine sample size, the project tests two different sequences of the units: (a) four teachers, eight classrooms, and 200 students use the units as a single semester course before taking biology or chemistry; and (b) four teachers, eight classrooms, and 200 students use the units in appropriate points within a chemistry or biology course. Eight teachers from the same school districts, 16 classrooms, and 400 students who do not use the units, serve as the comparison group. A mixed-methods approach is used to collect and analyze data. Data collection strategies include: (a) pre- and post- tests, (b) unit-embedded assessments, (c) students' interest and attitudes, (d) assessments to place students in the learning progression, (e) classroom observations, (f) analysis of student classroom work, and (g) interviews with students and teachers. Data interpretation strategies include: (a) coding of students' and teachers' responses from interviews, (b) identification of patterns, and (c) using item-response theory (IRT) procedures to place students' responses in the learning progression. A range of methods are used to assess validity and reliability of instruments used, including: (a) construct validity, (b) content validity, and (c) IRT procedures. Project external evaluation addresses both formative and summative aspects.
Key project outcomes include: (a) a research-informed and field-tested semester-long course comprising four integrated units with specific objectives, learning tasks, phenomena to illustrate and support understanding at key points, reading materials, and embedded assessments; (b) computer simulations aligned with the units; (c) educative materials for teachers; (d) valid and reliable instruments to measure students' understanding and attitudes; and (e) a set of research manuscripts focused on how the new materials work and promote student learning of key challenging ideas.