DR K-12 Science Curriculum SIG Synthesis


The mission of the DR K-12 Science Curriculum Special Interest Group (SIG) was to further explore the types of science curricula being developed by DR K-12 grantees and to better understand the types of technologies being employed.  To assist the SIG with their work, EDC and Abt Associates gathered information from various sources to provide insight into the DR K-12 science portfolio. 

The Science Curriculum SIG had two in-person meetings; one on June 25, 2010 and another on September 22, 2010 to discuss the types of information and activities that would be useful and interesting to the group.  Discussions from the first meeting in June 2010 clarified and provided structure to what information the SIG was interested in obtaining about the DR K-12 portfolio—how science curricula and technology were being developed, utilized and tracked.  Abt Associates was tasked with synthesizing information to help inform DR K-12 PIs and NSF about the science curriculum projects in the DR K-12 portfolio.

 The synthesis was intended to accomplish the following:

  • Describe the key characteristics of the DR K-12 projects related to science curricula;
  • Identify the types of technologies used in the science curriculum portfolio; and
  • Categorize science curriculum project research questions to help determine if there is coherence and/or gaps

 The information provided at the September 22, 2010 Science Curriculum SIG meeting included:

  1. A descriptive summary of the DR K-12 science curriculum landscape
    • Targeted grade levels
    • Distribution across science disciplines
    • Intended users (teachers, students)
    • Dissemination approaches (e.g., hard copy, electronic, software, web, other technology)
    • Discription of how projects are distributed within the "cycle of innovation"
  2. A categorization of project research questions and descriptions of the information within each category
  3. A categorization and description of DR K-12 science projects' use of technology

The coding of the DR K-12 projects within the portfolio has been an evolving process, and one that has required regular refinement as different questions are posed (e.g. by SIGs, NSF, DRL-net), decisions are made, and additional data become available.  Over time, projects have been coded, new cohorts have come into the portfolio, old cohorts have delivered additional materials that are reviewed and incorporated (e.g., end of year reports), new coding decisions have become necessary, and re-coding occurs.  The information presented to the Science Curriculum SIG on September 22, 2010 represents a “snapshot in time” of the data available as of August 2010.

PowerPoint Slides

  • Slide #2 provides the landscape of the DR K-12 portfolio as of August 2010, which included a total of 176 projects, 156 of which were identified as containing science content. 
  • Slides #3-11 display the science projects by grade band, science content area, project focus (resource, technology, or model), type of resource (e.g., PD for teachers, curricula or materials for students), type of technology (e.g., on-line gaming, virtual environments, on-line networks), type of model (e.g., curriculum frameworks, learning progression, standards), target audience (e.g., students, teachers, administrators), point in the cycle of innovation, and method of dissemination of project findings.
  • Slides #13-18 describe the categorization of the science projects’ research questions.  At the broadest level, the research questions were grouped into large themes; questions addressing 1) project implementation, 2) teacher outcomes, 3) student outcomes, 4) classroom/school/district outcomes, and 5) project evaluation.  Each of the categories is then further described with exemplars of the types of research questions posed.
  • Slides #20-24 categorize and describe the DR K-12 science projects’ use of technology.  The categories include 1) on-line gaming, interactive learning, or virtual environments (e.g., learning that occurs while interactively playing a game on the computer, on-line simulations, virtual tours), 2) on-line networks or collaboration tools (e.g., using the web to network with other educators), 3) software on personal computers, and 4) assessments (e.g., tests taken via computer that are interactive, automatically graded, or archive results).  Again, each of the categories is then further described with specific examples of the types of technologies used in the projects.

Excel Workbook

During the Science Curriculum SIG meeting in September 2010, participants requested additional information about the science projects within the DR K-12 portfolio.  Specifically, SIG members wanted to know:

  • Which projects use or develop technology
  • Which projects cater to each of the grade bands
  • Which projects are in each of the science content areas
  • Which projects use or develop specific technologies 

In the Excel workbook, Tab 1 identifies the project number, PI name, project title, and a brief project summary for all 55 science projects using or developing a technology (tab 1).  Tab 2 identifies the PI name and project title for each project coded to each grade band.  Tab 3 identifies the PI name and project title for each project coded to each of the science disciplines.  Tab 4 identifies the PI name and project title for each project using or developing each specific type of technology.