Explore over 300 DR K-12 projects that are transforming STEM education through their innovative research and development. 

Project titlesort iconOrganizationPI first namePI last nameAward date

Discovery Research K-12

Kathie Maynard, University of Cincinnati (UC)
Twelve fifth and sixth grade science teacher specialists and their students in a high needs district in Ohio are engaged in a design-based research project within a three-year professional development effort with faculty in several departments at the University of Cincinnati to study how the engineering design process can be used effectively as a pedagogical strategy in science instruction to improve student interest, learning and skill development.

Doing the Math with Paraeducators: A Research and Development Project

Judy Storeygard, TERC, Inc.
This project will design and pilot professional development that focuses on developing the confidence, mathematical knowledge, and teaching strategies of paraeducators using classroom activities that they are expected to implement. The planned professional development will enable them to make a greater difference in the classroom, but it will also increase their access to continuing education and workplace opportunities.

DR K-12 Program Evaluation

Xiaodong Zhang, Westat, Inc.
Westat will perform a multi-year evaluation of the DR K-12 program. The evaluation will examine the results and effects of the DR K-12 program from its inception as a program in 2006 through 2011, including all active grants in those years. In addition, some analysis of themes that reach back into the legacy programs of DR K-12 (i.e., IMD, CLT and TPC programs) will be conducted as warranted to understand trends and impact.

Driven to Discover: Citizen Science Inspires Classroom Investigation

Karen Oberhauser, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
This project utilizes existing citizen science programs as springboards for professional development for teachers during an intensive summer workshop. The project curriculum helps teachers use student participation in citizen science to engage them in the full complement of science practices; from asking questions, to conducting independent research, to sharing findings.

DRK12-Biograph: Graphical Programming for Constructing Complex Systems Understanding in Biology

Eric Klopfer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
This project will investigate how complex systems concepts supported by innovative curricular resources, technology applications and a comprehensive research and development structure can assist student learning in the domain of biology by providing a unifying theme across scales of time and space. The project seeks to address four areas of critical need in STEM education: biological sciences, complex systems, computational modeling, and equal access for all.

Dynamic Geometry in Classrooms

Zhonghong Jiang, Texas State University
This project is conducting repeated randomized control trials of an approach to high school geometry that utilizes Dynamic Geometry (DG) software and supporting instructional materials to supplement ordinary instructional practices. It compares effects of that intervention with standard instruction that does not make use of computer drawing tools.

Early Childhood Education in the Context of Mathematics, Science, and Literacy

Julie Sarama, University of Denver (DU)
This curriculum project is using empirically-tested mathematics and science programs and research-based approaches to develop a six module interdisciplinary curriculum for pre-K students. Mathematics and science content is included with literacy/language and social-emotional development. The curriculum is being designed to counter the frequent situation of devoting most pre-school instructional time to literacy by having activities that join literacy with mathematics and science.

EarSketch: An Authentic, Studio-based STEAM Approach to High School Computing Education

Jason Freeman, Georgia Tech Research Corporation (GTRC)
This project will study the influence on positive student achievement and engagement (particularly among populations traditionally under-represented in computer science) of an intervention that integrates a computational music remixing tool -EarSketch- with the Computer Science Principles, a view of computing literacy that is emerging as a new standard for Advanced Placement and other high school computer science courses.

Ecology Disrupted: Using Museum-based Science and Educational Technology to Link Real World Environmental Issues to Basic Ecological Principles

Steve Gano, American Museum of Natural History (AMNH)
This project uses media such as Science Bulletin Snapshots to engage students with current research and to foster scientific understanding and civic engagement. Through environmental case studies, students learn to develop hypotheses, analyze scientific data, and make conclusions. To address the objectives, the project will create inquiry-based case studies to situate several central ecological principles, as determined by national and state standards, into the context of environmental issues.

Ecology Disrupted: Using Real Scientific Data about Daily Life to Link Environmental Issues to Ecological Processes in Secondary School Science Classrooms (Collaborative Research: Gano)

Steve Gano, American Museum of Natural History (AMNH)
This project is refining and testing two case study units on contemporary issues in ecology for urban middle and high school students underserved in their connection to nature. The case studies are based on two Science Bulletins, digital media stories about current science produced by the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), which use current scientific data to link ecological principles to real-world environmental issues, and to link issues to human daily life.

Ecology Disrupted: Using Real Scientific Data About Daily Life to Link Environmental Issues to Ecological Processes in Secondary School Science Classrooms (Collaborative Research: Wyner)

Yael Wyner, American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), The City College of New York, CUNY
We developed and tested two ecology case study units for urban high school students underserved in their connection to nature. The case studies, based on digital media stories about current science produced by the American Museum of Natural History, use current scientific data to link ecological principles to daily life and environmental issues. Preliminary testing results show that treatment students made significantly higher gains than the control students on the project's major learning goals.

EcoMobile: Blended Real and Virtual Immersive Experiences for Learning Complex Causality and Ecosystems Science

Chris Dede, Harvard University, Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE)
Researchers are studying whether middle school instruction about ecosystem science can be made more engaging and effective by combining immersion experiences in virtual ecosystems with immersion experiences in real ecosystems infused with virtual resources. Project personnel are developing a set of learning resources for deployment by mobile broadband devices that provide students with virtual access to information and simulations while working in the field.

Ecosystems and Evidence Project (Collaborative Research: Berkowitz)

Alan Berkowitz, Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), Rutgers University (RU), Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
This exploratory research and development project addresses the question, "Can students develop an understanding of the ecological nature of science (ENOS) in high school biology and environmental science classes that is useful and productive in environmental citizenship?" To address this question, the project will identify the essential elements of ENOS, investigate how these can be taught and learned, and explore how ENOS skills and understandings are used to enhance environmental citizenship.

Ecosystems and Evidence Project (Collaborative Research: DeLisi)

Jacqueline DeLisi, Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC)
This project is developing and testing assessments for improving instruction, exploring how students can learn challenging content, and enhancing the ability of teachers to provide this content. The guiding question is, Can students develop an understanding of the ecological nature of science (ENOS) in high school biology and environmental science classes that is useful and productive in environmental citizenship?

Ecosystems and Evidence Project (Collaborative Research: Jordan)

Rebecca Jordan, Rutgers University (RU)
This exploratory research and development project addresses the question, "Can students develop an understanding of the ecological nature of science (ENOS) in high school biology and environmental science classes that is useful and productive in environmental citizenship?" To address this question, the project will identify the essential elements of ENOS, investigate how these can be taught and learned, and explore how ENOS skills and understandings are used to enhance environmental citizenship.

Educating about Statistical Issues in Large Scientific Data Sets

James Hammerman, TERC, Inc.
This project investigated the potential opportunities and challenges for educators to incorporate explorations of a variety of large data sets into science, math and, to a lesser extent, social science classes at the secondary level.

Educating the Imagination: A Studio Design for Transformative Science Learning

Beth Warren, TERC, Inc.
Educating the Imagination will develop a studio approach to science for underrepresented high school students. The approach integrates scientific and artistic habits of mind and forms of engagement for meaningful learning in water-related sciences. Youth will a) investigate significant water-related phenomena, b) develop creative responses to the phenomena that foster new understandings and possibilities for action, and c) exhibit their responses community-wide to involve others in re-imagining water locally and globally.

Educational Design and Development: Planning for a STEM Learning Research Transformation

Frank Davis, TERC, Inc.
This is a planning effort to explore future directions and innovations related to educational design in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education in partnership with the International Society for Design and Development in Education. The planning activity will engage a core group of ISDDE principals in the articulation and examination of design processes for the Transforming STEM Learning program at NSF with a goal of developing an agenda for further discussion and research conceptualization.

Effective Programs for Elementary Science: A Best-evidence Synthesis

Robert Slavin, Johns Hopkins University
This synthesis project is a systematic review of experimental research evaluating programs and practices in elementary science. The systematic review addresses all areas of science in the elementary grades. The review uses an adaptation of best-evidence synthesis previously applied to elementary and secondary mathematics and reading, and includes experimental and quasi-experimental research on the outcomes of alternative approaches to elementary science.

Effective Science Teaching for English Language Learners (ESTELL): A Preservice Teacher Professional Development Research Project Across Three Universities in California

Patricia Stoddart, San Diego State University (SDSU), University of California, Santa Cruz (UC Santa Cruz), San Francisco State University (SFSU)
Effective Science Teaching for English Language Learners (ESTELL): A Pre-Service Teacher Professional Development Research Project project is funded by the National Science Foundation DR-K-12 Discovery Research Program. The ESTELL project focuses on improving the science teaching and learning of K-6 linguistic minority students who are currently underserved in K-6 education through improving the pre-service education of elementary school teachers.

Effective Use of Mathematical Instructional Materials

June Mark, Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC)
This project aims to identify and organize research that is most useful to K-12 mathematics curriculum decision makers and to develop improved mechanisms for them to make good use of such research. Products will include research reports and an annual seminar. The goal is to create an infrastructure designed to support K-12 mathematics leaders in their efforts to better use research to inform curricular decision-making processes.

Efficacy Study of Metropolitan Denver's Urban Advantage Program: A Project to Improve Scientific Literacy Among Urban Middle School Students

Nancy Walsh, Denver Museum of Nature and Science
This is an efficacy study to determine if partnerships among formal and informal organizations demonstrate an appropriate infrastructure for improving science literacy among urban middle school science students. The study aims to answer the following questions: How does participation in the program affect students' science knowledge, skills, and attitudes toward science; teachers' science knowledge, skills, and abilities; and families engagement in and support for their children's science learning and aspirations?

Efficacy Study of Project-Based Inquiry Science

Christopher Harris, Michigan State University (MSU), University of Colorado Boulder, SRI International, University of Michigan (UM)
This research and development project examines the impact of the Project-Based Inquiry Science (PBIS) middle school science curriculum. The research questions explored will look into efficacy, implementation, and teacher practice. A unique feature of the study’s design is an analytic focus on the conditions needed to implement the curriculum in ways that improve student learning in light of the Framework for K-12 Science Education.

Electronic Communities for Mathematics Instruction (e-CMI)

Albert Cuoco, Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC)
This exploratory project builds on twelve years of successful experience with the summer program for secondary mathematics teachers at PCMI. It addresses the following two needs in the field of professional development for secondary mathematics teachers: increase content knowledge and understanding of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics; and investigate and develop alternative models to conduct content-based professional development that meets the recommendations of the MET-II report.

Electronic Teacher Guide: Its Development and Use in Supporting Educative Curricula

Jacqueline Miller, Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC)
This project is developing and testing a prototype electronic teacher's guide for a 12-week genetics unit in the NSF-funded curriculum titled Foundation Science: Biology to determine how it impacts high school teachers' learning and practice. The electronic guide, which is based on an existing print guide, has a flexible design so that it anticipates and meets the curriculum planning and support needs of teachers with different knowledge/skills profiles.

Elicitory Test Design: A New Model for Understanding the Relationship Between Test Item Features and Student Performance on Large-scale Assessments

Sharon Nelson-Barber, Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (PREL)
This project is conducting an empirical analysis of NAEP assessment items in science to determine whether evidence supports the hypothesis that standardized tests capture only a limited amount of student knowledge because of their cultural background. The investigator will create a model of test design more likely to extract student knowledge from students of varied cultures by expanding items’ content. The study will examine the experience of American Indian groups, Alaska Natives, and Pacific Islanders.

Embodied STEM Learning Across Technology-Based Learning Environments

Arthur Glenberg, Arizona State University (ASU)
This project conducts interdisciplinary research to advance understanding of embodied learning as it applies to STEM topics across a range of current technology-based learning environments (e.g., desktop simulations, interactive whiteboards, and 3D interactive environments). The project has two central research questions: How are student knowledge gains impacted by the degree of embodied learning and to what extent do the affordances of different technology-based learning environments constrain or support embodied learning for STEM topics?

Empowering Teachers through VideoReview

Susan Doubler, TERC, Inc.
This project  will develop a video recording and analysis system called VideoReView (VRV) that allows grade four science teachers to record, tag, and analyze video in their classroom in real time. The investigators will then study and enhance the system in the context of professional learning communities of teachers. 

Enabling Modeling and Simulation-Based Science in the Classroom: Integrating Agent-Based Models, Real World Sensing and Collaborative Networks

Uri Wilensky, Northwestern University (NU)
This project develops and assesses the effectiveness of integrating three computation-based technologies into curricular modules: agent-based modeling (ABM), real-world sensing, and collaborative classroom networks. The STEM disciplines addressed are life sciences and physical sciences at middle and high school levels, specifically Evolution, Population Biology/Ecology, Kinetic Molecular Theory, and Electromagnetism.

Energy: A Multidisciplinary Approach for Teachers (EMAT) Designing and Studying a Multidisciplinary, Online Course for High School Teachers

Susan Kowalski, National Teachers Enhancement Network (NTEN), Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, Inc. (BSCS), Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB)
This project will iteratively design, develop, field test, refine, and rigorously study a six-unit, facilitated, online professional development (PD) course focusing on energy-related concepts in the context of alternative energy. The primary audience is high school science teachers teaching out of their field of endorsement and serving students underrepresented in the sciences. The project will investigate whether the PD will precipitate changes in teacher knowledge and practice that result in higher student achievement.

Engaging Middle School Students in Student-directed Inquiry through Virtual Environments for Learning

Susan Pedersen, Texas A&M University
This project is developing five web-based modules for middle school science that engage students in student-directed inquiry and provide teachers with professional development in facilitating this inquiry. These modules immerse students in virtual environments for learning (VELs) where they take on the role of scientists engaged in a complex task. The virtual settings presented in the VELs support students in designing and carrying out their own investigations.

Engaging Secondary Students and Teachers Through a Proficiency-Based Assessment and Reassessment of Learning Outcomes (PARLO) System in Mathematics

Nancy Lawrence, The 21st Century Partnership for STEM Education
This project is researching the efficacy of a learning and assessment system that emphasizes students' attaining proficiency or better on a limited set of high value learning objectives in Algebra.

Engaging Youth in Engineering Module Study

Melissa Dean, Mobile County Public School System (MCPSS), Blue Heron STEM Education, Mobile Area Education Foundation (MAEF), University of South Alabama (USA)
This project is revising and field testing six existing modules and developing, pilot testing, and field testing two engineering modules for required middle school science and mathematics classes: Catch Me if You Can! with a focus on seventh grade life science; and Creating Bioplastics targeting eighth grade physical science. Each module addresses an engineering design challenge of relevance to industries in the region and fosters the development of engineering habits of mind.

Engineering for All (EfA)

Michael Hacker, Hofstra University
This project creates, tests and revises two-six week prototypical modules for middle school technology education classes, using the unifying themes and important social contexts of food and water. The modules employ engineering design as the core pedagogy and integrate content and practices from the standards for college and career readiness.

Engineering Inquiry-based Learning Modules for Technology Education

Julia Ross, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)
Project staff are developing modular instructional materials for students. The materials are designed to increase the awareness of and interest in career opportunities in engineering and technology. The modules use authentic, real-world engineering applications and hands-on experiences to build problem-solving skills and contribute to the technological literacy of secondary students. The modules specifically target the ITEA Content Standards for Technological Literacy and related benchmarks.

Engineering is Elementary: Engineering and Technology Lessons for Children

Christine Cunningham, Museum of Science, Boston
This project is developing lessons to engage students in grades 1-5 in engineering activities integrated with their science lessons. The project addresses the need to develop a broad understanding of what engineers do and the uses and implications of the technologies they create. The goals of the project are to increase the technological literacy of the students and to increase elementary teacher’s understanding of technology and engineering, to enable them to teach these subjects.

Engineering Teacher Pedagogy: Using INSPIRES to Support Integration of Engineering Design in Science and Technology Classrooms

Julia Ross, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)
This Engineering Teacher Pedagogy project implements and assesses the promise of an extended professional development model coupled with curriculum enactment to develop teacher pedagogical skills for integrating engineering design into high school biology and technology education classrooms. 

Enhanced Earth System Teaching Through Regional and Local (ReaL) Earth Inquiry

Robert Ross, Paleontological Research Institution
The ReaL Earth Inquiry project empowers teachers to employ real-world local and regional Earth system science in the classroom. Earth systems science teachers need the pedagogic background, the content, and the support that enables them to engage students in asking real questions about their own communities. The project is developing online "Teacher-Friendly Guides" (resources), professional development involving fieldwork, and inquiry-focused approaches using "virtual fieldwork experiences."  

Enhancing Engineering Education with Computational Thinking

Charles Xie, Concord Consortium
This project investigates the educational value of computer technologies for learning engineering. The project engages high school students to design, build, and evaluate an energy-efficient model house with the aid of computer simulation and design tools. 

Enhancing Games with Assessment and Metacognitive Emphases (EGAME)

Douglas Clark, Vanderbilt University
This development and research project designs, develops, and tests a digital game-based learning environment for supporting, assessing and analyzing middle school students' conceptual knowledge in learning physics, specifically Newtonian mechanics. This research integrates work from prior findings to develop a new methodology to engage students in deep learning while diagnosing and scaffolding the learning of Newtonian mechanics.

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

Linda Foreman, Teachers Development Group
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.

Enhancing Middle Grades Students' Capacity to Develop and Communicate Their Mathematical Understanding of Big Ideas Using Digital Inscriptional Resources (Collaborative Research: Dorsey)

Chad Dorsey, Concord Consortium
This project will develop and test a digital platform for middle school mathematics classrooms to help students deepen and communicate their understanding of mathematics. The digital platform will allow students to collaboratively create representations of their mathematics thinking, incorporate ideas from other students, and share their work with the class.

Enhancing Middle Grades Students' Capacity to Develop and Communicate Their Mathematical Understanding of Big Ideas Using Digital Inscriptional Resources (Collaborative Research: Phillips)

Elizabeth Phillips, Michigan State University (MSU)
This project will develop and test a digital platform for middle school mathematics classrooms to help students deepen and communicate their understanding of mathematics. The digital platform will allow students to collaboratively create representations of their mathematics thinking, incorporate ideas from other students, and share their work with the class.

Enhancing State Implementation of College and Career Ready Standards in Mathematics

Carrie Heath Phillips, Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)
Technical assistance is being provided to key leaders in state education agencies (SEAs) to: 1) build SEA leaders' knowledge about effective mathematical professional development research; 2) deepen their understanding about necessary supports and structures that should be in place; and 3) enable SEA leaders to incorporate what they learn and analyze to their existing mathematics college- and career-readiness standards implementation plans.

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

James Ellis, University of Kansas Center for Research, Inc. (KUCR)
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.

Equity and Access to High-Quality Instruction in Middle School Mathematics

Kara Jackson, Vanderbilt University
The goals of this project are to 1) develop methods for analyzing data collected to document the institutional setting of mathematics teaching that are specific to equity and access for all middle school students to high quality mathematics instruction; and 2) develop an instrument for assessing the quality of mathematics instruction that focuses specifically on the extent to which all students are supported to substantially participate in academically rigorous mathematics.

Establishing a Roadmap for Large-Scale Improvement of K-12 Education in the Geographical Sciences

Daniel Edelson, American Geographical Society (AGS), Association of American Geographers (AAG), National Geographic Society, National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE)
This project will engage in a community-wide effort to synthesize the literature from a broad range of fields and to use the findings to create frameworks that will guide the planning, implementation, and scale-up of efforts to improve geographic education over the next decade. This will result in a set of publicly reviewed, consensus reports that will guide collaborative efforts and broaden awareness of the acute need for geographic literacy and geographic science education.

Evaluating the Developing Mathematical Ideas Professional Development Program: Researching its Impact on Teaching and Student Learning

James Hammerman, TERC, Inc.
This is a 3.5-year efficacy study of the Developing Mathematical Ideas (DMI) elementary math teacher professional development (PD) program. DMI is a well-known, commercially available PD program with substantial prior evidence showing its impact on elementary teachers' mathematical and pedagogical knowledge. However, no studies have yet linked DMI directly with changes in teachers' classroom practice, or with improved student outcomes in math. This study aims to remedy this gap.

Evaluation of High School Science Courses

Philip Sadler, Harvard University
This project collects evidence supporting the validity of test instruments and initial characterization of high school teachers' background and use of materials and pedagogies. The project is constructing and validating multiple forms of test instruments that can be used for the evaluation of interventions (e.g. professional development, implementation of new curricula) and the measurement of aspects of teacher knowledge (e.g. subject matter, knowledge of student misconceptions).

Evaluation of the Cognitive, Psychometric, and Instructional Affordances of Curriculum-embedded Assessments: A Comprehensive Validity-based Approach

James Pellegrino, University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)
This project’s overarching goal is to evaluate the assessment components embedded within two NSF-supported mathematics curricula: Everyday Mathematics and Math Trailblazers. The investigators will apply a comprehensive validity perspective that integrates a variety of empirical evidence regarding the cognitive, psychometric, and instructional affordances of multiple assessments embedded in these curricula as part of their overall instructional design.

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