Blacks/African Americans

An Examination of Science and Technology Teachers' Conceptual Learning Through Concept-Based Engineering Professional Development

This project will determine the viability of an engineering concept-based approach to teacher professional development for secondary school science teachers in life science and in physical science. The project refines the conceptual base for engineering at the secondary level learning to increase the understanding of engineering concepts by the science teachers. The hypothesis is that when teachers and students engage with engineering design activities their understanding of science concepts and inquiry are also enhanced.

Project Email: 
Award Number: 
1158615
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2011 to Mon, 10/31/2011
Project Evaluator: 
Karen Peterman
Full Description: 

Technology educators from Black Hills State University and Purdue University partner with science educators from the University of Massachusetts at Boston and Stevens Institute of Technology to determine the viability of an engineering concept-based approach to teacher professional development for secondary school science teachers in life science and in physical science. The project refines the conceptual base for engineering at the secondary level learning (previously developed by the PIs) to increase the understanding of engineering concepts by the science teachers. In a pilot test of two weeks of professional development with ten teachers from each discipline, teachers become familiar with engineering concepts and study the process of infusing engineering concepts into science curricula so that they can develop modules in their discipline to be taught during the following in the school year. The following summer the teachers debrief the process and develop additional modules for their discipline. The process is revised and repeated with 22 teachers from each discipline. Teachers are explicitly provided strategies to help them meet the needs of diverse learners. The outputs of this project include: 1) a preliminary framework for secondary level engineering education to be published in both research and practitioner journals; 2) a pilot tested and validated Engineering Concept Assessment; 3) engineering-infused curriculum modules in life and physical science; and 4) a professional development model to prepare science teachers to infuse engineering in their teaching.

The project compares student learning when particular concepts in physics and biology are taught through engineering design with learning the same concepts taught an earlier group of students with present reform techniques used in the discipline. The hypothesis is that when teachers and students engage with engineering design activities their understanding of science concepts and inquiry are also enhanced. The research component of the project employs an iterative design with the design of activities followed by development and implementation. An engineering concept assessment is developed and tested to examine teacher learning and to determine how engineering concepts can be infused into the science curricula for life and physical science. Other quantitative and qualitative instruments are developed to assess the teachers? understandings of the engineering concepts and their pedagogical implications.

There is increasing emphasis on integrative STEM education. New national and international assessments are developing engineering strands and emphasizing non-routine problem solving. The framework for the Next Generation Science Standards includes engineering as one of four strands. Stand alone engineering course are not likely to be widely used. This project develops engineering infused science units and determines the professional development needed to use them effectively.

Designing an Integrated Framework for Genetics Education to Develop Innovative Curricula and Assessments

This project is developing a model for integrating best practices in technology-supported instructional design and formative assessment for genetics instruction in upper elementary, middle and high school. Using the Web-based Inquiry Science Environment platform, the project is developing school curriculum that scaffold and model scientific practices, enable students to interface with real-world problems, provide opportunities for students to make connections between visible phenomena and underlying genetic processes, and promote student monitoring and reflection on learning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1119055
Funding Period: 
Mon, 08/15/2011 to Tue, 07/31/2012
Full Description: 

Michigan State University is developing a model for integrating best practices in technology-supported instructional design and formative assessment for genetics instruction in upper elementary, middle and high school. The project partners with an urban school district in Texas and a suburban school district in Michigan. The objectives are: (1) to articulate a detailed standards- and research-base conceptual framework for describing students' conceptions of genetics and how students develop a full understanding of genetics across grade spans (upper elementary, middle and high school); (2) to develop innovative instructional materials and embedded assessments that provide richer information about students' conceptual understanding of genetics and help practitioners make decisions about what to do next in instruction; and (3) to examine the implementation of these instructional materials and assessments to investigate students' understanding of genetics concepts.

Using the Web-based Inquiry Science Environment (WISE) 4.0 platform (a technology-rich learning environment), the project is developing a 5-week elementary, middle, and secondary school curriculum models that scaffold and model scientific practices, enable students to interface with real-world problems, provide opportunities for students to make connections between visible phenomena and underlying genetic processes, and promote student monitoring and reflection on their learning. Each module will include animation- and stimulation-based contexts in WISE to provide rich occasions to press for building and developing reasoning and explanations. To promote teachers' use of student responses in formative ways, the materials will offer clear guidance about how to make evidence-based instructional decisions as well as provide options for contingent instruction activities that can be used to address persistent or common non-normative ways of reasoning.

The research offers generalizable approaches on the principled design of embedded assessments in WISE 4.0 and on using these assessments formatively. A quasi-experimental study employing a cross-sectional and longitudinal comparison design will investigate the development of students' understanding of genetics-related ideas from upper elementary to the high school years.

Computer-Supported Math Discourse Among Teachers and Students (Collaborative Research: Powell)

This project will design, develop, and test an online collaborative learning environment where students and teachers solve mathematical problems and communicate their thinking.  This online collaborative learning environment will help increase the quality and quantity of math discourse among mathematics teachers and students.  The researchers will also examine the impact of the online collaborative learning environment on students' significant mathematical discourse and achievement.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1118888
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2011 to Fri, 08/31/2018
Full Description: 

This full research and development project is to design, develop, and test a cutting-edge learning environment where students and teachers solve mathematical problems and communicate their thinking with others through the virtual environment. The major focus is to increase the quality and quantity of significant math discourse among mathematics teachers and their students by using the virtual learning environment. The researchers will test the usability of the learning environment for engaging students in high quality discourse. The researchers will also examine the impact of the virtual learning environment on student significant mathematical discourse and achievement.

The project uses a design research method as well as summative evaluations to achieve research and development goals. Mixed methods will be used to examine the impact of the virtual learning environment on student significant mathematical discourse and achievement.

The findings of the project contribute to the field in three ways: (1) The virtual learning environment can be both an effective pedagogical tool and a research tool in mathematics education; (2) It will contribute to our understanding about the nature of mathematical discourse online as well as about ways to foster the quality and quantity of significant math discourse among teachers and their students; and (3) This project can provide insights into effective online deliveries of courses.

Multiple Instrumental Case Studies of Inclusive STEM-Focused High Schools: Opportunity Structures for Preparation and Inspiration (OSPrl)

The aim of this project is to examine opportunity structures provided to students by inclusive STEM-focused high schools, with an emphasis on studying schools that serve students from underrepresented groups. The project is studying inclusive STEM-focused high schools across the United States to determine what defines them. The research team initially identified ten candidate critical components that define STEM-focused high schools and is refining and further clarifying the critical components through the research study.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1118851
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2011 to Mon, 08/31/2015
Full Description: 

The aim of this project is to examine opportunity structures provided to students by inclusive STEM-focused high schools, with an emphasis on studying schools that serve students from underrepresented groups. In contrast to highly selective STEM-focused schools that target students who are already identified as gifted and talented in STEM, inclusive STEM-focused high schools aim to develop new sources of STEM talent, particularly among underrepresented minority students, to improve workforce development and prepare STEM professionals. A new NRC report, Successful K-12 STEM Education (2011), identifies areas in which research on STEM-focused schools is most needed. The NRC report points out the importance of providing opportunities for groups that are underrepresented in the sciences, especially Blacks, Hispanics, and low-income students who disproportionately fall out of the high-achieving group in K-12 education. This project responds specifically to the call for research in the NRC report and provides systematic data to define and clarify the nature of such schools. 

The project is studying inclusive STEM-focused high schools across the United States to determine what defines them. The research team initially identified ten candidate critical components that define STEM-focused high schools and is refining and further clarifying the critical components through the research study. The first phase of the study is focusing on 12 well-established and carefully planned schools with good reputations and strong community and business support, in order to capture the critical components as intended and implemented. Case studies of these high-functioning schools and a cross-case analysis using a set of instruments for gauging STEM design and implementation are contributing toward building a theory of action for such schools that can be applied more generally to STEM education. The second phase of the study involves selecting four school models for further study, focusing on student-level experiences and comparing student outcomes against comprehensive schools in the same district. Research questions being studied include: 1) Is there a core set of likely critical components shared by well-established, promising inclusive STEM-focused high schools? Do other components emerge from the study? 2) How are the critical components implemented in each school? 3) What are the contextual affordances and constraints that influence schools' designs, their implementation, and student outcomes? 4) How do student STEM outcomes in these schools compare with school district and state averages? 5) How do four promising such schools compare with matched comprehensive high schools within their respective school districts, and how are the critical components displayed? 6) From the points of view of students underrepresented in STEM fields, how do education experiences at the schools and their matched counterparts compare? And 7) How do student outcomes compare?

The research uses a multiple instrumental case study design in order to describe and compare similar phenomena. Schools as critical cases are being selected through a nomination process by experts, followed by screening and categorization according to key design dimensions. Data sources include school documents and public database information; a survey, followed by telephone interviews that probe for elaborated information, to provide a systematic overview of the candidate components; on-site visitations to each school provide data on classroom observations at the schools; interviews with students, teachers and administrators in focus groups; and discussions with critical members of the school community that provide unique opportunities to learn such as mentors, business leaders, and members of higher education community that provide outside of school learning experiences. The project is also gathering data on a variety of school-level student outcome indicators, and is tracking the likely STEM course trajectories for students, graduation rates, and college admission rates for students in the inclusive STEM-focused schools, as compared to other schools in the same jurisdiction. Analysis of the first phase of the study aims to develop rich descriptions that showcase characteristics of the schools, using axial and open coding, to determine a theory of action that illustrates interconnections among context, design, implementation, and outcome elements. Analysis of the second phase of the study involves similar processes on four levels: school, student, databases, and a synthesis of the three. Evaluation of the project consists of an internal advisory board and an external advisory board, both of which provide primarily formative feedback on research procedures.

Research findings, as well as case studies, records of instrument and rubric development and use, annual reports, and conference proposals and papers are being provided on a website, in order to provide an immediate and ongoing resource for education leaders, researchers and policymakers to learn about research on these schools and particular models. An effort is also being made to give voice to the experiences of high school students from the four pairs of high schools studied in the second phase of the study. Findings are also being disseminated by more traditional means, such as papers in peer-reviewed journals and conference presentations.

School Organization and Science Achievement: Organization and Leadership Influences on Equitable Student Performance (Collaborative Research: Settlage)

This project will document factors explaining variations in science achievement across schools enrolling ethnically and linguistically diverse students. The research question is: what leadership and organizational features at the school level are associated with mitigating science achievement gaps? At the conclusion of the five-year project, the findings will take the form of recommendations about leadership practices and school organization that can be implemented in other school settings.

Award Number: 
1119349
Funding Period: 
Fri, 07/01/2011 to Sun, 06/30/2013
Project Evaluator: 
Katherine Paget, Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC)
Full Description: 

The School Organization and Science Achievement (SOSA) Project will document factors explaining variations in science achievement across schools enrolling ethnically and linguistically diverse students. The research question is: what leadership and organizational features at the school level are associated with mitigating science achievement gaps? Previous school effectiveness studies demonstrate school leadership and social capital influencing student achievement; the SOSA project is unique with its focus on science achievement. Researchers at the University of Connecticut and the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, in collaboration with school districts in their respective states, will identify school leadership practices that can be connected with reductions in achievement gaps related to student ethnicity, English fluency, and social status. At the conclusion of the five-year project, the findings will take the form of recommendations about leadership practices and school organization that can be implemented in other school settings.

The project uses a mixed methods design by combining statistical modeling and qualitative data. Multiple regression analyses highlight those schools populated by fifth graders that have greater or lesser achievement gaps in science. Using social capital theory (i.e., school norms, communication channels, and trustworthiness) comparisons of positive and negative outlier schools will be made via interviews of building principals, classroom teachers and community representatives. The expectation is that schools providing more equitable science experiences to all students will exhibit stronger social capital compared to buildings with disparities in science test scores across demographic categories. These insights will be supplemented by multilevel structural equation modeling to determine the strength of association between various school climate measures (e.g., teacher-to-principal trust, correspondence between teacher and principal perceptions of leadership, and school/community ties) and science achievement as measured by statewide fifth grade science tests. In addition, growth analyses will be used to detect shifts over time and provide insights about the links between policy changes or leadership adjustments, inasmuch as science achievement gaps are affected.

By working with 150 schools in two states, this collaborative research project is designed to generate findings applicable in other school systems. Particularly in settings where science achievement gaps are large, and especially when such gaps vary between schools even when the student populations are similar, the findings from this study will have practical leadership implications. Expertise in this project includes science education, educational leadership, and statistical modeling. This complementary combination increases the depth of the project's efforts along with expanding its potential impacts. Key questions addressed by this project include: to what extent is leadership in science similar to or different from leadership in other subject areas? how do variations in leadership design (e.g., top-down versus distributed leadership) contribute to reductions in science achievement gaps? to what degree can effective leadership mitigate other factors that exacerbate the challenges of providing high quality science learning experiences for every child? Findings will be disseminated via the SOSA Project website, along with leadership development strategies. Deliverables include templates to replicate the study, case studies for professional development, and strategies for supporting the development of science teacher-leaders.

Implementing the Mathematical Practice Standards: Enhancing Teachers' Ability to Support the Common Core State Standards

This is a four-year project that is producing materials designed to help teachers see how the mathematical practices described in the Common Core State Standards for mathematics can be implemented in mathematics instruction. The goal of the improved instruction is to help students adopt and value these critical mathematical practices.

Award Number: 
1119163
Funding Period: 
Mon, 08/01/2011 to Tue, 07/31/2012
Full Description: 

The Implementing Mathematical Practices Standards (IMPS) is a four-year project that is producing materials designed to help teachers see how the mathematical practices described in the Common Core State Standards for mathematics can be implemented in mathematics instruction. The goal of the improved instruction is to help students adopt and value these critical mathematical practices. Researchers at the Education Development Center are developing videos and print materials that exemplify the mathematical practices and are working with teachers in grades 5-10 to help them use the materials effectively. The research questions of the project are focused on what features of the materials are most helpful to teachers and what professional development characteristics facilitate implementation of the mathematics practices in classroom instruction. The external evaluation of the project is being conducted by evaluators at TERC who are looking the process of developing materials and how the materials are used.

The materials will include professionally-produced videos exemplifying a particular mathematical practice being implemented in a classroom as well as printed dialogues that are designed to help teachers understand the practice and why it is critical for students to acquire that mathematical practice. The exemplars of mathematical practices are being developed based on pilot work and systematic advice from mathematicians, mathematics educators and mathematics teachers in grades 5-10. The design process is iterative and materials are refined based on feedback that is received. Facilitators are being prepared to conduct professional development and materials are being tested by more than 150 teachers in a variety of school districts.

Professional groups such as NCTM and NCSM have called for materials that exemplify the CCSS mathematical practices. They have argued that teachers need to understand how these standards can be achieved in classrooms. IMPS systematic effort to design materials that exemplify the standards and to test not only the materials but also the professional development associated with the materials is responding to the national need. The videos and dialogues will be available through broad dissemination.

Investigating and Supporting the Development of Ambitious and Equitable Mathematics Instruction at Scale

This project is supporting and investigating the implementation of reformed mathematics instruction at the middle school level in two large school districts. The primary goal of the project is to develop an empirically grounded theory of action for implementing reform at school and district levels. The researchers are investigating reform within a coherent system that focuses on leadership and school-based professional development.

 

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1119122
Funding Period: 
Mon, 08/15/2011 to Tue, 07/31/2012
Full Description: 

The Development of Ambitious and Equitable Mathematics Instruction project is supporting and investigating the implementation of reformed mathematics instruction at the middle school level in two large school districts. Project researchers are asking: What does it take to support mathematics teachers' development of ambitious and equitable instructional practices on a large scale? The project has built on what was learned in a previous, successful project studying the implementation of a middle school mathematics curriculum. The primary goal of the new project is to develop an empirically grounded theory of action for implementing reform at school and district levels. The researchers are investigating reform within a coherent system that focuses on leadership and school-based professional development. In addition, they are facilitating a longitudinal study of the curriculum implementation by continuing the data collection from the original study.

In order to build a theory of action, the project team is synthesizing data from a variety of domains including instructional systems (e.g., curriculum, materials, professional development, support for struggling students, and learning communities), mathematics coaching, networks of teachers, school leadership, and district leadership. Investigators are using a variety of analytic techniques to successfully integrate both quantitative and qualitative data as they seek to understand how school district strategies are playing out in schools and classrooms and how those strategies can be revised in order to improve student learning of mathematics.

An empirically grounded theory of action for implementing reform will help the mathematics education community to implement and to understand the process of reforming mathematics instruction at the middle school level. Many advances in mathematics instruction have been documented within a limited context, but researchers and practitioners need to understand the full range of action necessary to achieve similar successes at a district-wide level. The model developed from this project, in conjunction with longitudinal data, has the potential to guide future reform efforts that seek to provide ambitious and equitable mathematics instruction.

Cultivating Hispanics and African Americans Reading, Math, Science (CHARMS) in Elementary Schools for Girls Conference

This project is analyzing and sharing baseline data on the achievement of African American and Hispanic girls on national and state assessments. The objectives of the project are to: (1) conduct a critical analysis of achievement data for African American and Hispanic female students; (2) organize a conference featuring presentation of the data analysis and a national speaker; (3) provide STEM career information and materials; and (4) share results of the achievement data analysis.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1048544
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2010 to Wed, 08/31/2011
Full Description: 

Led by STEM educators at Texas A&M University, this project is analyzing and sharing baseline data on the achievement of African American and Hispanic girls on national and state assessments. The objectives of the project are: (1) To conduct a critical analysis of National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) achievement data for African American and Hispanic female students in grades 3-6 with a focus on sub-test objectives for science, mathematics, and reading over the years 2000-2010; (2) To organize a one-day conference for 100 teachers, administrators and parents from urban, rural and suburban school districts featuring presentation of the data analysis and a national speaker who will share information and lead discussion on why African American and Hispanic girls at the elementary level should begin to think about seeking STEM careers and the required expected academic preparations; (3) To provide conference participants with STEM career information and materials; and (4) To share results of the achievement data analysis at international/national conferences (National Council for Teachers of Mathematics, National Science Teachers Association, American Educational Research Association) and submit papers for publication in scholarly journals.

Quantitative and qualitative methodology will be used to respond to three research questions: (1) What are the differences in the academic achievement of African American and Hispanic girls in grades 3-6 on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) during the years 2000-2010? (2) What are the voices of African American and Hispanic 6th grade girls about their TAKS test from third grade to sixth grade? (3) What is the impact of a one-day conference on raising the awareness level of educators and parents about academic achievement among African American and Hispanic girls on national and state assessment in grades 3-6 in reading, mathematics, and science? To address question number one, the study will determine if statistically significant differences exist among the variables of race, class, and gender by grades and subject on student performance on the NAEP and TAKS tests and sub-tests in the areas of reading, mathematics and science. To address question number two, a qualitative analysis will be conducted. Students will be interviewed and data will be transcribed, sorted, and categorized into themes. Member checks and triangulation of data will be used to establish validity and reliability of the findings. To address question number three, descriptive statistics will be used to analyze a Likert-type survey instrument that will be developed by the project PI and CoPIs to assess conference objectives. In addition, a purposive sample of participants (teachers and parents) will be interviewed about their participation in the conference and their responses analyzed using qualitative analysis.

With a focus on African American and Hispanic girls' academic achievement, the project will provide educators, parents and students through a conference venue and other outlets with valuable information to understand their competency in subjects that can impact their decisions to seek STEM careers.

CAREER: Teaching and Learning Social Science Inquiry and Spatial Reasoning with GIS

This research project aims to explore and understand how geographic information systems (GIS) can be used to promote and teach spatial thinking and social science inquiry skills. It addresses the research question: What are effective teaching practices using GIS to teach spatial thinking and social science inquiry in middle-school and undergraduate classrooms? This program will study the effectiveness of teaching practices for social science instruction with GIS in urban public schools for specific learning objectives.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0953448
Funding Period: 
Thu, 04/01/2010 to Thu, 03/31/2011
Full Description: 

This research project aims to explore and understand how geographic information systems (GIS) can be used to promote and teach spatial thinking and social science inquiry skills. It addresses the research question: What are effective teaching practices using GIS to teach spatial thinking and social science inquiry in middle-school and undergraduate classrooms? This program will study the effectiveness of teaching practices for social science instruction with GIS in urban public schools for specific learning objectives.

The research plans to develop an empirically-grounded framework for studying the ways teaching practices with GIS interact with four other foci of research: (1) learning objectives for inquiry skills and spatial reasoning, articulated across grade levels; (2) learning processes with GIS; (3) GIS curriculum designs; and (4) the design of GIS tools for learning environments. The project plans to use the GIS tools within a culturally relevant curriculum unit for diverse students of African American and Latino backgrounds.

A range of research methods will be used to study teaching and learning, focused on a common topic: American Migrations of African American and Latino populations over time, using GIS-mapped census data. Research will be conducted in three phases: (1) design experiments iteratively developing a theoretical framework, curriculum, and instructional strategies; (2) case studies of effective instruction at two levels; and (3) curriculum evaluations. Findings on effective teaching and learning in middle school classrooms, with undergraduate college students, and pre-service elementary teachers via GIS based-curriculum, will be presented.

Southeast Regional Technical Assistance and Information Workshop for Minority-serving Institutions To Broadening Participation in the National Science Foundation's Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL)

This project will conduct a 1.5 day regional technical assistance and information conference/workshop for Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) to broaden their participation in the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and informal Settings (DRL) programs. The workshop will consist of faculty institutional teams and will develop their research or program ideas and to become more skillful in the preparation and development of competitive proposals.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0948165
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/15/2009 to Tue, 08/31/2010
Full Description: 

This is a request from Spelman College to conduct a 1.5 day regional technical assistance and information conference/workshop for Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) to broaden their participation in the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and informal Settings (DRL) programs. Spelman College will invite accredited minority-serving institutions (MSIs) to participate in the workshop/conference who have not submitted proposals and/or have been unsuccessful in DRL proposal competition. The workshop will consist of approximately fifty 2-person faculty institutional teams consisting of a faculty member from an education specialty relevant to DRL programmatic activities, and a faculty member in a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field supported by the National Science Foundation in order to develop their research or program ideas and to become more skillful in the preparation and development of competitive proposals.

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