Pedagogy

CAREER: A Study of Factors that Affect Middle School Levels of Readiness for Implementing STEM Programs

This project will investigate whether six urban middle schools are implementing highly effective science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs based on factors identified through relevant research and national reports on what constitutes exemplary practices in 21st century-focused schools.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1553098
Funding Period: 
Mon, 02/15/2016 - Sun, 01/31/2021
Full Description: 

This is a Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) proposal responsive to Program Solicitation NSF 15-555. The CAREER program is a National Science Foundation-wide activity that offers the most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research. This project will investigate whether six urban middle schools are implementing highly effective science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs based on factors identified through relevant research and national reports on what constitutes exemplary practices in 21st century-focused schools. The project will make this determination through the use of a STEM level of readiness rubric developed through a previous award that will be further revised through this study. The rubric will document the participating schools' level of readiness at the principal, teacher, and student levels using 15 criteria that include a combination of essential supports, core elements, attributes, and characteristics about STEM through: (1) school leadership as the driver of change in education; (2) professional capacity among teachers and staff in all academic areas; (3) student-centered learning climate reflective of high-quality teaching and learning practices; and (4) investment of resources (e.g. staffing, time, space, materials and supplies, partnerships) that support exemplary school-based programs.

The project will use surveys, focus groups, and face-to-face interviews to collect data from 18 principals; classroom observations and a survey to collect data from 380 teachers, and a survey to collect data from 3700 students. These data collections, augmented by other intermittent research activities, will provide insights about extant programs in participating schools regarding effective school leadership, state-of-the art teaching and learning practices, and the impact on students' interest, motivation, and self-efficacy about STEM education. The primary outcome from this project will be a field-tested jointly refined STEM level of readiness rubric based on input from principals, teachers, and students with guidance from the project's advisory board and the Center for Research in Educational Policy at the University of Memphis. The rubric will be instrumental in informing district-level education stakeholders and university-partner decision-makers' choices about where and when to invest resources to further support the development of higher quality STEM programs and schools. It will also be useful in identifying ways to improve students' overall perceptions about future courses of study and careers and the development of professional development modules for teacher training. Beyond these key school district-level outcomes, results will be used to enhance teacher preparation efforts through further refinement of methods courses and the STEM Teacher Leadership Certificate Program at the University.

CAREER: A Study of Factors that Affect Middle School Levels of Readiness for Implementing STEM Programs

CAREER: Making Science Visible: Using Visualization Technology to Support Linguistically Diverse Middle School Students' Learning in Physical and Life Sciences

This project will investigate the potential benefits of interactive, dynamic visualization technologies in supporting science learning for middle school students, including ELLs. This project will identify design principles for developing such technology, develop additional ways to support student learning, and provide guidelines for professional development that can assist teachers in better serving linguistically diverse students. The project has the potential to transform traditional science instruction for all students, and to broaden their participation in science.

Award Number: 
1552114
Funding Period: 
Wed, 06/01/2016 - Mon, 05/31/2021
Full Description: 

The growing diversity in public schools requires science educators to address the specific needs of English language learners (ELLs), students who speak a language other than English at home. Although ELLs are the fastest-growing demographic group in classrooms, many are historically underserved in mainstream science classrooms, particularly those from underrepresented minority groups. The significant increase of ELLs at public schools poses a challenge to science teachers in linguistically diverse classrooms as they try to support and engage all students in learning science. The proposed project will respond to this urgent need by investigating the potential benefits of interactive, dynamic visualization technologies, including simulations, animations, and visual models, in supporting science learning for all middle school students, including ELLs. This project will also identify design principles for developing such technology, develop additional ways to support student learning, and provide new guidelines for effective science teachers' professional development that can assist them to better serve students from diverse language backgrounds. The project has the potential to transform traditional science instruction for all students, including underserved ELLs, and to broaden their participation in science.

In collaboration with eighth grade science teachers from two low-income middle schools in North Carolina, the project will focus on three objectives: (1) develop, test, and refine four open-source, web-based inquiry units featuring dynamic visualizations on energy and matter concepts in physical and life sciences, aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS); (2) investigate how dynamic visualizations can engage eighth-grade ELLs and native-English-speaking students in science practices and improve their understanding of energy and matter concepts; and (3) investigate which scaffolding approaches can help maximize ELLs' learning with visualizations. Research questions include: (1) Which kinds of dynamic visualizations (simulations, animations, visual models) lead to the best learning outcomes for all students within the four instructional science units?; (2) Do ELLs benefit more from visualizations (or particular kinds of visualizations) than do native-English-speaking students?; and (3) What kinds of additional scaffolding activities (e.g., critiquing arguments vs. generating arguments) are needed by ELLs in order to achieve the greatest benefit? The project will use design-based research and mixed-methods approaches to accomplish its research objectives and address these questions. Furthermore, it will help science teachers develop effective strategies to support students' learning with visualizations. Products from this project, including four NGSS-aligned web-based inquiry units, the visualizations created for the project, professional development materials, and scaffolding approaches for teachers to use with ELLs, will be freely available through a project website and multiple professional development networks. The PI will collaborate with an advisory board of experts to develop the four instructional units, visualizations, and scaffolds, as well as with the participating teachers to refine these materials in an iterative fashion. Evaluation of the materials and workshops will be provided each year by the advisory board members, and their feedback will be used to improve design and implementation for the next year. The advisory board will also provide summative evaluation of student learning outcomes and will assess the success of the teachers' professional development workshops.

CAREER: Making Science Visible: Using Visualization Technology to Support Linguistically Diverse Middle School Students' Learning in Physical and Life Sciences

CAREER: Investigating Fifth Grade Teachers' Knowledge of Noticing Appalachian Students' Thinking in Science

This project will investigate teachers' knowledge of noticing students' science thinking. The project will examine teacher noticing in practice, use empirical evidence to model the teacher knowledge involved, and design teacher learning materials informed by the model. The outcomes of this project will be a model of teachers' knowledge of noticing Appalachian students' thinking in science and the design of web-based interactive instructional materials supporting teachers' knowledge construction around noticing Appalachian students' thinking in science.

Award Number: 
1552428
Funding Period: 
Fri, 07/01/2016 - Wed, 06/30/2021
Full Description: 

This is a Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) proposal responsive to Program Solicitation NSF 15-555. The CAREER program is a National Science Foundation-wide activity that offers the most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research. Based on findings from research on effective science teaching supporting the notion that meaningful learning occurs when teachers attend to students' thinking, this project will conduct an in-depth investigation of teachers' knowledge of noticing students' science thinking in terms of what they do and say, to not only attend to their ideas, but also to make sense of and respond to those ideas. The work will be grounded on the premise that there is a relationship between teachers' practice and knowledge, and that it is possible to observe practice in order to infer knowledge. The project will examine teacher noticing in practice, use empirical evidence to model the specialized teacher knowledge involved, and design teacher learning materials informed by the model. The setting of the study will include an existing school-university partnership serving diverse student populations in Appalachian communities, where students significantly underperform nationally in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics areas across grades levels. It will target fifth grade science teachers' noticing their students' thinking as they engage in science learning in six rural and semi-rural elementary schools.

The three research questions will be: (1) What disciplinary ideas in students' thinking do elementary teachers notice in practice?; (2) What knowledge do elementary teachers draw on when noticing the disciplinary ideas in students' thinking in practice?; and (3) How does a set of web-based interactive instructional materials support teachers' knowledge construction around noticing the disciplinary ideas in students' thinking in science? In order to investigate teachers' noticing students' thinking, and answer the research questions, the project will use two wearable technologies to collect data of teachers' "in-the-moment" noticing while engaged in planning, instructional, and assessment activities. One is a point-of-view digital video system consisting of three parts: a small video camera, a hand-held remote, and a separate recording module. The other is an audio-recording wristband with a recording mode allowing the user to capture previous one-minute loops of audio data. An audio loop is saved whenever the user taps the wristband. Data will be analyzed for evidence of students' disciplinary knowledge and skills in order to give insight of teachers' knowledge involved in noticing each instance using the three interconnected dimensions featured in "A Framework for K-12 Science Education" (National Research Council, 2012). The project will consist of four strands of work: (1) empirically investigating teachers' noticing of students' thinking; (2) developing an initial conceptual model of teachers' knowledge of noticing students' thinking; (3) conducting design-based research to develop instructional materials supporting teachers' knowledge construction around noticing students' thinking in science; and (4) producing and disseminating these instructional materials through an interactive web-based platform. The main outcomes of this project will be (a) an empirically grounded model of fifth grade teachers' knowledge of noticing Appalachian students' thinking in science; and (b) the design of web-based interactive instructional materials supporting fifth grade teachers' knowledge construction around noticing Appalachian students' thinking in science. These outcomes will serve as the foundation for a more comprehensive future research agenda testing and refining the initial model and instructional materials in other learning environments in order to eventually contribute to a practice-based theory of teachers' knowledge of noticing students' thinking in science to inform and impact science teaching practice. An advisory board will oversee the project's progress, and an external evaluator will conduct both formative and summative evaluation.

CAREER: Investigating Fifth Grade Teachers' Knowledge of Noticing Appalachian Students' Thinking in Science

CAREER: Designing Learning Environments to Foster Productive and Powerful Discussions Among Linguistically Diverse Students in Secondary Mathematics

This project will design and develop specialized instructional materials and guidelines for teaching secondary algebra in linguistically diverse classrooms. These materials will incorporate current research on student learning in mathematics and research on the role of language in students' mathematical thinking and learning. The work will connect research on mathematics learning generally with research on the mathematics learning of ELLs, and will contribute practical resources and guidance for mathematics teachers who teach ELLs.

Award Number: 
1553708
Funding Period: 
Mon, 02/01/2016 - Sun, 01/31/2021
Full Description: 

The project will design and investigate learning environments in secondary mathematics classrooms focused on meeting the needs of English language learners. An ongoing challenge for mathematics teachers is promoting deep mathematics learning among linguistically diverse groups of students while taking into consideration how students' language background influences their classroom experiences and the mathematical understandings they develop. In response to this challenge, this project will design and develop specialized instructional materials and guidelines for teaching fundamental topics in secondary algebra in linguistically diverse classrooms. The materials will incorporate insights from current research on student learning in mathematics as well as insights from research on the role of language in students' mathematical thinking and learning. A significant contribution of the work will be connecting research on mathematics learning generally with research on the mathematics learning of English language learners. In addition to advancing theoretical understandings, the research will also contribute practical resources and guidance for mathematics teachers who teach English language learners. The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program is a National Science Foundation (NSF)-wide activity that offers awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.

The project is focused on the design of specialized hypothetical learning trajectories that incorporate considerations for linguistically diverse students. One goal for the specialized trajectories is to foster productive and powerful mathematics discussions about linear and exponential rates in linguistically diverse classrooms. The specialized learning trajectories will include both mathematical and language development learning goals. While this project focuses on concepts related to reasoning with linear and exponential functions, the resulting framework should inform the design of specialized hypothetical learning trajectories in other topic areas. Additionally, the project will add to the field's understanding of how linguistically diverse students develop mathematical understandings of a key conceptual domain. The project uses a design-based research framework gathering classroom-based data, assessment data, and interviews with teachers and students to design and refine the learning trajectories. Consistent with a design-based approach, the project results will include development of theory about linguistically diverse students' mathematics learning and development of guidance and resources for secondary mathematics teachers. This research involves sustained collaboration with secondary mathematics teachers and the impacts will include developing capacity of teachers locally, and propagating the results of this work in professional development activities.

CAREER: Designing Learning Environments to Foster Productive and Powerful Discussions Among Linguistically Diverse Students in Secondary Mathematics

CAREER: Algebraic Knowledge for Teaching: A Cross-Cultural Perspective

The goal of this CAREER program of research is to identify, from a cross-cultural perspective, essential Algebraic Knowledge for Teaching (AKT) that will enable elementary teachers to better develop students' algebraic thinking. This study explores AKT based on integrated insights of the U.S. and Chinese expert teachers' classroom performance.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1350068
Funding Period: 
Fri, 08/15/2014 - Wed, 07/31/2019
Full Description: 

What content knowledge is needed for the teaching of mathematics? What practices are more effective for realizing student success? These questions have received considerable attention in the mathematics education community. The goal of this CAREER program of research is to identify, from a cross-cultural perspective, essential Algebraic Knowledge for Teaching (AKT) that will enable elementary teachers to better develop students' algebraic thinking. Focusing on two fundamental mathematical ideas recently emphasized by the Common Core State Standards - inverse relations and properties of operations - this study explores AKT based on integrated insights of the U.S. and Chinese expert teachers' classroom performance. It will be focused on three objectives: (1) identify AKT that facilitates algebraic thinking and develop preliminary findings into teaching materials; (2) refine research-based teaching materials based on the evaluative data; and (3) integrate research with education through course development at Temple University and teacher outreach in Philadelphia.

The model underlying this research program is that improved pedagogy will improve student learning, both directly and indirectly. A design-based research method will be used to accomplish objectives #1 and #2. Cross-cultural videotaped lessons will be first analyzed to identify AKT, focusing on teachers' use of worked examples, representations, and deep questions. This initial set of findings will then be developed into teaching materials. The U.S. and Chinese expert teachers will re-teach the lessons as part of the refinement process. Data sources will include: baseline and updated survey data (control, context, and process variables), observation, documents, videos, and interviews. The statistical techniques will include descriptive and inferential statistics and HLM will to address the hierarchical nature of the data.

This project involves students and teachers at various levels (elementary, undergraduate, and graduate) at Temple University and the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) in the U.S. and Nanjing Normal University and Nantong School District in China. A total of 600 current and future elementary teachers and many of their students will benefit directly or indirectly from this project. Project findings will be disseminated through various venues. Activities of the project will promote school district-university collaboration, a novice-expert teacher network, and cross-disciplinary and international collaboration. It is anticipated that the videos of expert teaching will also be useful future research by cognitive researchers studying ways to improve mathematics learning.

CAREER: Algebraic Knowledge for Teaching: A Cross-Cultural Perspective

Engineering Teacher Pedagogy: Using INSPIRES to Support Integration of Engineering Design in Science and Technology Classrooms

This Engineering Teacher Pedagogy project implements and assesses the promise of an extended professional development model coupled with curriculum enactment to develop teacher pedagogical skills for integrating engineering design into high school biology and technology education classrooms. 

Award Number: 
1418183
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/01/2014 - Fri, 08/31/2018
Full Description: 

National college and career readiness standards call for integrating engineering practices into science and mathematics instruction. Very few models for doing this have been implemented and studied. This Engineering Teacher Pedagogy project implements and assesses the promise of an extended professional development model coupled with curriculum enactment to develop teacher pedagogical skills for integrating engineering design into high school biology and technology education classrooms. Professional development is provided to twenty high school biology teachers and twenty technology education teachers in the Baltimore County Public Schools.

The professional development consists of two five day sessions in two consecutive summers and follow up in two academic years as the teachers learn content, pedagogical content knowledge and classroom management skills. The project investigates the teachers' learning trajectories using validated instruments. A longitudinal study investigates teachers' change in practice and its role on student learning through classroom observations and examination of student artifacts. The study also investigates whether the change in practice persists over time and the extent to which the change in practice transfers to other learning environments. This study should elucidate the issues of teaching science concepts through the use of science and engineering practices.

Engineering Teacher Pedagogy: Using INSPIRES to Support Integration of Engineering Design in Science and Technology Classrooms

Cross-National Comparison of School and District Supports for High-Quality Mathematics Instruction in the US and China

This RAPID project is a cross-national comparative study of U.S. and Chinese instructional support systems, building from earlier data about mathematics teaching and learning in large urban school districts of both the United States and the People's Republic of China. The study uses quantitative methods to compare and contrast the effectiveness of supports (e.g., professional development, teacher networks, school leadership) in improving teachers' instructional practices and student achievement using comparable instrumentation.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1321828
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/15/2013 - Sun, 08/31/2014
Full Description: 

Since the publication of the result that students from Shanghai, China, outperformed students from all other participating countries on the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in mathematics, researchers have sought to understand why Chinese mathematics education appears to be both more successful at boosting student learning and more equitably distributed. This RAPID project is a cross-national comparative study of U.S. and Chinese instructional support systems, building from earlier data about mathematics teaching and learning in large urban school districts of both the United States and the People's Republic of China. The work is being conducted by researchers from Vanderbilt University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and Beijing Normal University. The study uses quantitative methods to compare and contrast the effectiveness of supports (e.g., professional development, teacher networks, school leadership) in improving teachers' instructional practices and student achievement using comparable instrumentation.

The study contributes to research and policy in several ways. First, it is helping to identify supports that have been particularly effective in improving mathematics teaching and learning in China. This should inform current theories about how to best support mathematics education in the United States. Second, the cross-nationally validated instruments used to collect the data can be used by other researchers investigating curricular reform implementation cross-nationally. The findings of this study are especially relevant to district leaders as they develop support and accountability systems to effectively implement the content and practice standards of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.

This award is co-funded by NSF's International Science and Engineering Section, Office of International and Integrative Activities.

Cross-National Comparison of School and District Supports for High-Quality Mathematics Instruction in the US and China

Improving Competency in Elementary Science Teaching

This project provides elementary teachers, grades 3-5 with a pedagogical framework and related resources for distinguishing quality science teaching. The study focuses on developing and testing a framework, the Quality Science Teaching Continuum (QSTC), to determine its capacity to serve as a potent formative and collaborative tool with which teachers can reflect on their science teaching practices and recognize student behaviors that are indicators of engagement and science learning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1317068
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2013 - Tue, 06/30/2015
Full Description: 

This Stanford University project provides elementary teachers, grades 3-5 with a pedagogical framework and related resources for distinguishing quality science teaching. The study focuses on developing and testing a framework, the Quality Science Teaching Continuum (QSTC), to determine its capacity to serve as a potent formative and collaborative tool with which teachers can reflect on their science teaching practices and recognize student behaviors that are indicators of engagement and science learning. The project includes an intensive professional development (PD) that will accompany the instrument designed to develop teachers' understanding of (1) pedagogy, (2) science process and content, (3) community building, and (4) use of QSTC to improve classroom instruction and student engagement.

Teachers will be videotaped during classroom science instruction at various points in the two-year process, and the resulting digital library of teaching videos provides an ongoing reference resource for teachers and others when reflecting on their practice. The project provides a proof of concept and examines the use of a specific, formative, integrative instrument, the QSTC, within an immersive teacher professional development program.

Improving Competency in Elementary Science Teaching

Smarter Together Working Conference: Developing a Shared Curriculum of Complex Instruction for Elementary Mathematics Methods Courses

This working conference will help university professors who teach elementary mathematics methods courses learn to use Complex Instruction, a research-proven pedagogy for building mathematical content knowledge and supporting the learning of diverse students.

Award Number: 
1461833
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2013 - Fri, 07/31/2015
Full Description: 

This working conference will help university professors who teach elementary mathematics methods courses learn to use Complex Instruction, a research-proven pedagogy for building mathematical content knowledge and supporting the learning of diverse students. In Complex Instruction, educators design tasks that require multiple mathematical abilities to solve. For example, solving a particular task might require computational skills as well as the ability to visualize a 3-dimensional object and represent that object on paper. Through this mathematical complexity, the tasks demand that students engage deeply with mathematics and draw on each others' mathematical strengths. In addition, in Complex Instruction teachers use strategies that minimize status differences in the classroom that impact participation, ensuring that all students - regardless of their popularity, first-language, race, or income level - participate equitably. During the conference, 28 university instructors from across the country will design tasks to be used in mathematics methods courses for prospective elementary teachers. Mathematics educators from University of Georgia, University of Arizona, University of Michigan, and Michigan State University will work together to design and host the conference. The conference is expected to produce a cohort of mathematics educators knowledgeable about Complex Instruction, and who can then support colleagues at their home institutions in learning to use the pedagogy as well as promoting the use of Complex Instruction in mathematics classrooms in U.S. elementary schools.

After learning the essential elements of Complex Instruction, conference participants will design Complex Instruction curriculum modules to implement at their home institutions. Evaluation of the conference will include surveys and phone interviews with conference participants to assess their knowledge of and use of Complex Instruction. In addition, some participants will be selected for more extensive follow-up, including the collection of videos of Complex Instruction lessons in their courses and surveys of their students. Data will be analyzed to identify major themes related to the knowledge of the participants and their students, the supports and obstacles present in various contexts in relation to adopting a new pedagogy, and the impact of Complex Instruction on the methods courses.

All of the tasks and the activities designed during the conference will be available not only to the conference participants but also to anyone interested in Complex Instruction through the website, www.ci.org. In addition, by developing experts in Complex Instruction at more than a dozen universities across the country, the conference will play an important role in disseminating this relatively new, but effective, pedagogy. Evidence about the effectiveness of Complex Instruction suggests that large-scale incorporation of this practice into mathematics methods classrooms will increase the mathematics understandings of prospective elementary teachers and ultimately their students, particularly those in schools with significant numbers of marginalized students.

Formerly Award # 1316235

Smarter Together Working Conference: Developing a Shared Curriculum of Complex Instruction for Elementary Mathematics Methods Courses

CAREER: Fraction Activities and Assessments for Conceptual Teaching (FAACT) for Students with Learning Disabilities

The goal of this project is to study and support the development of conceptual understanding of fractions by students with learning disabilities (LD). The researcher proposes that rather than focusing on whether LD students can or cannot develop conceptual understanding of fractions, research should attempt to uncover the understanding LD students have and examine how growth of conceptual knowledge occurs in these students.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1446250
Funding Period: 
Tue, 07/01/2014 - Sun, 06/30/2019
Project Evaluator: 
Dr. Mary Little
Full Description: 

The goal of this project is to study and support the development of conceptual understanding of fractions by students with learning disabilities (LD). The researcher proposes that rather than focusing on whether LD students can or cannot develop conceptual understanding of fractions, research should attempt to uncover the understanding LD students have and examine how growth of conceptual knowledge occurs in these students. This approach suggests a reconceptualization of research and instructional practice in mathematics that focus on the conceptual knowledge students with LD can in fact develop.

Through a series of teaching experiments that involve cycles of theorizing, design, implementation, and refinement, the project develops instructional trajectories for LD students in the area of fractions. The research question addressed are: What initial and developing key developmental understandings of fractions do students with learning disabilities evidence through employed strategies, language, and representations? How do students with learning disabilities progress in developing and solidifying conceptual understandings of fractions through their mathematical activity? And, to what extent does an intervention reflective of a research based instructional trajectory facilitate strategic development and increased fraction conceptual knowledge in students with learning disabilities?

The main outcomes of the project include (a) a research-based instructional trajectory for students with LD specific to conceptual understandings of fractions as numeric quantities, (b) a set of 90 fraction tasks to be used for instruction and/or formative assessment in fraction concepts, (c) scoring/coding frameworks and checklists for use with key tasks as formative assessments, (d) decision-making frameworks, task sequencing guides, and suggestions to aid teachers in designing individualized, student-centered instruction, all available via the Internet. Most important, the project has the potential to offer a transformative approach to mathematics instruction for students with LD, bringing together expertise on learning disabilities and mathematics education to address a area in which there is very little research.

The PI will incorporate finding from the study into methods courses for both mathematics education and special education students. She will also develop a graduate course entitled Diagnosis and Remediation.

Formerly under Award # 1253254.

CAREER: Fraction Activities and Assessments for Conceptual Teaching (FAACT) for Students with Learning Disabilities
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