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

Project titleOrganizationPI first namesort iconPI last nameAward date

Moving Next Generation Science Standards into Practice: A Middle School Ecology Unit and Teacher Professional Development Model

American Museum of Natural History (AMNH)
Schools and teachers face unprecedented challenges in meeting the ambitious goals of integrating core interdisciplinary science ideas with science and engineering practices as described in new standards. This project will develop a middle school ecology unit and related teacher professional development that will help high-need and urban middle school students, including English Language Learners, understand these ideas and related practices.

System-wide Change: An Experimental Study of Teacher Development and Student Achievement in Elementary Science

Adam Gamoran, University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison)
This project tests the impact on student achievement of a content-rich, systemic intervention in teacher development for elementary school science. The study will test the benefits of the System-wide Change elementary science component, which provides teachers with professional development in summer institutes and ongoing coaching and mentoring in the use of detailed instructional guides for elementary science. This research will reveal the causal impact of the teacher development activities on student learning.

Modeling in Primary Grades (MPG): Science Learning Through Content Rich Inquiry

Ala Samarapungavan, Purdue University
This exploratory project examines how teachers of second grade students scaffold the development of student conceptual models and their understanding of the nature of scientific models and modeling processes in physical science conceptual areas associated with the particulate nature of matter. This foundational research provides descriptive exemplars that can be shared in both the research literature and in practitioner publications as examples of what cognitively rich pedagogy can achieve.

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.

Biocomplexity and the Habitable Planet -- An Innovative Capstone Course for High School (Collaborative Research: Berkowitz)

Alan Berkowitz, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
This project is developing a set of instructional materials that engages students, teachers, and their parents in the science of coupled natural human (CNH) systems. Teacher guides, a website and family/community materials accompany the four student modules (which focus on an urban watershed, an urban/agricultural system, Amazonia and a polar system).

Science Literacy through Science Journalism (SciJourn)

Alan Newman, University of Missouri-St. Louis
This project aims to develop, pilot, and evaluate a model of instruction that advances the scientific literacy of high school students by involving them in science journalism, and to develop research tools for assessing scientific literacy and engagement. We view scientific literacy as public understanding of and engagement with science and technology, better enabling people to make informed science-related decisions in their personal lives, and participate in science-related democratic debates in public life. 

Data Explorations in Ecology Project (DEEP)

Alan Berkowitz, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
This project evaluates the benefits of using different types of place-based ecological data in high school science classrooms. This project will assess the use of first-hand (collected by students) and real-time second-hand data in teaching science and critical thinking skills. The guiding question for the project is "Does using place-based, first-hand ecological evidence, and relating that to place-based, second-hand data, improve students' environmental science literacy, nature of science understanding, and knowledge of ecological concepts?"

Radical Innovation Summit

Alan Craig, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
This workshop convenes leading practitioners and scholars of innovation to collectively consider how education in the US might be reconfigured to both support and teach innovation as a core curriculum mission, with a focus on STEM education. Workshop participants identify and articulate strategies for creating and sustaining learning environments that promise the development of innovative thinking skills, behaviors and dispositions and that reward students, faculty and administrator for practicing and tuning these skills.

TRUmath and Lesson Study: Supporting Fundamental and Sustainable Improvement in High School Mathematics Teaching (Collaborative Research: Schoenfeld)

Alan Schoenfeld, University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley)
Given the changes in instructional practices needed to support high quality mathematics teaching and learning based on college and career readiness standards, school districts need to provide professional learning opportunities for teachers that support those changes. The project is based on the TRUmath framework and will build a coherent and scalable plan for providing these opportunities in high school mathematics departments, a traditionally difficult unit of organizational change.

International Polar Year Symposia and Web Seminars at NSTA Conferences on Science Education: Collaboration between NSF, NOAA, and NASA

Albert Byers, National Science Teachers Association (NSTA)
This project is NSF's contribution to an interagency effort with NASA and NOAA to focus three symposia at the National Science Teachers Association annual meeting, not on particular agency efforts, but specifically on International Polar Year science through three themes: ice, life, and water and air. NSTA focuses on promoting innovation and excellence in science teaching and learning as well as the professional development of teachers to teach science.

Linear Algebra and Geometry: Advanced Mathematics for More Students

Albert Cuoco, Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC)
EDC is developing a high school capstone course in linear algebra. Student resources contain a core semester that develops two- and three-dimensional geometry using vectors and that treats matrix algebra and its applications to geometry; a semester of material that completes a typical undergraduate course (exploring bases, determinants and eigentheory); and 5 stand-alone modules that develop applications of this core to mathematics, engineering, science, and other STEM fields.

Southeast Regional Technical Assistance and Information Workshop for Minority-serving Institutions To Broadening Participation in the National Science Foundation's Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL)

Albert Thompson, Spelman College
This project will conduct a 1.5 day regional technical assistance and information conference/workshop for Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) to broaden their participation in the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and informal Settings (DRL) programs. The workshop will consist of faculty institutional teams and will develop their research or program ideas and to become more skillful in the preparation and development of competitive proposals.

Changing Curriculum, Changing Practice

Albert Cuoco, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UW-Milwaukee), Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), Michigan State University (MSU)
This project is studying the impact of implementing a NSF-funded, high school mathematics curriculum that emphasizes mathematical habits of mind. This curriculum focuses on ways of thinking and doing mathematics in contrast with curricula that focus on mathematical topics. The project is studying the development of teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching and their capacity to align their instruction with the new curriculum.

Southeast Regional Technical Assistance and Information Follow-up Workshop for Minority-serving Institutions To Broaden Participation in NSF DRL Programs

Albert Thompson, Spelman College
This project will conduct a 2.5 day regional technical assistance and information conference/workshop for Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) to broaden their participation in programs of NSF's Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL). The goal is to have participants develop research or program ideas and to become more skillful in the preparation and development of competitive proposals.

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.

Promoting Spatial Thinking with Web-Based Geospatial Technologies

Alec Bodzin, Lehigh University
This project will develop STEM spatial thinking skills of middle school learners by equipping teachers with earth science investigations and support materials. This project will design, develop, and test curriculum materials that use Web Geospatial Information Systems that includes advanced visualization and geospatial analysis capabilities. The project will analyze how educative curriculum materials can prepare teachers to implement Web-based geospatial science pedagogical approaches to teaching, and document the impacts on student learning.

SmartCAD: Guiding Engineering Design with Science Simulations (Collaborative Research: Magana-de-Leon)

Alejandra Magana-de-Leon, Purdue University
This project investigates how real time formative feedback can be automatically composed from the results of computational analysis of student design artifacts and processes with the envisioned SmartCAD software. The project conducts design-based research on SmartCAD, which supports secondary science and engineering with three embedded computational engines capable of simulating the mechanical, thermal, and solar performance of the built environment.

CAREER: A Study of Factors that Affect Middle School Levels of Readiness for Implementing STEM Programs

Alfred Hall, University of Memphis (U of M)
This project will investigate whether six urban middle schools are implementing highly effective science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs based on factors identified through relevant research and national reports on what constitutes exemplary practices in 21st century-focused schools.

Improving Formative Assessment Practices: Using Learning Trajectories to Develop Resources That Support Teacher Instructional Practice and Student Learning in CMP2

Alison Castro Superfine, University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)
The overarching goal of this project is to develop innovative instructional resources and professional development to support middle grades teachers in meeting the challenges set by college- and career-ready standards for students' learning of algebra.

Thinking Spatially about the Universe: A Physical and Virtual Laboratory for Middle School Science (Collaborative Research: Goodman)

Alyssa Goodman, Harvard University
This project will develop and study three week-long middle school lab units designed to teach spatial abilities using a blend of physical and virtual (computer-based) models. "ThinkSpace" labs will help students explore 3-dimensional astronomical phenomena in ways that will support both understanding of these topics and a more general spatial ability. Students will learn both through direct work with the lab unit interface and through succeeding discussions with their peers.

Developing A Discourse Observation Tool and Online Professional Development to Promote Science, Oral Language and Literacy Development from the Start of School

Amelia Gotwals, Michigan State University (MSU)
The goal of this project is to develop a classroom observation tool and an online professional development model to help early-elementary teachers improve science instruction among young learners by cultivating scientific discourse.

High Adventure Science

Amy Pallant, Concord Consortium
The High Adventure Science project is bringing some of the big unanswered questions in Earth and space science to middle and high school science classrooms. Students will explore the mechanisms of climate change, consider the possibility of life on other planets, and devise solutions to the impending shortage of fresh water. Each curriculum module features interviews with scientists currently working on the same unanswered question.

CAREER: Examining the Role of Context in the Mathematical Learning of Young Children

Amy Parks, Michigan State University (MSU), University of Georgia (UGA), University of Georgia Research Foundation, Inc. (UGARF)
This project involves a longitudinal, ethnographic study of children's mathematical performances from preschool to first grade in both formal classroom settings and informal settings at school and home. The study seeks to identify opportunities for mathematical learning, to map varied performances of mathematical competence, to chart changes in mathematical performance over time, and to design and assess the impact of case studies for teacher education.

CAREER: Supporting Students' Proof Practices Through Quantitative Reasoning in Algebra

Amy Ellis, University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison)
The aim of this project is to explore the hypothesis that a curricular focus on quantitative reasoning in middle grades mathematics can enhance development of student skill and understanding about mathematical proof. The project is addressing that hypothesis through a series of studies that include small group teaching experiments with students, professional development work with teachers, and classroom field tests of curricular units that connect quantitative reasoning and proof in algebra.

Differentiated Professional Development: Building Mathematics Knowledge for Teaching Struggling Learners

Amy Brodesky, Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC)
This project is creating and studying a blended professional development model (face-to-face and online) for mathematics teachers and special educators (grades 4-7) with an emphasis on teaching struggling math students in the areas of fractions, decimals, and positive/negative numbers (Common Core State Standards). The model's innovative design differentiates professional learning to address teachers' wide range of prior knowledge, experiences, and interests.

Community-Based Engineering Design Challenges for Adolescent English Learners

Amy Wilson-Lopez, Utah State University (USU)
This study is based on a theoretical model that embeds engineering design within social, cultural, and linguistic activity, seeking to understand (a) how adolescent English learners draw from various linguistic, representational, and social resources as they work toward solving community-based engineering design challenges; (b) the problems they face in working on the challenges and how they seek to overcome those problems; and (c) adolescents' willingness to conceptualize themselves as future engineers.

High Adventure Science: Earths Systems and Sustainability

Amy Pallant, Concord Consortium
This project is developing modules for middle school and high school students in Earth and Space Science classes, testing the hypothesis that students who use computational models, analyze real-world data, and engage in building scientific reasoning and argumentation skills are better able to understand Earth science core ideas and how humans impact Earth's systems. The resulting online curriculum modules and teacher guides provide exciting examples of next generation Earth...

CAREER: Investigating Differentiated Instruction and Relationships Between Rational Number Knowledge and Algebraic Reasoning in Middle School

Amy Hackenberg, Indiana University (IU)
The proposed project initiates new research and an integrated education plan to address specific problems in middle school mathematics classrooms by investigating (1) how to effectively differentiate instruction for middle school students at different reasoning levels; and (2) how to foster middle school students' algebraic reasoning and rational number knowledge in mutually supportive ways.

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

Amy Parks, University of Georgia Research Foundation, Inc. (UGARF)
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.

Geological Models for Explorations of Dynamic Earth (GEODE): Integrating the Power of Geodynamic Models in Middle School Earth Science Curriculum

Amy Pallant, Concord Consortium
This project will develop and research the transformational potential of geodynamic models embedded in learning progression-informed online curricula modules for middle school teaching and learning of Earth science. The primary goal of the project is to conduct design-based research to study the development of model-based curriculum modules, assessment instruments, and professional development materials for supporting student learning of (1) plate tectonics and related Earth processes, (2) modeling practices, and (3) uncertainty-infused argumentation practices.

Strengthening Mathematics Intervention Classes: Identifying and Addressing Challenges to Improve Instruction for Struggling Learners

Amy Brodesky, Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC)
The purpose of this project is to improve mathematics instruction for struggling learners by focusing on the quality of instruction occurring in mathematics intervention classrooms. The study will focus on how intervention class time is spent, what mathematics content is emphasized, which evidence-based instructional practices are used, and what challenges are faced by teachers.

U.S. National Commission for Mathematics Instruction -- A Conference Grant

Ana Ferreras, National Academy of Sciences (NAS)
This project will include activities such as workshops, conferences and symposia designed to further develop the field of mathematics instruction both nationally and internationally. Specifically, the grant will support (1) a workshop on Chinese and U.S. teacher preparation; (2) a workshop on international comparative assessments in mathematics; and (3) a workshop on challenges in non-university Tertiary Mathematics Education.

The U.S. National Commission on Mathematics Instruction (USNC/MI): Representing the U.S. Mathematics Community Abroad

Ana Ferreras, National Academy of Sciences (NAS)
This project provides support for the U.S. National Commission on Mathematics Instruction, a primary means for ensuring U.S. participation in mathematics education at the international level. The project will facilitate interaction with mathematicians and mathematics educators from around the world as issues about instructional practices are addressed. The participation of representatives of USNC/MI on the international stage opens venues for collaborative research and opportunities to learn about successful practices from other countries.

Learning and Sharing the World Best Practices in Math Education: The U.S. National Commission on Mathematics Instruction

Ana Ferreras, National Academy of Sciences (NAS)
To prepare the country's youth more broadly for a globalized world, the U.S. National Commission on Mathematics Instruction (USNCMI) will engage with the international community and assist in improving the state of mathematics education in the country by implementing international education programs, participating in international benchmarking activities, and working closely with other countries and multilateral organizations. 

Interactive Ink Inscriptions in K-12 (INK-12) (Collaborative Research: Rubin)

Andee Rubin, TERC, Inc., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
This exploratory project seeks to understand the role that a network of tablet computers may play in elementary and middle school math and science classrooms. The project uses classroom observations, student interviews, teacher interviews, and student artifacts to identify the advantages and disadvantages of these resources, to understand what challenges and benefits they offer to teachers, and to offer recommendations for future hardware, software, and curriculum development.

INK-12: Teaching and Learning Using Interactive Ink Inscriptions in K-12 (Collaborative Research: Rubin)

Andee Rubin, TERC, Inc., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
This is a continuing research project that supports (1) creation of what are termed "ink inscriptions"--handwritten sketches, graphs, maps, notes, etc. made on a computer using a pen-based interface, and (2) in-class communication of ink inscriptions via a set of connected wireless tablet computers. The primary products are substantiated research findings on the use of tablet computers, inscriptions, and networks in 4th/5th grade classrooms as well as models for teacher education and use.

CEIN: Predictive Toxicology Assessment and Safe Implementation of Nanotechnology in the Environment

Andre Nel, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
This project establishes a Center to conduct research and education on the interactions of nanomaterials with living systems and with the abiotic environment. The research combines high throughput screening assays with computational and physiological modeling to predict impacts at higher levels of biological organization. It will unite the fields of engineering, chemistry, physics, materials science, cell biology, ecology, toxicology, computer modeling, and risk assessment to establish the foundations of a new scientific discipline: environmental nanotoxicology.

Diagnosing Teachers' Multiplicative Reasoning

Andrew Izsak, University of Georgia (UGA)
This project is developing and evaluating a test form that diagnoses teachers' capacities in two closely connected cases of reasoning about multiplicative relations among quantities: fractions and proportions. Teachers' responses to test items will be informative about their capacities to reason about content in ways that support student’s thinking. The project is developing instruments using a new class of psychometric models called Diagnostic Classifcation Models (DCMs) that are based on categorical latent variables.

Bioinformatics: Learning by Doing

Andrew Vershon, Rutgers University (RU)
This project addresses two grand challenges—cutting-edge STEM content and K-12 science assessments. Using DNA Sequencing Analysis Program (DSAP), which will be modified, high school students and teachers will learn molecular biology and modern genetics by working with authentic genomic sequences, and submit their findings for review by scientists. The objective is to develop state-of-the-art Web-based tools and resources that will make it possible for high school students to conduct authentic research in bioinformatics.

Disciplinary Experts in Science Education Research: A University of Maryland Program for Producing STEM Education Researchers

Andrew Elby, University of Maryland (UMD)
This project supports five graduate students with backgrounds in the natural and learning sciences as they achieve masters-level expertise in a science discipline and pursue coursework and complete dissertations in science education research. The program prepares them to 1) collaborate with educational and developmental psychologists and discipline-based science education researchers, and 2) to develop and teach courses that break down the traditional barriers between science teaching methods courses and science content courses for teachers.

Developing Contingent Pedagogies: Integrating Technology-enhanced Feedback into a Middle School Science Curriculum to Improve Conceptual Teaching and Learning

Angela DeBarger, SRI International
SRI International developed a formative assessment intervention that integrates classroom network technologies and contingent curriculum activities to help middle school teachers adjust instruction to improve student learning of Earth science concepts. The intervention was tested as part of a quasi-experimental study within an urban school district in Colorado that includes ethnically and economically diverse student populations. Findings indicate significant student learning gains for students in implementation classes as compared to students in comparison classes.

Chemistry Facets: Formative Assessment to Improve Student Understanding in Chemistry

Angela DeBarger, SRI International, FACET Innovations, LLC., Sonoma State University (SSU)
This project implemented a facets-of-thinking perspective to design tools and practices to improve high school chemistry teachers' formative assessment practices. Goals are to identify and develop clusters of facets related to key chemistry concepts; develop assessment items; enhance the assessment system for administering items, reporting results, and providing teacher resource materials; develop teacher professional development and resource materials; and examine whether student learning in chemistry improves in classes that incorporate a facet-based assessment system.

Tools for Teaching and Learning Engineering Practices: Pathways Towards Productive Identity Work in Engineering

Angela Calabrese Barton, Michigan State University (MSU)
Identifying with engineering is critical to help students pursue engineering careers. This project responds to this persistent large-scale problem. The I-Engineering framework and tools address both the learning problem (supporting students in learning engineering design) and the identity problem (supporting students in recognizing that they belong in engineering). 

Making Sense of Global Warming and Climate Change: Model of Student Learning via Collaborative Research

Anita Roychoudhury, Purdue University
A major scientific issue of our time is global warming and climate change. Many facets of human life are and will continue to be influenced by this. However, an adequate understanding of the problem requires an understanding of various domains of science. There has been little research done on effects of intervention on student learning of these topics. This project shows an improvement in student knowledge of climate change and related issues.

Professional Development for Culturally Relevant Teaching and Learning in Pre-K Mathematics

Anita Wager, University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison)
This project is creating and studying a professional development model to support preK teachers in developing culturally and developmentally appropriate practices in counting and early number. The proposed model is targeted at teachers of children in four-year-old kindergarten, and focuses on culturally relevant teaching and learning. The model stresses counting and basic number operations with the intention of exploring the domain as it connects to children's experiences in their homes and communities.

Learning in Practice: New Possibilities for Teacher Professional Education in Science

Ann Rosebery, TERC, Inc.
This project promotes teacher "learning in practice" to bring out and build on the cognitive strengths of their students for science learning in the classroom. Understanding the broader contexts of their student’s lives will enable teachers to make teaching more effective and relevant for their students. Teachers and researchers collaborate to develop theories of action, document and disseminate practices that support teacher learning, and design a model for sustainable, school-wide improvement of science education.

Developing a Model of STEM-Focused Elementary Schools (eSTEM)

Ann House, SRI International
This project will study five elementary STEM schools from across the U.S. that are inclusive of students from underrepresented groups in order to determine what defines these schools and will use an iterative case study replication design to study the design and implementation of five exemplary eSTEM schools with the goal of developing a logic model that highlights the commonalities in core components and target outcomes across the schools, despite the different school contexts.

Teacher Education: Learning the Practice of Statistics

Anna Bargagliotti, Loyola Marymount University (LMU)
This exploratory project is to enhance the ability of teachers to provide high quality STEM education for all students by developing research-based materials that enable teachers to facilitate students' progress toward statistical understanding.

CAREER: Learning to Support Productive Collective Argumentation in Secondary Mathematics Classes

AnnaMarie Conner, University of Georgia Research Foundation, Inc. (UGARF)
Research has shown that engaging students, including students from underrepresented groups, in appropriately structured reasoning activities, including argumentation, may lead to enhanced learning. This project will provide information about how teachers learn to support collective argumentation and will allow for the development of professional development materials for prospective and practicing teachers that will enhance their support for productive collective argumentation.

WeInvestigate: Collaborative Exploration of Scientific Phenomena with the Assistance of Hand-Held Simulations, Prose, and Graphics

Annemarie Palincsar, University of Michigan (UM)
This project aims to assist in the development and study of WeInvestigate, an application that will run on a mobile device. The application will help support learners as they engage in artifact construction using multiple media while two or more learners can be synchronously collaborating either face-to-face or at a distance. WeInvestigate is leveraging the research that learning in collaboration with others associated...

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