Number Sense

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.

Pandemic Learning Loss in U.S. High Schools: A National Examination of Student Experiences

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools across much of the U.S. have been closed since mid-March of 2020 and many students have been attempting to continue their education away from schools. Student experiences across the country are likely to be highly variable depending on a variety of factors at the individual, home, school, district, and state levels. This project will use two, nationally representative, existing databases of high school students to study their experiences in STEM education during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2030436
Funding Period: 
Fri, 05/15/2020 to Fri, 04/30/2021
Full Description: 

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools across much of the U.S. have been closed since mid-March of 2020 and many students have been attempting to continue their education away from schools. Student experiences across the country are likely to be highly variable depending on a variety of factors at the individual, home, school, district, and state levels. This project will use two, nationally representative, existing databases of high school students to study their experiences in STEM education during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study intends to ascertain whether students are taking STEM courses in high school, the nature of the changes made to the courses, and their plans for the fall. The researchers will identify the electronic learning platforms in use, and other modifications made to STEM experiences in formal and informal settings. The study is particularly interested in finding patterns of inequities for students in various demographic groups underserved in STEM and who may be most likely to be affected by a hiatus in formal education.

This study will collect data using the AmeriSpeak Teen Panel of approximately 2,000 students aged 13 to 17 and the Infinite Campus Student Information System with a sample of approximately 2.5 million high school students. The data sets allow for relevant comparisons of student experiences prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic and offer unique perspectives with nationally representative samples of U.S. high school students. New data collection will focus on formal and informal STEM learning opportunities, engagement, STEM course taking, the nature and frequency of instruction, interactions with teachers, interest in STEM, and career aspirations. Weighted data will be analyzed using descriptive statistics and within and between district analysis will be conducted to assess group differences. Estimates of between group pandemic learning loss will be provided with attention to demographic factors.

This RAPID award is made by the DRK-12 program in the Division of Research on Learning. The Discovery Research PreK-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics by preK-12 students and teachers, through the research and development of new innovations and approaches. Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for the projects.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

 

 

 

 

Leveraging Simulations in Preservice Preparation to Improve Mathematics Teaching for Students with Disabilities (Collaborative Research: Jones)

This project aims to support the mathematics learning of students with disabilities through the development and use of mixed reality simulations for elementary mathematics teacher preparation. These simulations represent low-stakes opportunities for preservice teachers to practice research-based instructional strategies to support mathematics learning, and to receive feedback on their practices.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2010298
Funding Period: 
Fri, 05/01/2020 to Tue, 04/30/2024
Full Description: 

The preparation of general education teachers to support the mathematics learning of students with disabilities is critical, as students with disabilities are overrepresented in the lower ranks of mathematics achievement. This project aims to address this need in the context of elementary mathematics teacher preparation through the development and use of mixed reality simulations. These simulations represent low-stakes opportunities for preservice teachers to practice research-based instructional strategies to support mathematics learning, and to receive feedback on their practices. Learning units that use the simulations will focus on two high leverage practices: teacher modeling of self-monitoring and reflection strategies during problem solving and using strategy instruction to teach students to support problem solving. These high-leverage teaching practices will support teachers engaging all students, including students with disabilities, in conceptually sophisticated mathematics in which students are treated as sense-makers and empowered to do mathematics in culturally meaningful ways.

The project work encompasses three primary aims. The first aim is to develop a consensus around shared definitions of high-leverage practices across the mathematics education and special education communities. To accomplish this goal, the project will convene a series of consensus-building panels with mathematics education and special education experts to develop shared definitions of the two targeted high leverage practices. This work will include engaging with current research, group discussion, and production of documents with specifications for the practices. The second aim is to develop learning units for elementary mathematics methods courses grounded in mixed reality simulation. These simulations will allow teacher candidates to enact the high leverage practices with simulated students and to receive coaching on their practice from the research team. The impact of this work will be assessed through the analysis of interviews with teacher educators implementing the units and observations and artifacts from the implementations. The third aim will be to assess the effectiveness of the simulations on teacher candidates? practices and beliefs through small-scaled randomized control trials. Teacher candidates will be randomly assigned to conditions that address the practices and make use of simulations, and a business as usual condition focused on lesson planning, student assessment, and small group discussions of the high leverage practices. The impact of the work will be assessed through the analysis of baseline and exit simulations, measures of teacher self-efficacy for teaching students with disabilities, and observations of classroom teaching in their clinical placement settings.

CAREER: Promoting Equitable and Inclusive STEM Contexts in High School

This project focuses on fostering equitable and inclusive STEM contexts with attention to documenting and reducing adolescents' experiences of harassment, bias, prejudice and stereotyping. This research will contribute to understanding of the current STEM educational climates in high schools and will help to identify factors that promote resilience in the STEM contexts, documenting how K-12 educators can structure their classrooms and schools to foster success of all students in STEM classes.

Award Number: 
1941992
Funding Period: 
Sat, 02/01/2020 to Fri, 01/31/2025
Full Description: 

This project focuses on fostering equitable and inclusive STEM contexts with attention to documenting and reducing adolescents' experiences of harassment, bias, prejudice and stereotyping. An important barrier to persistence in STEM fields for marginalized groups, including women and ethnic minorities, relates to a culture in many STEM organizations, such as academic institutions, that fosters discrimination, harassment and prejudicial treatment of those from underrepresented groups. This research will contribute to understanding of the current STEM educational climates in high schools and will help to identify factors that promote resilience in the STEM contexts, documenting how K-12 educators can structure their classrooms and schools to foster success of all students in STEM classes. Further, this work will explore how to create schools where students stand-up for each other and support each other so that any student who is interested will feel welcome in STEM classes and programs.

This research aims to examine cultures of discrimination and harassment in STEM contexts with attention to: 1) assessing STEM climates in high schools in order to identify the character of discrimination and harassment, 2) understanding how youth think about these instances of bias and discrimination; 3) identifying pathways to resilience for underrepresented youth pursuing STEM interests, and 4) testing an intervention to promote bystander intervention from those who witness discrimination and harassment in STEM contexts. This research will take an intersectional approach recognizing that those who are marginalized by multiple dimensions of their identity may experience STEM contexts differently than those who are marginalized by one dimension of their identity. Because adolescence is a critical developmental period during which youth are forming their attitudes, orientations and lifelong behaviors, this research will attend to issues of bias and discrimination well before individuals enter college STEM classrooms or the STEM workforce: namely, during high school. Further, this work will examine the creation of equitable STEM climates in both college-preparation classes as well as workforce development STEM programs offered though or in partnership with high schools. This research will provide clear evidence to document the current culture of STEM contexts in high schools, using mixed methods, including surveys, qualitative interviews and longitudinal measurement. Further, the project will involve development and implementation of an intervention, which will provide the first test of whether bystander intervention can be fostered in STEM students and will involve training STEM students in key 21st century skills, such as social-cognitive capacities and interpersonal skills, enabling them to speak up and support peers from marginalized backgrounds when they observe discrimination and harassment.

Validation of the Equity and Access Rubrics for Mathematics Instruction (VEAR-MI)

The main goal of this project is to validate a set of rubrics that attend to the existence and the quality of instructional practices that support equity and access in mathematics classes. The project team will clarify the relationships between the practices outlined in the rubrics and aspects of teachers' perspectives and knowledge as well as student learning outcomes.

Award Number: 
1908481
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/15/2019 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Full Description: 

High-quality mathematics instruction remains uncommon and opportunities for students to develop the mathematical understanding are not distributed equally. This is particularly true for students of color and students for whom English is not their first language. While educational research has made progress in identifying practices that are considered high-quality, little attention has been given to specific instructional practices that support historically marginalized groups of students particularly as they participate in more rigorous mathematics. The main goal is to validate a set of rubrics that attend to the existence and the quality of instructional practices that support equity and access in mathematics classes. In addition, the project team will clarify the relationships between the practices outlined in the rubrics and aspects of teachers' perspectives and knowledge as well as student learning outcomes.

This project will make use of two existing large-scale datasets focusing on mathematics teachers to develop rubrics on mathematics instructional quality. The datasets include nearly 3,000 video-recorded mathematics lessons and student achievement records from students in Grades 3 through 8. The four phases of this research and development project include training material development, an observation and rubric generalizability study, a coder reliability study, and structural analysis. Data analysis plans involve case studies, exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses, and cognitive interviews. 

Young Mathematicians: Expanding an Innovative and Promising Model Across Learning Environments to Promote Preschoolers' Mathematics Knowledge

The goal of this design and development project is to address the critical need for innovative resources that transform the mathematics learning environments of preschool children from under-resourced communities by creating a cross-context school-home intervention.

Award Number: 
1907904
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Full Description: 

Far too many children in the U.S. start kindergarten lacking the foundational early numeracy skills needed for academic success. This project contributes to the goal of enhancing the learning and teaching of early mathematics in order to build a STEM-capable workforce and STEM-literate citizenry, which are both crucial to our nation's prosperity and competitiveness. Preparation for the STEM-workforce must start early, as young children's mathematics development undergirds cognitive development, building brain architecture, and supporting problem-solving, puzzling, and persevering, while strongly impacting and predicting future success in school. Preschool children from low socio-economic backgrounds are particularly at risk, as their mathematics knowledge may be up to a full year behind their middle-income peers. Despite agreements about the importance of mathematics-rich interactions for young children's learning and development, most early education teachers and families are not trained in evidence-based methods that can facilitate these experiences, making preschool learning environments (such as school and home) a critical target for intervention. The benefit of this project is that it will develop a robust model for a school-based intervention in early mathematics instruction. The model has the potential to broaden participation by providing instructional materials that support adult-child interaction and engagement in mathematics, explicitly promoting school-home connections in mathematics, and addressing educators' and families' attitudes toward mathematics while promoting children's mathematical knowledge and narrowing opportunity gaps.

The goal of this design and development project is to address the critical need for innovative resources that transform the mathematics learning environments of preschool children from under-resourced communities by creating a cross-context school-home intervention. To achieve this goal, qualitative and quantitative research methodologies will be employed, integrating data from multiple sources and stakeholders. Specifically, the project will: (1) engage in a materials design and development process that includes an iterative cycle of design, development, and implementation, collaborating with practitioners and families in real-world settings; (2) collect and analyze data from at least 40 Head Start classrooms, implementing the mathematics materials to ensure that the classroom and family mathematics materials and resources are engaging, usable, and comprehensible to preschoolers, teachers, and families; and (3) conduct an experimental study that will measure the impact of the intervention on preschool children's mathematics learning. The researchers will analyze collected data using hierarchical linear regression modeling to account for the clustering of children within classrooms. The researchers will also use a series of regression models and multi-level models to determine whether the intervention promotes student outcomes and whether it supports teachers' and families' positive attitudes toward mathematics.

Prospective Elementary Teachers Making for Mathematical Learning

This study takes an innovative approach to documenting how teacher knowledge can be enhanced by incorporating a design experience into pre-service mathematics education. Teachers will use digital and fabrication technologies (e.g., 3D printers and laser cutters) to design and use manipulatives for K-6 mathematics learning. The goals of the project include describing how this experience influences the prospective teachers' knowledge and identities while creating curriculum for teacher education.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1812887
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2018 to Mon, 08/31/2020
Full Description: 

What teachers know and believe is central to what they can do in classrooms. This study takes an innovative approach to documenting how teacher knowledge can be enhanced by incorporating a design experience into pre-service mathematics education. The study's participating prospective teachers will use digital and fabrication technologies (e.g., 3D printers and laser cutters) to design and use manipulatives for K-6 mathematics learning. The goals of the project include describing how this experience influences the prospective teachers' knowledge and identities while creating curriculum for teacher education. Also, because more schools and students have access to 3D fabrication capabilities, teacher education can utilize these capabilities to prepare teachers to take advantage of these resources. Prior research by the team demonstrated how the process of making a manipulative can support prospective teachers in learning about mathematics and how to teach elementary mathematics concepts. The project will generate resources for other elementary teacher education programs and research about how prospective elementary teachers learn mathematics for teaching.

The project includes three research questions. First, what forms of knowledge are brought to bear as prospective elementary teachers make new manipulatives and write corresponding tasks to support the teaching and learning of mathematics? Second, how does prospective elementary teachers' knowledge for teaching mathematics develop as they make new manipulatives and write tasks to support the teaching and learning of mathematics? Third, as prospective elementary teachers make new manipulatives and write tasks to support the teaching and learning of mathematics, how do they see themselves in relation to the making, the mathematics, and the mathematics teaching? The project will employ a design-based research methodology with cycles of design, enactment, analysis and redesign to create curriculum modules for teacher education focused on making mathematics manipulatives. Data collection will include video recording of class sessions, participant observation, field notes, artifacts from the participants' design of manipulatives, and assessments of mathematical knowledge for teaching. A qualitative analysis will use multiple frameworks from prior research on mathematics teacher knowledge and identity development.

CAREER: Mechanisms Underlying the Relation Between Mathematical Language and Mathematical Knowledge

The purpose of this project is to examine the process by which math language instruction improves learning of mathematics skills in order to design and translate the most effective interventions into practical classroom instruction.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1749294
Funding Period: 
Wed, 08/01/2018 to Mon, 07/31/2023
Full Description: 

Successful development of numeracy and geometry skills during preschool provides a strong foundation for later academic and career success. Recent evidence shows that learning math language (e.g., concepts such as more, few, less, near, before) during preschool supports this development. The purpose of this Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) project is to examine the process by which math language instruction improves learning of mathematics skills in order to design and translate the most effective interventions into practical classroom instruction. The first objective of this project is to examine if quantitative and spatial math language effect the development of different aspects of mathematics performance (e.g., numeracy, geometry). The second objective is to examine how quantitative math language versus numeracy instruction, either alone or in combination, effect numeracy development. The findings from this study will not only be used to improve theoretical understanding of how math language and mathematics skills develop, but the instructional materials developed for this study will also result in practical tools for enhancing young children's math language and mathematics skills.

This project is focused on evaluating the role of early math language skills in the acquisition of early mathematics skills. Two randomized control trials (RCTs) will be conducted. The first RCT will be used to evaluate the effects of different types of math language instruction (quantitative, spatial) on distinct aspects of mathematics (numeracy, geometry). It is expected that quantitative language instruction will improve numeracy skills and spatial language instruction will improve geometry skills. The second RCT will be used to examine the unique and joint effects of quantitative language instruction and numeracy instruction on children's numeracy skills. It is expected that both types of instruction alone will be sufficient to generate improvement on numeracy outcomes compared to an active control group, but that the combination of the two will result in enhanced numeracy performance compared to either alone. Educational goals will be integrated with and supported through engaging diverse groups of undergraduate and graduate students in hands-on research experiences, training pre- and in-service teachers on mathematical language instruction, and building collaborative relationships with early career researchers. Intervention materials including storybooks developed for the project and pre- and in-service teacher training/lesson plan materials will be made available at the completion of the project.

Measuring Early Mathematical Reasoning Skills: Developing Tests of Numeric Relational Reasoning and Spatial Reasoning

The primary aim of this study is to develop mathematics screening assessment tools for Grades K-2 over the course of four years that measure students' abilities in numeric relational reasoning and spatial reasoning. The team of researchers will develop Measures of Mathematical Reasoning Skills system, which will contain Tests of Numeric Relational Reasoning (T-NRR) and Tests of Spatial Reasoning (T-SR).

Award Number: 
1721100
Funding Period: 
Fri, 09/15/2017 to Tue, 08/31/2021
Full Description: 

Numeric relational reasoning and spatial reasoning are critical to success in later mathematics coursework, including Algebra 1, a gatekeeper to success at the post-secondary level, and success in additional STEM domains, such as chemistry, geology, biology, and engineering. Given the importance of these skills for later success, it is imperative that there are high-quality screening tools available to identify students at-risk for difficulty in these areas. The primary aim of this study is to develop mathematics screening assessment tools for Grades K-2 over the course of four years that measure students' abilities in numeric relational reasoning and spatial reasoning. The team of researchers will develop Measures of Mathematical Reasoning Skills system, which will contain Tests of Numeric Relational Reasoning (T-NRR) and Tests of Spatial Reasoning (T-SR). The measures will be intended for use by teachers and school systems to screen students to determine who is at-risk for difficulty in early mathematics, including students with disabilities. The measures will help provide important information about the intensity of support that may be needed for a given student. Three forms per grade level will be developed for both the T-NRR and T-SR with accompanying validity and reliability evidence collected. The Discovery Research K-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of innovative resources, models and tools (RMTs). Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects.

The development of the T-NRR and T-SR measures will follow an iterative process across five phases. The phases include (1) refining the construct; (2) developing test specifications and item models; (3) developing items; (4) field testing the items; and (5) conducting validity studies. The evidence collected and evaluated during each phase will contribute to the overall evaluation of the reliability of the measures and the validity of the interpretations made using the measures. Item models, test specifications, and item development will be continuously evaluated and refined based on data from cognitive interviews, field tests, and reviews by mathematics educators, teachers of struggling students, teachers of culturally and linguistically diverse populations, and a Technical Advisory Board. In the final phase of development of the T-NRR and T-SR, reliability of the results will be estimated and multiple sources of validity evidence will be collected to examine the concurrent and predictive relation with other criterion measures, classification accuracy, and sensitivity to growth. Approximately 4,500 students in Grades K-2 will be involved in all phases of the research including field tests and cognitive interviews. Data will be analyzed using a two-parameter IRT model to ensure item and test form comparability.


Project Videos

2020 STEM for All Video Showcase

Title: Measuring Early Mathematical Reasoning Skills

Presenter(s): Leanne Ketterlin Geller


Exploring the Potential of Tablets as Early Math Resources for Urban Kindergarteners in Schools and Homes

This project will examine the impact on mathematics learning of an initiative to provide kindergartners in an urban school district with personal tablet devices that include free, widely available digital mathematics resources. The research questions examine how teachers use table-based mathematics resources during instruction, how caregivers and children engage with table-based mathematics resources, and how the resources then relate to kindergartners mathematics learning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1744202
Funding Period: 
Tue, 08/01/2017 to Tue, 07/31/2018
Full Description: 

This project will examine the impact on mathematics learning of an initiative to provide kindergartners in an urban school district with personal tablet devices that include free, widely available digital mathematics resources. An important question for schools as tablet devices become more accessible is how to effectively use them in primary grades, especially kindergarten. In addition, since the devices are portable, how children use the resources such as games for mathematics learning at home is also important to understand. This project is set in a high-needs school district with a large number of low-income children. The project provides an opportunity to learn about the potential role of tables and digital resources in early grades through the analysis of assessment data, user analytic data documenting how the resources were used, and survey data from teachers and families.

Most studies of digital learning resources have been small-scale or focused on engagement. This study offers the opportunity to investigate the relationship between the use of these resources and learning outcomes using a quasi-experimental design. The research questions examine how teachers use table-based mathematics resources during instruction, how caregivers and children engage with table-based mathematics resources and how the resources then relate to kindergartners mathematics learning. Assessments of students' learning will focus on number, geometry and measurement concepts. The learner analytic data from the tablets will document the use of the resources on the tablets. Surveys and demographic data will also be collected to document how the tablets were used. Results of the study should inform implementation of tablet use by schools with particular attention to how they are used across in-class and at-home settings.

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