Teacher Content Knowledge

Centers for Learning and Teaching: Research to Identify Changes in Mathematics Education Doctoral Preparation and the Production of New Doctorates

This project will research the programmatic changes that resulted from the NSF investment in Centers for Learning and Teaching of Mathematics (CLT) at the 31 participating institutions. It will provide information on the core elements of doctoral preparation in mathematics education at the institutions and ways in which participation in the CLTs has changed their programs.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1434442
Funding Period: 
Fri, 08/01/2014 to Tue, 07/31/2018
Full Description: 

The quality of the mathematical education provided to teachers and ultimately to their students depends on the quality of teacher educators at the colleges and universities. For several decades, there has been a shortage of well-prepared mathematics teacher educators. Doctoral programs in mathematics education are the primary ways that these teacher educators learn the content and methods that they need to prepare teachers, but the quality of these programs varies and the number of qualified graduates has been insufficient to meet the demand.

This project will research the programmatic changes that resulted from the NSF investment in Centers for Learning and Teaching of Mathematics (CLT) at the 31 participating institutions. It will provide information on the core elements of doctoral preparation in mathematics education at the institutions and ways in which participation in the CLTs has changed their programs. It will also gather data on the number of doctorates in mathematics education from the CLT institutions prior to the establishment of the CLT and after their CLT ended. A comparison group of Doctoral granting institutions will be studied over the same time frame to determine the number of doctoral students graduated during similar time frames as the CLTs. Follow-up data from graduates of the CLTs will be gathered to identify programmatic strengths and weaknesses as graduates will be asked to reflect on how their doctoral preparation aligned with their current career path. The research questions are: What were the effects of CLTs on the production of new doctorates in mathematics education? What changes were made to doctoral programs in mathematics education by the CLT institutions? How well prepared were the CLT graduates for various career paths?

Climate Change Narrative Game Education (CHANGE)

This exploratory project helps high school students learn complex Global Climate Change (GCC) science by making it personally relevant and understandable. CHANGE creates a prototype curriculum, and integrates it into elective Marine Sciences high school courses. Research will examine the project's impact on student learning of climate science, student attitude toward science, and teacher instruction of climate science.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1316782
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/15/2013 to Wed, 08/31/2016
Full Description: 

This exploratory project helps high school students learn complex Global Climate Change (GCC) science by making it personally relevant and understandable. CHANGE creates a prototype curriculum, and integrates it into elective Marine Sciences high school courses. Research will examine the project's impact on student learning of climate science, student attitude toward science, and teacher instruction of climate science. The goal of this project is to develop a place-based futuristic gaming simulation model that can easily extend to the other locales in other states, based on local climate change effects, local stakeholders, local economic and social effects to motivate the high school students in that area. CHANGE uses: (a) scientifically realistic text narratives about future Florida residents (text stories with local Florida characters, many years in the future based on GCC), (b) local, place-based approach grounded in west-central Florida Gulf Coast using scientific data, (c) a focus on the built environment, (d) simulations & games based on scientific data to help students learn principles of GCC so students can experience and try to cope with the potential long term effect of GCC via role-play and science-based simulation, and (e) a web-based eBook narrative where sections of narrative text alternate with simulations/computer games. The proposed project will work with 25 high school Marine Science teachers in 25 schools in Hillsborough County, Florida. The project delivers new research for instructional technologists and serious game developers regarding effective interface and usability design of intermedia narrative gaming-simulations for education.

This project employs and researches innovative models for delivering high school GCC education. GCC is a complex topic involving numerous factors and uncertainties making teaching this extremely important topic very difficult. The pioneering techniques proposed for this project will advance science education of GCC. It also will deliver new research for instructional technologists and serious game developers regarding effective interface and usability design of intermedia narrative gaming-simulations for education. Effective education is probably the most crucial part in our ability to cope with climate change. CHANGE will educate underserved low SES and minority high school students in Hillsborough County, and later elsewhere, with a model making GCC personally relevant to them.

Every Day, Every Child: A Partnership for Research with Elementary Math and Science Instructional Specialists

This exploratory project is studying the use of mathematics and science specialist teachers in elementary schools. The first four studies are in six school districts in Washington State. They are characterizing and categorizing the specialists, investigating the content knowledge, preparation and needs of these teachers, determining their instructional effectiveness, and determining their impact on student learning and attitudes towards mathematics and science.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1316520
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/15/2013 to Mon, 02/29/2016
Full Description: 

This exploratory project is studying the use of mathematics and science specialist teachers in elementary schools. The first four studies are in six school districts in Washington State. They are characterizing and categorizing the specialists, investigating the content knowledge, preparation and needs of these teachers, determining their instructional effectiveness, and determining their impact on student learning and attitudes towards mathematics and science. The project is recruiting 25 specialists in math and 15 in science and comparing them with equal numbers of matched non-specialist teachers. The fifth study is conducting a survey of state educational agencies to determine the types of specialist teaching models being used and how they are funded. The project is directed by Western Washington University in partnership with the Mathematics Education Collaboration.

The project is creating interview protocols for teachers and administrators, and utilizing Learning Math for Teaching (University of Michigan) and Assessing Teacher Learning About Science Teaching (ATLAST-Horizon Research). Classroom observations are being conducted using the Reformed Teaching Observational Protocol (RTOP-Arizona State University). Student measures include the Washington State Measures of Student Progress in math and science, an instrument to be created using items released by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the Attitudes Towards Math Inventory, and the Modified Attitudes Towards Science Inventory.

Project research results are being disseminated in mathematics and science educational journals and conference presentations and are being posted on the project website. Findings are be shared with the Educational Service Districts in Washington State and other State agencies, as well as the National Educational Association and the American Federation of Teachers.

Investigating Simulations of Teaching Practice: Assessing Readiness to Teach Elementary Mathematics

The PI of this project argues cogently that assessment of pre-service teacher preparedness to teach is based on a flawed model. The goal then is to use a simulation model from other professional arenas: the training of doctors, nurses, etc., to offer new insights and control for the many variables that come to play when conducting evaluations in practice.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1316571
Funding Period: 
Tue, 10/01/2013 to Wed, 09/30/2015
Full Description: 

The PI argues cogently that assessment of pre-service teacher preparedness to teach is based on a flawed model. The goal then is to use a simulation model from other professional arenas: the training of doctors, nurses, etc., to offer new insights and control for the many variables that come to play when conducting evaluations in practice. These might include classroom context, the difficulty of the mathematics being deployed, etc. To do this the PI will develop three assessments that vary in the simulation scenario. In the context of developing and validating these assessments, the PI will examine:

1. What do we learn about the nature of pre-service teachers skills at eliciting and interpreting students thinking and their mathematical knowledge for teaching (MKT) in use through assessments that simulate teaching practice? How does their performance correspond with eliciting and interpreting students mathematical thinking in classroom contexts?

2. How does the nature of pre-service teachers skills at eliciting and interpreting students thinking and mathematical knowledge vary in relation to different simulation scenarios? Are some simulation scenarios easier than other simulation scenarios?

3. What are the challenges of designing alternative versions of a particular simulation assessment?

Engineering for All (EfA)

This project creates, tests and revises two-six week prototypical modules for middle school technology education classes, using the unifying themes and important social contexts of food and water. The modules employ engineering design as the core pedagogy and integrate content and practices from the standards for college and career readiness.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1316601
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/15/2013 to Wed, 08/31/2016
Full Description: 

The Engineering for All project creates, tests and revises two-six week prototypical modules for middle school technology education classes, using the unifying themes and important social contexts of food and water. The modules employ engineering design as the core pedagogy and integrate content and practices from the standards for college and career readiness. Embedded assessments are developed and tested to make student learning visible to both teachers and students. Professional development for a limited group of teachers is used to increase their knowledge of engineering design and to test instruments being developed to measure (a) student and teacher capacity to employ informed design practices and (b) teacher design pedagogical content knowledge.

The project leadership is experienced at creating materials for engineering and technology and in providing professional development for teachers. The assessments and instruments are created by educational researchers. The advisory board includes engineers, science and engineering educators, and educational researchers to guide the development of the modules, the assessments and the instruments. An external evaluator reviews the protocols and their implementation.

This project has the potential to provide exemplary materials and assessments for engineering/technology education that address standards, change teacher practice, and increase the capacity of the engineering/technology education community to do research.

Improving Competency in Elementary Science Teaching

This project provides elementary teachers, grades 3-5 with a pedagogical framework and related resources for distinguishing quality science teaching. The study focuses on developing and testing a framework, the Quality Science Teaching Continuum (QSTC), to determine its capacity to serve as a potent formative and collaborative tool with which teachers can reflect on their science teaching practices and recognize student behaviors that are indicators of engagement and science learning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1317068
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2013 to Tue, 06/30/2015
Full Description: 

This Stanford University project provides elementary teachers, grades 3-5 with a pedagogical framework and related resources for distinguishing quality science teaching. The study focuses on developing and testing a framework, the Quality Science Teaching Continuum (QSTC), to determine its capacity to serve as a potent formative and collaborative tool with which teachers can reflect on their science teaching practices and recognize student behaviors that are indicators of engagement and science learning. The project includes an intensive professional development (PD) that will accompany the instrument designed to develop teachers' understanding of (1) pedagogy, (2) science process and content, (3) community building, and (4) use of QSTC to improve classroom instruction and student engagement.

Teachers will be videotaped during classroom science instruction at various points in the two-year process, and the resulting digital library of teaching videos provides an ongoing reference resource for teachers and others when reflecting on their practice. The project provides a proof of concept and examines the use of a specific, formative, integrative instrument, the QSTC, within an immersive teacher professional development program.

CAREER: Scaffolding Engineering Design to Develop Integrated STEM Understanding with WISEngineering

The development of six curricular projects that integrate mathematics based on the Common Core Mathematics Standards with science concepts from the Next Generation Science Standards combined with an engineering design pedagogy is the focus of this CAREER project.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1253523
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2013 to Sat, 06/30/2018
Full Description: 

The development of six curricular projects that integrate mathematics based on the Common Core Mathematics Standards with science concepts from the Next Generation Science Standards combined with an engineering design pedagogy is the focus of this DRK-12 CAREER project from the University of Virginia. Research on the learning sciences with a focus on a knowledge integration perspective of helping students build and retain connections among normative and relevant ideas and existing knowledge structures the development of the WiseEngineering learning environment, an online learning management system that scaffolds engineering design projects. WiseEngineering provides support for students and teachers to conduct engineering design projects in middle and high school settings. Dynamic virtualizations that enable learners to observe and experiment with phenomena are combined with knowledge integration patterns to structure a technology rich learning environments for students. The research focuses on the ways in which metacognition, namely self-knowledge and self-regulation interact with learning in these technology-enhanced environments.Embedded assessments and student pre and post-testing of key science and mathematics constructs provide evidence of the development of student understanding.A rubric that examines knowledge integration is used to examine the extent wo which students understand how multiple concepts interact in a given context. A mixed-methods research design will examines how students and teachers in middle school mathematics and science courses develop understanding of the underlying principles in STEM. The PI of this award has integrated research and education in this proposal by connecting her research on engineering design and technology-enabled learning environments with the preservice secondary education methods course that she teachs. In addition, she has folded the research into the instructional technology graduate courses of which she is the instructor.

Engineering design is a key area of the Next Generation Science Standards that requires additional curricular materials development and research on how students integrate concepts across mathematics and science to engage in these engineering practices. The technology-rich learning environment, WISEngineering, provides the context to examine how student engineering design principles evolve over time. The opportunitiy for students to provide critiques of each others' work provides the context in which to examine crucial metacognitive principles. Classroom observations and teacher interviews provides the opportunity to examine how the technology-rich engineering design learning environment integrates STEM knowledge for teachers as well as students.

Electronic Communities for Mathematics Instruction (e-CMI)

This exploratory project builds on twelve years of successful experience with the summer program for secondary mathematics teachers at PCMI. It addresses the following two needs in the field of professional development for secondary mathematics teachers: increase content knowledge and understanding of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics; and investigate and develop alternative models to conduct content-based professional development that meets the recommendations of the MET-II report.

Award Number: 
1316246
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2013 to Fri, 07/31/2015
Full Description: 

This 2-year Exploratory project, Electronic Communities for Mathematics Instruction (eCMI), is designed and conducted by the Education Development Center (EDC) in collaboration with the Institute for Advanced Study and the Park City Mathematics Institute (PCMI). It builds on EDC's successful experience over the last twelve years with the design and implementation of the summer program for secondary mathematics teachers at PCMI. It addresses the following two needs in the field of professional development for secondary mathematics teachers: increase content knowledge and understanding of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics; and investigate and develop alternative models to conduct transformative, content-based professional development that meets the recommendations of the MET-II report. Addressing the need to find affordable, effective professional development models, particularly given the enormous task of helping teachers understand the implications of the Common Core, the project eCMI will design and conduct a research study and pilot a professional development design, centering on the following two questions: (1) How can tools, experiences, and facilitation be structured in order to build an authentic and vibrant multisite community of learners? (2) To what extent and in what ways does participation in eCMI lead to increases in secondary teachers' knowledge of mathematics, particularly the knowledge and use of mathematical habits of mind? The long-term goal is for eCMI to evolve into a common large-scale national professional development program that helps secondary teachers implement the Common Core, with special focus on the Standards for Mathematical Practice.

To create a context for investigating the two questions above, eCMI will develop and pilot a blended program using online and local mathematics facilitation in a course focused on deepening knowledge of mathematics using the Common Core as a blueprint. The project team will refine and extend the "e-table" concept, developed over the past few years at PCMI, in which teachers in different sites work together with a facilitator via sophisticated electronic conferencing technology. The mathematics course will consist of nine three-hour sessions conducted online during the academic year. Each session will integrate challenging mathematics content, carefully designed and focused on developing mathematical habits of mind through problem solving, with explicit opportunities that ask teachers to reflect on the implications of these experiences for their learning and beliefs. Teachers will be asked to spend time between sessions in deeper discussions online by sharing responses to reflective prompts and responding to each other's prompts. Sessions will be delivered to tables of five or six participants and a table leader meeting live at the same site and connected electronically to other sites. Table leaders will be teachers or university faculty experienced with the following style of delivery: serious and challenging mathematics that is driven by problem-based experience. The project team will collect information on teachers' beliefs about the nature of mathematics and their strategies for approaching mathematics.

Secondary teachers who immplement the standards for mathematical practice require extensive experiences in the practice of mathematics. Several professional development programs, including PCMI, have been able to provide such experiences but they are expensive in cost and labor. eCMI will adapt the proven PCMI design, one that uses carefully designed problem sets in which significant mathematical results emerge from reflection on numerical and geometric experiments, to blend online and face-to-face platforms in a way that has the potential to increase the reach of the program by orders of magnitude. The exploratory project, through pilot and research programs, will lay the foundation for such a scale up by working with 15-30 secondary mathematics teachers. Results of the research will inform the field about ways in which teachers can be provided with genuine mathematical experiences through the use of online media paired with local facilitation.

Developing Rich Media-Based Materials for Practice-Based Teacher Education

This research and development project is premised on the notion that recent technological developments have made it feasible to represent classroom work in new ways. In addition to watching recorded videos of classroom interactions or reading written cases, teacher educators and teachers can now watch animations and image sequences, realized with cartoon characters, and made to depict activities that happened, or could have happened, in a mathematics classroom.

Award Number: 
1316241
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/15/2013 to Fri, 07/21/2017
Full Description: 

The 4-year research and development project, Developing Rich Media-based Materials for Practice-based Teacher Education, is premised on the notion that recent technological developments have made it feasible to represent classroom work in new ways. In addition to watching recorded videos of classroom interactions or reading written cases, teacher educators and teachers can now watch animations and image sequences, realized with cartoon characters, and made to depict activities that happened, or could have happened, in a mathematics classroom. Furthermore, teacher educators and teachers can react to such animations or image sequences by making their own depictions of alternative moves by students or teachers in classroom interaction. And all of that can take place in an on-line, cloud-based environment that also supports discussion fora, questionnaires, and the kinds of capabilities associated with learning management systems. Such technologies offer important affordances to teacher educators seeking to provide candidates with course-based experiences that emphasize the development of practice-based skills. The focus of the project is on mathematics teacher education. This joint project of the University of Maryland Center for Mathematics Education and the University of Michigan will produce 6 to 8 field-tested modules for use in different courses that are a part of mathematics teacher preparation programs. The following two-pronged research question will be resolved: What are the affordances and constraints of the modules and the environment as supports for: (1) practice based teacher education and (2) a shift toward blended teacher education?

The project involves the following activities: (1) a teacher education materials development component; (2) a related evaluation component; and (3) two research components. The development phase seeks to develop both the LessonSketch.org platform and six to eight mathematics teacher education modules for use in preservice teacher education programs from around the country. The modules will be written with practice-based teacher education goals in mind and will use the capacities of the LessonSketch.org platform as a vehicle for using rich-media artifacts of teaching with preservice teacher candidates. LessonSketch Teacher Education Research and Development Fellows will be chosen through a competitive application process. They will develop their respective modules along with teams of colleagues that will be recruited to form their inquiry group and pilot the module activities. The evaluation activity will focus on the materials development aspect of the project. Data will be collected by the LessonSketch platform, which includes interviews with Fellows and their teams, perspectives of module writers, descriptive statistics of module use, and feedback from both teacher educator and preservice teacher end-users about the quality of their experiences. The first research activity of the project is design research on the kinds of technological infrastructure that are useful for practice-based teacher education. The PIs will identify tools that teacher educators need and want beyond the current capabilities for web-based support for use of rich media and will produce prototype tools inside the LessonSketch environment to meet these needs. The second research activity of the project will supplement the evaluation activity by examining the implementation of two of the modules in detail. This aspect of the research will examine the goals of the intended curriculum, the proposed modes of media use, the fidelity of the implemented curriculum, and learnings produced by preservice teachers. This research activity will help the field understand the degree to which practice-based teacher education that is mediated by an online access to rich media would be a kind of practice that could be easily incorporated into existing teacher education structures.

The project will produce 6 to 8 LessonSketch modules for use in teacher education classes. Each module will be implemented in at least eight teacher education classes across the country, which means that between 720 and 960 preservice teacher candidates will study the materials. The project aims to shift the field toward practice-based teacher education by supporting university programs to implement classroom-driven activities that will produce mathematics teachers with strong capabilities to teach mathematics effectively and meaningfully.

Secondary Science Teaching with English Language and Literacy Acquisition (SSTELLA)

This is a four-year project to develop, implement, and study an experimental model of secondary science pre-service teacher education designed to prepare novice school teachers to provide effective science instruction to English language learners (ELLs). The project incorporates the principles underlying the Next Generation Science Standards with a focus on promoting students' scientific sense-making, comprehension and communication of scientific discourse, and productive use of language.

Award Number: 
1316834
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2013 to Mon, 07/31/2017
Full Description: 

This is a four-year Discovery Research K-12 project to develop, implement, and study an experimental model of secondary science pre-service teacher education designed to prepare novice school teachers to provide effective science instruction to English language learners (ELLs). The project incorporates the principles underlying the Next Generation Science Standards with a focus on promoting students' scientific sense-making, comprehension and communication of scientific discourse, and productive use of language. It articulates theory and practice related to the teaching of science content and the development of English language and literacy, and provides teachers with models of integrated practice in video cases and curriculum units. To test the efficacy of the study, a longitudinal, mixed-methods, quasi-experimental study is conducted at four institutions: the University of California-Santa Cruz, Arizona State University, the University of Arizona, and the University of Texas-San Antonio.

The three research questions are: (1) What is the impact of the project's pre-service teacher education program on novice secondary science teachers' knowledge, beliefs, and practice from the pre-service program into the second year of teaching?; (2) What is the relationship between science method instructors' fidelity of implementation of the project's practices and novice teachers' outcomes (knowledge, beliefs, and practice)?; and (3) What is the relationship between novice teachers' implementation of project-promoted practices and their students' learning? To answer these questions, the project collects and analyzes quantitative and qualitative data on novice teachers (85 treatment group and 85 control group) over three years utilizing surveys, interviews, observations, and student assessment instruments. Teachers' beliefs and knowledge about teaching science to ELLs are measured using the project-developed Science Teaching Survey, which provides quantitative scores based on a Likert-type scale, and the science teacher interview protocol to provide qualitative data, including the contextual factors affecting implementation of project-promoted practices. Classroom observations are captured through qualitative field notes and the Classroom Observation Rubric--a systematic project-developed observation instrument that measures implementation of the practices. Student learning outcomes are measured using (a) the Woodcock-Muñoz Language Survey (students' proficiency at applying listening, reading, writing, and comprehension abilities); (b) the Literacy in Science Assessment (students' productive use of language in authentic science literacy tasks); (c) the Scientific Sense-Making Assessment (how students make sense of core science ideas through scientific and engineering practices); and (d) appropriate state standardized assessments. In addition, the Opportunity to Learn Survey gauges students' perceptions of implementation of literacy integration, motivation in class, and identity as readers.

Project outcomes are: (a) a research-based and field-tested model for pre-service secondary science teacher education, including resources for science methods courses instructors and pre-service teachers; and (b) valid and reliable instrumentation usable in similar research and development environments.

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