Middle School

Leveraging the Power of Reflection and Visual Representation in Middle-Schoolers' Learning During and After an Informal Science Experience (Collaborative Research: Uttal)

This project addresses a longstanding problem in informal science education: how to increase the likelihood of consequential STEM learning from short duration experiences such as field trips.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2115905
Funding Period: 
Fri, 10/01/2021 to Tue, 09/30/2025
Full Description: 

This project addresses a longstanding problem in informal science education: how to increase the likelihood of consequential science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning from short duration experiences such as field trips. Although informal learning experiences can greatly contribute to interest in and knowledge of science, there is a shared concern among educators and researchers that students may have difficulty recalling and using scientific information and practices emphasized during these experiences, even though doing so would further their science learning. Nonetheless, science learning is rarely, if ever, a "one-shot deal." Children acquire knowledge about science cumulatively across different contexts and activities. Therefore, it is important that informal science learning institutions identify effective practices that support the consolidation of learning and memory from exhibit experiences to foster portable, usable knowledge across contexts, such as from informal science learning institutions, to classrooms, and homes. To this end, this Research in Service to Practice project seeks to harness the power and potential of visual representations (e.g., graphs, drawings, charts, maps, etc.) for enhancing learning and encouraging effective reflection during and after science learning experiences. The project promises to increase learning for the 9,000+ 5th and 6th grade students from across the rurality and growing diversity of the state of Maine who annually participate in LabVenture, a 2.5-hour exploration of the Gulf of Maine ecosystem at Gulf of Maine Research Institute. The research will provide new and actionable informal science learning practices that promote engagement with visual representations and reflection, and science understandings that can be applied broadly by informal science institutions.

The project is grounded in the idea that visual representations, including drawings, can both enhance science learning and encourage reflection on doing science that can support extension of that learning beyond a singular informal science experience. The project uses design-based research to address the following research questions: (1) Does reflection during an informal science learning experience promote students’ retention and subsequent use of science information and practices that are part of the experience? (2) Does interpreting and constructing visual representations, such as drawings, improve students’ understanding and retention of information, and if so, how and when?  and (3) Does combining visual representations and narrative reflections confer benefits on students’ science learning and engagement in science practices both during the informal learning experience, and later in their classrooms and at home? These questions will be pursued in collaboration with practitioners (both informal educators and classroom teachers) and a diverse team of graduate and undergraduate student researchers. Approximately 600 student groups (roughly 3000 individual students) will be observed during the LabVenture experience, with further data collection involving a portion of these students at school and at home. The project will yield resources and video demonstrations of field-tested, empirically based practices that promote engagement with visual representations and reflection, and science understandings that can travel within students' learning ecosystem. In support of broadening participation, the undergraduate/graduate student researchers will gain wide understanding and experience connecting research to practice and communicating science to academic and nonacademic audiences.

Leveraging the Power of Reflection and Visual Representation in Middle-Schoolers' Learning During and After an Informal Science Experience (Collaborative Research: Dickes)

This project addresses a longstanding problem in informal science education: how to increase the likelihood of consequential STEM learning from short duration experiences such as field trips.

Award Number: 
2115603
Funding Period: 
Fri, 10/01/2021 to Tue, 09/30/2025
Full Description: 

This project addresses a longstanding problem in informal science education: how to increase the likelihood of consequential science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning from short duration experiences such as field trips. Although informal learning experiences can greatly contribute to interest in and knowledge of science, there is a shared concern among educators and researchers that students may have difficulty recalling and using scientific information and practices emphasized during these experiences, even though doing so would further their science learning. Nonetheless, science learning is rarely, if ever, a "one-shot deal." Children acquire knowledge about science cumulatively across different contexts and activities. Therefore, it is important that informal science learning institutions identify effective practices that support the consolidation of learning and memory from exhibit experiences to foster portable, usable knowledge across contexts, such as from informal science learning institutions, to classrooms, and homes. To this end, this Research in Service to Practice project seeks to harness the power and potential of visual representations (e.g., graphs, drawings, charts, maps, etc.) for enhancing learning and encouraging effective reflection during and after science learning experiences. The project promises to increase learning for the 9,000+ 5th and 6th grade students from across the rurality and growing diversity of the state of Maine who annually participate in LabVenture, a 2.5-hour exploration of the Gulf of Maine ecosystem at Gulf of Maine Research Institute. The research will provide new and actionable informal science learning practices that promote engagement with visual representations and reflection, and science understandings that can be applied broadly by informal science institutions.

The project is grounded in the idea that visual representations, including drawings, can both enhance science learning and encourage reflection on doing science that can support extension of that learning beyond a singular informal science experience. The project uses design-based research to address the following research questions: (1) Does reflection during an informal science learning experience promote students’ retention and subsequent use of science information and practices that are part of the experience? (2) Does interpreting and constructing visual representations, such as drawings, improve students’ understanding and retention of information, and if so, how and when?  and (3) Does combining visual representations and narrative reflections confer benefits on students’ science learning and engagement in science practices both during the informal learning experience, and later in their classrooms and at home? These questions will be pursued in collaboration with practitioners (both informal educators and classroom teachers) and a diverse team of graduate and undergraduate student researchers. Approximately 600 student groups (roughly 3000 individual students) will be observed during the LabVenture experience, with further data collection involving a portion of these students at school and at home. The project will yield resources and video demonstrations of field-tested, empirically based practices that promote engagement with visual representations and reflection, and science understandings that can travel within students' learning ecosystem. In support of broadening participation, the undergraduate/graduate student researchers will gain wide understanding and experience connecting research to practice and communicating science to academic and nonacademic audiences.

Leveraging the Power of Reflection and Visual Representation in Middle-Schoolers' Learning During and After an Informal Science Experience (Collaborative Research: Haden)

This project addresses a longstanding problem in informal science education: how to increase the likelihood of consequential STEM learning from short duration experiences such as field trips.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2115610
Funding Period: 
Fri, 10/01/2021 to Tue, 09/30/2025
Full Description: 

This project addresses a longstanding problem in informal science education: how to increase the likelihood of consequential science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning from short duration experiences such as field trips. Although informal learning experiences can greatly contribute to interest in and knowledge of science, there is a shared concern among educators and researchers that students may have difficulty recalling and using scientific information and practices emphasized during these experiences, even though doing so would further their science learning. Nonetheless, science learning is rarely, if ever, a "one-shot deal." Children acquire knowledge about science cumulatively across different contexts and activities. Therefore, it is important that informal science learning institutions identify effective practices that support the consolidation of learning and memory from exhibit experiences to foster portable, usable knowledge across contexts, such as from informal science learning institutions, to classrooms, and homes. To this end, this Research in Service to Practice project seeks to harness the power and potential of visual representations (e.g., graphs, drawings, charts, maps, etc.) for enhancing learning and encouraging effective reflection during and after science learning experiences. The project promises to increase learning for the 9,000+ 5th and 6th grade students from across the rurality and growing diversity of the state of Maine who annually participate in LabVenture, a 2.5-hour exploration of the Gulf of Maine ecosystem at Gulf of Maine Research Institute. The research will provide new and actionable informal science learning practices that promote engagement with visual representations and reflection, and science understandings that can be applied broadly by informal science institutions.

The project is grounded in the idea that visual representations, including drawings, can both enhance science learning and encourage reflection on doing science that can support extension of that learning beyond a singular informal science experience. The project uses design-based research to address the following research questions: (1) Does reflection during an informal science learning experience promote students’ retention and subsequent use of science information and practices that are part of the experience? (2) Does interpreting and constructing visual representations, such as drawings, improve students’ understanding and retention of information, and if so, how and when?  and (3) Does combining visual representations and narrative reflections confer benefits on students’ science learning and engagement in science practices both during the informal learning experience, and later in their classrooms and at home? These questions will be pursued in collaboration with practitioners (both informal educators and classroom teachers) and a diverse team of graduate and undergraduate student researchers. Approximately 600 student groups (roughly 3000 individual students) will be observed during the LabVenture experience, with further data collection involving a portion of these students at school and at home. The project will yield resources and video demonstrations of field-tested, empirically based practices that promote engagement with visual representations and reflection, and science understandings that can travel within students' learning ecosystem. In support of broadening participation, the undergraduate/graduate student researchers will gain wide understanding and experience connecting research to practice and communicating science to academic and nonacademic audiences.

Reaching Across the Hallway: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Supporting Computer Science in Rural Schools

Principal Investigator: 

"Reaching Across the Hallway: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Supporting Computer Science in Rural Schools" is in its first project year. Our goal is to design and develop a train-the-trainer professional development model that supports 5th-8th grade teachers in integrating culturally relevant computer science into their rural, social studies classrooms.

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Target Audience: 

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

Principal Investigator: 

This poster describes the work of the Validation of the Equity and Access Rubrics for Mathematics Instruction (VEAR-MI) project, which aims to address the growing need to develop empirically grounded ways of assessing the extent to which the practices that are being outlined in research literature actually serve to support students who are currently underserved and underrepresented in mathematics.

Co-PI(s): Annie Garrison Wilhelm, Southern Methodist University; Temple Walkowiak, North Carolina State University

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

Principal Investigator: 

This collaborative project uses co-design as a strategy to develop a professional learning approach to help middle school teachers support students' motivation and engagement in the context of NGSS instruction. The project brings together motivation experts, science education researchers, and middle school science teachers. The poster outlines the project goals, introduces five motivation design principles, and describes four tools that were co-developed to support teachers' professional learning and practice for supporting student motivation.

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Target Audience: 

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

Principal Investigator: 

With the increasing use of online interactive environments for science and engineering education in grades K-12, there is a growing need for detailed automatic analysis of student explanations to provide targeted and individualized guidance. In this work we describe a process of human annotation of student ideas based on deconstructed holistic scoring rubrics for knowledge integration in science learning and develop new NLP methods for identifying diverse expressions of student ideas and reasoning.

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Target Audience: 

Strengthening STEM Teaching in Native American Serving Schools through Long-Term, Culturally Responsive Professional Development

Principal Investigator: 

This is a 4-year, level II Exploratory study within the teaching strand of DRK12. The research explores the functioning and impact of a nationally-developed STEM professional development model within the Navajo Nation. Teacher participants represent the entire K-12 grade range and multiple content areas, and they all participate in an innovative STEM-content, culturally responsive, 8-month professional development fellowship. We explore the extent to which culturally responsive principles are evident in their self-authored curriculum units.

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Target Audience: 

Building a Teacher Knowledge Base for the Implementation of High-Quality Instructional Resources through the Collaborative Investigation of Video Cases (Collaborative Research: Murray and Wilson)

Principal Investigator: 

Analyzing Instruction in Mathematics using the TRU framework (AIM-TRU) is a research-practice partnership that is investigating the pressing problem of supporting teachers in increasing their capacity to implement high-quality instructional materials in the classroom with fidelity. Drawing upon the design-based research paradigm, the partnership has worked to co-design, investigate, and iteratively form the AIM-TRU Learning Cycle, which gives teachers the opportunity to understand the materials and how they are used in the classroom through a video-based professional learning cycle.

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Target Audience: 

Mathematical Learning via Architectural Design and Modeling Using E-Rebuild

Principal Investigator: 

This poster presentation will introduce the current study findings governing the design and implementation of E-Rebuild, a 3D architecture and math game that aims to promote versatile representation and epistemic practice of mathematics for students in grades 6th-8th. Utilizing the real-time, evidence-centered in-game learning assessment and a game-level editor, E-Rebuild enables not only problem-based mathematical thinking and learning, but also adaptive learner support during gameplay and participatory design of game-based math problems.

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Target Audience: 

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