Elementary School

Storytelling for Mathematics Learning and Engagement

This project will collect and curate digital stories of diverse mathematicians sharing stories of their learning within and beyond schools. These short videos will become part of a more extensive digital database of mathematics stories that will be aligned with K-8 mathematics topics and then materials will be developed for teachers to use. The project team will explore the use of mathematics storytelling on K-8 teacher and student mathematics learning and engagement.

Award Number: 
2010276
Funding Period: 
Wed, 07/01/2020 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Full Description: 

Mathematics education in the United States has long been challenged by three key issues this project seeks to address: (a) narrow conceptions of mathematics as a discipline (b) the lack of racially/ethnically diverse role models for mathematics in terms of representation in the public imagination, media, and schools; and (c) a paucity of resources for instruction to harness students' early interest and engagement in mathematics across racial and gender groups. One promising way to expose teachers and students to a variety of images and diversity of models of mathematics is to include images of diverse people telling their stories about their doing and knowing of mathematics. Although storytelling is a natural part of human activity and is used extensively in other elementary school subjects like social studies and language arts, it is not usually found in elementary mathematics. As part of this three-year project, the project team will collect and curate digital stories of diverse mathematicians sharing stories of their learning within and beyond schools. These short videos will become part of a more extensive digital database of mathematics stories that will be aligned with K-8 mathematics topics and then materials will be developed for teachers to use. Throughout this work, the project team will explore the use of mathematics storytelling on K-8 teacher and student mathematics learning and engagement.

This project responds to calls for improved equity and access to rich, rigorous math: to contribute to understanding a more equitable K-12 pedagogy; to disrupt racial inequities in math (and STEM, more broadly) through culturally responsive and inclusive instructional practice; and to enhance teachers' instructional practice. The first phase of the work will involve collecting and curating a set of digital stories told by mathematicians. Then, through two cycles of design and piloting, the project team will work with participating teachers and students to finalize the design of the videos and associated instructional materials. A sample of pilot teachers will be purposefully selected to account for diversity in region, school population, and experience level of teachers. The research team will also design grade-level appropriate research instruments, collect surveys, and conduct interviews to investigate both teachers' and students' conceptions of mathematics, their conceptions of who "belongs" in mathematics, and teachers' instructional practice with the storytelling materials themselves. Their analysis will draw on quantitative and qualitative research methods. For example, they will use narrative inquiry to examine teachers' and students' experiences with the videos. Using the research findings, the project will make available samples of teachers' pedagogical repertoires related to these videos and demonstrate how storytelling can be used as an effective mechanism for mathematics teaching and learning. Products from this project will include a digital database and supporting instructional materials for teachers, school leaders, and professional developers to use. The dissemination of this research will contribute to building models for mathematics education that serve to deepen understanding of mathematics of teachers and students, as well as simultaneously empowering students of all backgrounds, but especially underserved students, to activate and pursue their interests in mathematics.

A Quantitative Synthesis of Research on Elementary Science Programs

The goal of this project is to conduct a meta-analysis to assist in establishing a solid base of evidence to inform further research, practice, and policy in the area of early science education. The project will bring up-to-date the meta-analysis literature in the area of early science education.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2006179
Funding Period: 
Wed, 07/01/2020 to Wed, 06/30/2021
Full Description: 

The success of all students in science has become a priority, as the economic future depends on a workforce that is capable in science, mathematics, technology, and engineering. One area of emphasis has been on elementary science, where children's early attitudes and orientations about science are formed. Given the growth of high-quality evaluations of elementary science programs in recent years and the need to know what works in science education, an up-to-date review identifying effective programs and malleable factors in elementary science is needed. The goal of this project is to conduct a meta-analysis to assist in establishing a solid base of evidence to inform further research, practice, and policy in the area of early science education. The previous meta-analysis completed by this team published findings from approximately ten years ago. This project will bring up-to-date the meta-analysis literature in the area of early science education.

The review methods in the proposed quantitative synthesis on elementary science programs will be similar to those used by the What Works Clearinghouse. The focus of the review procedures is on timeliness, comprehensiveness, transparency, and minimizing bias. The goal of the project is to obtain and synthesize the entire literature evaluating elementary science programs to discover what works, for whom, and under what conditions. The team will systematically review the literature available in English between 2010 and 2021 to locate every study that meets well-established and accepted standards. Second, studies are grouped by categories, to look for patterns among effect sizes across studies. The team will use meta-regression techniques to test statistical significance of the categories and will explore cross-cutting substantive and methodological factors, as well as key moderators and mediators. The team will communicate findings to many audiences, including scholarly journals, practitioner journals, and the public.

Professional Development for Science Teachers Using Electronic Portfolios to Document Student Understandings of Energy Concepts Across Grades K-8

This project would investigate a new model of professional development for teams of science teachers in grades K-8 who would create electronic portfolios documenting how they taught specific concepts about energy. In addition, teachers would also select evidence of student understanding of the concepts and add those materials to their portfolios. The study focuses on teaching and learning energy core ideas and science practices that are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Award Number: 
2010505
Funding Period: 
Thu, 10/01/2020 to Sat, 09/30/2023
Full Description: 

Professional development for science teachers is often restricted to content required for a single grade level or grade band. Consequently, teachers seldom have the opportunity to discuss evidence of how learning occurs as students pass from grade to grade. This project would investigate a new model of professional development for teams of science teachers in grades K-8 who would create electronic portfolios documenting how they taught specific concepts about energy. In addition, teachers would also select evidence of student understanding of the concepts and add those materials to their portfolios. The study focuses on teaching and learning energy core ideas and science practices that are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The core ideas are designed to spiral over grade levels, with each core idea being revisited with more complexity as students advance from grades K to 8. The electronic portfolio will include images of artifacts such as student work samples and videos that reflect students' evolving thinking and discourse about energy topics. As teachers organize, share, and discuss this progression of evidence in professional learning communities guided by the researchers, the goal is to have a vertical electronic display of artifacts that illustrates how learning can occur. The vertically aligned evidence will help other teachers in the school district to gain an increasingly complex understanding of student learning trajectories across grade levels to improve teaching and learning in science classrooms across the district. The project is innovative because its goal is to move beyond the grade-level collaborations typical of professional development practice and literature, toward multi-grade teams of teachers who engage in complex reflection about spiraling core ideas and scientific practices developed by students over time.

The research questions are: 1.) How does participation in a vertical professional learning community (PLC) influence teachers' knowledge and instruction for teaching disciplinary core ideas through engagement in science practices? 2.) In what ways does professional learning about science teaching and learning differ in a vertical PLC, compared to grade-level PLCs? And 3.) How does the use of an electronic portfolio and feedback system influence teachers' learning from a vertical PLC? The study will first work with K-8 teacher leaders in the Little River Unified School District in California where an electronic portfolio system is already in place due to a prior NSF grant. In the first year, the researchers will add new features to the electronic portfolio system to expand its capabilities. Each teacher would provide a 5-day portfolio of lessons in the fall semester of the first year as a baseline measure of instructional practices. The project will focus on NGSS competencies in developing models and constructing explanations for energy concepts. The researchers will measure progress through teacher interviews, surveys, and lesson plans. Teachers will also collect additional artifacts reflecting student-drawn conceptual models and written or oral causal explanations of anchoring phenomena throughout the assigned units. By the end of the study, teachers will collect new 5-day portfolios, to sum up what they have learned and how they are approaching teaching the energy concepts and science practices. Participating teacher leaders will work with the UCLA research team to design and facilitate a series of professional development modules for all science teachers across grades K-8. These modules will use the evidence in the vertical portfolios to illustrate teaching and learning trajectories across K-8 physical science energy concepts and science.

Supporting Elementary Teacher Learning for Effective School-Based Citizen Science (TL4CS)

This project will develop two forms of support for teachers: guidance embedded in citizen science project materials and teacher professional development. The overarching goal of the project is to generate knowledge about teacher learning that enables elementary school citizen science to support students' engagement with authentic science content and practices through data collection and sense making.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2009212
Funding Period: 
Wed, 07/01/2020 to Sun, 06/30/2024
Full Description: 

Citizen science involves individuals, who are not professional scientists, in authentic scientific research, typically in collaboration with professional scientists. When implemented well in elementary schools, citizen science projects immerse students in science content and engage them with scientific practices. These projects can also create opportunities for students to connect with their local natural surroundings, which is needed, as some research has suggested that children are becoming increasingly detached from nature. The classroom teacher plays a critical role in ensuring that school-based citizen science projects are implemented in a way that maximizes the benefits. However, these projects typically do not include substantial guidance for teachers who want to implement the projects for instructional purposes. This project will develop two forms of support for teachers: (1) guidance embedded in citizen science project materials and (2) teacher professional development. It will develop materials and professional development experiences to support teacher learning for 80 5th grade teachers impacting students in 40 diverse elementary schools.

The overarching goal of this project is to generate knowledge about teacher learning that enables elementary school citizen science to support students' engagement with authentic science content and practices through data collection and sense making. Specifically, the study is designed to address the following research questions: (1) What kinds of support foster teacher learning for enacting effective school-based citizen science? (2) How do supports for teacher learning shape the way teachers enact school-based citizen science? and (3) What is the potential of school-based citizen science for positively influencing student learning and student attitudes toward nature and science? Data collected during project implementation will include teacher surveys, student surveys and assessments, and case study protocols.

Learning to Teach During COVID-19: Leveraging Simulated Classrooms as Practice-based Spaces for Preservice Elementary Teachers within Online Teacher Education Courses

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted the ability of teacher education programs to place their teacher candidates in typical K-12 teaching settings as a part of learning to teach. This project examines how simulated classroom field experiences for preservice teachers can be implemented in online and emergency remote teacher education courses.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2032179
Funding Period: 
Mon, 06/15/2020 to Mon, 05/31/2021
Full Description: 

School-based field experiences are a critical part of preservice teacher education. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted the ability of teacher education programs to place their teacher candidates in typical K-12 teaching settings as a part of learning to teach. This project examines how simulated classroom field experiences for preservice teachers can be implemented in online and emergency remote teacher education courses. Elementary mathematics and science teacher educators are provided with opportunities to engage their preservice teachers in practice-based spaces using mixed-reality simulated classroom environments. These simulations are real-time lessons with animated student avatars that are voiced by an interactor who is responding to the teacher's lesson in real time in ways that represent authentic student thinking. This project aims to develop support materials for integrating simulated field experiences into elementary mathematics and science teacher education courses. The research will seek to understand what preservice teachers learn about teaching from these experiences, how teacher educators integrate the simulated field experiences into coursework, and how such simulated experiences can be integrated in remote, online courses in ways that support preservice teacher learning.

This project advances knowledge through the development and deployment of simulation-based tools that develop preservice elementary teachers' abilities to teach mathematics and science. Preservice teachers use performance tasks to deliver instruction in the simulated classroom. The project develops support materials for teacher educators to integrate this work into online and/or emergency remote teacher education courses (in response to COVID-19) in ways that support engagement in ambitious teaching practice. The project assesses impact on preservice teachers' ambitious teaching practice through artifacts of the simulated classroom practice, including observations and recordings of the simulated interactions and preservice teacher surveys and assessments of their use of ambitious teaching practices. The project evaluates the ways in which teacher educators integrate the simulated field experience into their emergency remote teacher education courses through surveys and interviews. The research addresses the immediate COVID-19 pandemic challenges in providing field experiences for students and provides long-term support for the ongoing challenge of finding field experience settings that are conducive to preparing highly-qualified elementary mathematics and science teachers.

Parents, Teachers, and Multilingual Children Collaborating on Mathematics Together (Collaborative Research: Quintos)

The goal of this project is to develop and study a mathematics partnership that engages multilingual children, their teachers, and their parents in mathematical experiences together. The project will design professional learning opportunities for parents, teachers, and students, and study the ways in which the professional learning opportunities influence teacher beliefs, quality of instruction, parent beliefs, and teacher and parent understanding of positioning.

Award Number: 
2010417
Funding Period: 
Mon, 06/01/2020 to Fri, 05/31/2024
Full Description: 

The connections between students' home and family contexts and the activities of formal schooling are critical to support meaningful learning and family engagement in formal schooling. The need to better understand and make use of those connections is particularly important for multilingual learners whose family and cultural contexts may differ significantly from school contexts and their teachers' own experiences. The goal of this project is to develop and study a mathematics partnership that engages multilingual children, their teachers, and their parents in mathematical experiences together. These mathematical experiences are designed to advance equity in mathematics education for multilingual students. The project will design professional learning opportunities for parents, teachers, and students, and study the ways in which the professional learning opportunities influence teacher beliefs, quality of instruction, parent beliefs, and teacher and parent understanding of positioning.

This project uses a design-based implementation research (DBIR) approach, along with principles of Social Design Experiments to engage in iterative cycles of inquiry to develop, implement, and refine the model. Parents, teachers, and students in three states (Arizona, Maryland, and Missouri) will be recruited that represent diverse populations both with respect to demographics and with respect to the policy contexts surrounding multilingual learners. Two cohorts of parents will be invited to participate in the parent-teacher study group, one consisting of 6 parents and teachers per site and one consisting of 20 parents and their children's teachers per site. In each iteration, data will be collected at multiple time points related to teachers' beliefs about effective math instruction for multilingual students; quality of mathematics instruction for linguistically diverse students; focus group interviews with parents and students, and video records of teachers and parents working with their students doing mathematics during study group convenings. Data analysis will blend quantitative and qualitative methods. Quantitative methods will include t-tests, multivariate, and correlational analyses to examine changes in teacher beliefs, instructional quality, and the relationships between the two. Qualitative analyses using thematic coding and discourse analysis will be used to analyze study group meetings and outcomes related to parent and teacher positioning of multilingual learners.

Parents, Teachers, and Multilingual Children Collaborating on Mathematics Together (Collaborative Research: Pinnow)

The goal of this project is to develop and study a mathematics partnership that engages multilingual children, their teachers, and their parents in mathematical experiences together. The project will design professional learning opportunities for parents, teachers, and students, and study the ways in which the professional learning opportunities influence teacher beliefs, quality of instruction, parent beliefs, and teacher and parent understanding of positioning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2010260
Funding Period: 
Mon, 06/01/2020 to Fri, 05/31/2024
Full Description: 

The connections between students' home and family contexts and the activities of formal schooling are critical to support meaningful learning and family engagement in formal schooling. The need to better understand and make use of those connections is particularly important for multilingual learners whose family and cultural contexts may differ significantly from school contexts and their teachers' own experiences. The goal of this project is to develop and study a mathematics partnership that engages multilingual children, their teachers, and their parents in mathematical experiences together. These mathematical experiences are designed to advance equity in mathematics education for multilingual students. The project will design professional learning opportunities for parents, teachers, and students, and study the ways in which the professional learning opportunities influence teacher beliefs, quality of instruction, parent beliefs, and teacher and parent understanding of positioning.

This project uses a design-based implementation research (DBIR) approach, along with principles of Social Design Experiments to engage in iterative cycles of inquiry to develop, implement, and refine the model. Parents, teachers, and students in three states (Arizona, Maryland, and Missouri) will be recruited that represent diverse populations both with respect to demographics and with respect to the policy contexts surrounding multilingual learners. Two cohorts of parents will be invited to participate in the parent-teacher study group, one consisting of 6 parents and teachers per site and one consisting of 20 parents and their children's teachers per site. In each iteration, data will be collected at multiple time points related to teachers' beliefs about effective math instruction for multilingual students; quality of mathematics instruction for linguistically diverse students; focus group interviews with parents and students, and video records of teachers and parents working with their students doing mathematics during study group convenings. Data analysis will blend quantitative and qualitative methods. Quantitative methods will include t-tests, multivariate, and correlational analyses to examine changes in teacher beliefs, instructional quality, and the relationships between the two. Qualitative analyses using thematic coding and discourse analysis will be used to analyze study group meetings and outcomes related to parent and teacher positioning of multilingual learners.

Parents, Teachers, and Multilingual Children Collaborating on Mathematics Together (Collaborative Research: Civil)

The goal of this project is to develop and study a mathematics partnership that engages multilingual children, their teachers, and their parents in mathematical experiences together. The project will design professional learning opportunities for parents, teachers, and students, and study the ways in which the professional learning opportunities influence teacher beliefs, quality of instruction, parent beliefs, and teacher and parent understanding of positioning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2010230
Funding Period: 
Mon, 06/01/2020 to Fri, 05/31/2024
Full Description: 

The connections between students' home and family contexts and the activities of formal schooling are critical to support meaningful learning and family engagement in formal schooling. The need to better understand and make use of those connections is particularly important for multilingual learners whose family and cultural contexts may differ significantly from school contexts and their teachers' own experiences. The goal of this project is to develop and study a mathematics partnership that engages multilingual children, their teachers, and their parents in mathematical experiences together. These mathematical experiences are designed to advance equity in mathematics education for multilingual students. The project will design professional learning opportunities for parents, teachers, and students, and study the ways in which the professional learning opportunities influence teacher beliefs, quality of instruction, parent beliefs, and teacher and parent understanding of positioning.

This project uses a design-based implementation research (DBIR) approach, along with principles of Social Design Experiments to engage in iterative cycles of inquiry to develop, implement, and refine the model. Parents, teachers, and students in three states (Arizona, Maryland, and Missouri) will be recruited that represent diverse populations both with respect to demographics and with respect to the policy contexts surrounding multilingual learners. Two cohorts of parents will be invited to participate in the parent-teacher study group, one consisting of 6 parents and teachers per site and one consisting of 20 parents and their children's teachers per site. In each iteration, data will be collected at multiple time points related to teachers' beliefs about effective math instruction for multilingual students; quality of mathematics instruction for linguistically diverse students; focus group interviews with parents and students, and video records of teachers and parents working with their students doing mathematics during study group convenings. Data analysis will blend quantitative and qualitative methods. Quantitative methods will include t-tests, multivariate, and correlational analyses to examine changes in teacher beliefs, instructional quality, and the relationships between the two. Qualitative analyses using thematic coding and discourse analysis will be used to analyze study group meetings and outcomes related to parent and teacher positioning of multilingual learners.

Paving the Way for Fractions: Identifying Foundational Concepts in First Grade (Collaborative Research: Jordan)

The goal of this project is to investigate the extent to which individual differences in informal fraction-related knowledge in first-grade children are associated with short- and longer-term fractions and math outcomes, and to see whether there is a causal link between level of informal fraction-related knowledge and the ability to profit from fractions instruction that directly builds on this knowledge.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2000495
Funding Period: 
Mon, 06/01/2020 to Fri, 05/31/2024
Full Description: 

Although fractions represent a crucial topic in early childhood education, many students develop only a tenuous grasp of fraction concepts, even after several years of fraction instruction that is aligned with current standards. The goal of this project, led by a team of researchers at the University of Delaware and Temple University, is to answer important questions about the informal understandings of fractions young children have before they come to school and what their relations are to fraction learning in more formal instructional settings. Proficiency with fractions dramatically increases the likelihood of students succeeding in math, which in turn increases participation in the STEM workforce. Importantly, large individual differences in fraction understandings are apparent at the start of fractions instruction in the intermediate grades. Early fraction misunderstandings cascade into more severe math weaknesses in later grades, especially when instruction may shift abruptly from whole numbers to fractions. There is a critical need to understand the roots of individual differences that arise before formal instruction takes place. Young children possess important informal fraction understandings before they come to school, but the range of these abilities and their role in formal fraction learning and development is not well understood. The goal of this project is: a) to investigate the extent to which individual differences in informal fraction-related knowledge in first-grade children are associated with short- and longer-term fractions and math outcomes; and b) to see whether there is a causal link between level of informal fraction-related knowledge and the ability to profit from fractions instruction that directly builds on this knowledge. The findings from the project hold promise for informing early childhood educators how fractions can be incorporated in the first-grade curriculum in new and meaningful ways. Though the findings should be beneficial to all students, the project will specifically target members of groups underrepresented in STEM fields, including ethnic and racial minority and low-income students.

The project design includes both an observational study and an experimental study. The observational study will: (1) document individual differences in informal fraction-related knowledge in first grade; (2) determine concurrent relations between this informal knowledge and general cognitive and whole number competencies; and (3) examine whether informal fraction-related knowledge at the beginning of first grade uniquely predicts math outcomes at the end. The experimental study will explore the extent to which first graders' informal and formal fraction concepts can be affected by training. The researchers will test whether training on the number line, which is continuous and closely aligned with the mental representation of the magnitude of all real numbers, will help students capitalize on their informal fraction understandings of proportionality, scaling, and equal sharing as well as their experience with integers to learn key fraction concepts. Together, the synergistic studies will pinpoint the role informal fraction knowledge in learning key fraction concepts. All data will be collected in Delaware schools serving socioeconomically and ethnically diverse populations of students. Primary measures include assessments of informal fraction knowledge (proportional reasoning, spatial scaling, equal sharing), executive functioning, vocabulary, whole number knowledge, whole number/fraction number line estimation, formal fraction knowledge, and broad mathematics achievement (calculation, fluency, applied problems).

Paving the Way for Fractions: Identifying Foundational Concepts in First Grade (Collaborative Research: Newcombe)

The goal of this project is to investigate the extent to which individual differences in informal fraction-related knowledge in first-grade children are associated with short- and longer-term fractions and math outcomes, and to see whether there is a causal link between level of informal fraction-related knowledge and the ability to profit from fractions instruction that directly builds on this knowledge.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2000424
Funding Period: 
Mon, 06/01/2020 to Fri, 05/31/2024
Full Description: 

Although fractions represent a crucial topic in early childhood education, many students develop only a tenuous grasp of fraction concepts, even after several years of fraction instruction that is aligned with current standards. The goal of this project, led by a team of researchers at the University of Delaware and Temple University, is to answer important questions about the informal understandings of fractions young children have before they come to school and what their relations are to fraction learning in more formal instructional settings. Proficiency with fractions dramatically increases the likelihood of students succeeding in math, which in turn increases participation in the STEM workforce. Importantly, large individual differences in fraction understandings are apparent at the start of fractions instruction in the intermediate grades. Early fraction misunderstandings cascade into more severe math weaknesses in later grades, especially when instruction may shift abruptly from whole numbers to fractions. There is a critical need to understand the roots of individual differences that arise before formal instruction takes place. Young children possess important informal fraction understandings before they come to school, but the range of these abilities and their role in formal fraction learning and development is not well understood. The goal of this project is: a) to investigate the extent to which individual differences in informal fraction-related knowledge in first-grade children are associated with short- and longer-term fractions and math outcomes; and b) to see whether there is a causal link between level of informal fraction-related knowledge and the ability to profit from fractions instruction that directly builds on this knowledge. The findings from the project hold promise for informing early childhood educators how fractions can be incorporated in the first-grade curriculum in new and meaningful ways. Though the findings should be beneficial to all students, the project will specifically target members of groups underrepresented in STEM fields, including ethnic and racial minority and low-income students.

The project design includes both an observational study and an experimental study. The observational study will: (1) document individual differences in informal fraction-related knowledge in first grade; (2) determine concurrent relations between this informal knowledge and general cognitive and whole number competencies; and (3) examine whether informal fraction-related knowledge at the beginning of first grade uniquely predicts math outcomes at the end. The experimental study will explore the extent to which first graders' informal and formal fraction concepts can be affected by training. The researchers will test whether training on the number line, which is continuous and closely aligned with the mental representation of the magnitude of all real numbers, will help students capitalize on their informal fraction understandings of proportionality, scaling, and equal sharing as well as their experience with integers to learn key fraction concepts. Together, the synergistic studies will pinpoint the role informal fraction knowledge in learning key fraction concepts. All data will be collected in Delaware schools serving socioeconomically and ethnically diverse populations of students. Primary measures include assessments of informal fraction knowledge (proportional reasoning, spatial scaling, equal sharing), executive functioning, vocabulary, whole number knowledge, whole number/fraction number line estimation, formal fraction knowledge, and broad mathematics achievement (calculation, fluency, applied problems).

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