Learning Progression

Investigating the Role of Collaboration on the Development of Student Ideas Using a Learning Progression for the Function Concept

In this project, the team will address questions about how collaborative problem solving, learning progressions, and facilitation interact in the development of students’ mathematical learning. The work affords an opportunity to advance equitable access to high-quality education for all students by enhancing the quality of instruction for students lacking opportunities to learn key concepts of mathematics because of the inequitable structures of education in the country.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101393
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/01/2021 to Mon, 06/30/2025
Full Description: 

Collaborative problem solving is a valued 21st century skill that can enhance learning outcomes. Learning progressions, which are models of how student thinking develops within a domain, have potential to provide actionable information to teachers to guide instruction. Facilitation may support collaborative problem solving and make visible student thinking with respect to learning progressions. In this project, the team will address questions about how collaborative problem solving, learning progressions, and facilitation interact in the development of students’ mathematical learning. The work affords an opportunity to advance equitable access to high-quality education for all students by enhancing the quality of instruction for students lacking opportunities to learn key concepts of mathematics because of the inequitable structures of education in the country. The project team anticipates that their work will generate resources and findings for future work, such as a version of the learning progression that can be used by teachers to interpret student work and information about how students and facilitators can use online collaborative technology in support of mathematics learning and assessment.

The project team will integrate learning progression assessment tasks into an online collaborative learning and assessment platform. The tasks focus on the concept of function, a foundational area of mathematics, and are designed for students in Grades 9 through 12. Students will engage with the tasks in four phases: first, they will solve a task individually. Second, they will revisit that task as part of a 3- or 4- person team in a collaborative environment. Some team discussions will be facilitated by near-peer mentors. Third, the teams will present their results to the class. Students will engage in a whole class discussion with facilitation and wrap up by the teacher. Finally, students will respond individually to a conceptually similar task. Discourse will be coded using both domain-specific and domain-general coding schemes that identify cognitive, social, and facilitation practices during team collaboration and class discussion; results will attend to the both the focus and the development of ideas over the course of discussion. The project will also feature a professional development component for teachers and youth facilitators.

Empowering Teachers to See and Support Student Use of Crosscutting Concepts in the Life Sciences

The project focuses on the development of formative assessment tools that highlight assets of students’ use of crosscutting concepts (CCCs) while engaged in science and engineering practices in grades 9-12 Life Sciences.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2100822
Funding Period: 
Sun, 08/01/2021 to Wed, 07/31/2024
Full Description: 

The project focuses on the development of formative assessment tools that highlight assets of students’ use of crosscutting concepts (CCCs) while engaged in science and engineering practices in grades 9-12 Life Sciences. In response to the calls set forth by the Framework for K-12 Science Education and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), the field has most successfully researched and developed assessment tools for disciplinary core ideas and the science and engineering practices. The CCCs, which serve as the connective links across science domains, however, remain more abstractly addressed. Presently, science educators have little guidance for what student use of CCCs looks like or how to assess and nurture such use. This project, with its explicit attention to the CCCs, advances true three-dimensional scientific understanding in both research and the classroom. Leveraging formative assessment as a vehicle for student and teacher development taps into proven successful instructional strategies (e.g., sharing visions of successful learning, descriptive feedback, self-assessment), while also advancing formative assessment, itself, by strengthening and illustrating how these strategies may focus on the CCCs. Further, a strengths-based approach will center culturally related differences in students’ use of CCCs to achieve more equitable opportunities to engage in classroom sensemaking practices. This work impacts the field of science education by 1) enabling a more thorough realization of NGSS ideals, 2) strengthening teachers’ abilities to identify diverse demonstrations of CCCs, and 3) showcasing the impact of novel classroom tools to sharpen teachers’ abilities to solicit, notice, and act upon evidence of emergent student scientific thinking within their instructional practices.

This design-based implementation research project will engage teachers in the iterative development and refinement of rubrics that support three-dimensional science understanding through formative assessment. The high school biology classrooms that compose the study site are engaged in ambitious science teaching-inspired instruction. An inductive, bottom-up approach (Brookhart, 2013) will allow researchers, teachers, and students to co-construct rubrics. Analysis of classroom observations, artifact collection, interviews with teachers and students, and expert-panel ratings will produce a rubric for each CCC that integrates relevant science and engineering practices and is applicable across a range of disciplinary core ideas. These rubrics will illustrate progressions of increasingly advanced use of each of the CCCs, to guide the construction, pursuit, and assessment of learning goals. There will be two design cycles that allow for the collection of validity evidence and produce rubrics with the potential for broad application by educators. Complementary lines of qualitative and quantitative (i.e., psychometric) analysis will contribute to development and validation of the rubrics and their formative uses. Project inquiry will focus on 1) how the rubrics can represent CCCs for key disciplinary practices, 2) the extent to which teachers’ and students’ understandings of the rubrics align, and 3) how implementation of the rubrics impacts teachers’ and students’ understandings of the CCCs.

Exploratory Evidence on the Factors that Relate to Elementary School Science Learning Gains Among English Language Learners

This project will provide evidence on how school, classroom, teacher, and student factors shape elementary school science learning trajectories for English learners (ELs). The project will broaden ELs’ participation in STEM learning by investigating how individual, classroom, and school level situations such as instructional practices, learning environments, and characteristics of school personnel relate to EL elementary school science learning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2100419
Funding Period: 
Sat, 05/15/2021 to Sun, 04/30/2023
Full Description: 

The nation’s schools are growing in linguistic and cultural diversity, with students identified as English learners (ELs) comprising more than ten percent of the student population. Unfortunately, existing research suggests that ELs lag behind other students in science achievement, even in the earliest grades of school. This project will provide evidence on how school, classroom, teacher, and student factors shape elementary school science learning trajectories for ELs. The project will broaden ELs’ participation in STEM learning by investigating how individual, classroom, and school level situations (inputs) such as instructional practices, learning environments, and characteristics of school personnel relate to EL elementary school science learning. Specifically, this study explores (1) a series of science inputs (time on science, content covered, availability of lab resources, and teacher training in science instruction), and (2) EL-specific inputs (classroom language use, EL instructional models, teacher certification and training, and the availability of EL support staff), in relation to ELs’ science learning outcomes from a national survey.

This study provides a comprehensive analysis of English learners’ (ELs) science learning in the early grades and the English learner instructional inputs and science instructional inputs that best predict early science outcomes (measured by both standardized science assessments and teacher-rated measures of science skills). The study uses the nationally representative Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS-K:2011) and employs a regression framework with latent class analysis to identify promising inputs that promote early science learning for ELs. Conceptually, rather than viewing the school-based inputs in isolation, the study explores how they combine to enhance students’ science learning trajectories. The study addresses the following research questions: How do science test performance trajectories vary across and within EL student groups in elementary school? How do access to school, teacher, and classroom level science and EL inputs vary across and within EL student groups in elementary school? Which school, teacher, and classroom level science and EL inputs are predictive of greater science test performance gains and teacher-rated science skills in elementary school? Are the relationships among these school, teacher, and classroom level inputs and student test performance and teacher-rated science skills different for subgroups of EL students, particularly by race/ethnicity or by immigration status? Are there particular combinations of school, teacher, and classroom level inputs that are predictive of science learning gains (test scores and teacher-rated skills) for ELs as compared to students more broadly?

Assessing College-Ready Computational Thinking (Collaborative Research: Wilson)

The goal of this project is to develop learning progressions and assessment items targeting computational thinking. The items will be used for a test of college-ready critical reasoning skills and will be integrated into an existing online assessment system, the Berkeley Assessment System Software.

Award Number: 
2010314
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2020 to Sat, 08/31/2024
Full Description: 

Because of the growing need for students to be college and career ready, high-quality assessments of college readiness skills are in high demand. To realize the goal of preparing students for college and careers, assessments must measure important competencies and provide rapid feedback to teachers. It is necessary to go beyond the limits of multiple-choice testing and foster the skills and thinking that lie at the core of college and career ready skills, such as computational thinking. Computational thinking is a set of valuable skills that can be used to solve problems, design systems, and understand human behavior, and is thus essential to developing a more STEM-literate public. Computational thinking is increasingly seen as a fundamental analytical skill that everyone, not just computer scientists, can use. The goal of this project is to develop learning progressions and assessment items targeting computational thinking. The items will be used for a test of college-ready critical reasoning skills and will be integrated into an existing online assessment system, the Berkeley Assessment System Software.

The project will address a set of research questions focused on 1) clarifying computational thinking constructs, 2) usability, reliability of validity of assessment items and the information they provide, 3) teachers' use of assessments, and 4) relationships to student performance. The study sample of 2,700 used for the pilot and field tests will include all levels of students in 10th through 12th grade and first year college students (both community college and university level). The target population is students in schools which are implementing the College Readiness Program (CRP) of the National Mathematics and Science Institute. In the 2020-21 academic year 54 high schools across 11 states (CA, GA, FL, ID, LA, NC, NM, OH, TX, VA, and WA) will participate. This will include high school students in Advanced Placement classes as well as non-Advanced Placement classes.  The team will use the BEAR Assessment System to develop and refine assessment materials. This system is an integrated approach to developing assessments that seeks to provide meaningful interpretations of student work relative to cognitive and developmental goals. The researchers will gather empirical evidence to develop and improve the assessment materials, and then gather reliability and validity evidence to support their use. In total, item response data will be collected from several thousand students. Student response data will be analyzed using multidimensional item response theory models.

SPIRAL: Supporting Professional Inquiry and Re-Aligning Learning through a Structured e-Portfolio System

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.

Exploring Early Childhood Teachers' Abilities to Identify Computational Thinking Precursors to Strengthen Computer Science in Classrooms

This project will explore PK-2 teachers' content knowledge by investigating their understanding of the design and implementation of culturally relevant computer science learning activities for young children. The project team will design a replicable model of PK-2 teacher professional development to address the lack of research in early computer science education.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2006595
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2020 to Thu, 08/31/2023
Full Description: 

Strengthening computer science education is a national priority with special attention to increasing the number of teachers who can deliver computer science education in schools. Yet computer science education lacks the evidence to determine how teachers come to think about computational thinking (a problem-solving process) and how it could be integrated within their day-to-day classroom activities. For teachers of pre-kindergarten to 2nd (PK-2) grades, very little research has specifically addressed teacher learning. This oversight challenges the achievement of an equitable, culturally diverse, computationally empowered society. The project team will design a replicable model of PK-2 teacher professional development in San Marcos, Texas, to address the lack of research in early computer science education. The model will emphasize three aspects of teacher learning: a) exploration of and reflection on computer science and computational thinking skills and practices, b) noticing and naming computer science precursor skills and practices in early childhood learning, and c) collaborative design, implementation and assessment of learning activities aligned with standards across content areas. The project will explore PK-2 teachers' content knowledge by investigating their understanding of the design and implementation of culturally relevant computer science learning activities for young children. The project includes a two-week computational making and inquiry institute focused on algorithms and data in the context of citizen science and historical storytelling. The project also includes monthly classroom coaching sessions, and teacher meetups.

The research will include two cohorts of 15 PK-2 teachers recruited from the San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District (SMCISD) in years one and two of the project. The project incorporates a 3-phase professional development program to be run in two cycles for each cohort of teachers. Phase one (summer) includes a 2-week Computational Making and Inquiry Institute, phase two (school year) includes classroom observations and teacher meetups and phase three (late spring) includes an advanced computational thinking institute and a community education conference. Research and data collection on impacts will follow a mixed-methods approach based on a grounded theory design to document teachers learning. The mixed-methods approach will enable researchers to triangulate participants' acquisition of new knowledge and skills with their developing abilities to implement learning activities in practice. Data analysis will be ongoing, interweaving qualitative and quantitative methods. Qualitative data, including field notes, observations, interviews, and artifact assessments, will be analyzed by identifying analytical categories and their relationships. Quantitative data includes pre to post surveys administered at three-time points for each cohort. Inter-item correlations and scale reliabilities will be examined, and a repeated measures ANOVA will be used to assess mean change across time for each of five measures. Project results will be communicated via peer-reviewed journals, education newsletters, annual conferences, family and teacher meetups, and community art and culture events, as well as on social media, blogs, and education databases.

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).

Evolving Minds: Promoting Causal-Explanatory Teaching and Learning of Biological Evolution in Elementary School

Adopting a teaching and curricular approach that will be novel in its integration of custom explanatory storybook materials with hands-on investigations, this project seeks to promote third grade students' understanding of small- and large-scale evolution by natural selection. By studying students across multiple school districts, this research will shed light on the benefits to diverse students of instruction that focuses on supporting children's capacities to cogently explain aspects of the biological world rather than learn disparate facts about it.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2009176
Funding Period: 
Mon, 06/01/2020 to Fri, 05/31/2024
Full Description: 

Natural selection is a fundamental mechanism of evolution, the unifying principle of biology. It is central to understanding the functional specialization of living things, the origin of species diversity and the inherent unity of biological life. Despite the early emergence of tendencies that can make evolution increasingly challenging to learn over time, natural selection is currently not taught until middle or high school. This is long after patterns of misunderstanding are likely to have become more entrenched. The current research responds to this situation. It targets elementary school as the time to initiate comprehensive instruction on biological evolution. Adopting a teaching and curricular approach that will be novel in its integration of custom explanatory storybook materials with hands-on investigations, it seeks to promote third grade students' understanding of small- and large-scale evolution by natural selection. By studying students across multiple school districts, this research will shed light on the benefits to diverse students of instruction that focuses on supporting children's capacities to cogently explain aspects of the biological world rather than learn disparate facts about it. It will also illuminate the value of simple tools, like explanatory storybooks, for elementary school teachers who are often expected to teach counterintuitive topics such as natural selection while not feeling confident in their own understanding.

This project will investigate changes in Grade 3 students' learning and reasoning about living things during implementation of a guided inquiry curriculum unit on evolution by natural selection that emphasizes causal-mechanistic explanation. Classroom inquiry activities and investigations into a range of real-world phenomena will be framed by engagement with a sequence of innovative custom causal-explanatory storybook, animation and writing prompt materials that were developed under prior NSF support to promote transferable, scientifically accurate theory- and evidence-based reasoning about natural selection. In response to the distinctive challenges of life science and evolution learning, the project will integrate and thematically unify currently disparate Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) content and practice standards to create a comprehensive unit that addresses all three NGSS dimensions and is accompanied by evidence-based approaches to teacher professional development (PD). Using a design based research approach, and informed by cognitive developmental findings, this 4-year project will engage at least 700 students and their teachers and include partners from at least four school districts, Boston University, and TERC.

Developing and Investigating Unscripted Mathematics Videos

This project will use an alternative model for online videos to develop video units that feature the unscripted dialogue of pairs of students. The project team will create a repository of 6 dialogic mathematics video units that target important Algebra 1 and 2 topics for high school and upper middle school students, though the approach can be applied to any STEM topic, for any age level.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1907782
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2019 to Thu, 08/31/2023
Full Description: 

This project responds to the recent internet phenomenon of widespread accessibility to online instructional videos, which offer many benefits, such as student control of the pace of learning. However, these videos primarily focus on a single speaker working through procedural problems and providing an explanation. While the immense reach of free online instructional videos is potentially transformative, this potential can only be attained if access transcends physical availability to also include entry into important disciplinary understandings and practices, and only if the instructional method pushes past what would be considered outdated pedagogy in any other setting than a digital one. This project will use an alternative model for online videos, originally developed for a previous exploratory project, to develop 6 video units that feature the unscripted dialogue of pairs of students. The project team will use the filming and post-production processes established during the previous grant to create a repository of 6 dialogic mathematics video units that target important Algebra 1 and 2 topics for high school and upper middle school students, though the approach can be applied to any STEM topic, for any age level. They will also conduct 8 research studies to investigate the promise of these unscripted dialogic videos with a diverse population to better understand the vicarious learning process, which refers to learning from video- or audio-taped presentations of other people learning. Additionally, the project team will provide broader access to the project videos and support a variety of users, by: (a) subtitling the videos and checking math task statements for linguistic accessibility; (b) representing diversity of race, ethnicity, and language in both the pool of students who appear in the videos and the research study participants; (c) providing teachers with an array of resources including focus questions to pose in class with each video, printable task worksheets, specific ways to support dialogue about the videos, and alignment of the video content with Common Core mathematics standards and practices; and (d) modernizing the project website and making it functional across a variety of platforms.

The videos created for this project will feature pairs of students (called the talent), highlighting their unscripted dialogue, authentic confusion, and conceptual resources. Each video unit will consist of 7 video lessons (each split into 4-5 short video episodes) meant to be viewed in succession to support conceptual development over time. The project will build upon emerging evidence from the exploratory grant that as students engage with videos that feature peers grappling with complex mathematics, they can enter a quasi-collaborative relationship with the on-screen talent to learn complex conceptual content and engage in authentic mathematical practices. The research focuses on the questions: 1. What can diverse populations of vicarious learners learn mathematically from dialogic videos, and how do the vicarious learners orient to the talent in the videos? 2. What is the nature of vicarious learners' evolving ways of reasoning as they engage with multiple dialogic video lessons over time and what processes are involved in vicarious learning? and, 3. What instructional practices encourage a classroom community to adopt productive ways of reasoning from dialogic videos? To address the first question, the project team will conduct two Learning Outcomes and Orientation Studies, in which they analyze students' learning outcomes and survey responses after they have learned from one of the video units in a classroom setting. Before administering an assessment to a classroom of students, they will first conduct an exploratory Interpretation Study for each unit, in which they link the mathematical interpretations that VLs generate from viewing the project videos with their performance on an assessment instrument. Both types of studies will be conducted twice, once for each of two video units - Exponential Functions and Meaning and Use of Algebraic Symbols. For the second research question, the project team will identify a learning trajectory associated with each of four video units. These two learning trajectories will inform the instructional planning for the classroom studies by identifying what meaningful appropriation can occur, as well as conceptual challenges for VLs. By delivering learning trajectories for two additional units, the project can contribute to vicarious learning theory by identifying commonalities in learning processes evident across the four studies. For the final research question, the project team will investigate how instructors can support students with the instrumental genesis process, which occurs through a process called instrumental orchestration, as they teach the two videos on exponential functions and algebraic symbols.

Learning Trajectories as a Complete Early Mathematics Intervention: Achieving Efficacies of Economies at Scale

The purpose of this project is to test the efficacy of the Learning and Teaching with Learning Trajectories (LT2) program with the goal of improving mathematics teaching and thereby increasing young students' math learning. LT2 is a professional development tool and a curriculum resource intended for teachers to be used to support early math instruction and includes the mathematical learning goal, the developmental progression, and relevant instructional activities.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1908889
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Sun, 06/30/2024
Full Description: 

U.S. proficiency in mathematics continues to be low and early math performance is a powerful predictor of long-term academic success and employability. However, relatively few early childhood degree programs have any curriculum requirements focused on key mathematics topics. Thus, teacher professional development programs offer a viable and promising method for supporting and improving teachers' instructional approaches to mathematics and thus, improving student math outcomes. The purpose of this project is to test the efficacy of the Learning and Teaching with Learning Trajectories (LT2) program with the goal of improving mathematics teaching and thereby increasing young students' math learning. LT2 is a professional development tool and a curriculum resource intended for teachers to be used to support early math instruction. The LT2 program modules uniquely include the mathematical learning goal, the developmental progression, and relevant instructional activities. All three aspects are critical for high-quality and coherent mathematics instruction in the early grades.

This project will address the following research questions: 1) What are the medium-range effects of LT2 on student achievement and the achievement gap? 2) What are the short- and long-term effects of LT2 on teacher instructional approach, beliefs, and quality? and 3) How cost effective is the LT2 intervention relative to the original Building Blocks intervention? To address the research questions, this project will conduct a multisite cluster randomized experimental design, with 90 schools randomly assigned within school districts to either experimental or control groups. Outcome measures for the approximately 250 kindergarten classrooms across these districts will include the Research-based Elementary Math Assessment, observations of instructional quality, a questionnaire focused on teacher beliefs and practices, in addition to school level administrative data. Data will be analyzed using multi-level regression models to determine the effect of the Learning Trajectories intervention on student learning.

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