Special Education

Sonified Interactive Simulations for Accessible Middle School STEM

For this project, researchers will iteratively develop simulations to include sonifications, non-speech sounds that represent visual information, aimed at enhancing accessibility for all learners, but particularly for those with visual impairments to produce sonified simulations, professional development resources, design guidelines and exemplars, and publications.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1621363
Funding Period: 
Sat, 10/01/2016 to Mon, 09/30/2019
Full Description: 

Students with disabilities often have fewer opportunities for experiential learning, an important component of quality STEM education. Computer based simulations in science can provide valuable opportunities for these students to experience and manipulate natural phenomena related to critical STEM ideas. However, existing simulations remain largely inaccessible to students with visual impairments in particular. Recent advances in technology related to sonification use with simulations can make it possible for these students to have a more complete and authentic experience. Sonification is the use of non-speech sounds, such as musical tones, to represent visual information including data. Such sounds can be manipulated temporally and spatially and can also vary by amplitude and frequency to convey information that is more traditionally displayed visually.

Researchers will iteratively develop five middle school physical science simulations to include sonifications aimed at enhancing accessibility for all learners, but particularly for those with visual impairments. Data collection activities will include focus groups and interviews with students and teachers focused on engagement. The end products of this project will include sonified simulations, professional development resources, design guidelines and exemplars, and publications.

Doing the Math with Paraeducators: A Research and Development Project

This project will design and pilot professional development that focuses on developing the confidence, mathematical knowledge, and teaching strategies of paraeducators using classroom activities that they are expected to implement. The planned professional development will enable them to make a greater difference in the classroom, but it will also increase their access to continuing education and workplace opportunities.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1621151
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/15/2016 to Sat, 08/31/2019
Full Description: 

Over one million paraeducators (teaching assistants and volunteers) currently assist in classrooms, and another 100,000 are likely to be added in the next ten years. Paraeducators (paras) are often required to teach content, such as mathematics, but there are few efforts to provide them with the knowledge or supervision they need to be effective when working with a range of students, including those with disabilities and for whom English is a second language. The project will focus on developing the confidence, mathematical knowledge, and teaching strategies of paras using classroom activities that they are expected to implement. The planned professional development will enable them to make a greater difference in the classroom, but it will also increase their access to continuing education and workplace opportunities. The work will be conducted in the Boston Public Schools (BPS) and will focus on grades K-3, where the largest numbers of paras are employed. Given the importance of early math learning in predicting mathematical achievement, supporting paras who work in the early grades is particularly important.

The project will design and pilot professional development that supports paraeducator knowledge development and addresses instructional challenges in teaching mathematics. The project will address the following goals: research the current roles of paras in mathematics instruction, the preparation of their collaborating teachers, and the opportunities for collaboration and planning between supervising teachers and paras in BPS; pilot, develop, implement, and research a model for professional development program for paras that targets specific activities they can implement that are key to student learning in number and operation in K-3; document how paras assume new roles that increase student engagement and empower them as mathematical learners; pilot, develop, implement, and research a supervisory component to help teachers set expectations, and structures for debriefing and reflecting along with their paras; and identify next steps for an early stage development study based on our findings. A needs assessment survey will investigate the context in which paras work. The iterative process of design-based research will develop, test, and implement the targeted professional development with paras, measuring how prepared they feel to implement new ideas and how they translate their learning into new pedagogical practices. Crosscase analyses, descriptive statistics, tallies and coded behaviors from observations, and themes from paras, and teacher and administrator interviews will be collected, coded, and analyzed. Furthermore, an efficacy survey will be administered periodically to document longitudinal changes in paras, which will be integrated in the crosscase analyses.

Conceptual Model-based Problem Solving: A Response to Intervention Program for Students with Learning Difficulties in Mathematics

This project will develop a cross-platform mathematics tutoring program that addresses the problem-solving skill difficulties of second- and third-grade students with learning disabilities in mathematics (LDM). COMPS-A is a computer-generated instructional program focusing on additive word problem solving; it will provide tutoring specifically tailored to each individual student's learning profile in real time. 

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1503451
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2015 to Fri, 08/31/2018
Full Description: 

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. 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 3-year exploratory project, Conceptual Model-based Problem Solving: A Response to Intervention Program for Students with Learning Difficulties in Mathematics, will develop a cross-platform mathematics tutoring program that addresses the problem-solving skill difficulties of second- and third-grade students with learning disabilities in mathematics (LDM). While mathematics problem-solving skills are critical in all areas of daily life, many students with LDM do not acquire key math concepts such as additive and multiplicative reasoning in a proficient manner during the early school years. In fact, about 5-10% of school-age children are identified as having mathematical disabilities which might cause them to experience considerable difficulties in the upper grades and experience persistent academic, life, and work challenges. Despite the proliferation of web-based mathematical games for early learners, there are very few programs or tools that target growth in the conceptual understanding of fundamental mathematical ideas, which is essential in enabling young students with LDM to perform proficiently in mathematical and everyday contexts. COMPS-A is a computer-generated instructional program focusing on additive word problem solving; it will provide tutoring specifically tailored to each individual student's learning profile in real time. COMPS-A will also make the reasoning and underlying mathematical model more explicit to them, and the tool's flexibility will facilitate group or one-on-one instruction in regular classroom settings, in other sessions during or after the school day, and at home. COMPS-A addresses a significant practical issue in today's classrooms by providing individualized and effective RtI intervention programs for students with LDM.

COMPS-A program represents a mathematical model-based problem-solving approach that emphasizes understanding and representation of mathematical relations in algebraic equations and, thus, will support growth in generalized problem-solving skills.COMPS-A will achieve the following objectives: 1) Create the curriculum content, screen design, and a teacher's manual for all four modules in the area of additive word problem solving; 2) Design and develop the cross-platform computer application that can be ported as a web-based, iPad, Android, or Windows app, and this flexibility will make the program accessible to all students; and 3) Conduct small-scale single subject design and randomized controlled trial studies to evaluate the potential of COMPS-A to enhance students' word problem-solving performance. The following research questions will be resolved: (1) What is the functional relationship between the COMPS-A program and students' performance in additive mathematics problem solving? (2) What is the teacher's role in identifying students' misconceptions, alternative reasoning, and knowledge gaps when students are not responsive to the intervention program? (3) What are the necessary instructional scaffolds that will address students' knowledge gaps and therefore facilitate the connection between students' conceptual schemes and the mathematical models necessary for problem solving in order to promote meaningful understanding and construction of additive reasoning? A functional prototype of the COMPS-A will be developed followed by a single-subject design study with a small group of students with LDM to field-test the initial program. Finally, a pretest-posttest, comparison group design with random assignment of participants to groups will then be used to examine the effects of the two intervention conditions: COMPS-A and business as usual. An extensive dissemination plan will enable the project team to share results to a wider community that is responsible for educating all students and, especially, students with LDM.

 

Ramping Up Accessibility in STEM: Inclusively Designed Simulations for Diverse Learners

This project brings together leaders in simulation design and accessibility to develop and study interactive science simulations for diverse middle school students including those with sensory, mobility, or learning disabilities. The resulting simulations and research findings will help to address the significant disparity that exists between the achievement in science by students with and without disabilities.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1503439
Funding Period: 
Wed, 07/15/2015 to Fri, 06/30/2017
Full Description: 

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.

This project will bring together leaders in simulation design and accessibility to develop and study interactive science simulations for diverse middle school students including those with sensory, mobility, or learning disabilities. The resulting simulations and research findings will help to address the significant disparity that exists between the achievement in science by students with and without disabilities. The Physics Education Technology (PhET) Interactive Simulations project (University of Colorado Boulder) will develop and research interactive science and math simulations used by teachers and students around the world. The Inclusive Design Research Centre (OCAD University, Toronto, Ontario) is an international leader in inclusively designed technology, with the goal of designing for the full range of human diversity including those with and without disabilities. Together, the project team will engage in an iterative design process to develop innovative solutions for making the highly interactive environment of an educational simulation simultaneously intuitive, accessible, and supportive of exploration and discovery practices in science. Development efforts will focus on three inclusive simulations and optimize the design and implementation of several inclusive simulation features, including keyboard navigation, auditory descriptions for screen readers, the use of non-speech sounds to provide feedback (sonification), and the ability to control the simulation with assistive technology (AT) devices. For each simulation, professional development materials for teachers, including classroom activities and user guides, will be developed to support teachers in effectively using the inclusively designed simulations in their classrooms. 

Through new research, this project will seek to understand: 1) how inclusive simulations can support students with disabilities to engage in science practices, 2) how students with and without disabilities utilize inclusive simulations for learning STEM content, and 3) how students can engage in collaborative learning between students with and without disabilities - with an inclusive simulation. Researchers will use individual interviews with diverse students to closely examine these questions. The resulting resources, models, and tools will provide exemplars and important building blocks for an inclusively designed interactive curriculum, educational games, and assessment tools. Resulting simulations, research findings, design guidelines, and exemplars will be disseminated through the project team and advisor partner networks, education resource websites, and educator professional organizations.

CAREER: Fraction Activities and Assessments for Conceptual Teaching (FAACT) for Students with Learning Disabilities

The goal of this project is to study and support the development of conceptual understanding of fractions by students with learning disabilities (LD). The researcher proposes that rather than focusing on whether LD students can or cannot develop conceptual understanding of fractions, research should attempt to uncover the understanding LD students have and examine how growth of conceptual knowledge occurs in these students.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1446250
Funding Period: 
Tue, 07/01/2014 to Sun, 06/30/2019
Project Evaluator: 
Dr. Mary Little
Full Description: 

The goal of this project is to study and support the development of conceptual understanding of fractions by students with learning disabilities (LD). The researcher proposes that rather than focusing on whether LD students can or cannot develop conceptual understanding of fractions, research should attempt to uncover the understanding LD students have and examine how growth of conceptual knowledge occurs in these students. This approach suggests a reconceptualization of research and instructional practice in mathematics that focus on the conceptual knowledge students with LD can in fact develop.

Through a series of teaching experiments that involve cycles of theorizing, design, implementation, and refinement, the project develops instructional trajectories for LD students in the area of fractions. The research question addressed are: What initial and developing key developmental understandings of fractions do students with learning disabilities evidence through employed strategies, language, and representations? How do students with learning disabilities progress in developing and solidifying conceptual understandings of fractions through their mathematical activity? And, to what extent does an intervention reflective of a research based instructional trajectory facilitate strategic development and increased fraction conceptual knowledge in students with learning disabilities?

The main outcomes of the project include (a) a research-based instructional trajectory for students with LD specific to conceptual understandings of fractions as numeric quantities, (b) a set of 90 fraction tasks to be used for instruction and/or formative assessment in fraction concepts, (c) scoring/coding frameworks and checklists for use with key tasks as formative assessments, (d) decision-making frameworks, task sequencing guides, and suggestions to aid teachers in designing individualized, student-centered instruction, all available via the Internet. Most important, the project has the potential to offer a transformative approach to mathematics instruction for students with LD, bringing together expertise on learning disabilities and mathematics education to address a area in which there is very little research.

The PI will incorporate finding from the study into methods courses for both mathematics education and special education students. She will also develop a graduate course entitled Diagnosis and Remediation.

Formerly under Award # 1253254.

Response to Intervention in Mathematics: Beginning Substantive Collaboration between Mathematics Education and Special Education

This project is organizing and hosting a working conference on Response to Intervention (RtI) and related strategies in teaching and assessment in Mathematics. Goals of this work are: To build a community of researchers and practitioners to identify, expand and sustain research needs in this area; to identify and improve the research available related to teaching mathematics within an RtI model; and to develop resources to support teacher's understanding and application of RtI strategies.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1005328
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2010 to Wed, 02/29/2012
Full Description: 

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) in collaboration with the Council on Exceptional Children (CEC) is organizing and hosting a focused working conference on Response to Intervention (RtI) and related strategies in teaching and assessment in Mathematics. The ultimate goals of this work are: To build a core community of researchers and practitioners from mathematics education and special education to identify, expand and sustain the research needs in this critical area; to identify and improve the research available related to teaching mathematics within a Response to Intervention model; and to develop professional development resources to support teachers's (pre-service and in-service) understanding and application of research-based RtI strategies in mathematics.

Expected outcomes include: a preliminary analysis of needed research studies; a synthesis of both mathematics education research and special education research around a key question of interest; and examples of content for inclusion in professional development and pre-service teacher education. Results will be disseminated through NCTM and CEC print, web, and conference facilities.

Differentiated Professional Development: Building Mathematics Knowledge for Teaching Struggling Learners

This project is creating and studying a blended professional development model (face-to-face and online) for mathematics teachers and special educators (grades 4-7) with an emphasis on teaching struggling math students in the areas of fractions, decimals, and positive/negative numbers (Common Core State Standards). The model's innovative design differentiates professional learning to address teachers' wide range of prior knowledge, experiences, and interests.

Award Number: 
1020163
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2010 to Wed, 08/31/2011
Project Evaluator: 
Teresa Duncan
Full Description: 

This project under the direction of the Education Development Center is creating and studying a  professional development model for middle school mathematics teachers with an emphasis on teaching struggling math students in the areas of fractions and rational numbers. There are three components to the PD for teachers: online modules, professional learning communities, and face-to-face workshops. There are four online modules 1) Fraction sense: concepts, addition, and subtraction, 2) Fraction multiplication and division; 3) Decimal and percent operations; and 4) Positive/Negative including concepts and operations. Each module is one week long. There are common sessions and special emphasis ones depending on the needs of the teacher. The project addresses three research questions: 1) To what extent do participating teachers show changes in their knowledge of rational numbers and integers, pedagogical knowledge of and beliefs about instructional practices for struggling students and abilities to use diagnostic approaches to identify and address student difficulties?; 2) To what extent do students of participating teachers increase their mathematical understanding and skill?; and 3) To what extent do students of participating teachers show positive changes in their attitudes toward learning mathematics?

In the first year of work on the professional development program, fifty-five teachers will test the initial components of the differentiated modules. In years two and three an additional 160 teachers will participate in the professional development and research to test efficacy of the professional development model. In addition to this testing, twelve teachers will be selected for intensive case studies. Teacher content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge, and attitudes will be assessed by various well-validated instruments, and changes in their classroom practice will be assessed by classroom observations. Effects of the teacher professional development on student learning will be evaluated by analysis of data from state assessments and by performance on selected items from NAEP and other standardized tests.

This project will result in a tested innovative model for professional development of mathematics teachers to help them with the critical challenge of assisting students who struggle in learning the core concepts and skills of rational numbers and integers. Deliverables will include the on-line modules, materials for workshop and professional learning community work, new research instruments, and research reports.

International Workshop on Mathematics and Science Education: Common Priorities that Promote Collaborative Research

The goal of this workshop is to advance the construction of new knowledge through international cooperation with Chinese counterparts in the teaching and learning of math and science at the elementary level in four areas: curriculum design and assessment; teacher preparation and professional development; effective use of the former; and reaching gifted and underserved populations. Approximately 120 people will attend, including 50 senior U.S. researchers, 25 early career researchers, 15 graduate students and 5 undergraduates.

Award Number: 
0751664
Funding Period: 
Sat, 03/15/2008 to Mon, 02/28/2011

Nurturing Multiplicative Reasoning in Students with Learning Disabilities in a Computerized Conceptual-modeling Environment (NMRSD-CCME)

The purpose of this project is to create a research-based model of how students with learning disabilities (LDs) develop multiplicative reasoning via reform-oriented pedagogy; convert the model into a computer system that dynamically models every students’ evolving conceptions and recommends tasks to promote their advancement to higher level, standard-based multiplicative structures and operations; and study how this tool impacts student outcomes.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0822296
Funding Period: 
Fri, 08/01/2008 to Wed, 07/31/2013
Project Evaluator: 
Dr. C. Brown
Full Description: 

A Digital Resource for Developing Mathematics Teachers' TPCK

This project aims to advance the preparation of preservice teachers in middle school mathematics, specifically on the topic of proportionality, a centrally important and difficult topic in middle school mathematics that is essential to students’ later success in algebra. To address the need for a workforce of high-quality teachers to teach this mathematics, the project is developing a digital text that could be widely used to communicate the unique transitional nature of middle school mathematics.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0918339
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2009 to Fri, 08/31/2012
Project Evaluator: 
Mark St. John, Inverness

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