Activity

CAREER: Supporting Computational Algorithmic Thinking (SCAT)—Exploring the Development of Computational Algorithmic Thinking Capabilities in African-American Middle School Girls

The project at Spelman College includes activities that develop computational thinking and encourage middle school, African-American girls to consider careers in computer science. Over a three-year period, the girls attend summer camp sessions of two weeks where they learn to design interactive games. Experts in Computational Algorithmic Thinking as well as undergraduate, computer science majors at Spelman College guide the middle-school students in their design of games and exploration of related STEM careers.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1737442
Funding Period: 
Sun, 07/15/2012 to Sun, 06/30/2019
Full Description: 

The Supporting Computational Algorithmic Thinking (SCAT) project at Spelman College includes activities that develop computational thinking and encourage middle school, African-American girls to consider careers in computer science. Over a three-year period, the girls attend summer camp sessions of two weeks where they learn to design interactive games. They participate in workshops, field trips, and game-design competitions. Experts in Computational Algorithmic Thinking as well as undergraduate, computer science majors at Spelman College guide the middle-school students in their design of games and exploration of related STEM careers.

Research on the development of Computational Algorithmic Thinking is an integral part of the project. The researcher is investigating how middle-school girls develop computational thinking and problem solving skills. Game design has been shown to be an area that is attractive to adolescents and it requires extensive problem solving and computational algorithmic thinking. Within the context of designing games individually and within groups, the researcher is assessing how the girls develop computational algorithmic thinking, and what difficulties they experience. Researchers are also assessing how the project experiences influence the students' self-perceptions of themselves as problem solvers. At the same time, the girls engaged in educational experiences where they are expected to gain knowledge in mathematics, programming, and reasoning, as well as game design. Research data consists of artifacts that the students have created, observations, participant journals, and interviews.

Computational Algorithmic Thinking is an essential skill for most STEM careers. African-American women are underrepresented in many STEM fields and especially in computer science. The goals of the project are to prepare girls with these essential skills and to increase their confidence in participating in STEM education. The project is also exposing participating girls to a wide variety of STEM careers. In addition, the materials, lesson plans, and activities generated in the project are available to be used, without charge, by other groups interested in designing similar programs.

This project was previously funded under award #1150098.

Cluster Randomized Trial of the Efficacy of Early Childhood Science Education for Low-Income Children

The research goal of this project is to evaluate whether an early childhood science education program, implemented in low-income preschool settings produces measurable impacts for children, teachers, and parents. The study is determining the efficacy of the program on Science curriculum in two models, one in which teachers participate in professional development activities (the intervention), and another in which teachers receive the curriculum and teachers' guide but no professional development (the control).

Project Email: 
Award Number: 
1119327
Funding Period: 
Mon, 08/15/2011 to Mon, 07/31/2017
Project Evaluator: 
Brian Dates, Southwest Counseling Services
Full Description: 

The research goal of this project is to evaluate whether an early childhood science education program, Head Start on Science, implemented in low-income preschool settings (Head Start) produces measurable impacts for children, teachers, and parents. The study is being conducted in eight Head Start programs in Michigan, involving 72 classrooms, 144 teachers, and 576 students and their parents. Partners include Michigan State University, Grand Valley State University, and the 8 Head Start programs. Southwest Counseling Solutions is the external evaluator.

The study is determining the efficacy of the Head Start on Science curriculum in two models, one in which 72 teachers participate in professional development activities (the intervention), and another in which 72 teachers receive the curriculum and teachers' guide but no professional development (the control). The teacher study is a multi-site cluster randomized trial (MSCRT) with the classroom being the unit of randomization. Four time points over two years permit analysis through multilevel latent growth curve models. For teachers, measurement instruments include Attitudes Toward Science (ATS survey), the Head Start on Science Observation Protocol, the Preschool Classroom Science Materials/Equipment Checklist, the Preschool Science Classroom Activities Checklist, and the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS). For students, measures include the "mouse house problem," Knowledge of Biological Properties, the physics of falling objects, the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-Fourth Edition, the Expressive Vocabulary Test-2, the Test of Early Mathematics Ability-3, Social Skills Improvement System-Rating Scales, and the Emotion Regulation Checklist. Measures for parents include the Attitudes Toward Science survey, and the Community and Home Activities Related to Science and Technology for Preschool Children (CHARTS/PS). There are Spanish versions of many of these instruments which can be used as needed. The external evaluation is monitoring the project progress toward its objectives and the processes of the research study.

This project meets a critical need for early childhood science education. Research has shown that very young children can achieve significant learning in science. The curriculum Head Start on Science has been carefully designed for 3-5 year old children and is one of only a few science programs for this audience with a national reach. This study intends to provide a sound basis for early childhood science education by demonstrating the efficacy of this important curriculum in the context of a professional development model for teachers.

CAREER: Engaging Elementary Students in Data Analysis Through Study of Physical Activities

This project is investigating the learning that can take place when elementary school students are directly involved in the collection, sense-making, and analysis of real, personally-meaningful data sets. The hypotheses of this work are that by organizing elementary statistics instruction around the study of physical activities, students will have greater personal engagement in data analysis processes and that students will also develop more robust understandings of statistical ideas.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1054280
Funding Period: 
Fri, 07/01/2011 to Sat, 06/30/2018
Full Description: 

This CAREER awardee at Utah State University is investigating the learning that can take place when elementary school students are directly involved in the collection, sense-making, and analysis of real, personally-meaningful data sets. The project responds to increasing attention to data collection and analysis in elementary grades and aims to make important contributions to the knowledge base on effective approaches to these topics. The hypotheses of this work are that by organizing elementary statistics instruction around the study of physical activities, students will have greater personal engagement in data analysis processes and that students will also develop more robust understandings of statistical ideas. Students and teachers from fifth grade classrooms from several elementary schools from northern Utah, are participating in the project. This work is co-funded by the EPSCoR program.

Statistics topics include measures of center and variation. Students use pedometers, heart rate monitors, other probeware, and the TinkerPlots software. The research team investigates the influence of personal ownership and relationships to data on students' understanding of learning of elementary statistics concepts and their ability to analyze data. The research involves multi-year clinical interviews and video-recorded classroom design experiments.

Research results are expected to be published in appropriate journals and are expected to be presented at professional meetings. Lesson plans and student instructional materials related to physical activity, measures of center, and data distributions are made available for use in partner elementary schools.

CAREER: Noticing and Capitalizing on Important Mathematical Moments in Instruction

This project investigates the outcomes of a teacher education model designed to foster prospective mathematics teachers' abilities to notice and capitalize on important mathematical moments in instruction. The project engages prospective teachers in research-like analysis of unedited teacher-perspective classroom video early in their teacher education coursework in order to help them learn to identify, assess the mathematical potential of, and respond to important student ideas and insights that arise during instruction.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1052958
Funding Period: 
Fri, 04/15/2011 to Sat, 03/31/2012
Full Description: 

This CAREER awardee at Michigan Technological University is investigating the outcomes of a teacher education model designed to foster prospective mathematics teachers' abilities to notice and capitalize on important mathematical moments in instruction. The researcher engages prospective teachers in research-like analysis of unedited teacher-perspective classroom video early in their teacher education coursework in order to help them learn to identify, assess the mathematical potential of, and respond to important student ideas and insights that arise during instruction.

The research is based on a quasi-experimental design and involves three cohorts of prospective teachers. Practicing teachers from local schools collaborate with the research team. The data collected consists of classroom video. The video is coded and analyzed using Studiocode, which allows for real-time coding and for multiple users to code and annotate video segments.

The research findings are integrated into the institution's teacher education program and are also disseminated more broadly through publication and presentations at professional meetings.

Further Development and Testing of the Target Inquiry Model for Middle and High School Science Teacher Professional Development (Collaborative Research: Herrington)

This project scales and further tests the Target Inquiry professional development model. The scale-up and further testing would involve adding physics, biology and geology at Grand Valley State University, and implementing the program at Miami University with chemistry teachers. The project is also producing a website of instructional materials for middle and secondary science.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1118658
Funding Period: 
Mon, 08/15/2011 to Wed, 07/31/2013
Full Description: 

This project scales and further tests the Target Inquiry (TI) professional development model. The TI model involves teachers in three core experiences: 1) a research experience for teachers (RET), 2) materials adaptation (MA), and 3) an action research (AR) project. The original program was implemented with high school chemistry teachers at Grand Valley State University (GVSU), and was shown to result in significant increases, with large effect sizes, in teachers' understanding of science inquiry and quality of instruction, and in science achievement of those teachers' students. The scale-up and further testing would involve adding physics, biology and geology at GVSU, and implementing the program at Miami University (MU) with chemistry teachers. Three research questions will be studied:

1) How do the three TI core experiences influence in-service high school science teachers' (i) understanding of the nature of science; (ii) attitudes and beliefs about inquiry instruction; and (iii) classroom instructional methods in two new applications of the TI model?

2) How does teacher participation in TI affect students' process skills (scientific reasoning and metacognition) and conceptual understanding of science in two new applications of the TI model?

3) What are the challenges and solutions related to implementing TI in science disciplines beyond chemistry and in other regions?

The research design is quasi-experimental and longitudinal, incorporating implementation with research, and using quantitative and qualitative methods blended in a design research framework. A total of 54 middle and high school science teachers are being recruited for the study. The TI group is completing the TI program (N = 27; 15 at GVSU; 12 at MU) while the comparison group (same sizes and locations) is not. The comparison group is matched according to individual characteristics and school demographics. All teachers are being studied, along with their students, for 4 years (pre-program, post-RET, post-MA, post-AR/post-program). TI teachers are taking 15 credits of graduate level science courses over three years, including summers. Courses include a graduate seminar focused on preparing for the research experience, the research experience in a faculty member's science lab during the summer, application of research to teaching, action research project development, adaptation and evaluation of inquiry-focused curricula, and interpretation and analysis of classroom data from action research. Consistent feedback from professional development providers, other teachers, and evaluation, including comparison with the previous implementation, contributes to a design-based approach. Teacher factors being studied include beliefs about the nature of science, inquiry teaching knowledge and beliefs, and quality of inquiry instruction. Student factors being studied include scientific reasoning; metacognition, self-efficacy, and learning processes in science; and content knowledge and conceptual understanding. Only established quantitative and qualitative instruments are being used. Quantitative analysis includes between-group comparisons by year on post-tests, with pre-tests as covariates, and multi-level models with students nested within teachers, and teachers within sites, with the teacher level as the primary unit of change. Trends over time between the treatment and comparison groups are being examined. The evaluation is using a combination of pre/post causal comparative quantitative measures and relevant qualitative data from project leaders and participants, as well as from the comparison group, to provide formative and summative evaluation input.

Outcomes of the project include documentation and understanding of the impacts on science teachers' instruction and student outcomes of research experiences for teachers when they are supported by materials adaptation and action research, and an understanding of what it takes to scale the model to different science disciplines and a different site. The project is also producing a website of instructional materials for middle and secondary science.

Efficacy Study of Metropolitan Denver's Urban Advantage Program: A Project to Improve Scientific Literacy Among Urban Middle School Students

This is an efficacy study to determine if partnerships among formal and informal organizations demonstrate an appropriate infrastructure for improving science literacy among urban middle school science students. The study aims to answer the following questions: How does participation in the program affect students' science knowledge, skills, and attitudes toward science; teachers' science knowledge, skills, and abilities; and families engagement in and support for their children's science learning and aspirations?

Award Number: 
1020386
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/15/2010 to Wed, 08/31/2011
Project Evaluator: 
Maggie Miller
Full Description: 

This is an efficacy study through which the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the Denver Zoo, the Denver Botanic Gardens, and three of Denver's urban school districts join efforts to determine if partnerships among formal and informal organizations demonstrate an appropriate infrastructure for improving science literacy among urban middle school science students. The Metropolitan Denver Urban Advantage (UA Denver) program is used for this purpose. This program consists of three design elements: (a) student-driven investigations, (b) STEM-related content, and (c) alignment of schools and informal science education institutions; and six major components: (a) professional development for teachers, (b) classroom materials and resources, (c) access to science-rich organizations, (d) outreach to families, (e) capacity building and sustainability, and (e) program assessment and student learning. Three research questions guide the study: (1) How does the participation in the program affect students' science knowledge, skills, and attitudes toward science relative to comparison groups of students? (2) How does the participation in the program affect teachers' science knowledge, skills, and abilities relative to comparison groups of teachers? and (3) How do families' participation in the program affect their engagement in and support for their children's science learning and aspirations relative to comparison families?

The study's guiding hypothesis is that the UA Denver program should improve science literacy in urban middle school students measured by (a) students' increased understanding of science, as reflected in their science investigations or "exit projects"; (b) teachers' increased understanding of science and their ability to support students in their exit projects, as documented by classroom observations, observations of professional development activities, and surveys; and (c) school groups' and families' increased visits to participating science-based institutions, through surveys. The study employs an experimental research design. Schools are randomly assigned to either intervention or comparison groups and classrooms will be the units of analysis. Power analysis recommended a sample of 18 intervention and 18 comparison middle schools, with approximately 72 seventh grade science teachers, over 5,000 students, and 12,000 individual parents in order to detect differences among intervention and comparison groups. To answer the three research questions, data gathering strategies include: (a) students' standardized test scores from the Colorado Student Assessment Program, (b) students' pre-post science learning assessment using the Northwest Evaluation Association's Measures for Academic Progress (science), (c) students' pre-post science aspirations and goals using the Modified Attitude Toward Science Inventory, (d) teachers' fidelity of implementation using the Teaching Science as Inquiry instrument, and (e) classroom interactions using the Science Teacher Inquiry Rubric, and the Reformed Teaching Observation protocol. To interpret the main three levels of data (students, nested in teachers, nested within schools), hierarchical linear modeling (HLM), including HLM6 application, are utilized. An advisory board, including experts in research methodologies, science, informal science education, assessment, and measurement oversees the progress of the study and provides guidance to the research team. An external evaluator assesses both formative and summative aspects of the evaluation component of the scope of work.

The key outcome of the study is a research-informed and field-tested intervention implemented under specific conditions for enhancing middle school science learning and teaching, and supported by partnerships between formal and informal organizations.

Modeling Engineered Levers for the 21st Century Teaching of STEM (Collaborative Research: Schunn)

This project will develop three replacement units for biology and refine them through classroom testing. The units will be models of STEM integration by using the important concepts of proportional reasoning and algebraic thinking and engineering re-design to address big ideas in science while also promoting the learning of 21st century skills. The materials will be educative for teachers, and the teacher materials and professional development methods will work at scale and distance.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1027629
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2010 to Sun, 08/31/2014
Project Evaluator: 
Bill Bickel
Full Description: 

Research in biology has become increasingly mathematical, but high school courses in biology use little mathematics. To address this concern, this project will develop three replacement units for biology and refine them through classroom testing. The units will be models of STEM integration by using the important concepts of proportional reasoning and algebraic thinking and engineering re-design to address big ideas in science while also promoting the learning of 21st century skills. The materials build on existing work on the use of model eliciting activities and focus science and technology instruction on high-stakes weaknesses in mathematics and science. They address the scaling issue as part of the core design work by developing small units of curriculum that can be applied by early adopters in each context. The materials will undergo many rounds of testing and revision in the early design process with at least ten teachers each time. The materials will be educative for teachers, and the teacher materials and professional development methods will work at scale and distance.

Learning of science content will be measured through the use of existing instruments in wide use. Existing scales of task values, achievement goals and interest are used to measure student motivation. The work performed is guided by a content team; a scaling materials team; a scaling research team; the PI team of a cognitive scientist, a robotics educator, and a mathematics educator specializing in educational reform at scale; and the summative evaluation team lead by an external evaluator.

There is great interest in understanding whether integrated STEM education can interest more students in STEM disciplines. The focus on mathematics integrated with engineering in the context of a science topic is interesting and novel and could contribute to our understanding of integrating mathematics, engineering and science. The development team includes a cognitive scientist, a mathematics educator, teachers and scientists. The issues and challenges of interdisciplinary instruction will be investigated.

Cyber-Enabled Learning: Digital Natives in Integrated Scientific Inquiry Classrooms (Collaborative Research: Wang)

This project investigated the professional development needed to make teachers comfortable teaching with multi-user simulations and communications that students use every day. The enactment with OpenSim (an open source, modular, expandable platform used to create simulated 3D spaces with customizable terrain, weather and physics) also provides an opportunity to demonstrate the level of planning and preparation that go into fashioning modules with all selected cyber-enabled cognitive tools framed by constructivism, such as GoogleEarth and Biologica.

Award Number: 
1020091
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2010 to Wed, 08/31/2011
Project Evaluator: 
HRI
Full Description: 

There is an increasing gap between the assumptions governing the use of cyber-enabled resources in schools and the realities of their use by students in out of school settings. The potential of information and communications technologies (ICT) as cognitive tools for engaging students in scientific inquiry and enhancing teacher learning is explored. A comprehensive professional development program of over 240 hours, along with follow-up is used to determine how teachers can be supported to use ICT tools effectively in classroom instruction to create meaningful learning experiences for students, reducing the gap between formal and informal learning and improve student learning outcomes. In the first year, six teachers from school districts - two in Utah and one in New York - are educated to become teacher leaders and advisors. Then three cohorts of 30 teachers matched by characteristics are provided professional development and field test units over two years in a delayed-treatment design. Biologists from Utah State University and New York College of Technology develop four modules that meet the science standards for both states - the first being changes in the environment. Teachers are guided to develop additional modules. The key technological resource to be used in the project is the Opensimulator 3D application Server (OpenSim), an open source, modular, expandable platform used to create simulated 3D spaces with customizable terrain, weather and physics. 

The research methodology includes the use of the classroom observations using RTOP and Technology Use in Science Instruction (TUSI), selected interviews of teachers and students and validated assessments of student learning. Evaluation, by an external evaluator, assesses the quality of the professional development and the quality of the cyber-enabled learning resources, as well as reviews the research design and implementation. An Advisory Board will monitor the project. 

The project is to determine the professional development needed to make teachers comfortable teaching with multi-user simulations and communications that students use everyday. The enactment with OpenSim also provides an opportunity to demonstrate the level of planning and preparation that go into fashioning modules with all selected cyber-enabled cognitive tools framed by constructivism, such as GoogleEarth and Biologica.

Studying Topography, Orographic Rainfall, and Ecosystems (STORE) with Geospatial Information Technology

This project is using innovative Geospatial Information Technology-based learning in high school environmental science studies with a focus on the meteorological and ecological impacts of climate change. The resources developed are using ArcGIS Explorer Desktop and Google Earth software applications to increase students' learning and interest in science and careers and will be adaptable for teachers to improve classroom implementation.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1019645
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2010 to Sat, 08/31/2013
Project Evaluator: 
Haynie Research and Evaluation
Full Description: 

STORE is developing and piloting classroom uses of GIS-based interactive data files displaying climatological, topographical, and biological data about an especially ecologically and topographically diverse section of mid-California and a section of western New York State, plus projected climate change outcomes in 2050 and 2099 from an IPCC climate change model. Both areas contain weather stations. The participating students and teachers live in those areas, hence the place-based focus of the project.

To help teachers make curricular decisions about how to use these data with their students, the project has, with input from six design partner teachers, produced a curriculum module exemplar consisting of six lessons. The lessons start with basic meteorological concepts about the relationship between weather systems and topography, then focus on recent climatological and land cover data. The last two lessons focus on IPCC-sanctioned climate change projections in relation to possible fates of different regional species. Technology light versions of these lessons send students directly to map layers displaying the data for scientific analysis. Technology-heavy versions address the additional goal of building students' capacities to manipulate features of geographic information systems (GIS). Hence, the technology-heavy versions require use of the ARC GIS Explorer Desktop software, whereas the technology light versions are available in both the ARC software and in Google Earth. Google Earth makes possible some student interactivity such as drawing transects and studying elevation profiles, but does not support more advanced use of geographic information system technology such as queries of data-containing shape files or customization of basemaps and data representational symbology.

Answer keys are provided for each lesson. Teachers have in addition access to geospatial data files that display some storm systems that moved over California in the winter of 2010-2001 so that students can study relationships between actual data about storm behavior and relationship to topography and the climatological data which displays those relationships in a summary manner. This provides the student the opportunity to explore differences between weather and climate.

To increase the likelihood of successful classroom implementation and impact on student learning, the professional development process provides the conditions for teachers to make good adaptability decisions for successful follow-through. Teachers can implement the six lessons or adapt them or design their own from scratch. The project requires that they choose from these options, explain on content representation forms their rationales for those decisions, and provide assessment information about student learning outcomes from their implementations. The project provides the teachers with assessment items that are aligned to each of the six lessons, plus some items that test how well the students can interpret the STORE GIS data layers.

All of this work is driven by the hypothesis that science teachers are more likely to use geospatial information technology in their classrooms when provided with the types of resources that they are provided in this project. In summary, these resources include:

1.     tutorials about how to use the two GIS applications

2.     sufficiently adaptive geospatial data available in free easily transportable software applications

3.     lessons that they can implement as is, adapt, or discard if they want to make up their own (as long as they use the data)

4.     supportive resources to build their content knowledge (such as overview documents about their states' climates and information about the characteristics of each data layer and each data set available to them).

 

The growth and evolution of the teachers' technological pedagogical content knowledge is being tracked through interviews, face-to-face group meetings, and classroom observations. Also being tracked is the extent to which the teachers and students can master the technology applications quickly and on their own without workshops, and how well teachers provide feedback to the students and assess their learning outcomes when implementing STORE lessons. As the project moves into its third and final year, we will be studying outcomes from the first classroom implementation year (i.e. year two of the project) and determining to what extent the professional development strategies need to be revised in relation to how the teachers are responding to the project resources and forms of professional support. In the end, the project will contribute to the knowledge base about what professional development strategies are appropriate for getting teachers to use these types of resources, what decisions teachers make about how to use the resources for different courses and student groups they teach, and what are the outcomes of those uses in terms of curricular material, instructional strategies, and student learning.

ScratchEd: Working with Teachers to Develop Design-Based Approaches to the Cultivation of Computational Thinking

This project is designing, developing, and studying an innovative model for professional development (PD) of teachers who use the Scratch computer programming environment to help their students learn computational thinking. The fundamental hypothesis of the project is that engagement in workshops and on-line activities of the ScratchEd professional development community will enhance teacher knowledge about computational thinking, their practice of design-based instruction, and their students' learning of key computational thinking concepts and habits of mind.

Project Email: 
Award Number: 
1019396
Funding Period: 
Sun, 08/15/2010 to Wed, 07/31/2013
Project Evaluator: 
Education Development Center
Full Description: 

The ScratchEd project, led by faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and professionals at the Education Development Center, is designing, developing, and studying an innovative model for professional development (PD) of teachers who use the Scratch computer programming environment to help their students learn computational thinking. The fundamental hypothesis of the project is that engagement in workshops and on-line activities of the ScratchEd professional development community will enhance teacher knowledge about computational thinking, their practice of design-based instruction, and their students' learning of key computational thinking concepts and habits of mind.

The effectiveness of the ScratchEd project is being evaluated by research addressing four specific questions: (1) What are the levels of teacher participation in the various ScratchEd PD offerings and what do teachers think of these experiences? (2) Do teachers who participate in ScratchEd PD activities change their use of Scratch in classroom instruction to create design-based learning opportunities? (3) Do the students of teachers who participate in the ScratchEd PD activities show evidence of developing an understanding of computational thinking concepts and processes? (4) When the research instruments developed for the evaluation are made available for teachers in the Scratch community to use for self-evaluation, how do teachers make use of them? Because both computational thinking and design-based instruction are complex activities, the project research is using a combination of survey, interview, and artifact analysis methods to answer the questions.

The ScratchEd professional development and research work will provide important insight into the challenge of helping teachers create productive learning environments for development of computational thinking. Those efforts will also yield a set of evaluation tools that can be integrated into the ScratchEd resources and used by others to study development of computational thinking and design-based instruction.

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