STEM Practices

Science Literacy through Science Journalism (SciJourn)

This project aims to develop, pilot, and evaluate a model of instruction that advances the scientific literacy of high school students by involving them in science journalism, and to develop research tools for assessing scientific literacy and engagement. We view scientific literacy as public understanding of and engagement with science and technology, better enabling people to make informed science-related decisions in their personal lives, and participate in science-related democratic debates in public life.

 

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0822354
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/01/2008 to Fri, 08/31/2012
Project Evaluator: 
Brian Hand, University of Iowa
Full Description: 

For a more in-depth look at Scijourn, visit the project spotlight.

Supports for Learning to Manage Classroom Discussions: Exploring the Role of Practical Rationality and Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching

This project focuses on practicing and preservice secondary mathematics teachers and mathematics teacher educators. The project is researching, designing, and developing materials for preservice secondary mathematics teachers that enable them to acquire the mathematical knowledge and situated rationality central to teaching, in particular as it regards the leading of mathematical discussions in classrooms.

Award Number: 
0918425
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2009 to Fri, 08/31/2018
Project Evaluator: 
Miriam Gamoran Sherin
Full Description: 

Researchers at the Universities of Michigan and Maryland are developing materials to survey the rationality behind secondary mathematics teaching practice and to support the development by secondary mathematics preservice teachers of specialized knowledge and skills for teaching. The project focuses on the leading of classroom discussions for the learning of algebra and geometry.

Using animations of instructional scenarios, the project is developing online, multimedia questionnaires and using them to assess practicing teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching and their evaluations of teacher decision making. Reports and forum entries from the questionnaires are integrated into a learning environment for prospective teachers and their instructors built around these animated scenarios. This environment allows pre-service teachers to navigate, annotate, and communicate about the scenarios; and it allows their instructors to plan using those scenarios and share experiences with their counterparts.

The research on teachers' rationality uses an experimental design with embedded one-way ANOVA, while the development of the learning environment uses a process of iterative design, implementation, and evaluation. The project evaluation by researchers at Northwestern University uses qualitative methods to examine the content provided in the environment as well as the usefulness perceived by teacher educators of a state network and their students.

The Development of Student Cohorts for the Enhancement of Mathematical Literacy in Under Served Populations

This project is developing and conducting research on the Cohort Model for addressing the mathematics education of students that perform in the bottom quartile on state and district tests. The predicted outcome is that most students will remain in the cohort for all four years and that almost all of those who do will perform well enough on college entrance exams to be admitted and will test out of remedial mathematics courses.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0822175
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/01/2008 to Wed, 08/31/2011
Project Evaluator: 
Inverness Research, Inc.
Full Description: 

Project Summary

This is a Full Research and Development proposal which addresses the Contextual Challenge: How can the learning of significant STEM content be achieved to ensure public literacy and workforce readiness?  Our nation is failing to prepare millions of youth for meaningful and productive participation in an information-based society. The target population are those students performing in the bottom quartile on state and national tests, many of these are children of color living in under resourced communities, and most of these young people do not finish high school and end up diverted into an underground economy, gangs, and prisons.   

This project addresses this failure by further developing and testing an approach that the Algebra Project is developing for high school mathematics, in which students form a cohort that stays together for all four years of high school, study mathematics every day using project-designed curricular materials with teachers who participate in project professional development, and are supported by local community groups. 

The Algebra Project seeks to stimulate a demand for math literacy in those most affected by its absence -- the young people themselves.  It stresses the importance of peer culture, using lessons learned from experiences in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, as well as in the emergence of project graduates into a group with their own perspectives and initiatives. 

In the 60s, project founders learned how to use the meeting place as a tool to engage and empower the people that the meeting was intended to serve.  In the proposed project, there are two meeting places: the students’ high school mathematics classroom and supplementary education activities; and the network of sites around the country that are communicating and learning how to develop and implement cohorts. Young peoples’ roles in each of these settings are key to creating the motivation and commitment needed for student success as well as developing local interest.  The combination of classroom and professional development work, innovative curriculum materials, and community involvement creates an intervention that can significantly transform the peer culture, even in the face of negative forces.

The Algebra Project has developed a cohort model that we predict will stimulate and enable students to pass the state and district mandated tests in mathematics, to pass the mathematics portions of any graduation test, and to score well enough on the SAT or ACT to enter college, and to place into mathematics courses for college credit (not remedial courses).  Building on previous awards, the project will continue to research and develop the cohort model, and will create a small network of cohorts to establish that our model can be widely successful.

Intellectual merit:  This project will demonstrate how students entering high school performing in the bottom quartile nationally and state-wide can be prepared for college-level mathematics, using lessons learned from many years of past experience working in such communities and in their middle schools, and more recently in their high schools and in collaboration with university mathematicians.  The research results are critical to the nation’s learning how to improve mathematics achievement for all children – to gaining a sense of what such a program “looks and feels like”, and what resources and commitments are required, from which institutions. 

Broader impact:  The results of this discovery research project will advance understanding of how to improve mathematics learning and achievement in low performing districts, so students are prepared to take college mathematics without repeating high school mathematics in early college.  It will also demonstrate the resources and commitments needed to reach this result.

Supporting Grade 5-8 Students in Writing Scientific Explanations

This project is writing and researching a book supporting grade 5-8 students in scientific explanations and arguments. The book provides written and video examples from a variety of contexts in terms of content and diversity of students. The book and accompanying facilitator materials also provide different teacher instructional strategies for supporting students. The research focuses on how the book and accompanying professional development impact teachers' beliefs, pedagogical content knowledge and classroom practice.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0836099
Funding Period: 
Fri, 08/15/2008 to Sun, 07/31/2011
Full Description: 

 This SGER grant proposes the development of a book and a research study to investigate the impact of that book and accompanying professional development on teachers’ beliefs and classroom practices to support grade 5-8 students in writing scientific explanations.  The project will expand the current body of research around teachers’ beliefs and professional development for scientific explanation and argumentation as well as provide a valuable resource that includes examples of student writing and video cases from diverse learners that can be used by science educators and teachers across the country.

 

Intellectual Merit

The recent National Research Council publication Taking Science to School: Learning and Teaching Science in Grades k-8 (Duschl, Schweingruber & Shouse, 2006) offers a new vision for proficiency in science, which includes a focus that students be able to “Generate and evaluate scientific evidence and explanation” (p.2).  Although this focus on evidence based scientific explanations is prevalent in the current research literature, there are few concrete examples of what this scientific inquiry practice looks like when it is successfully supported in classrooms. We propose to develop a teacher book and accompanying professional development facilitator materials that will help transform how science is being taught in this country.  The book will provide concrete examples in both student written work and video of the current theoretical ideas being advocated in the science education field. By providing this image, the knowledge in the field will be advanced by transforming a theoretical idea and illustrating what it looks like in actual classroom practice that can be used by teachers as well as in teacher preparation and professional development.  The examples will include a variety of different contexts in terms of different content areas, grades 5-8, and students with a variety of backgrounds including diverse students from urban schools.  Furthermore, we propose to research the impact of the book and accompanying professional development on teachers’ beliefs and classroom practice around scientific explanation.  The majority of recent work in the field of scientific explanation and argumentation has focused on curriculum materials, technology tools, and classroom practice. There is currently little research around teacher education and professional development to support teachers in incorporating scientific explanation and argumentation in their classrooms (Zohar, 2008). Consequently, the results from this study will be essential to inform the field about teachers’ beliefs around scientific explanation, how professional development can change those beliefs, and the subsequent impact on teachers’ classroom practices.

 

Broader Impacts

The use of the book by teachers, professional development leaders and teacher educators will have a significant impact on middle school students’ learning throughout the country.  Through the distribution and use of the book, teachers will have access to resources that will help them incorporate scientific explanations in their own classroom practice.  As our previous research has shown (McNeill & Krajcik, 2007; McNeill & Krajcik, 2008a; McNeill, Lizotte, Krajcik & Marx, 2006), using our framework and instructional strategies for scientific explanation can improve diverse students’ ability to write scientific explanations as well as learn key science concepts.  A large percentage of our research has been conducted with urban students including minority students and students from low income families who have not traditionally succeeded in science. Focusing on science as a discourse with distinct language forms and ways of knowing, such as analyzing data and communicating scientific explanations can help language-minority students learn to think and talk scientifically (Rosebery, et al., 1992).  This book will allow the strategies we have found to be successful with diverse students to reach a much larger audience allowing more middle school students to succeed in science. Providing teachers with strategies and examples of how those strategies have been successfully used in real classrooms will help them implement similar practices in their own classrooms and will help more students successfully write evidence based scientific explanations.  The research study around the impact of the book and accompanying professional development will reach twenty-five teachers and their students in the Boston Public School schools which serve primarily low-income (71% eligible to receive free or reduced lunch) inner city students from minority backgrounds.  The publication of the book with Pearson Allyn & Bacon will have the potential of reaching numerous more teachers and their students across the country.

The Coaching Cycle: An Interactive Online Course for Mathematics Coaches

The Coaching Cycle project is creating an online course for K–8 mathematics instructional coaches. The project targets coaches in rural areas and small schools who do not have access to regular district-wide professional development. It provides training in the skills needed for effective instructional coaching in mathematics by using artifacts collected by practicing coaches to engage course participants in the practice of coaching skills.

Award Number: 
0732495
Funding Period: 
Mon, 10/01/2007 to Fri, 09/30/2011
Project Evaluator: 
Eduation Alliance at Brown University

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