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CyberSTEM: Making Discovery Visible Through Digital Games

CyberSTEM is developing and testing an integrated digital gaming network that spans homes, schools, and informal learning settings, offering a suite of digital games based on cutting-edge discoveries in the life sciences. The project asks if participation in CyberSTEM leads to increased learning in six areas: interest in science, conceptual knowledge, scientific reasoning, reflection on knowing, participating in science, and identifying as a scientist. The target audience includes youth in grades 6-9.

Award Number: 
1119383
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2011 to Sun, 08/31/2014
Full Description: 

CyberSTEM is developing and testing an integrated digital gaming network that spans homes, schools, and informal learning settings, offering a suite of digital games based on cutting-edge discoveries in the life sciences. The project asks if participation in CyberSTEM leads to increased learning in six areas: interest in science, conceptual knowledge, scientific reasoning, reflection on knowing, participating in science, and identifying as a scientist. The target audience includes youth in grades 6-9.

CyberSTEM is iteratively designed, developed, tested and rolled out to the public across the three year project. Each individual game (and subsequently, the entire learning system) is developed through an iterative, research-driven process starting with laboratory studies of players designed to uncover how game play shapes their thinking, classroom-based case studies of how participation in CyberSTEM changes classroom practice, controlled studies of how participation in CyberSTEM has an impact on classroom achievement, and then how articipation in CyberSTEM beyond the classroom (in museums, homes, or other settings) influences youth participation in science. In each phase, research designs, methods, and analyses procedures appropriate to the questions will be employed, including experimental studies involving think aloud protocols, case studies using responsive case methodology, pre- and post- tests using repeated measure ANOVAs, and exploratory data mining techniques using discourse and regression analysis. As an integrated research project, CyberSTEM will build the capacity for rapid development and deployment of science-based games through developing art and code assets, as well as a network of schools, teachers, and students who can be recruited for research. All code, art assets, and research instruments will be published online and be open sourced.

CyberSTEM will result in an integrated gaming platform consisting of 5 model games that can be the basis of integrated game-based curricula. Each game will have an associated curriculum that teachers, museums, and other science educators can use to educate the public about cutting-edge science. By year three, the project will be tested in 20 schools. The project will use informal gaming channels such as Kongregate, iTunes, and XBox Live to reach the general public who will ultimately create the community that sustains CyberSTEM. This model of education and outreach that cuts across homes, schools, and informal science institutions has the potential to lead to a dramatic rethinking of education. Partnering organizations include Wisconsin University, the Minority Students Achievement Network and the Morgridge Institutes for Research.

Expanding and Sustaining Understanding Evolution

This project will (1) identify the characteristics and needs of college-level target learners and their instructors with respect to evolution, (2) articulate the components for expanding the Understanding Evolution (UE) site to include an Undergraduate Lounge in which students and instructors will be able to access a variety of evolution resources, (3) develop a strategic plan for increasing awareness of UE, and (4) develop a strategic plan for maintenance and continued growth of the site.

Award Number: 
0841757
Funding Period: 
Wed, 10/15/2008 to Thu, 09/30/2010
Full Description: 

The University of California Museum of Paleontology (UCMP) will bring together an experienced group of evolution educators in order to inform the development and maintenance of an effective resource for improving evolution education at the college level. This effort falls under the umbrella of UCMP's highly successful Understanding Evolution (UE) project (http://evolution.berkeley.edu), which currently receives over one million page requests per month during the school year. UE was originally designed around the needs of the K-12 education community; however, increasingly, the site is being used by the undergraduate education community. UCMP intends to embark on an effort to enhance the utility of the UE site for that population, increase awareness of the site at the college level, and secure the project's future so that it can continue to serve K-16 teachers and students. To inform and guide these efforts, UCMP proposes to establish and convene a UE Advisory Board, which will be charged with helping to: (1) identify the characteristics and needs of college-level target learners and their instructors with respect to evolution, (2) articulate the recommended components for expanding the UE site to include an Undergraduate Lounge in which students and their instructors will be able to access a variety of resources for increasing understanding of evolution, (3) develop a strategic plan for increasing awareness of UE within the undergraduate education community, and (4) develop a strategic plan for maintenance and continued growth of the UE site.

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.

Life on Earth: Biodiversity and Evolution

This project will develop an online curriculum module for high school biology. It has three main goals: 1) Demonstrate how a story like malaria can integrate the teaching of multiple science topics and facilitate the diffusion of biodiversity and evolution across curriculum; 2) Model for students how to think like a scientist and show science as worthy of career consideration; and 3) Provide versatile multimedia as an alternative to textbook-centered instruction.

Award Number: 
1005460
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2010 to Wed, 08/31/2011
Full Description: 

This project will develop an online curriculum module for high school biology. The module is intended to be a major component of the larger Life on Earth (LOE) online textbook project being prepared by the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation. LOE is the cornerstone educational project of the foundation, conceived to lead the way into a new era of science learning in which versatile multimedia resources, available online, will replace bound textbooks as the principal tool of instructional support. In addition to be being more engaging, flexible, and cost-effective compared to textbooks, LOE is intended to bring a coherence often lacking in online resources. The approach is potentially transformative in offering a comprehensive and superior alternative to printed textbooks, while also providing features to help improve the way that science is taught, using a thoroughly interdisciplinary approach tied to cutting-edge scientific research. A nagging problem with the use of online materials is the sometimes inconsistent and seemingly haphazard nature of resources obtained from myriad places. For LOE, coherence will be achieved through careful consideration of how teachers and students actually use online resources, combined with the talents of a team of award-winning scientists, media developers, and educators. Careful attention to teachers' classroom, standards and curricular needs should facilitate wide adoption and dissemination.

This project will develop a pilot series of high school lessons with three main goals: 1) Demonstrate how a compelling multidimensional story like malaria can be used to integrate the teaching of multiple science topics and facilitate the diffusion of biodiversity and evolution across the life sciences curriculum; 2) Model for students how to think like a scientist and show science as an active enterprise, essential to a good education and worthy of career consideration; and 3) Provide versatile multimedia as an alternative to textbook-centered instruction that can better support a broad range of learning styles as promoted, for example, by the proponents of Universal Design for Learning. To achieve these goals, the LOE team will produce test materials and design a prototype website, as well as build a network of partnerships that includes teachers, scientists, scientist-educators and key organizations with similar goals and complementary interests.

Virtual Learning Communities: An Online Professional Development Resource for STEM Teachers

This project will design, develop, and test a virtual learning community (VLC) to enhance the ability of first- and fourth-grade teachers to provide mathematics education. The goal is to produce a prototype of a VLC for first- and fourth-grade Everyday Mathematics teachers that integrates three primary elements: (a) learning objects rooted in practice, such as lesson video, (b) community-building tools offered by the internet, and (c) focused content that drives teachers' professional learning in mathematics.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1020083
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/15/2010 to Sun, 06/30/2013
Project Evaluator: 
none
Full Description: 

Researchers and developers at the University of Chicago are conducting an exploratory project to design, develop, and test a virtual learning community (VLC) to enhance the ability of first- and fourth-grade teachers to provide mathematics education. The project deploys cyberlearning technologies to allow teachers to interact with one another and with experts across the U.S. The goal is to produce a prototype of a VLC for first- and fourth-grade Everyday Mathematics teachers that integrates three primary elements: (a) learning objects rooted in practice, such as lesson video, (b) community-building tools offered by the internet, and (c) focused content that drives teachers' professional learning in mathematics.

This VLC is developed during two engineering cycles in which the project team engages teachers as central partners. The quality and utility of the resultant VLC is tested against the anticipated outcomes of (a) sustained participation by teachers in the VLC and (b) changes in teachers' "professional vision" in mathematics education. Sustained participation is tracked using web analytics and user logs. Changes in professional vision are measured by on-line assessment tools used by approximately 150 teachers.

The VLC develops learning objects; community-building tools; and focused content. The VLC will be launched during the third year of the project by way of the Everyday Mathematics website, which has over 6000 visitors per day, and the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project newsletter, which has a circulation of 40,000. The potential audience is quite large since Everyday Mathematics is used in 185,000 classrooms.

Data Games: Tools and Materials for Learning Data Modeling (Collaborative Research: Finzer)

The Data Games project has developed software and curriculum materials in which data generated by students playing computer games form the raw material for mathematics classroom activities. Students play a short video game, analyze the game data, develop improved strategies, and test their strategies in another round of the game.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0918735
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2009 to Fri, 08/31/2012
Project Evaluator: 
James Hammerman
Full Description: 

Students playing computer games generate large quantities of rich, interesting, highly variable data that mostly evaporate when the game ends. What if in a classroom setting, data from games students played remained accessible to them for analysis? In software and curriculum materials developed by the Data Games project at UMass Amherst and KCP Technologies, data generated by students playing computer games form the raw material for mathematics classroom activities. Students play a short video game, analyze the game data, develop improved strategies, and try their strategies in another round of the game.

 

The video games are embedded in an online data analysis learning environment that is based on desktop software tools Fathom® Dynamic Data and Tinkerplots® Dynamic Data Exploration, widely used in grades 5–8 and 8–14 respectively. The game data appear in graphs and tables in real time, allowing several cycles of strategy improvement in a short time. The games are designed so that these cycles improve understanding of specific data modeling and/or mathematics concepts.

 

The research strand of the Data Games project focuses on students’ creation of data representations that model a real-world context. Findings from this research have been incorporated into the design of the data structures in the software.

Interactive Ink Inscriptions in K-12 (INK-12) (Collaborative Research: Rubin)

This exploratory project seeks to understand the role that a network of tablet computers may play in elementary and middle school math and science classrooms. The project uses classroom observations, student interviews, teacher interviews, and student artifacts to identify the advantages and disadvantages of these resources, to understand what challenges and benefits they offer to teachers, and to offer recommendations for future hardware, software, and curriculum development.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0822055
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/01/2008 to Tue, 08/31/2010
Project Evaluator: 
David Reider
Full Description: 

Researching the Expansion of K-5 Mathematics Specialist Program into Rural School Systems

This project addresses the challenge “How can promising innovations be successfully implemented, sustained, and scaled in schools and districts in a cost effective manner?” Project partners are researching the expansion of an established preparation and induction support program for K-5 mathematics specialists into rural school systems.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0918223
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2009 to Wed, 08/31/2011
Project Evaluator: 
Horizon Research Inc.

Collaborative Online Projects for ELL Students (COPELLS)

This project is studying effects of linguistically sensitive science instructional materials by translating, enhancing, and evaluating culturally relevant and linguistically appropriate Collaborative Online Projects (originally written in Spanish) for middle school Spanish-speaking English Language Learners.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0918832
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2009 to Sat, 08/31/2013
Project Evaluator: 
Kari Nelsestuen
Full Description: 

Project COPELLS is a research and development project implemented by University of Oregon's Center for Advanced Technology in Education (CATE) and the Instituto Latinamericano de la Communicacion Educativa (ILCE). ILCE is a division of the Department of Education in Mexico that designs relevant collaborative online projects (COPs) for students K through 12.

 

Project COPELLS has selected, translated, and enhanced culturally relevant and linguistically appropriate COPs designed by ILCE to teach science to middle school, Spanish-speaking, English Language Learners. These COPs were aligned to both National Science Education Standards and Oregon secondary science standards by Oregon State Department of Education Science Curriculum educators. In addition, they were enhanced with supportive resources (etext supports) that promote bilingual use of the materials and increase science literacy in both English and Spanish.

 

The Center for Advanced Technology in Education has research-based experience enriching online reading materials with content-specific multimedia supports designed to scaffold text comprehension and content learning for struggling students. Specific etext supports identified as potentially useful for this population include: alternative text, audio, and video definitions of terms, translations, and enhanced illustrations that become available only when clicked to open by the reader.

 

The project's two major goals are to (a) facilitate and improve science content-area learning for Spanish-speaking ELL students and (b) facilitate their acquisition of Academic English while learning science content. Feasibility and usability of the Collaborative Online Projects is being classroom tested. The project is gathering information on the impact of the bilingual online science materials for improving science content-area learning, student attitude toward scientific learning, student and teacher satisfaction, and science academic language proficiency (ALP) of ELL students.

 

Key people:
Dr. Carolyn Knox, Principal Investigator
Dr. Kenneth Doxsee, Co-Principal Investigator
Dr. Fatima Terrazas-Arellanes, Co-Principal Investigador
Dr. Patricia Cabrera Muñoz, ILCE Partner

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.

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