Achievement/Growth

Learning Trajectories as a Complete Early Mathematics Intervention: Achieving Efficacies of Economies at Scale

The purpose of this project is to test the efficacy of the Learning and Teaching with Learning Trajectories (LT2) program with the goal of improving mathematics teaching and thereby increasing young students' math learning. LT2 is a professional development tool and a curriculum resource intended for teachers to be used to support early math instruction and includes the mathematical learning goal, the developmental progression, and relevant instructional activities.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1908889
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Sun, 06/30/2024
Full Description: 

U.S. proficiency in mathematics continues to be low and early math performance is a powerful predictor of long-term academic success and employability. However, relatively few early childhood degree programs have any curriculum requirements focused on key mathematics topics. Thus, teacher professional development programs offer a viable and promising method for supporting and improving teachers' instructional approaches to mathematics and thus, improving student math outcomes. The purpose of this project is to test the efficacy of the Learning and Teaching with Learning Trajectories (LT2) program with the goal of improving mathematics teaching and thereby increasing young students' math learning. LT2 is a professional development tool and a curriculum resource intended for teachers to be used to support early math instruction. The LT2 program modules uniquely include the mathematical learning goal, the developmental progression, and relevant instructional activities. All three aspects are critical for high-quality and coherent mathematics instruction in the early grades.

This project will address the following research questions: 1) What are the medium-range effects of LT2 on student achievement and the achievement gap? 2) What are the short- and long-term effects of LT2 on teacher instructional approach, beliefs, and quality? and 3) How cost effective is the LT2 intervention relative to the original Building Blocks intervention? To address the research questions, this project will conduct a multisite cluster randomized experimental design, with 90 schools randomly assigned within school districts to either experimental or control groups. Outcome measures for the approximately 250 kindergarten classrooms across these districts will include the Research-based Elementary Math Assessment, observations of instructional quality, a questionnaire focused on teacher beliefs and practices, in addition to school level administrative data. Data will be analyzed using multi-level regression models to determine the effect of the Learning Trajectories intervention on student learning.

Case Studies of a Suite of Next Generation Science Instructional, Assessment, and Professional Development Materials in Diverse Middle School Settings

This project addresses a gap between vision and implementation of state science standards by designing a coordinated suite of instructional, assessment and teacher professional learning materials that attempt to enact the vision behind the Next Generation Science Standards. The study focuses on using state-of-the-art technology to create an 8-week long, immersive, life science field experience organized around three investigations.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2125844
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Sun, 12/31/2023
Full Description: 

New state science standards are ambitious and require important changes to instructional practices, accompanied by a coordinated system of curriculum, assessment, and professional development materials. This project addresses a gap between vision and implementation of such standards by designing a coordinated suite of instructional, assessment and teacher professional learning materials that attempt to enact the vision behind the Next Generation Science Standards. The study focuses on the design of such materials using state-of-the-art technology to create an 8-week long, immersive, life science field experience organized around three investigations. Classes of urban students in two states will collect data on local insect species with the goal of understanding, sharing, and critiquing environmental management solutions. An integrated learning technology system, the Learning Navigator, draws on big data to organize student-gathered data, dialogue, lessons, an assessment information. The Learning Navigator will also amplify the teacher's role in guiding and fostering next generation science learning. This project advances the field through an in-depth exploration of the goals for the standards documents. The study begins to address questions about what works when, where, and for whom in the context of the Next Generation Science Standards.

The project uses a series of case studies to create, test, evaluate and refine the system of instructional, assessment and professional development materials as they are enacted in two distinct urban school settings. It is designed with 330 students and 22 teachers in culturally, racially and linguistically diverse, under-resourced schools in Pennsylvania and California. These schools are located in neighborhoods that are economically challenged and have students who demonstrate patterns of underperformance on state standardized tests. It will document the process of team co-construction of Next Generation Science-fostering instructional materials; develop assessment tasks for an instructional unit that are valid and reliable; and, track the patterns of use of the instructional and assessment materials by teachers. The study will also record if new misconceptions are revealed as students develop Next Generation Science knowledge,  comparing findings across two diverse school locations in two states. Data collection will include: (a) multiple types of data to establish validity and reliability of educational assessments, (b) the design, evaluation and use of a classroom observation protocol to gather information on both frequency and categorical degree of classroom practices that support the vision, and (c) consecutive years of ten individual classroom enactments through case studies analyzed through cross-case analyses. This should lead to stronger and better developed understandings about what constitutes strong Next Generation Science learning and the classroom conditions, instructional materials, assessments and teacher development that foster it.

This project was previously funded under award #1907944.

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.

Improving Grades 6-8 Students' Mathematics Achievement in Modeling and Problem Solving through Effective Sequencing of Instructional Practices

This project will provide structured and meaningful scaffolds for teachers in examining two research-based teaching strategies hypothesized to positively impact mathematics achievement in the areas of mathematical modeling and problem solving. The project investigates whether the order in which teachers apply these practices within the teaching of mathematics content has an impact on student learning.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1907840
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Project Evaluator: 
Kurt Steuck
Full Description: 

The Researching Order of Teaching project will provide structured and meaningful scaffolds for teachers in examining two research-based teaching strategies hypothesized to positively impact mathematics achievement in the areas of mathematical modeling and problem solving. The first strategy, Explicit Attention to Concepts (EAC), is a set of practices that draw students' attention specifically to mathematical concepts in ways that extend beyond memorization, procedures, or application of skills. This strategy may include teachers asking students to connect multiple mathematical representations, compare solution strategies, discuss mathematical reasoning underlying procedures, or to identify a main mathematical idea in a lesson and how it fits into the broader mathematical landscape. The second strategy, Student Opportunities to Struggle (SOS), entails providing students with time and space to make sense of graspable content, overcoming confusion points, stimulating personal sense-making, building perseverance, and promoting openness to challenge. This strategy may include teachers assigning problems with multiple solution strategies, asking students to look for patterns and make conjectures, encouraging and promoting discourse around confusing or challenging ideas, and asking students for extended mathematical responses. This project investigates whether the order in which teachers apply these practices within the teaching of mathematics content has an impact on student learning. This study builds on previous work that had identified an interaction between the EAC and SOS instructional strategies, and associated teacher reporting of stronger use of the practices with higher student mathematics achievement.

The project will have four key design features. First, the project will adopt and extend the research-based EAC/SOS conceptual framework, and explicitly responds to the call for further research on the interactions. Second, the project will focus on the mathematical areas of modeling and problem solving, two complex and critical competencies for all students in the middle grades. Third, the project will position teachers as collaborators in the research with needed expertise. Finally, the project will make use of research methods from crossover clinical trials to implementation in classrooms. The project aims to identify the affordances and constraints of the EAC/SOS framework in the design and development of instructional practices, to identify student- and teacher-level factors associated with changes in modeling and problem solving outcomes, to analyze teachers' implementations EAC and SOS in teaching modeling and problem solving and to associate those implementation factors with student achievement changes, and to determine whether the ordering of these two strategies correlates with differences in achievement. The project will collect classroom observation data and make use of existing tools to obtain reliable and valid ratings of the EAC and SOS strategies in action.The design of the study features a randomized 2 x 2 cluster crossover trial with a sample of teachers for 80% power. The project builds on existing state infrastructure and relationships with a wide array of school districts in the context of professional development, and aims to create a formal Teacher-Researcher Alliance for Investigating Learning as a part of the project work.

Using Animated Contrasting Cases to Improve Procedural and Conceptual Knowledge in Geometry

This project aims to support stronger student outcomes in the teaching and learning of geometry in the middle grades through engaging students in animated contrasting cases of worked examples. The project will design a series of animated geometry curricular materials on a digital platform that ask students to compare different approaches to solving the same geometry problem. The study will measure changes in students' procedural and conceptual knowledge of geometry after engaging with the materials and will explore the ways in which teachers implement the materials in their classrooms.

Award Number: 
1907745
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2019 to Sun, 07/31/2022
Full Description: 

This project aims to support stronger student outcomes in the teaching and learning of geometry in the middle grades through engaging students in animated contrasting cases of worked examples. Animated contrasting cases are a set of two worked examples for the same geometry problem, approached in different ways. The animations show the visual moves and annotations students would make in solving the problems. Students are asked to compare and discuss the approaches. This theoretically-grounded approach extends the work of cognitive scientists and mathematics educators who have shown this approach supports strong student learning in algebra. The project will design a series of animated geometry curricular materials on a digital platform that ask students to compare different approaches to solving the same geometry problem. The study will measure changes in students' procedural and conceptual knowledge of geometry after engaging with the materials and will explore the ways in which teachers implement the materials in their classrooms. This work is particularly important as geometry is an understudied area in mathematics education, and national and international assessments at the middle school level consistently identify geometry as a mathematics content area in which students score the lowest.

This project draws on prior work that documents the impact of comparison on students' learning in algebra. Providing students with opportunities to compare multiple strategies is recommended by a range of mathematics policy documents, as research has shown this approach promotes flexibility and enhances conceptual knowledge and procedural fluency. More specifically, the approach allows students to compare the effectiveness and efficiency of mathematical arguments in the context of problem solving. An initial pilot study on non-animated contrasting cases in geometry shows promise for the general approach and suggests that animating the cases has the potential for stronger student learning gains. This study will examine the extent to which the animated cases improve students' conceptual and procedural knowledge of geometry and identify factors that relate to changes in knowledge. The project team will develop 24 worked example contrasting cases based on design principles from the prior work in algebra. The materials will be implemented in four treatment classrooms in the first cycle, revised, and then implemented in eight treatment classrooms. Students' written work will be collected along with data on the nature of the classroom discussions and small-group interviews with students. Teachers' perspectives on lessons will also be collected to support revision and strengthening of the materials. Assessments of students' geometry knowledge will be developed using measures with demonstrated validity and reliability to measure changes in student learning.

Teacher Professional Learning to Support Student Motivational Competencies During Science Instruction (Collaborative Research: Linnenbrink-Garcia)

This project will bring together a multi-disciplinary team of researchers and science teachers to identify a set of practices that science teachers can readily incorporate into their planning and instruction. The project will design, develop, and test a research-based professional learning approach to help middle school science teachers effectively support and sustain student motivational competencies during science instruction.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1813047
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2018 to Wed, 08/31/2022
Full Description: 

Science teachers identify fostering student motivation to learn as a pressing need, yet teacher professional learning programs rarely devote time to helping teachers understand and apply motivational principles in their instruction. This project will bring together a multi-disciplinary team of researchers and science teachers to identify a set of practices that science teachers can readily incorporate into their planning and instruction. The project will design, develop, and test a research-based professional learning approach to help middle school science teachers effectively support and sustain student motivational competencies during science instruction. The approach will include use of materials addressing student motivational processes and how to support them, evaluation tools to measure student motivational competencies, lesson planning tools, and instruments for teacher self-evaluation. The translation to practice will include recognition of student diversity and consider ways to facilitate context-specific integration of disciplinary and motivational knowledge in practice. The project will focus on middle school science classrooms because this period is an important motivational bridge between elementary and secondary science learning. This project will enhance understanding of teacher pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) in that it frames knowledge about supporting motivational competencies in science as PCK rather than general pedagogical knowledge.

This early stage design and development project will iteratively develop and study a model of teacher professional learning that will help middle school science teachers create, modify, and implement instruction that integrates support for students' motivational competencies with the science practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas specified in science curriculum standards. A design-based research approach will be used to develop and test four resources teachers will use to explicitly include attention to student motivational competencies in their lesson planning efforts. The resources will include: 1) educational materials about students' motivational processes with concrete examples of how to support them; 2) easy-to-implement student evaluation tools for teachers to gauge students' motivational competencies; 3) planning tools to incorporate motivational practices into science lesson planning; and 4) instruments for teacher self-evaluation. A collaborative group of educational researchers will partner with science teachers from multiple school districts having diverse student populations to jointly develop the professional learning approach and resources. This project will contribute to systemic change by moving motivational processes from an implicit element of educating students, to an explicit and intentional set of strategies teachers can enact. Research questions will focus on how teachers respond to the newly developed professional learning model, and how students respond to instruction developed through implementing the model.

Supporting Teachers in Responsive Instruction for Developing Expertise in Science (Collaborative Research: Linn)

This project takes advantage of advanced technologies to support science teachers to rapidly respond to diverse student ideas in their classrooms. Students will use web-based curriculum units to engage with models, simulations, and virtual experiments to write multiple explanations for standards-based science topics. The project will also design planning tools for teachers that will make suggestions relevant research-proven instructional strategies based on the real-time analysis of student responses.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1813713
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2018 to Wed, 08/31/2022
Full Description: 

Many teachers want to adapt their instruction to meet student learning needs, yet lack the time to regularly assess and analyze students' developing understandings. The Supporting Teachers in Responsive Instruction for Developing Expertise in Science (STRIDES) project takes advantage of advanced technologies to support science teachers to rapidly respond to diverse student ideas in their classrooms. In this project students will use web-based curriculum units to engage with models, simulations, and virtual experiments to write multiple explanations for standards-based science topics. Advanced technologies (including natural language processing) will be used to assess students' written responses and summaries their science understanding in real-time. The project will also design planning tools for teachers that will make suggestions relevant research-proven instructional strategies based on the real-time analysis of student responses. Research will examine how teachers make use of the feedback and suggestions to customize their instruction. Further we will study how these instructional changes help students develop coherent understanding of complex science topics and ability to make sense of models and graphs. The findings will be used to refine the tools that analyze the student essays and generate the summaries; improve the research-based instructional suggestions in the planning tool; and strengthen the online interface for teachers. The tools will be incorporated into open-source, freely available online curriculum units. STRIDES will directly benefit up to 30 teachers and 24,000 students from diverse school settings over four years.

Leveraging advances in natural language processing methods, the project will analyze student written explanations to provide fine-grained summaries to teachers about strengths and weaknesses in student work. Based on the linguistic analysis and logs of student navigation, the project will then provide instructional customizations based on learning science research, and study how teachers use them to improve student progress. Researchers will annually conduct at least 10 design or comparison studies, each involving up to 6 teachers and 300-600 students per year. Insights from this research will be captured in automated scoring algorithms, empirically tested and refined customization activities, and data logging techniques that can be used by other research and curriculum design programs to enable teacher customization.

Project Videos

2020 STEM for All Video Showcase

Title: STRIDES: Customizing Online Curricula for Distance Learning

Presenter(s): Libby Gerard, Sarah Bichler, Phillip Boda, Allison Bradford, Emily Harrison, Jennifer King Chen, Jonathan Lim-Breitbart, Marcia Linn, & Korah Wiley

Building Middle School Students' Understanding of Heredity and Evolution

This project will develop and test the impact of heredity and evolution curriculum units for middle school grades that are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The project will advance science teaching by investigating the ways in which two curriculum units can be designed to incorporate science and engineering practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas, the three dimensions of science learning described by the NGSS. The project will also develop resources to support teachers in implementation of the new modules.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1814194
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2018 to Wed, 08/31/2022
Full Description: 

This project will develop and test the impact of heredity and evolution curriculum units for middle school grades that are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The project will advance science teaching by investigating the ways in which two curriculum units can be designed to incorporate science and engineering practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas, the three dimensions of science learning described by the NGSS. The project will also develop resources to support teachers in implementation of the new modules. The planned research will also examine whether student understanding of evolution depends on the length and time of exposure to learning about heredity prior to learning about evolution.

This Early Stage Design and Development project will develop two new 3-week middle school curriculum units, with one focusing on heredity and the other focusing on evolution. The units will include embedded formative and summative assessment measures and online teacher support materials. These units will be developed as part of a curriculum learning progression that will eventually span the elementary grades through high school. This curriculum learning progression will integrate heredity, evolution, data analysis, construction of scientific explanations, evidence-based argumentation, pattern recognition, and inferring cause and effect relationships. To inform development and iterative revisions of the units, the project will conduct nation-wide beta and pilot tests, selecting schools with broad ranges of student demographics and geographical locations. The project will include three rounds of testing and revision of both the student curriculum and teacher materials. The project will also investigate student understanding of evolution in terms of how their understanding is impacted by conceptual understanding of heredity. The research to be conducted by this project is organized around three broad research questions: (a) In what ways can two curriculum units be designed to incorporate the three dimensions of science learning and educative teacher supports to guide students' conceptual understanding of heredity and evolution? (b) To what extent does student understanding of evolution depend on the length and timing of heredity lessons that preceded an evolution unit? And (c) In what ways do students learn heredity and evolution?

Supporting Teachers in Responsive Instruction for Developing Expertise in Science (Collaborative Research: Riordan)

This project takes advantage of advanced technologies to support science teachers to rapidly respond to diverse student ideas in their classrooms. Students will use web-based curriculum units to engage with models, simulations, and virtual experiments to write multiple explanations for standards-based science topics. The project will also design planning tools for teachers that will make suggestions relevant research-proven instructional strategies based on the real-time analysis of student responses.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1812660
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2018 to Wed, 08/31/2022
Full Description: 

Many teachers want to adapt their instruction to meet student learning needs, yet lack the time to regularly assess and analyze students' developing understandings. The Supporting Teachers in Responsive Instruction for Developing Expertise in Science (STRIDES) project takes advantage of advanced technologies to support science teachers to rapidly respond to diverse student ideas in their classrooms. In this project students will use web-based curriculum units to engage with models, simulations, and virtual experiments to write multiple explanations for standards-based science topics. Advanced technologies (including natural language processing) will be used to assess students' written responses and summaries their science understanding in real-time. The project will also design planning tools for teachers that will make suggestions relevant research-proven instructional strategies based on the real-time analysis of student responses. Research will examine how teachers make use of the feedback and suggestions to customize their instruction. Further we will study how these instructional changes help students develop coherent understanding of complex science topics and ability to make sense of models and graphs. The findings will be used to refine the tools that analyze the student essays and generate the summaries; improve the research-based instructional suggestions in the planning tool; and strengthen the online interface for teachers. The tools will be incorporated into open-source, freely available online curriculum units. STRIDES will directly benefit up to 30 teachers and 24,000 students from diverse school settings over four years.

Leveraging advances in natural language processing methods, the project will analyze student written explanations to provide fine-grained summaries to teachers about strengths and weaknesses in student work. Based on the linguistic analysis and logs of student navigation, the project will then provide instructional customizations based on learning science research, and study how teachers use them to improve student progress. Researchers will annually conduct at least 10 design or comparison studies, each involving up to 6 teachers and 300-600 students per year. Insights from this research will be captured in automated scoring algorithms, empirically tested and refined customization activities, and data logging techniques that can be used by other research and curriculum design programs to enable teacher customization.

Engaging High School Students in Computer Science with Co-Creative Learning Companions (Collaborative Research: Magerko)

This research investigates how state-of-the-art creative and pedagogical agents can improve students' learning, attitudes, and engagement with computer science. The project will be conducted in high school classrooms using EarSketch, an online computer science learning environments that engages learners in making music with JavaScript or Python code.

Award Number: 
1814083
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/15/2018 to Wed, 08/31/2022
Full Description: 
This research investigates how state-of-the-art creative and pedagogical agents can improve students' learning, attitudes, and engagement with computer science. The project will be conducted in high school classrooms using EarSketch, an online computer science learning environments that engages over 160,000 learners worldwide in making music with JavaScript or Python code. The researchers will build the first co-creative learning companion, Cai, that will scaffold students with pedagogical strategies that include making use of learner code to illustrate abstraction and modularity, suggesting new code to scaffold new concepts, providing help and hints, and explaining its decisions. This work will directly address the national need to develop computing literacy as a core STEM skill.
 
The proposed work brings together an experienced interdisciplinary team to investigate the hypothesis that adding a co-creative learning companion to an expressive computer science learning environment will improve students' computer science learning (as measured by code sophistication and concept knowledge), positive attitudes towards computing (self-efficacy and motivation), and engagement (focused attention and involvement during learning). The iterative design and development of the co-creative learning companion will be based on studies of human collaboration in EarSketch classrooms, the findings in the co-creative literature and virtual agents research, and the researchers' observations of EarSketch use in classrooms. This work will address the following research questions: 1) What are the foundational pedagogical moves that a co-creative learning companion for expressive programming should perform?; 2) What educational strategies for a co-creative learning companion most effectively scaffold learning, favorable attitudes toward computing, and engagement?; and 3) In what ways does a co-creative learning companion in EarSketch increase computer science learning, engagement, and positive attitudes toward computer science when deployed within the sociocultural context of a high school classroom? The proposed research has the potential to transform our understanding of how to support student learning in and broaden participation through expressive computing environments.

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