Teachers

Developing Rich Media-Based Materials for Practice-Based Teacher Education

This research and development project is premised on the notion that recent technological developments have made it feasible to represent classroom work in new ways. In addition to watching recorded videos of classroom interactions or reading written cases, teacher educators and teachers can now watch animations and image sequences, realized with cartoon characters, and made to depict activities that happened, or could have happened, in a mathematics classroom.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1316241
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/15/2013 - Fri, 07/21/2017
Full Description: 

The 4-year research and development project, Developing Rich Media-based Materials for Practice-based Teacher Education, is premised on the notion that recent technological developments have made it feasible to represent classroom work in new ways. In addition to watching recorded videos of classroom interactions or reading written cases, teacher educators and teachers can now watch animations and image sequences, realized with cartoon characters, and made to depict activities that happened, or could have happened, in a mathematics classroom. Furthermore, teacher educators and teachers can react to such animations or image sequences by making their own depictions of alternative moves by students or teachers in classroom interaction. And all of that can take place in an on-line, cloud-based environment that also supports discussion fora, questionnaires, and the kinds of capabilities associated with learning management systems. Such technologies offer important affordances to teacher educators seeking to provide candidates with course-based experiences that emphasize the development of practice-based skills. The focus of the project is on mathematics teacher education. This joint project of the University of Maryland Center for Mathematics Education and the University of Michigan will produce 6 to 8 field-tested modules for use in different courses that are a part of mathematics teacher preparation programs. The following two-pronged research question will be resolved: What are the affordances and constraints of the modules and the environment as supports for: (1) practice based teacher education and (2) a shift toward blended teacher education?

The project involves the following activities: (1) a teacher education materials development component; (2) a related evaluation component; and (3) two research components. The development phase seeks to develop both the LessonSketch.org platform and six to eight mathematics teacher education modules for use in preservice teacher education programs from around the country. The modules will be written with practice-based teacher education goals in mind and will use the capacities of the LessonSketch.org platform as a vehicle for using rich-media artifacts of teaching with preservice teacher candidates. LessonSketch Teacher Education Research and Development Fellows will be chosen through a competitive application process. They will develop their respective modules along with teams of colleagues that will be recruited to form their inquiry group and pilot the module activities. The evaluation activity will focus on the materials development aspect of the project. Data will be collected by the LessonSketch platform, which includes interviews with Fellows and their teams, perspectives of module writers, descriptive statistics of module use, and feedback from both teacher educator and preservice teacher end-users about the quality of their experiences. The first research activity of the project is design research on the kinds of technological infrastructure that are useful for practice-based teacher education. The PIs will identify tools that teacher educators need and want beyond the current capabilities for web-based support for use of rich media and will produce prototype tools inside the LessonSketch environment to meet these needs. The second research activity of the project will supplement the evaluation activity by examining the implementation of two of the modules in detail. This aspect of the research will examine the goals of the intended curriculum, the proposed modes of media use, the fidelity of the implemented curriculum, and learnings produced by preservice teachers. This research activity will help the field understand the degree to which practice-based teacher education that is mediated by an online access to rich media would be a kind of practice that could be easily incorporated into existing teacher education structures.

The project will produce 6 to 8 LessonSketch modules for use in teacher education classes. Each module will be implemented in at least eight teacher education classes across the country, which means that between 720 and 960 preservice teacher candidates will study the materials. The project aims to shift the field toward practice-based teacher education by supporting university programs to implement classroom-driven activities that will produce mathematics teachers with strong capabilities to teach mathematics effectively and meaningfully.

Developing Rich Media-Based Materials for Practice-Based Teacher Education

Language-Rich Inquiry Science with English Language Learners Through Biotechnology (LISELL-B)

This is a large-scale, cross-sectional, and longitudinal study aimed at understanding and supporting the teaching of science and engineering practices and academic language development of middle and high school students (grades 7-10) with a special emphasis on English language learners (ELLs) and a focus on biotechnology.

Award Number: 
1316398
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2013 - Mon, 07/31/2017
Full Description: 

This is a large-scale (4,000 students, 32 teachers, 5 classes per teacher per year); cross-sectional (four grade levels); and longitudinal (three years) study aimed at understanding and supporting the teaching of science and engineering practices and academic language development of middle and high school students (grades 7-10) with a special emphasis on English language learners (ELLs) and a focus on biotechnology. It builds on and extends the pedagogical model, professional development framework, and assessment instruments developed in a prior NSF-funded exploratory project with middle school teachers. The model is based on the research-supported notion that science and engineering practices and academic language practices are synergistic and should be taught simultaneously. It is framed around four key learning contexts: (a) a teacher professional learning institute; (b) rounds of classroom observations; (c) steps-to-college workshops for teachers, students, and families; and (d) teacher scoring sessions to analyze students' responses to assessment instruments.

The setting of this project consists of four purposefully selected middle schools and four high schools (six treatment and two control schools) in two Georgia school districts. The study employs a mixed-methods approach to answer three research questions: (1) Does increased teacher participation with the model and professional development over multiple years enhance the teachers' effectiveness in promoting growth in their students' understanding of scientific practices and use of academic language?; (2) Does increased student participation with the model over multiple years enhance their understanding of science practices and academic language?; and (3) Is science instruction informed by the pedagogical model more effective than regular instruction in promoting ELLs' understanding of science practices and academic language at all grade levels? Data gathering strategies include: (a) student-constructed response assessment of science and engineering practices; (b) student-constructed response assessment of academic language use; (c) teacher focus group interview protocol; (d) student-parent family interview protocol; (e) classroom observation protocol; (f) teacher pedagogical content knowledge assessment; and (g) teacher log of engagement with the pedagogical model. Quantitative data analysis to answer the first research question includes targeted sampling and longitudinal analysis of pretest and posttest scores. Longitudinal analysis is used to answer the second research question as well; whereas the third research question is addressed employing cross-sectional analysis. Qualitative data analysis includes coding of transcripts, thematic analysis, and pattern definition.

Outcomes are: (a) a research-based and field-tested prototype of a pedagogical model and professional learning framework to support the teaching of science and engineering practices to ELLs; (b) curriculum materials for middle and high school science teachers, students, and parents; (c) a teacher professional development handbook; and (d) a set of valid and reliable assessment instruments usable in similar learning environments.

Language-Rich Inquiry Science with English Language Learners Through Biotechnology (LISELL-B)

Enhancing Teaching and Learning with Social Media: Supporting Teacher Professional Learning and Student Scientific Argumentation

This exploratory proposal is researching and developing professional learning activities to help high school teachers use available and emerging social media to teach scientific argumentation. The project responds to the growing emphasis on scientific argumentation in new standards.

Award Number: 
1316799
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2013 - Sun, 07/31/2016
Full Description: 

This exploratory proposal is researching and developing professional learning activities to help high school teachers use available and emerging social media to teach scientific argumentation. The project responds to the growing emphasis on scientific argumentation in new standards. Participants include a team of ninth and tenth grade Life Science teachers collaborating as co-researchers with project staff in a design study to develop one socially mediated science unit. It also produces strategies, tools and on-line materials to support teachers' development of the pedagogical, content, and technological knowledge needed to integrate emerging technologies into science instruction. This project focuses on the flexible social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that students frequently use in their everyday lives. Research questions explore the technology of social media and the pedagogy needed to support student engagement in scientific argumentation. The Year Three pilot analyses provide data on the professional learning model. The project provides a basis for scale-up with this instructional and professional learning model to other core science content, cross-cutting themes, and STEM practices.

Enhancing Teaching and Learning with Social Media: Supporting Teacher Professional Learning and Student Scientific Argumentation

Secondary Science Teaching with English Language and Literacy Acquisition (SSTELLA)

This is a four-year project to develop, implement, and study an experimental model of secondary science pre-service teacher education designed to prepare novice school teachers to provide effective science instruction to English language learners (ELLs). The project incorporates the principles underlying the Next Generation Science Standards with a focus on promoting students' scientific sense-making, comprehension and communication of scientific discourse, and productive use of language.

Award Number: 
1316834
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2013 - Mon, 07/31/2017
Full Description: 

This is a four-year Discovery Research K-12 project to develop, implement, and study an experimental model of secondary science pre-service teacher education designed to prepare novice school teachers to provide effective science instruction to English language learners (ELLs). The project incorporates the principles underlying the Next Generation Science Standards with a focus on promoting students' scientific sense-making, comprehension and communication of scientific discourse, and productive use of language. It articulates theory and practice related to the teaching of science content and the development of English language and literacy, and provides teachers with models of integrated practice in video cases and curriculum units. To test the efficacy of the study, a longitudinal, mixed-methods, quasi-experimental study is conducted at four institutions: the University of California-Santa Cruz, Arizona State University, the University of Arizona, and the University of Texas-San Antonio.

The three research questions are: (1) What is the impact of the project's pre-service teacher education program on novice secondary science teachers' knowledge, beliefs, and practice from the pre-service program into the second year of teaching?; (2) What is the relationship between science method instructors' fidelity of implementation of the project's practices and novice teachers' outcomes (knowledge, beliefs, and practice)?; and (3) What is the relationship between novice teachers' implementation of project-promoted practices and their students' learning? To answer these questions, the project collects and analyzes quantitative and qualitative data on novice teachers (85 treatment group and 85 control group) over three years utilizing surveys, interviews, observations, and student assessment instruments. Teachers' beliefs and knowledge about teaching science to ELLs are measured using the project-developed Science Teaching Survey, which provides quantitative scores based on a Likert-type scale, and the science teacher interview protocol to provide qualitative data, including the contextual factors affecting implementation of project-promoted practices. Classroom observations are captured through qualitative field notes and the Classroom Observation Rubric--a systematic project-developed observation instrument that measures implementation of the practices. Student learning outcomes are measured using (a) the Woodcock-Muñoz Language Survey (students' proficiency at applying listening, reading, writing, and comprehension abilities); (b) the Literacy in Science Assessment (students' productive use of language in authentic science literacy tasks); (c) the Scientific Sense-Making Assessment (how students make sense of core science ideas through scientific and engineering practices); and (d) appropriate state standardized assessments. In addition, the Opportunity to Learn Survey gauges students' perceptions of implementation of literacy integration, motivation in class, and identity as readers.

Project outcomes are: (a) a research-based and field-tested model for pre-service secondary science teacher education, including resources for science methods courses instructors and pre-service teachers; and (b) valid and reliable instrumentation usable in similar research and development environments.

Secondary Science Teaching with English Language and Literacy Acquisition (SSTELLA)

Smarter Together Working Conference: Developing a Shared Curriculum of Complex Instruction for Elementary Mathematics Methods Courses

This working conference will help university professors who teach elementary mathematics methods courses learn to use Complex Instruction, a research-proven pedagogy for building mathematical content knowledge and supporting the learning of diverse students.

Award Number: 
1461833
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2013 - Fri, 07/31/2015
Full Description: 

This working conference will help university professors who teach elementary mathematics methods courses learn to use Complex Instruction, a research-proven pedagogy for building mathematical content knowledge and supporting the learning of diverse students. In Complex Instruction, educators design tasks that require multiple mathematical abilities to solve. For example, solving a particular task might require computational skills as well as the ability to visualize a 3-dimensional object and represent that object on paper. Through this mathematical complexity, the tasks demand that students engage deeply with mathematics and draw on each others' mathematical strengths. In addition, in Complex Instruction teachers use strategies that minimize status differences in the classroom that impact participation, ensuring that all students - regardless of their popularity, first-language, race, or income level - participate equitably. During the conference, 28 university instructors from across the country will design tasks to be used in mathematics methods courses for prospective elementary teachers. Mathematics educators from University of Georgia, University of Arizona, University of Michigan, and Michigan State University will work together to design and host the conference. The conference is expected to produce a cohort of mathematics educators knowledgeable about Complex Instruction, and who can then support colleagues at their home institutions in learning to use the pedagogy as well as promoting the use of Complex Instruction in mathematics classrooms in U.S. elementary schools.

After learning the essential elements of Complex Instruction, conference participants will design Complex Instruction curriculum modules to implement at their home institutions. Evaluation of the conference will include surveys and phone interviews with conference participants to assess their knowledge of and use of Complex Instruction. In addition, some participants will be selected for more extensive follow-up, including the collection of videos of Complex Instruction lessons in their courses and surveys of their students. Data will be analyzed to identify major themes related to the knowledge of the participants and their students, the supports and obstacles present in various contexts in relation to adopting a new pedagogy, and the impact of Complex Instruction on the methods courses.

All of the tasks and the activities designed during the conference will be available not only to the conference participants but also to anyone interested in Complex Instruction through the website, www.ci.org. In addition, by developing experts in Complex Instruction at more than a dozen universities across the country, the conference will play an important role in disseminating this relatively new, but effective, pedagogy. Evidence about the effectiveness of Complex Instruction suggests that large-scale incorporation of this practice into mathematics methods classrooms will increase the mathematics understandings of prospective elementary teachers and ultimately their students, particularly those in schools with significant numbers of marginalized students.

Formerly Award # 1316235

Smarter Together Working Conference: Developing a Shared Curriculum of Complex Instruction for Elementary Mathematics Methods Courses

From Undergraduate STEM Major to Enacting the NGSS

The Colorado Learning Assistant (LA) model, recognized nationally as a hallmark teacher recruitment and preparation program, has run a national workshop annually for four years to disseminate and scale the program. This project expands the existing annual workshop to address changing needs of participants and to prepare eight additional faculty members to lead new regional workshops.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1317059
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2013 - Fri, 07/31/2015
Full Description: 

The Colorado Learning Assistant (LA) model, recognized nationally as a hallmark teacher recruitment and preparation program, has run a national workshop annually for four years to disseminate and scale the program. This project expands the existing annual workshop to address changing needs of participants and to prepare eight additional faculty members to lead new regional workshops. Workshop sessions integrate crosscutting concepts, scientific practices, and engineering design as articulated in the Framework for K-12 Science Education (NRC, 2012). Infusing the Frameworks into the workshop helps STEM faculty better understand their role in preparing future K-12 teachers to implement the new standards, by transforming their own undergraduate courses in ways that actively engage students in modeling, argumentation, making claims from evidence, and engineering design. The National Science Foundation (NSF), the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), the American Physical Society's PhysTEC project, and University of Colorado-Boulder, provide resources for national workshops in 2013 and 2014 allowing 80 additional math, science, and engineering faculty from a range of institutions to directly experience the LA model and to learn ways to implement, adapt, grow, and sustain a program on their own campuses. Evaluation of the project focuses on long-term effects of workshop participation and contributes to efforts to strengthen networks within the international Learning Assistant Alliance. The launching of 10 - 12 new LA programs is anticipated, and many existing programs will expand into new STEM departments as a result of the national workshops.

Workshop participants are awarded travel grants and in return, provide data each year for two years so that long-term impacts of the workshop can be evaluated. Online surveys provide data about each institution's progress in setting up a program, departments in which the program runs, number of faculty involved, number of courses transformed, numbers of teachers recruited, and estimated number of students impacted. These data provide correlations between workshop attendance and new program development, and allow the computation of national cost per impacted student as well as the average cost per STEM teacher recruited. Anonymous data are made available to International Learning Assistant Alliance partners to promote collaborative research and materials development across sites.

The 2013 and 2014 national workshops train eight faculty members who have experience running LA programs to offer regional workshops for local university and community college faculty members. This provides even greater potential for teacher recruitment and preparation through the LA model and for data collection from diverse institutions. This two-year project has potential to support 320 math, science, and engineering faculty as they transform their undergraduate courses in ways consistent with the Frameworks, in turn affording tens of thousands of undergraduate students (and hundreds of future teachers) more and better opportunities to engage with each other and with STEM content through the use of scientific and engineering practices. STEM faculty who participate in what appears to be an easy to adopt process of course transformation through the LA model, become more aware of issues in educational diversity, equity, and access leading to fundamental transformations in the way education is done in a department and at an institution, ultimately leading to sustained policy changes and shared vision of equitable, quality education.

From Undergraduate STEM Major to Enacting the NGSS

Understanding Space Through Engineering Design

Understanding Space Through Engineering Design investigates how engaging K-5 children from underrepresented populations in the design of packages, maps, and mechanisms supports the development of spatial reasoning and spatial mathematics. The prime conjecture is that engineering design makes spatial mathematics more tangible and purposeful, and that systematic support for spatial reasoning and mathematics, in turn, influences the nature of children's designs and their understanding of how those designs work.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1316312
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2013 - Wed, 08/31/2016
Full Description: 

Understanding Space Through Engineering Design investigates how engaging K-5 children from underrepresented populations in the design of packages, maps, and mechanisms supports the development of spatial reasoning and spatial mathematics. The prime conjecture is that engineering design makes spatial mathematics more tangible and purposeful, and that systematic support for spatial reasoning and mathematics, in turn, influences the nature of children's designs and their understanding of how those designs work. The project, therefore, serves as a test bed to explore the promises and challenges of an integrated STEM education.

Research methods include intensive close-up study of small groups of children designers led by researchers, followed by larger-scale study of classroom implementations led by elementary teachers. The purpose of the work with small groups of students across grades is to enable the project investigators to learn about the accessibility, challenge, and interest that engineering design holds for youngsters and to inform subsequent steps in revising the instruction for classroom tryouts. The classroom implementations provide data about how engineering design supports mathematical growth and, in turn, how growth in mathematical understanding guides subsequent engineering design. As children design and share their designs, mathematical and engineering practices, such as definition, conjecture, and troubleshooting, emerge in classroom conversation, often when children compare variations in the artifacts that they create. Researchers seek relationships between the emergence of these practices and changes in students' learning; in this way, relations between doing and knowing can be established. Forms of data include video recording of episodes of student design and classroom conversations. In addition, researchers conduct interviews with students to assess their understanding of how the artifacts they create work. The interviews particularly emphasize the role that spatial mathematics plays in students' explanations of device function and in their accounts of design processes. The progress of the project, including curriculum development, interview construction, and data analysis will be overseen by a five-member advisory board that includes a evaluation specialist, a mathematician, a mathematics educator, and a design expert.

The project will contribute to a beginning knowledge base about how integrated STEM education can best be pursued, in particular, by exposing the possibilities and challenges inherent in the proposed emphasis on engineering design. By working closely with 18 teachers and their 500 students, the project investigators aim to develop a practical, yet powerful approach to iSTEM education, that is, a new study of integrated science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Products include a website featuring a suite of curriculum materials, case episodes of children designing, and formative assessments of children's learning in contexts of everyday classroom activity.

Understanding Space Through Engineering Design

CAREER: Reciprocal Noticing: Latino/a Students and Teachers Constructing Common Resources in Mathematics

The goal of this project is to extend the theoretical and methodological construct of noticing to develop the concept of reciprocal noticing, a process by which teacher and student noticing are shared. The researcher argues that through reciprocal noticing the classroom can become the space for more equitable mathematics learning, particularly for language learners.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1253822
Funding Period: 
Wed, 05/15/2013 - Mon, 04/30/2018
Full Description: 

The goal of this project is to extend the theoretical and methodological construct of noticing to develop the concept of reciprocal noticing, a process by which teacher and student noticing are shared. The researcher argues that through reciprocal noticing the classroom can become the space for more equitable mathematics learning, particularly for language learners. Thus, the focus of the project is on developing the concept of reciprocal noticing as a way to support better interactions between teachers and Latino/a students in elementary mathematics classrooms.

The project uses a transformative teaching experiment methodology and is guided by the initial conjectures that to make mathematics classrooms intellectually attractive places, Latino/a students and teachers need to learn to develop common resources for teaching and learning mathematics, and that reciprocal noticing as a process supports teachers and students in developing these common resources for teaching and learning mathematics. The project design centers around two research questions:How do teachers and Latino/a students tune to each other's mathematical ideas and explicitly indicate to one another how their ideas are important for discourse that promotes mathematical reasoning in classrooms characterized by reciprocal noticing? What patterns emerge across four classrooms when teachers and Latino/a students engage in reciprocal noticing?

The concept of reciprocal noticing can significantly enhance emerging research in mathematics education about the importance of teacher noticing. Further, this revised concept of noticing can transform mathematics classroom to better support English Language Learners.

The PI will incorporate project findings and videos into methods courses for preservice elementary teachers.

CAREER: Reciprocal Noticing: Latino/a Students and Teachers Constructing Common Resources in Mathematics

CAREER: Community-Based Engineering as a Learning and Teaching Strategy for Pre-service Urban Elementary Teachers

This is a Faculty Early Career Development project aimed at developing, implementing, and assessing a model that introduces novice elementary school teachers (grades 1-6) to community-based engineering design as a strategy for teaching and learning in urban schools. Reflective of the new Framework for K-12 Science Education (NRC, 2012), the model addresses key crosscutting concepts, disciplinary core ideas, and scientific and engineering practices.

Award Number: 
1253344
Funding Period: 
Wed, 05/15/2013 - Mon, 04/30/2018
Full Description: 

This is a Faculty Early Career Development project aimed at developing, implementing, and assessing a model that introduces novice elementary school teachers (grades 1-6) to community-based engineering design as a strategy for teaching and learning in urban schools. Reflective of the new Framework for K-12 Science Education (NRC, 2012), the model addresses key crosscutting concepts (e.g., cause and effect: mechanism and explanation), disciplinary core ideas (e.g., engineering design, and links among engineering and society), and scientific and engineering practices (e.g., identifying a problem, and designing solutions for technology-related problems in local school or community environments). It builds on theoretical perspectives and empirical foundations, including situated learning, engineering design cognition,and children's resources and funds of knowledge, including cultural and linguistic diversity. The study integrates research and education plans that investigate the short-term impact of the model on 90 novice teachers' learning through their pre-service coursework and practice teaching, and its longer-term impact on a subset of 48 of those teachers as they begin their first year of in-service teaching.

The study employs a design-based research that addresses three phases: (a) a development phase to create a community-based engineering module and assessment instruments; (b) an iterative implementation phase that includes three cycles of community-based engineering experiences with three cohorts of novice teachers; and (c) a synthesis phase focused on generating cumulative findings and recommendations. Its hypothesis is that incorporating community-based engineering into elementary teacher education will enhance novice urban elementary teachers' engineering design competency, understanding of engineering and scientific practices, and ability to identify and respond to student ideas and practices in science and engineering. This hypothesis guides four research questions: (1) How do novice urban elementary teachers' engineering design abilities evolve during community-based engineering experiences?; (2) How do the teachers' understandings of engineering and scientific practices evolve during community-based engineering experiences?; (3) How do the teachers' engineering abilities and understandings of engineering and scientific practices impact how they identify and respond to students' science and engineering ideas and practices?; and (4) Does participating in extended professional development on community-based engineering impact the teachers' (a) understandings of engineering and scientific practices, (b) abilities to identify and respond to student thinking, or (c) incorporation of science/engineering lessons into their first two years of teaching? The research plan articulates a descriptive thread and an experimental thread. The descriptive research thread addresses the first three research questions, inclusive of three constructs: (a) novice urban elementary teachers' engineering design abilities, (b) their understandings of practices of science and engineering, and (c) their abilities to identify and respond to students' ideas and practices. The experimental research thread addresses the fourth research question, which assesses the impact of community-based engineering professional development on two of the constructs (b and c mentioned above), as well as on the frequency and characteristics of the science-engineering lessons that new teachers will implement with their students in their first two years of teaching. Data gathering strategies include the use of valid and reliable instruments, such as the Creative Engineering Design Assessment, a curriculum critique and revision task, and a video-case-based assessment. Data analysis include both quantitative and qualitative methods.

Expected outcomes are: (1) a research-informed and field-tested strategy to incorporate community-based engineering into elementary teacher education and elementary grades science classrooms, (2) samples of modules demonstrating this strategy, and (3) a digital guide on incorporating community-based engineering experiences into elementary science teacher education programs, particulalrly in underserved urban areas.

CAREER: Community-Based Engineering as a Learning and Teaching Strategy for Pre-service Urban Elementary Teachers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Formerly under Award # 1253254.

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