Accessing Science Ideas: Enhancing Curriculum to Support Scientific Reasoning of Students with Learning Disabilities

The Accessing Science Ideas (ASI) project is developing and researching content enhancements that support science learning of middle school students with executive function and related learning disabilities.  The goal of ASI research is to measure the extent to which curricular units with content enhancements lead to increased student understanding of science concepts, improved reasoning, and greater confidence.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0822039
Funding Period: 
Fri, 08/15/2008 - Tue, 07/31/2012
Full Description: 

The Accessing Science Ideas (ASI) project is developing and researching content enhancements that support science learning of middle school students with executive function and related learning disabilities. These content enhancements are being designed for and integrated into two Full Option Science System (FOSS) curriculum units, Diversity of Life and Populations and Ecosystems. The goal of ASI research is to measure the extent to which curricular units with content enhancements lead to increased student understanding of science concepts, improved reasoning, and greater confidence for all students in an inclusive science classroom.  However, we anticipate that the students with executive function challenges who find it particularly difficult to organize and remember information, shift between concrete phenomena and abstract concepts and see relationships among ideas will benefit most.

Content enhancements are instructional strategies and materials that do not change content but rather ‘enhance’ it by making it accessible to all learners. They make ideas more explicit, prompt elaboration, involve students in transforming the information, and make concepts, ideas, and their relationships more concrete.  In this project, we design, pilot, and revise our content enhancements for each unit prior to the field test. 

The study employs an experimental design with randomization at the teacher level.  Teachers in the intervention are provided with training and then use content enhancements while those in the control group teach the FOSS unit as they typically would.  The control group receives training and the content enhancements at the conclusion of the research phase.

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