Informal

Looking Back and Looking Forward: Increasing the Impact of Educational Research on Practice

The focus of this conference is to carefully examine past and current research with an eye toward improving its impact on practice and to create concrete steps that could shape the nature and impact of mathematics education research.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1941494
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2019 to Mon, 08/31/2020
Full Description: 

The focus of the proposed conference is to carefully examine past and current research with an eye toward improving its impact on practice. This conference is designed to create concrete steps that could shape the nature and impact of mathematics education research for years to come. A diverse group of 50 participants will be invited to participate. Participants include 10 experienced K-12 educators whose perspectives will be used to anchor the conference in problems of practice. Other participants represent senior through more junior scholars who have demonstrated a commitment to addressing the disconnect between research and practice, along with technology experts to advise participants on capabilities and innovative uses of modern technologies for instruction, assessment and data management.

The overarching goal for the conference is to help the field of mathematics education think deeply about the most productive ways to answer the following questions: [1] Why hasn't past research had a more direct impact on practice? What can be learned from this historical analysis for future research? [2] What is a possible vision for research that would have a more direct impact on practice? What questions should be asked? What methods should be used? What concrete steps can be taken to launch the new research programs? [3] What are the implications of adopting new kinds of research programs? If they gain traction, how will such changes affect the broader education community and infrastructure, including preservice teacher education, teacher professional development, and the training of future researchers? How should the roles of researchers and teachers change? What incentive structures might motivate these changes? How will new programs of research interact with existing programs?

Spanning Boundaries: A Statewide Network to Support Science Teacher Leaders to Implement Science Standards

This project will develop and test a two-year professional development model for secondary school science teacher leaders that will help them support their colleagues in implementing the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1907460
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2019 to Mon, 07/31/2023
Full Description: 

Current priorities in school science education include building strong professional learning communities that foster ongoing professional growth among teachers, teacher leaders, and school administrators. This project responds to these priorities by developing and testing a two-year professional development model for secondary school science teacher leaders that will help them support their colleagues in implementing the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The new model for professional learning combines three key elements: 1) Focusing on teacher leaders who can interpret, translate, and incorporate new approaches and resources into local contexts, 2) Engaging the expertise of informal science education specialists who are well versed in teacher professional learning and experiential approaches to learning, and 3) Establishing a statewide network of peers who can share experiences beyond individual school and district contexts. By developing a geographically-distributed network of support for science teacher leaders, the project is poised to create more equitable access to high quality professional learning opportunities for teachers as well as provide much needed support to the disproportionate number of novice teachers in schools with high populations of historically underrepresented students in science.

This early stage design and development project is guided by two research questions: 1) How do teacher leaders utilize structures, practices, and tools within an informal science institution-based network to interpret, filter, and translate available resources into professional learning supports for localized implementation of phenomena-based instruction? And 2) How do the professional learning supports developed by teacher leaders become more aligned with best practices for professional development (e.g., active learning, sustained, coherent, collaborative, and content-based) and incorporate aspects of informal learning (e.g., choice and experiential learning) throughout their participation in an ISI-based network? The project will engage two cohorts of 25 middle and high school science teacher leaders in overlapping two-year, one-week summer institutes, and a minimum of 12 online meetings during the academic years. The 30-hour summer institutes will be designed to address the multiple roles of teacher leaders as learners, classroom teachers, and teacher professional development providers. To sustain professional development across the academic year, monthly two-hour online meetings will be used to nurture the community of practice. Some sessions will focus on leadership and topics related to the NGSS, and other sessions will focus on deepening science content knowledge. The sources of data to be used in addressing the research questions include: 1) Video recordings, field notes of observations, and artifacts of professional development meetings, 2) Interviews with teacher leaders, and 3) Journal entries and artifacts from professional development sessions implemented by teacher leaders.  

Developing and Investigating Unscripted Mathematics Videos

This project will use an alternative model for online videos to develop video units that feature the unscripted dialogue of pairs of students. The project team will create a repository of 6 dialogic mathematics video units that target important Algebra 1 and 2 topics for high school and upper middle school students, though the approach can be applied to any STEM topic, for any age level.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1907782
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2019 to Thu, 08/31/2023
Full Description: 

This project responds to the recent internet phenomenon of widespread accessibility to online instructional videos, which offer many benefits, such as student control of the pace of learning. However, these videos primarily focus on a single speaker working through procedural problems and providing an explanation. While the immense reach of free online instructional videos is potentially transformative, this potential can only be attained if access transcends physical availability to also include entry into important disciplinary understandings and practices, and only if the instructional method pushes past what would be considered outdated pedagogy in any other setting than a digital one. This project will use an alternative model for online videos, originally developed for a previous exploratory project, to develop 6 video units that feature the unscripted dialogue of pairs of students. The project team will use the filming and post-production processes established during the previous grant to create a repository of 6 dialogic mathematics video units that target important Algebra 1 and 2 topics for high school and upper middle school students, though the approach can be applied to any STEM topic, for any age level. They will also conduct 8 research studies to investigate the promise of these unscripted dialogic videos with a diverse population to better understand the vicarious learning process, which refers to learning from video- or audio-taped presentations of other people learning. Additionally, the project team will provide broader access to the project videos and support a variety of users, by: (a) subtitling the videos and checking math task statements for linguistic accessibility; (b) representing diversity of race, ethnicity, and language in both the pool of students who appear in the videos and the research study participants; (c) providing teachers with an array of resources including focus questions to pose in class with each video, printable task worksheets, specific ways to support dialogue about the videos, and alignment of the video content with Common Core mathematics standards and practices; and (d) modernizing the project website and making it functional across a variety of platforms.

The videos created for this project will feature pairs of students (called the talent), highlighting their unscripted dialogue, authentic confusion, and conceptual resources. Each video unit will consist of 7 video lessons (each split into 4-5 short video episodes) meant to be viewed in succession to support conceptual development over time. The project will build upon emerging evidence from the exploratory grant that as students engage with videos that feature peers grappling with complex mathematics, they can enter a quasi-collaborative relationship with the on-screen talent to learn complex conceptual content and engage in authentic mathematical practices. The research focuses on the questions: 1. What can diverse populations of vicarious learners learn mathematically from dialogic videos, and how do the vicarious learners orient to the talent in the videos? 2. What is the nature of vicarious learners' evolving ways of reasoning as they engage with multiple dialogic video lessons over time and what processes are involved in vicarious learning? and, 3. What instructional practices encourage a classroom community to adopt productive ways of reasoning from dialogic videos? To address the first question, the project team will conduct two Learning Outcomes and Orientation Studies, in which they analyze students' learning outcomes and survey responses after they have learned from one of the video units in a classroom setting. Before administering an assessment to a classroom of students, they will first conduct an exploratory Interpretation Study for each unit, in which they link the mathematical interpretations that VLs generate from viewing the project videos with their performance on an assessment instrument. Both types of studies will be conducted twice, once for each of two video units - Exponential Functions and Meaning and Use of Algebraic Symbols. For the second research question, the project team will identify a learning trajectory associated with each of four video units. These two learning trajectories will inform the instructional planning for the classroom studies by identifying what meaningful appropriation can occur, as well as conceptual challenges for VLs. By delivering learning trajectories for two additional units, the project can contribute to vicarious learning theory by identifying commonalities in learning processes evident across the four studies. For the final research question, the project team will investigate how instructors can support students with the instrumental genesis process, which occurs through a process called instrumental orchestration, as they teach the two videos on exponential functions and algebraic symbols.

Designing and Researching a Program for Preparing Teachers as Facilitators of Computational Making Activities in Classroom and Informal Learning Environments

This project will study a model of pre-service teacher preparation that is designed to to increase teachers' and students' skills and confidence with computational thinking and develop teachers as designers of inclusive learning environments to promote computational thinking. The project will engage elementary (grades K-5) pre-service teachers (who are concurrently involved in school-based teacher preparation programs) as facilitators in an existing family technology program called Family Creative Learning (FCL).

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1908351
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2019 to Sat, 07/31/2021
Project Evaluator: 
Full Description: 

This project will study a model of pre-service teacher preparation that is designed to to increase teachers' and students' skills and confidence with computational thinking and develop teachers as designers of inclusive learning environments to promote computational thinking. The project will build teachers' recognition of diverse family learning and cultural resources. The project will engage elementary (grades K-5) pre-service teachers (who are concurrently involved in school-based teacher preparation programs) as facilitators in an existing family technology program called Family Creative Learning (FCL). This program is embedded in the Denver Public Library (DPL) network of makerspaces. The project will study pre-service elementary teachers' computational thinking and facilitation practices and its impact on children's learning across informal and classroom settings where pre-service teachers concurrently conduct their field work. The project team will develop research-based resources, tools, and activities that help to cultivate these key facilitation practices. These practices will include how to develop trust and relationships, to deepen participation and interests, and to ask questions that encourage inquiry. These resources will be useful for teacher preparation and for staff at informal learning organizations with making and tinkering spaces promoting STEM learning, specifically computational thinking. The project will disseminate resources through current relationships with PBS Kids and through networks of educators such as MakerEd, Connected Learning Alliance, and technology education networks.

The project will research: (1) what features of pre-service teachers' experiences preparing for and facilitating the FCL program at DPL supports or limits their development of facilitation practices and computational thinking; (2) study how teachers and participants learn and develop in their joint engagement with computational thinking through making; (3) examine how teachers carry over and influence student's learning in their fieldwork within classroom settings. The project team will use ethnographic methods to develop comparative case studies of pre-service teachers' development and the impact on student learning across formal and informal learning settings. These methods include observation, interviews, and artifact collection to closely document what supports new facilitators to engage in facilitation practices of computational thinking activities and its consequential impact on student and family learning. An external advisory board with relevant expertise will provide iterative feedback and assess the project's progress in meeting its goals. The project results have implications for teaching practices across formal and informal learning spaces that aim to engage diverse participants in interest-driven, peer-supported, and project-based STEM learning experiences.

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Usable Measures of Teacher Understanding: Exploring Diagnostic Models and Topic Analysis as Tools for Assessing Proportional Reasoning for Teaching

This project seeks to measure the kinds of knowledge developed in professional development (PD) programs that have been shown to matter for teachers' classroom practices and their students' learning. The project aims to develop an assessment that identifies patterns in the teachers' learning in a way that helps drive subsequent PD.The overall goal of this project is to pursue a potentially transformative approach to the assessment of teacher proportional knowledge by developing a measure that is well aligned with the content and skills taught in various PD programs.

Award Number: 
1813760
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2018 to Wed, 08/31/2022
Full Description: 

One of the great challenges related to teachers and their knowledge is measuring their learning in ways that are both formative and meaningful in relation to their likely impact on students. This challenge persists despite efforts to define the knowledge teachers should have and despite previous innovative efforts to create good measures. This project tackles the challenge by specifically aiming to measure the kinds of knowledge developed in professional development (PD) programs that has been shown to matter for teachers' classroom practices and their students' learning. The project aims to develop an assessment that identifies patterns in the teachers' learning in a way that helps drive subsequent professional development.

The overall goal of this project is to pursue a potentially transformative approach to the assessment of teacher proportional knowledge by developing a measure that is well aligned with the content and skills taught in various PD programs. This instrument will be based on a new approach that builds on emerging psychometric models. Specifically, diagnostic classification models (DCMs) will be utilized to diagnose teachers' learning during a PD program as well as employed to identify the progression in teachers' learning.  Statistical topic models (STMs) will be used to look for patterns of understanding that emerge from open-ended responses and provide natural-language insight into teachers' reasoning. A final version of the assessment will be constructed for a national sample based on the results from the predictive validity stage, and this version will be tested with teachers who participate in various types of PD programs targeting proportional reasoning. This project has broad implications for the creation of assessments and for teacher education. It will provide insights about whether there is a clear learning progression for teachers. While much work has been done with students' learning progression, much less is known about how teachers learn. Another implication is that the STM approach allows machine scoring of natural language in a way that highlights strengths and weaknesses in reasoning rather than simply returning a score. For formative use, this is information that is more helpful as it highlights areas for further instruction. A third implication is that DCMs will allow to assess teacher knowledge at a finer-grained understanding than is typically available, thus allowing for careful refinement of PD as well as a tool for showing overall growth in PD. A fourth implication is that a more systematic approach will be followed to capture the kinds of knowledge teachers need. Assessments developed using DCMs and STMs have the potential to serve as models for developing further instruments in other STEM content areas. Such assessments have the potential to not only help identify successful PD programs, but also to provide PD providers with rich data from which they can make instructional decisions.

LabVenture - Revealing Systemic Impacts of a 12-Year Statewide Science Field Trip Program

This project will examine the impact of a 12-year statewide science field trip program called LabVenture, a hands-on program in discovery and inquiry that brings middle school students and teachers across the state of Maine to the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) to become fully immersed in explorations into the complexities of local marine science ecosystems.

Award Number: 
1811452
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2018 to Thu, 08/31/2023
Full Description: 

This research in service to practice project will examine the impact of a 12-year statewide science field trip program called LabVenture. This hands-on program in discovery and inquiry brings middle school students and teachers across the state of Maine to the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) in Portland, Maine to become fully immersed in explorations into the complexities of local marine science ecosystems. These intensive field trip experiences are led by informal educators and facilitated entirely within informal contexts at GMRI. Approximately 70% of all fifth and sixth grade students in Maine participate in the program each year and more than 120,000 students have attended since the program's inception in 2005. Unfortunately, little is known to date on how the program has influenced practice and learning ecosystems within formal, informal, and community contexts. As such, this research in service to practice project will employ an innovative research approach to understand and advance knowledge on the short and long-term impacts of the program within different contexts. If proven effective, the LabVenture program will elucidate the potential benefits of a large-scale field trip program implemented systemically across a community over time and serve as a reputable model for statewide adoption of similar programs seeking innovative strategies to connect formal and informal science learning to achieve notable positive shifts in their local, statewide, or regional STEM learning ecosystems.

Over the four-year project duration, the project will reach all 16 counties in the State of Maine. The research design includes a multi-step, multi-method approach to gain insight on the primary research questions. The initial research will focus on extant data and retrospective data sources codified over the 12-year history of the program. The research will then be expanded to garner prospective data on current participating students, teachers, and informal educators. Finally, a community study will be conducted to understand the potential broader impacts of the program. Each phase of the research will consider the following overarching research questions are: (1) How do formal and informal practitioners perceive the value and purposes of the field trip program and field trip experiences more broadly (field trip ontology)? (2) To what degree do short-term field trip experiences in informal contexts effect cognitive and affective outcomes for students? (3) How are community characteristics (e.g., population, distance from GMRI, proximity to the coast) related to ongoing engagement with the field trip program? (4) What are aspects of the ongoing field trip program that might embed it as an integral element of community culture (e.g., community awareness of a shared social experience)? (5) To what degree does a field trip experience that is shared by schools across a state lead to a traceable change that can be measured for those who participated and across the broader community? and (6) In what ways, if at all, can a field trip experience that occurs in informal contexts have an influence on the larger learning ecosystem (e.g., the Maine education system)? Each phase of the research will be led by a team of researchers with the requisite expertise in the methodologies and contexts required to carry out that particular aspect of the research (i.e., retrospective study, prospective study, community study). In addition, evaluation and practitioner panels of experts will provide expertise and guidance on the research, evaluation, and project implementation. The project will culminate with a practitioner convening, to share project findings more broadly with formal and informal practitioners, and promote transfer from research to practice. Additional dissemination strategies include conferences, network meetings, and peer-reviewed publications.

Understanding the Role of Simulations in K-12 Science and Mathematics Teacher Education

This project will develop and implement a working conference for scholars and practitioners to articulate current use cases and theories of action regarding the use of simulations in PreK-12 science and mathematics teacher education. The conference will be structured to provide opportunities for attendees to share their current research, theoretical models, conceptual views, and use cases focused on the design and use of digital and non-digital simulations for building and assessing K-12 science and mathematics teacher competencies.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1813476
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2018 to Sat, 08/31/2019
Full Description: 

The recent emergence of updated learning standards in science and mathematics, coupled with increasingly diverse school students across the nation, has highlighted the importance of updating professional learning opportunities for science and mathematics teachers. One promising approach that has emerged is the use of simulations to engage teachers in approximations of practice where the focus is on helping them learn how to engage in ambitious content teaching. In particular, recent technological advances have supported the emergence of new kinds of digital simulations and have brought increased attention to simulations as a tool to enhance teacher learning. This project will develop and implement a working conference for scholars and practitioners to articulate current use cases and theories of action regarding the use of simulations in PreK-12 science and mathematics teacher education. The conference will be structured to provide opportunities for attendees to share their current research, theoretical models, conceptual views, and use cases focused on the design and use of digital and non-digital simulations for building and assessing K-12 science and mathematics teacher competencies.

While the use of simulations in teacher education is neither new nor limited to digital simulation, emerging technological capabilities have enabled digital simulations to become practical in ways not formerly available. The current literature base, however, is dated and the field lacks clear theoretic models or articulated theories of action regarding what teachers could or should learn via simulations, and the essential components of effective learning trajectories. This working conference will be structured to provide opportunities for attending, teacher educators, researchers, professional development facilitators, policy makers, preservice and inservice teachers, and school district leaders to share their current research, theoretical models, conceptual views, and use cases regarding the role of simulations in K-12 science and mathematics teacher education. The conference will be organized around four major goals, including: (1) Define how simulations (digital and non-digital) are conceptualized, operationalized, and utilized in K-12 science and mathematics teacher education; (2) Document and determine the challenges and affordances of the varied contexts, audiences, and purposes for which simulations are used in K-12 science and mathematics teacher education and the variety of investigation methods and research questions employed to investigate the use of simulations in these settings; (3) Make explicit the theories of action and conceptual views undergirding the various simulation models being used in K-12 science and mathematics teacher education; and (4) Determine implications of the current research and development work in this space and establish an agenda for studying the use of simulations in K-12 science and mathematics teacher education. The project will produce a white paper that presents the research and development agenda developed by the working conference, describes a series of use cases describing current and emergent practice, and identifies promising directions for future research and development in this area. Conference outcomes are expected to advance understanding of the varied ways in which digital and non-digital simulations can be used to foster and assess K-12 science and mathematics teacher competencies and initiate a research and development agenda for examining the role of simulations in K-12 science and mathematics teacher education.


Project Videos

2019 STEM for All Video Showcase

Title: Understanding the Role of Simulations in Teacher Preparation

Presenter(s): Lisa Dieker, Angelica Fulchini Scruggs, Heather Howell, Michael Hynes, & Jamie Mikeska


Methods for Assessing Replication

The goal of this project is to formalize subjective ideas about the important concept of replication, provide statistical analyses for evaluating replication studies, provide properties for evaluating the conclusiveness of replication studies, and provide principles for designing conclusive and efficient programs of replication studies.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1841075
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2018 to Tue, 08/31/2021
Full Description: 

Replication of prior findings and results is a fundamental feature of science and is part of the logic supporting the claim that science is self-correcting. However, there is little prior research on the methodology for studying replication. Research involving meta-analysis and systematic reviews that summarizes a collection of research studies is more common. However, the question of whether the findings from a set of experimental studies replicate one another has received less attention. There is no clearly defined and widely accepted definition of a successful replication study or statistical literature providing methodological guidelines on how to design single replication studies or a set of replication studies. The research proposed here builds this much needed methodology.

The goal of this project is to formalize subjective ideas about the important concept of replication, provide statistical analyses for evaluating replication studies, provide properties for evaluating the conclusiveness of replication studies, and provide principles for designing conclusive and efficient programs of replication studies. It addresses three fundamental problems. The first is how to define replication: What, precisely, should it mean to say that the results in a collection of studies replicate one another? Second, given a definition of replication, what statistical analyses should be done to decide whether the collection of studies replicate one another and what are the properties of these analyses (e.g., sensitivity or statistical power)? Third, how should one or more replication studies be designed to provide conclusive answers to questions of replication? The project has the potential for impact on a range of empirical sciences by providing statistical tools to evaluate the replicability of experimental findings, assessing the conclusiveness of replication attempts, and developing software to help plan programs of replication studies that can provide conclusive evidence of replicability of scientific findings.

Integrating Science with Mathematics and Engineering: Linking Home and School Learning for All Young Learners

This study will investigate the integration of science with mathematics and engineering and develop resources that provide preschool children with integrated STEM learning experiences. The study will also investigate the connection between home and school learning and will develop resources that strengthen children's experiences at school and home.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1813280
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2018 to Mon, 02/28/2022
Full Description: 

Children in preschool programs have few opportunities to engage meaningfully in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. This is especially true in programs serving children from low-income communities, where resources are scarce. This study will investigate the integration of science with mathematics and engineering and develop resources that provide preschool children with integrated STEM learning experiences. The study will also investigate the connection between home and school learning and will develop resources that strengthen children's experiences at school and home. This will include investigating the needs of and designing for dual language learners who represent a large (and growing) proportion of the population served in public preschool programs.

Using design based research (DBR), the researchers will: (1) Develop learning blueprints to guide the design of classroom and family learning resources. (2) Co-design resources with teachers and parents from low-income as well as culturally and linguistically diverse communities. (3) Conduct a series of formative pilot studies with partner teachers and parents. (4) Conduct a quasi-experimental field study in preschool classrooms and homes to examine both implementation and learning outcomes. Data sources will include observations in classrooms and homes, surveys and interviews with teachers and parents, and child learning assessments. Analysis will include qualitative approaches to examine patterns of interaction and engagement with resources in classrooms and homes, as well as quantitative approaches to examine children's learning accounting for the multilevel structure of the data. The project involves a collaboration between Digital Promise Global, Education Development Center, WGBH and multiple early childhood programs in California and New York. A total of 28 preschool centers, 56 classroom teachers, 208 families and 560 children are expected to participate. Results from this project are intended to inform understanding of how young children learn STEM, how adults at school and home can support children's early STEM learning, and what supports are useful to diverse learners specifically. Results could also highlight design principles that can inform future early STEM education research and development efforts integrating media and technology.

Mathematical Learning via Architectural Design and Modeling Using E-Rebuild

This project will explore the learning of mathematics through architectural tasks in an online simulation game, E-Rebuild. In the game-based architectural simulation, students will be able to complete tasks such as building and constructing structures while using mathematics and problem solving. The project will examine how to collect data about students' learning from data generated as they play the game, how students learn mathematics using the simulation, and how the simulation can be included in middle school mathematics learning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1720533
Funding Period: 
Tue, 08/01/2017 to Sat, 07/31/2021
Full Description: 

This project will explore the learning of mathematics through architectural tasks in an online simulation game, E-Rebuild. There is a need to connect mathematics to real world contexts and problems. In the game-based architectural simulation, students will be able to complete tasks such as building and constructing structures while using mathematics and problem solving. The learning platform will be flexible so teachers can customize tasks for their students. The project will examine how to collect data about students' learning from data generated as they play the game. The project will explore how students learn mathematics using the simulation and how the simulation can be included in middle school mathematics learning.

The project includes two major research questions. First, how will the design of a scalable game-based, design-centered learning platform promote coordination and application of math representation for problem solving? Second, how and under what implementation circumstances will using a scalable architectural game-based learning platform improve students multi-stranded mathematical proficiency (i.e., understanding, problem solving and positive disposition)? A key feature of the project is stealth-assessment or data collected and logged as students use the architectural simulation activities that can be used to understand their mathematics learning. The project uses a design-based research approach to gather data from students and teachers that will inform the design of the learning environment. The qualitative and quantitative data will also be used to understand what students are learning as they play the game and how teachers are interacting with their students. The project will include a mixed methods study to compare classrooms using the architectural activities to classrooms that are using typical activities.

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