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Exploratory: Activate Computational Thinking (ACT)

This project offers a two-year professional development model to support a cohort of 16 middle school science teachers of underrepresented students as the teachers gain computational thinking (CT) competencies and design and teach CT-integrated classroom science lessons that will provide students with CT learning experiences. The project will contribute to the understanding of what it takes to empower middle school science teachers as designers of CT learning opportunities for students from underrepresented groups

Award Number: 
1223076
Funding Period: 
Sun, 07/15/2012 - Mon, 06/30/2014
Full Description: 

The Activate Computational Thinking (ACT) exploratory research project of California State University-San Marcos is a two-year professional development model to support a cohort of 16 middle school science teachers of underrepresented students as the teachers gain computational thinking (CT) competencies and design and teach CT-integrated classroom science lessons that will provide students with CT learning experiences.

The design of the ACT professional development (PD) supports an iterative process where teacher training is followed by the cycle of design, field-test, and refinement of CT lessons. The overall PD is then refined before the next training begins. Close monitoring of teacher and student responses to project activities will show how (1) teachers gain understanding and knowledge of CT concepts and capabilities; (2) teachers design science lesson plans that integrate CT learning experiences; (3) teachers implement science CT-integrated science lessons; and (4) students exhibit the use of CT skills in the course of completing their class assignments. Training will occur over two years in two summers and after school. The project combines participant learning and team teaching of a cohort of middle school students by trained participants during the first summer term. This will be followed by yearly training and mentoring. Teachers will produce science lesson plans that incorporate computational thinking.

The project will contribute to the understanding of what it takes to empower middle school science teachers as designers of CT learning opportunities for students from underrepresented groups. With an estimate of 90 students per middle school teacher per year, the project is expected to impact more than 2,800 students as the 16 project teachers implement CT-integrated science lessons into classroom activities over two years.

Exploratory: Activate Computational Thinking (ACT)

Enhancing Mathematics Teaching and Learning in Urban Elementary Schools: A Cluster-Randomized Efficacy Trial of a Novel Professional Development Approach

This project is working with all teachers in grades three through five in the Portland, OR Public Schools in order to test the feasibility and efficacy of the Mathematics Studio Model of professional development. The model requires professional development to occur at the school level involving both teachers and principals. The goal of the project is to improve students' engagement and learning in mathematics by fostering effective instruction.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1223074
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/15/2012 - Wed, 08/31/2016
Full Description: 

The Enhancing Mathematics Teaching and Learning in Urban Elementary Schools project is working with all teachers in grades three through five in the Portland, OR Public Schools in order to test the feasibility and efficacy of the Mathematics Studio Model of professional development. The model requires professional development to occur at the school level involving both teachers and principals. The professional development is conducted at the school and is integrated with instruction. The goal of the project is to improve students' engagement and learning in mathematics by fostering effective instruction. Partners in the project include Teachers Development Group, Portland State University, Portland Public Schools and Horizon Research.

The researchers are identifying the key ingredients that make the professional development successful. They are using a cluster-randomized research design to examine the efficacy of their model. They are using observational measures to identify successful teaching practices as well as student discourse patterns. They are studying the fidelity of implementation of the model and are looking for specific variables that may be particularly helpful for students who have not been successful in learning mathematics.

It is difficult to implement professional development at a large enough scale to make a significant difference in student achievement within a district. This research is important because it tests the use of a practice-based, professional development model within a large, public school system, and documents the challenges of implementation as well as the variables that contribute to student learning of mathematics.

Enhancing Mathematics Teaching and Learning in Urban Elementary Schools: A Cluster-Randomized Efficacy Trial of a Novel Professional Development Approach

Researching the Efficacy of the Science and Literacy Academy Model (Collaborative Research: Osborne)

This project is studying three models of professional development (PD) to test the efficacy of a practicum for grade 3-5 in-service teachers organized in three cohorts of 25. There will be 75 teachers and their students directly impacted by the project. Additional impacts of the project are research results and professional development materials, including a PD implementation guide and instructional videos.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1220666
Funding Period: 
Wed, 08/15/2012 - Sun, 07/31/2016
Full Description: 

This award is doing a research study of three models of professional development (PD) to test the efficacy of a practicum for grade 3-5 in-service teachers organized in three cohorts of 25. Model 1 is a one-week institute based on classroom discourse practices and a 2-week practicum (cohort 1). Model 2 is the one-week institute (cohort 2). Model 3 is a "business as usual" model (cohort 3) based on normal professional development provided by the school district. Cohorts 1 and 2 experience the interventions in year 1 with four follow-up sessions in each of years 2 and 3. In year 4 they receive no PD, but are being observed to see if they sustain the practices learned. Cohort 3 receives no treatment in years 1 and 2, but participates in a revised version of the institute plus practicum in year 3 with four follow up sessions in year 4. The Lawrence Hall of Science provides the professional development, and Stanford University personnel are conducting the research. The teachers come from the Oakland Unified School District. Science content is the GEMS Ocean Sciences Sequence.

There are 3 research questions;

1. In what ways do practicum-based professional development models influence science instructional practice?

2. What differences in student outcomes are associated with teachers' participation in the different PD programs?

3. Is the impact of the revised PD model different from the impact of the original model?

This is a designed-based research model. Teacher data is based on interviews on beliefs about teaching and the analysis of video tapes of their practicum and classroom performance using the Discourse in Inquiry Science Classrooms instrument. Student data is based on the GEMS unit pre- and post-tests and the California Science Test for 5th graders. Multiple analyses are being conducted using different combinations of the data from 8 scales across 4 years.

There will be 75 teachers and their students directly impacted by the project. Additional impacts of the project are research results and professional development materials, including a PD implementation guide and instructional videos. These will be presented in publications and conference presentations and be posted on linked websites at the Lawrence Hall of Science and the Center to Support Excellence in Teaching at Stanford University.

Researching the Efficacy of the Science and Literacy Academy Model (Collaborative Research: Osborne)

Researching the Efficacy of the Science and Literacy Academy Model (Collaborative Research: Strang)

This project is studying three models of professional development (PD) to test the efficacy of a practicum for grade 3-5 in-service teachers organized in three cohorts of 25. There will be 75 teachers and their students directly impacted by the project. Additional impacts of the project are research results and professional development materials, including a PD implementation guide and instructional videos.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1223021
Funding Period: 
Wed, 08/01/2012 - Sun, 07/31/2016
Full Description: 

This award is doing a research study of three models of professional development (PD) to test the efficacy of a practicum for grade 3-5 in-service teachers organized in three cohorts of 25. Model 1 is a one-week institute based on classroom discourse practices and a 2-week practicum (cohort 1). Model 2 is the one-week institute (cohort 2). Model 3 is a "business as usual" model (cohort 3) based on normal professional development provided by the school district. Cohorts 1 and 2 experience the interventions in year 1 with four follow-up sessions in each of years 2 and 3. In year 4 they receive no PD, but are being observed to see if they sustain the practices learned. Cohort 3 receives no treatment in years 1 and 2, but participates in a revised version of the institute plus practicum in year 3 with four follow up sessions in year 4. The Lawrence Hall of Science provides the professional development, and Stanford University personnel are conducting the research. The teachers come from the Oakland Unified School District. Science content is the GEMS Ocean Sciences Sequence.

There are 3 research questions;

1. In what ways do practicum-based professional development models influence science instructional practice?

2. What differences in student outcomes are associated with teachers' participation in the different PD programs?

3. Is the impact of the revised PD model different from the impact of the original model?

This is a designed-based research model. Teacher data is based on interviews on beliefs about teaching and the analysis of video tapes of their practicum and classroom performance using the Discourse in Inquiry Science Classrooms instrument. Student data is based on the GEMS unit pre- and post-tests and the California Science Test for 5th graders. Multiple analyses are being conducted using different combinations of the data from 8 scales across 4 years.

There will be 75 teachers and their students directly impacted by the project. Additional impacts of the project are research results and professional development materials, including a PD implementation guide and instructional videos. These will be presented in publications and conference presentations and be posted on linked websites at the Lawrence Hall of Science and the Center to Support Excellence in Teaching at Stanford University.

Researching the Efficacy of the Science and Literacy Academy Model (Collaborative Research: Strang)

Identifying Science Teaching Strategies for Promoting Reasoned Discussions of Concepts and Simulations

This project supports teachers in improving classroom discourse and reasoning by identifying key teaching strategies for building scientific concepts in successful discussions. It links these strategies together with the use of visual displays in classroom instruction with a particular emphasis on simulations. The teacher video-based workbooks that result from this study provide such a resource that is open-source and available to a larger population of teachers than just those in the project.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1222709
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/15/2012 - Sun, 08/31/2014
Full Description: 

A key goal of the New Generation Science Standards is ensuring that students develop the capacity to not just participate in the discussions of science phenomenon, but also be able to reason cogently and deeply about those ideas in the disciplines. This project supports teachers in improving classroom discourse and reasoning by identifying key teaching strategies for building scientific concepts in successful discussions. It links these strategies together with the use of visual displays in classroom instruction with a particular emphasis on simulations. The focus of the classroom discourse strategy development is on teachers demonstrating learning of explanatory models of physical phenomena in three subject areas: high school electricity, high school mechanics, and middle school states of matter, with an emphasis on the use of visual displays. Based on previous research that showed preliminary promising evidence for the teachers orchestration of productive classroom discourse and using video data collected during the prior research settings, the project uses video case studies to characterize key elements of effective pedagogical processes and develop materials for use in pre- and in-service teacher training.

This study uses existing videos of exemplary physics teachers who are using the CASTLE curriculum to teach units on electricity and magnetism. Research questions address the identification of whole class strategies that are used with simulations to support the development of a visualizable particulate model across a number of time scales in the classroom. Another question addresses how teachers differ in their use of static as opposed to dynamic display models to identify the advantages and disadvantages of both types of displays. The researchers work within the socio-cognitive framework of the ways that students and teachers construct explanatory models and the socio-linguistic framework by which discussion strategies can encourage productive engagement in the development of disciplinary knowledge. The researchers have developed a framework that codifies the elements of the developing student to identify particularly productive segments of lessons that illustrate how such discourse can be scaffolded in the classroom. These segments will be organized into a video-based teaching manual disseminated through a project website and used in the pre-service teacher preparation at the university.

This project represents the ways in which research in science education on student and teacher reasoning around scientific phenomena can be translated from research into practice. The cognitive research that describes the nature and elements of students' conceptual models requires concrete resources to make them applicable within the typical classroom. The teacher video-based workbooks that result from this study provide such a resource that is open-source and available to a larger population of teachers than just those in the project. The connection of the videos to the CASTLE curricular materials provides additional research evidence to support the adoption of this curriculum that will be especially cogent as the New Generation Science Standards require deeper understanding of disciplinary content.

Identifying Science Teaching Strategies for Promoting Reasoned Discussions of Concepts and Simulations

An Initial Learning Progression in Chemical Design (Collaborative Research: Talanquer)

In this project, investigators are developing and testing a learning progression for the study of chemistry. Likely pathways are investigated for how grade 8-13 student's implicit assumptions develop on five major threads of chemical design. A focus on chemical design facilitates the coherent integration of scientific and engineering practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas. This approach should make chemistry more engaging to a greater variety of students.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1221494
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2012 - Sun, 08/31/2014
Full Description: 

In this two-year exploratory project, science educators at the University of Massachusetts Boston collaborate with those at the University of Arizona to develop and test a learning progression for the study of chemistry. Likely pathways are investigated for how grade 8-13 student's implicit assumptions develop on five major threads of chemical design - chemical identity, structure-property relationships, chemical causality and mechanism, chemical control and cost-benefit-risks. A focus on chemical design - the identification and synthesis of chemical compounds - facilitates the coherent integration of scientific and engineering practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas. This approach should make chemistry more engaging to a greater variety of students including those in Career and Technical Education.

The project investigates the core implicit assumptions that can be expected to characterize and constrain novice and sophisticated student reasoning about each of the five major threads of chemical design. It also suggests the hypothetical "stepping stones" that characterize the progression from novice to sophisticated reasoning in chemical design. Existing research literature on student ideas and on related developmental psychology and cognitive science research is reviewed. Project staff together with twelve master high school and middle school science teachers in the Boston Public Schools develop a framework that can be used to compare and contrast more or less sophisticated ways of thinking about foundational ideas for the understanding of chemical design and from them derive hypotheses about "stepping stones" in understanding the implication of chemical design. Questionnaires and interview protocols similar to those employed in previous projects are used with students in grades 8, 10, 12 and college freshmen and their teachers to refine and enrich initial hypotheses about the evolution of core implicit assumptions along the five threads. The research is evaluated by an advisory board of science educators and educational researchers using a written protocol. Content is reviewed by practicing chemists.

A concise and clear summary of the learning progression is produced with an intended audience of teachers, curriculum developers and publishers who are implementing or revising curriculum. The dissemination of this summary includes a brief market research survey of teachers, curriculum developers and publishers of high school chemistry materials. Versions of validated open-response instruments that can be easily implemented by teachers as formative assessments of student understanding in the areas targeted by the study are also published. An understanding is gained of some of the challenges associated with implementing the Next Generation Science Standards in a way that meaningfully integrates science and engineering practice, important content and cross cutting themes in the context of learning about chemical design.

An Initial Learning Progression in Chemical Design (Collaborative Research: Talanquer)

Assessing, Validating, and Developing Content Knowledge for Teaching Energy (Collaborative Research: Gitomer)

This project develops an instrument to measure the content knowledge that teachers need to teach about energy in high school classroom instruction that focuses on mechanical energy. The project uses a framework that includes tasks based on instructional practices in the classroom that can identify the extent to which the teacher understands both the disciplinary knowledge and the appropriate teaching processes that support student learning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1222777
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2012 - Wed, 08/31/2016
Full Description: 

This project develops an instrument to measure the content knowledge that teachers need to teach about energy in high school classroom instruction that focuses on mechanical energy. There is significant research that indicates that teacher content knowledge differs from what people in other professions need to know about particular domains such as mathematics, and the development of a Content Knowledge of Teaching Energy in mechanics is an extension of those research and development efforts. The project embeds the development of the instrument in a program of measuring effective teaching of physics in the classroom and develops a strong validity argument for the resulting assessment based on its use as a measure in a professional development project that intends to improve teachers' understanding of energy in physics. The research team consists of experts in physics, assessment and classroom teaching of physics. The collaborative project includes researchers at Rutgers, University of Maine, Seattle Pacific University, Facets Innovation, and the Educational Testing Service.

The project uses a framework for effective teaching developed in the Measures of Effective Teaching project funded by the Gates Foundation to construct a theoretical framework for the teaching of mechanical energy. That framework includes items and tasks based on instructional practices in the classroom that can identify the extent to which the teacher understands both the disciplinary knowledge and the appropriate teaching processes that support student learning. A strong framework of validation based on multiple lines of evidence of the relationship between the items developed for the study and observations, analysis of video, and artifacts from the classroom is one element of the study. Another element of the study examines multiple psychometric lines of evidence to determine the reliability of the instruments and the validity of the inferences drawn from them. The resulting instruments will be used in the measurement of changes of teacher content knowledge for teaching in professional development programs as another source of validation.

The improvement of teachers' content knowledge for teaching is an important intermediary goal of professional development of teachers. Without adequate understanding of the gaps in teacher knowledge and precise evidence of the improvement through professional development, the efficacy of different professional development projects is not possible. This project develops a model of teacher assessment instrument development that addresses a cross-cutting theme in the Next Generation Science Standards and contributes an important tool to the research and evaluation processes that are needed to make those standards a reality in the classroom. Findings from the use of the instruments across multiple projects inform policy decisions on local, state and federal levels.

Assessing, Validating, and Developing Content Knowledge for Teaching Energy (Collaborative Research: Gitomer)

Assessing, Validating, and Developing Content Knowledge for Teaching Energy (Collaborative Research: Vokos)

This project develops an instrument to measure the content knowledge that teachers need to teach about energy in high school classroom instruction that focuses on mechanical energy. The project uses a framework that includes tasks based on instructional practices in the classroom that can identify the extent to which the teacher understands both the disciplinary knowledge and the appropriate teaching processes that support student learning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1222732
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2012 - Wed, 08/31/2016
Full Description: 

This project develops an instrument to measure the content knowledge that teachers need to teach about energy in high school classroom instruction that focuses on mechanical energy. There is significant research that indicates that teacher content knowledge differs from what people in other professions need to know about particular domains such as mathematics, and the development of a Content Knowledge of Teaching Energy in mechanics is an extension of those research and development efforts. The project embeds the development of the instrument in a program of measuring effective teaching of physics in the classroom and develops a strong validity argument for the resulting assessment based on its use as a measure in a professional development project that intends to improve teachers' understanding of energy in physics. The research team consists of experts in physics, assessment and classroom teaching of physics. The collaborative project includes researchers at Rutgers, University of Maine, Seattle Pacific University, Facets Innovation, and the Educational Testing Service.

The project uses a framework for effective teaching developed in the Measures of Effective Teaching project funded by the Gates Foundation to construct a theoretical framework for the teaching of mechanical energy. That framework includes items and tasks based on instructional practices in the classroom that can identify the extent to which the teacher understands both the disciplinary knowledge and the appropriate teaching processes that support student learning. A strong framework of validation based on multiple lines of evidence of the relationship between the items developed for the study and observations, analysis of video, and artifacts from the classroom is one element of the study. Another element of the study examines multiple psychometric lines of evidence to determine the reliability of the instruments and the validity of the inferences drawn from them. The resulting instruments will be used in the measurement of changes of teacher content knowledge for teaching in professional development programs as another source of validation.

The improvement of teachers' content knowledge for teaching is an important intermediary goal of professional development of teachers. Without adequate understanding of the gaps in teacher knowledge and precise evidence of the improvement through professional development, the efficacy of different professional development projects is not possible. This project develops a model of teacher assessment instrument development that addresses a cross-cutting theme in the Next Generation Science Standards and contributes an important tool to the research and evaluation processes that are needed to make those standards a reality in the classroom. Findings from the use of the instruments across multiple projects inform policy decisions on local, state and federal levels.

Assessing, Validating, and Developing Content Knowledge for Teaching Energy (Collaborative Research: Vokos)

Assessing, Validating, and Developing Content Knowledge for Teaching Energy (Collaborative Research: Minstrell)

This project develops an instrument to measure the content knowledge that teachers need to teach about energy in high school classroom instruction that focuses on mechanical energy. The project uses a framework that includes tasks based on instructional practices in the classroom that can identify the extent to which the teacher understands both the disciplinary knowledge and the appropriate teaching processes that support student learning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1222598
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2012 - Wed, 08/31/2016
Full Description: 

This project develops an instrument to measure the content knowledge that teachers need to teach about energy in high school classroom instruction that focuses on mechanical energy. There is significant research that indicates that teacher content knowledge differs from what people in other professions need to know about particular domains such as mathematics, and the development of a Content Knowledge of Teaching Energy in mechanics is an extension of those research and development efforts. The project embeds the development of the instrument in a program of measuring effective teaching of physics in the classroom and develops a strong validity argument for the resulting assessment based on its use as a measure in a professional development project that intends to improve teachers' understanding of energy in physics. The research team consists of experts in physics, assessment and classroom teaching of physics. The collaborative project includes researchers at Rutgers, University of Maine, Seattle Pacific University, Facets Innovation, and the Educational Testing Service.

The project uses a framework for effective teaching developed in the Measures of Effective Teaching project funded by the Gates Foundation to construct a theoretical framework for the teaching of mechanical energy. That framework includes items and tasks based on instructional practices in the classroom that can identify the extent to which the teacher understands both the disciplinary knowledge and the appropriate teaching processes that support student learning. A strong framework of validation based on multiple lines of evidence of the relationship between the items developed for the study and observations, analysis of video, and artifacts from the classroom is one element of the study. Another element of the study examines multiple psychometric lines of evidence to determine the reliability of the instruments and the validity of the inferences drawn from them. The resulting instruments will be used in the measurement of changes of teacher content knowledge for teaching in professional development programs as another source of validation.

The improvement of teachers' content knowledge for teaching is an important intermediary goal of professional development of teachers. Without adequate understanding of the gaps in teacher knowledge and precise evidence of the improvement through professional development, the efficacy of different professional development projects is not possible. This project develops a model of teacher assessment instrument development that addresses a cross-cutting theme in the Next Generation Science Standards and contributes an important tool to the research and evaluation processes that are needed to make those standards a reality in the classroom. Findings from the use of the instruments across multiple projects inform policy decisions on local, state and federal levels.

Assessing, Validating, and Developing Content Knowledge for Teaching Energy (Collaborative Research: Minstrell)

Assessing Secondary Teachers' Algebraic Habits of Mind (Collaborative Research: Sword)

This collaborative project is developing instruments to assess secondary teachers' Mathematical Habits of Mind (MHoM). These habits bring parsimony, focus, and coherence to teachers' mathematical thinking and, in turn, to their work with students. This work fits into a larger research agenda with the ultimate goal of understanding the connections between secondary teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching and secondary students' mathematical understanding and achievement.

Award Number: 
1222426
Funding Period: 
Wed, 08/15/2012 - Sun, 07/31/2016
Full Description: 

Boston University, Education Development Center, Inc., and St. Olaf College are collaborating on Assessing Secondary Teachers' Algebraic Habits of Mind (ASTAHM) to develop instruments to assess secondary teachers' Mathematical Habits of Mind (MHoM). These habits bring parsimony, focus, and coherence to teachers' mathematical thinking and, in turn, to their work with students. MHoM is a critical component of mathematical knowledge for teaching at the secondary level. Recognizing the need for a scientific approach to investigate the ways in which MHoM is an indicator of teacher effectiveness, the partnership is researching the following questions:

1. How do teachers who engage MHoM when doing mathematics for themselves also bring MHoM to their teaching practice?

2. How are teachers' engagement with MHoM and their use of these habits in teaching related to student understanding and achievement?

To investigate these questions, ASTAHM is developing two instruments: a paper and pencil (P&P) assessment and an observation protocol that measure teachers' knowledge and classroom use, respectively, of MHoM.

The work is being conducted in two phases: (1) an instrument-refinement and learning phase, and (2) an instrument-testing and research phase. Objectives of Phase 1 are to gather data to refine the project's existing instruments and to learn about the bridge factors that impact the relationship between teachers' knowledge and classroom use of MHoM. Specific research activities include: administering the pilot P&P assessment to 40 teachers, videotaping Algebra instructions of 8 teachers, performing initial testing and refinement of the instruments, and using the data to analyze the bridge factors. Phase 2 is a large-scale study involving field-testing the P&P assessment with 200 teachers, videotaping 20 teachers and studying them using the observation protocol, collecting achievement data from 3000 students, and checking P&P content validity with 200 mathematicians. With these validated instruments in hand, the project will then conduct an investigation into the above research questions. Lesley University's Program Evaluation and Research Group (PERG) is the external evaluator. PERG is assessing ASTAHM's overall success in developing valid and reliable instruments to investigate the extent to which a relationship exists between teachers' MHoM and their classroom practice, as well as student achievement. Evaluators are also investigating whether users' coding guides for both instruments enable field-testers to effectively use and adequately score them.

This work fits into a larger research agenda with the ultimate goal of understanding the connections between secondary teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching and secondary students' mathematical understanding and achievement. The MHoM construct is closely aligned with the Common Core State Standards-Mathematics (CCSS-M); especially its Standards for Mathematical Practice. For example, both place importance on seeking and using mathematical structure. Thus the instruments this project produces can act as pre- and post-measures of the effectiveness of professional development programs in preparing teachers to implement the CCSS-M. Mathematics teacher knowledge at the secondary level is an understudied field. Through analyses of the practices and habits of mind that teachers bring to their work, ASTAHM is developing instruments that can be used to shed light on effective secondary teaching.

Assessing Secondary Teachers' Algebraic Habits of Mind (Collaborative Research: Sword)
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