DRK-12 CAREER Awards

The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program offers NSF's most prestigious awards in support of early career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization. Each year, NSF awards foundation-wide CAREER grants for activities that are helping early career faculty build a firm foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research. This spotlight showcases CAREER awardees in the DRK-12 program. In this spotlight, learn about the work of these emerging leaders who are developing innovative approaches for improving teaching and learning across STEM disciplines, and hear their advice for developing a successful CAREER proposal and tips for managing a CAREER grant based on their experience in Insight from DRK-12 CAREER Awardees.

Participating awardees include: Christine Bae, Laura Bofferding, Jennifer Chiu, Michelle Cirillo, Leslie Dietiker, Meixia Ding, Maisie Gholson, Gloriana Gonzalez, Amy Hackenberg, Frances Harper, Charles Hohensee, Jessica Hunt, Ji Yeong I, Lama Jaber, Ryan "Seth" Jones, Hosun Kang, Shakhnoza Kayumova, Melissa Luna, Marta Magiera, Eve Manz, Lauren Margulieux, Kelly Lynn Mulvey, David Purpura, Kihyun "Kelly" Ryoo, Colby Tofel-Grehl, Janet Walkoe, and William Zahner.


NEW: Black and Latinx Parents Leading chANge and Advancing Racial (PLANAR) Justice in Elementary Mathematics (NSF #2046856)

PI: Frances Harper | STEM Discipline(s): Mathematics | Target Audience(s): Urban elementary students, parents/caregivers, and teachers...click to read more

Project Description:

This project aims to increase solidarity among parents, community organizers, and teachers to advance racial justice in PreK-5 mathematics education. Research objectives include understanding the lived experiences of parents as they build capacity to lead change and tracing parent-teacher-community partnerships that promote a shared vision for racial justice in mathematics.

Decades of reform efforts in mathematics education continue to fail Black and Latinx children, in part, because parents are excluded from decisions about school mathematics. Nonetheless, Black and Latinx families often persist in supporting their individual children, but a shift toward collective organizing among parents as change agents in school mathematics is necessary for meeting the needs of every student. This project explores possibilities for localized change lead by parents. By making explicit how to foster and increase Black and Latinx parents’ engagement in solidarity with community organizations and teachers, this project could provide a model for other communities and schools seeking to advance racial justice in mathematics education. Through critical community-engaged scholarship and in collaboration with ten Black and Latinx families, ten teachers, and two community organizations, the research team will co-design and co-study two educational programs aimed at advancing racial justice in elementary mathematics. The first program seeks to build parents’ capacity to catalyze change across classrooms and schools within their local communities; and the second program will provide teacher professional development that supports elementary teachers of mathematics to learn with and from Black and Latinx families.

NEW: Building Upon Diverse Students’ Funds of Knowledge to Promote Science Discourse (NSF #1845048)

PI: Christine Bae | STEM Discipline(s): Science | Target Audience(s): Urban middle school classrooms (Grades 6-8)...click to read more

Project Description:

Students come to classrooms with diverse ways of knowing and communicating. The aim of this project is to work with teachers to create engaging and equitable opportunities for science discourse by bridging the resources and experiences students have gained from their homes and communities with the science taught in school.

Although there is significant evidence that sense-making through discourse is an essential part of learning, student talk typically makes up a small percentage of classroom time. Further, scholars are calling for the need to re-imagine classrooms for science discourse, away from ‘school science’ to hybrid spaces where students’ experiential ways of knowing, home languages, and cultural practices are viewed as resources for advancing their understanding of science phenomena (Emdin, 2011;  Gutiérrez et al., 1999; Rosebery et al., 2016).

This project is working towards this vision for equitable science discourse. Middle school science teachers serving in urban classrooms attend summer professional development and work in same grade lesson study teams throughout the academic year to plan a lesson around a science talk goal, observe one another’s classrooms, and reflect on how their students’ funds of knowledge serve as assets in science discourse activities (Calabrese Barton & Tan, 2009; Lewis et al., 2006; Moje et al. 2004). This project is based on the premise that when we center students and the contexts that are relevant to them, student engagement in science talk, and ultimately deeper understanding of science ideas and practices will be achieved.

Findings point to the potential of hybrid spaces for engaging students in science talk. In these spaces, teachers value students’ interests, experiences, and diverse modes of speech, and position students as agents in science discourse activities.

The COVID-19 pandemic presented both challenges that our teachers rose to, as well as new possibilities for science discourse. We collaborated with teachers on virtual science talk activities, leveraging the affordances of online and asynchronous platforms. Lesson study was a helpful model for teachers to observe one another’s virtual classrooms and find ways to create equitable science talk opportunities for their students.

NEW: The Designing Mathematically Captivating Lesson Experiences (MCLE) Project (NSF #1652513)

PI: Leslie Dietiker | STEM Discipline(s): Mathematics | Target Audience(s): Grades 9-12...click to read more

Project Description:

This study explores how secondary mathematics teachers can design lessons that spur student curiosity and captivate students with complex mathematical content. Six teachers designed lessons with researchers using the mathematical story framework where the mathematical concept unfolds to capture students’ attention and provide expanded aesthetic experiences (e.g., suspense).

Secondary students often associate their experiences in STEM disciplines, especially in mathematics, with negative emotions (e.g., dull and boring). Recently the Common Core State Standards of Mathematical Practice, such as making sense of problems and persevere in solving them, challenge teachers to design lessons that encourage students to persevere as they engage with complex mathematical concepts. To address this challenge, the MCLE Project draws on the affordances of narratives to explore how high school mathematics teachers can design mathematical stories, which interprets the unfolding mathematical ideas across a lesson as a narrative. To show how the mathematical content unfolds in a sequence of activities within their mathematical stories, the teachers created representations of the mathematical plots, such as storyboards. Each of the six participating teachers designed and enacted three MCLEs to offer different types of aesthetic experiences, such as surprise or wonder. The lesson topics for each MCLE were selected by the teachers so that it can fit within the curriculum of their courses. Using post-lesson surveys and selected student interviews, the student aesthetic experiences with MCLEs were compared with their experiences in lessons that were not designed using the mathematical story framework.

Overall, students reported improved aesthetic experiences in MCLEs when compared with other lessons in the same class, as shown by both surveys and interviews. We have identified eight characteristics of mathematical plots (e.g., number of questions which are open simultaneously, stayed open longer, spanned more of the lesson, and offered incremental progress periodically throughout the lesson, etc.) that are associated with students' lesson interests. We have learned that MCLEs can positively impact important practices such as teacher and student questioning and teacher discursive moves which strongly influence students’ engagement in classroom discourse.


UPDATED: Algebraic Knowledge for Teaching: A Cross-Cultural Perspective (NSF #1350068)

PI: Meixia Ding | STEM Discipline(s): Mathematics; Early Algebra | Target Audience(s): Urban; K-5; Elementary school teachers; Mathematics educators and researchers...click to read more

Project Description:

The goal of this project is to identify Algebraic Knowledge for Teaching (AKT) that is useful to develop students’ algebraic thinking. Through an exploration of U.S. and Chinese elementary expert teachers’ video-taped lessons in K-4, this project has discerned a type of AKT named Teaching through Example-based Problem Solving (TEPS).

Algebra readiness is recognized as an important gatekeeper to future success in mathematics. However, many U.S. students are ill-prepared for the study of algebra, indicating a great challenge facing elementary teachers in preparing students for their entry into algebra. 

This project aims to help address this issue by identifying necessary AKT that will support teachers to better teach early algebraic concepts, especially those fundamental mathematical ideas. Fundamental ideas such as inverse relations and basic properties are systematically emphasized by the Common Core; however, there is a lack of sufficient guidance on how these fundamentals can be effectively taught to students. Our project contributes to narrowing this gap by identifying an evidence-based approach that can be used to develop students’ algebraic thinking and beyond.

In addition, our project takes the middle ground of two long-debated research assertions: teaching through worked examples and teaching through problem-solving. As indicated by our project lessons, especially those from China, the above two debated assertions can be seamlessly integrated into a lesson to support student learning. By actively engaging students in working out an example task that is situated in a word problem context, students can construct a mental schema to solve subsequent problems.

Main findings of this project are the identified AKT named, Teaching through Example-based Problem Solving (TEPS). This approach emphasizes engaging students in the process of working out an example task through pertinent representation uses and deep questioning. With regard to representation uses, a teacher may situate a worked example in a real-world context (e.g., word problem), which can be modeled through “concreteness fading.” For deep questioning, a teacher may ask concept-specific and comparison questions to promote connection making. The components of TEPS and illustrative lesson episodes are documented in a book and piloted with project teachers who retaught the lessons.

UPDATED: Fraction Activities and Assessment for Conceptual Teaching (FAACT) (NSF #1708327)

PI: Jessica Hunt | STEM Discipline(s): Mathematics | Target Audience(s): Urban or Rural; Grades 3-5; Students with Math Disabilities and Difficulties...click to read more

Project Description:

Fraction Activities and Assessment for Conceptual Teaching (FACCT) increases access and advancement in fraction concepts for students with math difficulties and disabilities. Documented learning trajectories of the target population serve as the basis for the curriculum. Adaptive prompts and small group discourse support reflection, connection, and abstraction of concepts.

Students with disabilities often experience educational disparities caused by opportunity gaps rooted in instruction that works to remediate students as opposed to creating spaces for students to access their own ways of reasoning from which to build understanding. This project documented initial or informal understandings of students with learning disabilities within targeted mathematical areas (e.g., fractions, ratio, whole numbers) and provided new understandings of how growth occurs and could be nurtured through the learning process. This project also designed, developed, and tested a new math intervention program that educators can use to support students with math difficulty and disability to advance their fractional reasoning.

  • A concurrent nested mixed methods design with one phase of data collection was used to detect performance differences before and after intervention and conceptual advance within intervention with 11 students. Analyses revealed 1-2 trajectory stage changes along our learning trajectory for all students. Statistically significant differences in score were also confirmed.
  • Engagement was an area for continued innovation. We are addressing this by scaling FAACT with our ModelME project, which is being developed using the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework to maximize both accessibility and engagement by providing conceptual understanding challenges rooted in authentic STEM and ICT careers.

UPDATED: Investigating Changes in Students’ Prior Mathematical Reasoning: An Exploration of Backward Transfer Effects in School Algebra (NSF #1651571)

PI: Charles Hohensee | STEM Discipline(s): Mathematics | Target Audience(s): Algebra Students and Teachers...click to read more

Project Description:

This project is examining how learning about a new STEM concept changes students’ reasoning about concepts that are not new to them and focuses mainly on mathematics concepts. We also examine how to teach new concepts in ways that enhance students’ reasoning about not-new concepts.

The main issue our project addresses is how students’ reasoning about concepts that are not new to them changes when learning about a new concept, and we call this phenomenon backward transfer. We specifically focus on mathematics, but believe our backward transfer research is highly relevant within and across STEM content domains more broadly. For instance, this research is relevant to how learning about the relationships between position, velocity, and acceleration in physics could influence students’ reasoning about derivatives and integrals in calculus, and vice versa.

One way our project has been innovative is by being the first to use contrasting cases to examine backward transfer (i.e., comparing distinctly different instructional environments). By comparing backward transfer across contrasting cases (e.g., business-as-usual classroom environments, summer math camps), we have gained insights into backward transfer we would not have gained had we examined a single instructional environment alone. Another way our project has been innovative is by being the first to develop and test mathematics activities designed to teach students new concepts, while simultaneously enhancing their reasoning about concepts that are not new to them.

One finding relevant to STEM education is that teaching students about a new concept with a business-as-usual instructional approach led to extensive and varied unintended backward-transfer effects. A second finding is that, compared to a business-as-usual approach, when a new concept was taught using an approach designed to simultaneously produce particular backward-transfer effects, fewer unintended backward transfer effects associated with the not-new concept were realized. A third finding is that the types of changes in reasoning that students exhibited about a not-new concept after learning about a new concept, were related to their level of understanding of the not-new concept.

UPDATED: Noticing and Using Students’ Prior Knowledge in Problem-based Instruction (NSF #1253081)

PI: Gloriana Gonzalez | STEM Discipline(s): Mathematics | Target Audience(s): High School; High-Needs Schools...click to read more

Project Description:

For this project, we created an adaptation to lesson study. Teachers discussed animations made by the research team to get ideas for planning a problem-based lesson. We recorded the teachers’ implementation of the lessons and led video clubs in the reflection step for teachers to pay attention to student thinking.

The project addresses three fundamental problems in professional development.  One problem is the lack of a centralized curriculum that affects teachers’ discussions pedagogical issues around specific content. The animations anchor teachers’ discussions of pedagogical issues by showing examples of problem-based lessons and promoting teachers’ development of an inquiry stance for understanding student thinking during problem-solving. A second problem involves teachers’ difficulties focusing their observations on student thinking. The video clubs allow for showcasing examples from various classrooms and provide opportunities for a deep analysis of student thinking when solving complex tasks. A third problem is that of providing opportunities for practice-based professional development. By having all teachers teach the lesson in their classrooms, the adaptation to lesson study supported teachers in applying what they learned in professional development sessions. Overall, the project enhances lesson study implementation in the U.S. by producing a viable model that engages teachers across school districts who teach the same content area, thus helping to overcome teachers’ sense of isolation by building a professional community.

Teachers’ discussions of student thinking in the study group meetings was significant and their implementation of the same lessons in the second year involved higher levels of reasoning with students’ ideas than in the first year. The process of revising and re-teaching the lessons optimized teachers’ discussions of student thinking. We also learned that the facilitator of teachers’ discussions plays a crucial role in promoting an inquiry stance when discussing animations and videos. A continuous challenge is that of recruiting and supporting teachers’ participation in professional development, which may require strong partnerships with schools and districts.

UPDATED: Supporting Model Based Inference as an Integrated Effort Between Mathematics and Science (NSF #1942770)

PI: Ryan "Seth" Jones | STEM Discipline(s): Statistics; Data Science; Mathematics; Science; Ecology | Target Audience(s): 6th and 7th grade; Students from diverse backgrounds...click to read more

Project Description:

This project is exploring how to productively coordinate instruction around data, statistics, modeling, and inference in middle grades mathematics and science classes to support students to develop competencies in statistical model-based inference. We are conducting design-based research to develop and study innovative tools that support students to generate knowledge about ecological systems by using models of variability to make inferences.

Data models of variability inform inferences within STEM communities across disciplines. Making inferences that are informed by models of variability is an increasingly important learning goal for both science and mathematics education. For STEM professionals, though, these inferences involve interdisciplinary networks of ideas and practices that emerge from local questions and problems. But institutional boundaries in schools separate mathematics and science disciplines in ways that undermine interdisciplinarity, and students are rarely supported to develop a coherent image of how ideas and practices from different disciplinary communities inform one another.

Our project aims to support middle grades students to create, revise, and use models of variability to make inferences about ecological systems. We are developing innovative curricular infrastructures to help mathematics and science teachers coordinate their instruction and support students to use interdisciplinary networks of ideas as they make inferences about organisms in local ecological systems. We are using a design-based research approach in partnership with middle grades math and science teachers to iteratively design, implement, and study these curricular infrastructures. This project is designed to generate new knowledge about how to conceptualize and support interdisciplinary learning goals related to making inferences with data.

We are learning about both the opportunities and the challenges for math and science teachers as they work to coordinate opportunities for students to make inferences with variable data. Some of these challenges are logistical. For example, science teachers often ask students to conduct investigations that produce forms of data they have yet to encounter in their math classes, and may not encounter for months or years. Other challenges, though, are conceptual as teachers across the different disciplines and grade levels often think differently about data, justifying claims, and supporting students. But there are also many opportunities that we have identified, such as common forms of data across disciplines, that we are now working to coordinate among the teachers at our partner school.

Analyzing the Nexus between Advantaged Social Positioning and Science Identity Development among English Language Learners (NSF #1652752)

PI: Shakhnoza Kayumova | STEM Discipline(s): Science in the Context of Integrated STEAM | Target Audience(s): All Audiences...click to read more

Project Description:

This mixed-methods longitudinal study examines the empirical connections between language and science identity development among culturally and linguistically diverse learners, widely known as English language learners. We draw on social positioning theory to study the relationship between language and science identity development. 

Science learning is often conceived in terms of knowledge and skills. This research draws on theories that recognize students’ identities and agencies as critical aspects of learning. From this perspective, we consider students’ linguistic and cultural differences as fundamental to learning and work on transforming science learning ecologies accordingly.

This program is based on an intervention called social positioning. Social positioning is a two-pronged construct: it encompasses both the learner’s perception of who they are and their ability to engage in science and how others in their immediate environment recognize these performances. We hypothesize that when students’ cultural and linguistic backgrounds are positioned as assets in their learning, this is likely to have a positive impact on their developing science identity. In contrast, when students’ backgrounds are positioned as a deficit, this impacts their self-perceptions and learning negatively. To test this hypothesis, we partnered with local schools, families, and university STEM faculty to design a two-week summer program, called STEAM Your Way To College. Close to 100 middle school students, who were identified as English language learners, will participate in this program for the next three years. 

Our preliminary findings show that when students’ cultural and language backgrounds are positioned as strengths, they demonstrate a greater investment in science learning. We also see the impact of our findings not just with students but with teachers and mentors who share similar backgrounds. Specifically, we find that when teachers are trained to position students as linguistic and epistemic agents, and understand how to explicitly subvert deficit-based perspectives, they are more likely to see students' backgrounds as valuable assets. Most importantly, they see linguistic differences as strengths which do not hinder students from engaging in robust and complex science practices.

Cultivating Teachers’ Epistemic Empathy to Promote Responsive Teaching (NSF #1844453)

PI: Lama Jaber | STEM Discipline(s): Science; Mathematics | Target Audience(s): Preservice and In-service Science and Mathematics Teachers...click to read more

Project Description:

This project aims to study and cultivate science and mathematics teachers’ “epistemic empathy”—their capacity for tuning into and valuing someone’s cognitive and emotional experiences in the process of constructing, communicating, and critiquing knowledge. The research will examine how such empathy influences teachers’ responsiveness and how it shapes students’ engagement.

When students perceive that their experiences are not relevant to their science and mathematics learning, they may view these fields as inaccessible to them. This in turn creates an obstacle to their engagement, which becomes particularly consequential for students from traditionally underrepresented populations. There is a pressing need, then, to prepare STEM teachers to be open and responsive to students’ diverse ideas and  experiences—including their linguistic, emotional, and cultural knowledge—and to leverage them as instructional resources. To address this need, this project aims to cultivate teachers’ “epistemic empathy” to promote an asset-based orientation towards all students as sense-makers, an orientation that may support teachers to be more responsive to students’ ideas and experiences. Using a design-based approach, the team designs and implements educative experiences for teachers aimed at fostering their attunement to and ways of leveraging learners’ ideas and emotions in science and mathematics. Further, the project explores how epistemic empathy shapes teachers’ views of their roles, goals, and priorities and how it influences their enactment of responsive teaching that pursues the productive beginnings in student work. Lastly, the project will investigate how teachers’ empathy shapes students’ engagement and responsiveness to each other’s experiences in the classroom.

Preliminary findings provide important insights regarding the complex ways in which epistemic empathy can be expressed and cultivated. An assortment of educative experiences seems particularly powerful for cultivating epistemic empathy, including the use of videos to showcase student reasoning around science and mathematics questions and teachers experiencing those same questions as learners. Additionally, our analysis surfaces several tensions between epistemic empathy and more general manifestations of empathy that may hinder learners’ epistemic pursuits and agency. Lastly, preliminary findings suggest potential connections between empathy, epistemic empathy, and the enactment of responsive teaching practices, motivating further explorations of the relationship between these constructs.


Related Products:

  • Jaber, L. Z. (2016). Attending to students’ epistemic affect. In A. D. Robertson, R. E. Scherr, & D. Hammer (Eds.), Responsive Teaching in Science and Mathematics (pp. 162-188). New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Jaber, L. Z., Herbster, C., & Truett, J. (2019). Responsive teaching: Embracing students’ divergent questions. Science and Children, 57(2), 89-89.
  • Jaber, L. Z., Southerland, S., & Dake, F. (2018). Cultivating epistemic empathy in preservice teacher education. Teaching and Teacher Education, 72, 13-23.

Designing Learning Environments to Foster Productive and Powerful Discussions among Linguistically Diverse Students in Secondary Mathematics (NSF #1553708)

PI: William Zahner | STEM Discipline(s): Mathematics | Target Audience(s): Secondary Mathematics Teachers and Students...click to read more

Project Description:

We are studying how to create high school math classrooms where bilingual students who are classified as English learners (ELs) can participate in robust classroom discussions. Our redesign focuses on creating accessible and powerful curriculum materials, developing equitable instructional routines, and supporting student engagement in mathematical discourse practices.

This project supports ELs in STEM through making classroom discussions more accessible. We know from prior research that when students engage in classroom discussions, they can learn important mathematical concepts and develop a positive identity as a mathematics student. At the same time, we also know that many bilingual students who are classified as English learners, especially at the high school level, experience mathematics classes characterized by low-level mathematical and linguistic demands. Our goal is to transform this reality through a program of design research, done in collaboration with local teachers at a linguistically diverse school and student researchers from San Diego State University.

Our specific strategy is to research and develop design principles for high school classroom learning environments in which ELs participate in robust discussions. We started by observing mathematics classes during a "business as usual" phase and interviewing a linguistically diverse group of students about mathematics and about their experiences in school mathematics. We have taken what we learned from those observations and we are working with teachers to redesign the classroom learning environment to ensure all students can participate in classroom discussions. Three specific foci of our work are: 1) maintaining a consistent conceptual focus across the units we design, 2) integrating mathematical and language-related goals in each lesson, and 3) incorporating language supports in each lesson to make discussions available and fruitful for all students.

Expanding Latinxs' Opportunities to Develop Complex Thinking in Secondary Science Classrooms through a Research-Practice Partnership (NSF #1846227)

PI: Hosun Kang | STEM Discipline(s): Chemistry; Physics; Earth Science; Engineering | Target Audience(s): Grades 9-12...click to read more

Project Description:

This project aims to reduce youths’ opportunity gaps in secondary science classrooms by building a sustainable research–practice partnership. We explore how deliberately coordinated activities that facilitate the collaboration between researchers and practitioners can reduce opportunity gaps at schools, promote complex thinking in youth, and build on student ideas to promote responsible citizenship.

Despite decades of reform efforts, research indicates that classroom learning for students remains largely procedural, undemanding, and disconnected from the development of substantive scientific ideas. Furthermore, access to high-quality science instruction that promotes such complex thinking is far scarcer for students of color in communities with high concentrations of families living in poverty compared to their white counterparts. Research shows that many students from disadvantaged communities experience instruction geared to promote development of rote skills, working at a low cognitive level on fill-in-the-blank worksheets and test-oriented tasks that are profoundly disconnected from the skills they need to learn to be successful citizens. This is especially alarming in the United States, as students of color are projected to comprise 54 percent of total enrollments in elementary and secondary schools by 2024 (Kena et al., 2015). The purpose of this project is to reduce the learning opportunity gap in secondary science classrooms by building a sustainable research–practice partnership over five years.

We found that it is possible to transform classroom teaching at the high school science level in a way that expands powerful learning opportunities for Latinx and ELs if a group of teachers and researchers work together with the shared vision, framework, and tools. We also found that this work is highly relational because it involves supporting teachers to expand their identities while de-settling existing norms, practices, and expectations. The amount of work that goes into this transition and the competing values and expectations among the multiple stakeholders, including teachers and parents, make it difficult to broaden participation.  

Exploring Teacher Noticing of Students’ Multimodal Algebraic Thinking (NSF #1942580)

PI: Janet Walkoe | STEM Discipline(s): Mathematics | Target Audience(s): K-12 Mathematics Teachers and Teacher Educators...click to read more

Project Description:

This project will design and analyze a video club PD using a novel video tagging tool to support preservice teachers’ noticing and interpreting of student multimodal (verbal, gesture, action) algebraic thinking. The project will explore teacher’s multimodal noticing in the video club PD as well as in their own classrooms.

Students’ success in algebra is a key factor for college admission and the potential access that a college degree offers for the future (Moses, 1995). Unfortunately, many students are not succeeding in algebra classes. Research over the past decade has shown that not only can young children think algebraically, but encouraging them to do so is beneficial to future learning of formal algebra.

In order to capitalize on this emergent algebraic thinking, however, grade 6-8 teachers of pre-algebra and algebra courses need to be able to recognize opportunities to elicit the algebraic character of arithmetic and pre-algebraic thinking during instruction. Work in this area has begun. Blanton and Kaput (2003) discuss developing teachers “algebra eyes and ears,” and in prior work I discuss developing teachers’ attention to children’s algebraic thinking. However, this work has primarily focused on children’s ideas as expressed verbally or in writing. Focusing only on verbal and written expression of ideas has limitations, especially for English learners and students who are neurodiverse.

In this project, I will investigate teachers’ attention to multimodal student algebraic thinking and design and investigate a video club PD that uses novel video annotation tools to help support teachers’ multimodal noticing.


This project will produce:

  • A framework for articulating children’s multimodally expressed algebraic resources,
  • A six-session video club PD curriculum, and
  • A model for teacher noticing to help teacher educators better support teachers in learning to identify and take up the multimodally expressed seeds of algebraic thinking in middle grades.

Implement Mathematical Modeling for Emergent Bilinguals (IM2EB) (NSF #1941668)

PI: Ji Yeong I | STEM Discipline(s): Mathematics; Pre-Algebra; Algebra | Target Audience(s): Emergent Bilinguals; Teacher Educators; Mathematics Teachers and ELL Coordinators; Urban Districts...click to read more

Project Description:

Responding to the rapid increase of emergent bilinguals (EBs) and their need to learn quality mathematics, this project implements modeling through co-developing and co-teaching with math teachers. This study investigates how mathematics teachers change their positioning and practices for EBs through a teacher-researcher collaboration of effective mathematical modeling instructions.

The project idea originated from the misconception that it is inappropriate to provide challenging mathematics tasks such as word problems to EBs due to their lack of English proficiency. If EBs receive only easy tasks, such as simple computation worksheets, EBs are denied opportunities to engage in high-level cognitive demand tasks like problem-solving or reasoning tasks that cultivate a more profound understanding in mathematics. More importantly, providing rigorous learning opportunities to all students, including EBs, is crucial for equity in education. Although teaching EBs is becoming an unavoidable challenge for mathematics teachers as the EB population grows in the U.S., almost half of surveyed teachers believe helping EBs adapt to the school culture is not their responsibility; in fact, approximately 20% of the teachers refuse to modify their instruction for EBs. While the student population in the U.S. is becoming culturally and linguistically diverse, many teachers feel unprepared to teach EBs effectively, and as mentioned above, the research found teachers tend to position EBs as low performers in mathematics. Based on the belief that teacher perspectives are related to teaching practices, this study will examine how teachers position EBs and what quality of instruction they provide by implementing modeling tasks and situated PD.

This NSF funded project is starting this fall 2020, so we do not have any data or findings. But our pilot data indicates the promising project design to improve the learning of EBs.

Investigating Differentiated Instruction and Relationships between Rational Number Knowledge and Algebraic Reasoning in Middle School (IDR2eAM) (NSF #1252575)

PI: Amy Hackenberg | STEM Discipline(s): Mathematics | Target Audience(s): Middle School Students and Teachers...click to read more

Project Description:

This project is investigating how to differentiate instruction to meet middle school students’ mathematical learning needs. We are also investigating how students’ ideas about rational numbers and algebra are related. We have studied the PI’s teaching of students in after school classes and then in classrooms, co-teaching with teachers.

Today’s middle school mathematics classrooms are marked by increasing diversity (National Center of Educational Statistics, 2018; U.S. Census Bureau, 2015). Traditional responses to diversity are tracked classes that contribute to opportunity gaps (Flores, 2007) and can result in achievement gaps. Differentiating instruction (DI) is a pedagogical approach to manage classroom diversity in which teachers proactively plan to adapt curricula, teaching methods, and products of learning to address individual students’ needs in an effort to maximize learning for all (Heacox, 2002; Tomlinson, 2005). Thus, DI involves systematic forethought rather than only reactive adaptation.

In addition, broadly speaking, students enter middle school at three different levels of multiplicative reasoning that have significant implications for how they build mathematical knowledge in middle school, including their fractions knowledge (e.g., Hackenberg & Tillema, 2009; Steffe & Olive, 2010), integers (Ulrich, 2012), and aspects of their algebraic reasoning (Hackenberg, 2013; Hackenberg & Lee, 2015; Olive & Caglayan, 2008). Teaching students at all of these levels is a significant challenge and requires research into student thinking at these levels.

In our project, we are using iterative design experiment methodology to study these issues with middle school students in after school settings and classrooms. We are also creating a community of teachers engaged in these issues through a teacher study group.

We have developed a theory of differentiating mathematics instruction for middle school students (see below), and we have several papers that report findings on students’ thinking and learning in the domains of rational number knowledge and algebraic reasoning (see below). We have developed a video case of differentiating instruction for prospective secondary teachers that is also represented in a publication for teachers. One thing we have learned is that differentiating mathematics instruction well is very challenging when done thoroughly but very rewarding when done well.


  • Project Website
  • CADRE Project Page
  • Video: 2019 STEM for All Video Showcase
  • Publications
  • Hackenberg, A. J. (in press). Differentiating instruction. In Tabor, P., Dibley, D., Hackenberg, A. J., & Norton, A. H. (Eds.), Numeracy for all: Teaching mathematics to learners with special needs. London: SAGE.
  • Hackenberg, A. J., Aydeniz, F., & Matyska, R. (2019). Tiering instruction on speed for middle school students. In Otten, S., Candela, A., de Araujo, Z., Haines, C., & Munter, C. (Eds.), Proceedings of the Forty-first Annual Meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (pp. 1396-1404). St. Louis, MO: University of Missouri.
  • Hackenberg, A. J. Norton, A. H., Wright, R. J. (2016). Developing fractions knowledge. London: SAGE. [Chapter 13 is about the IDReAM project]

Investigating Fifth Grade Teachers’ Knowledge of Noticing Appalachian Students’ Thinking in Science (NSF #1552428)

PI: Melissa Luna | STEM Discipline(s): Science, STEM | Target Audience(s): Grade 5; Rural and Semi-rural; Low SES Communities...click to read more

Project Description:

The project utilizes wearable video technology to both study and support teacher noticing of children’s thinking in elementary science classrooms in Appalachian school contexts. By examining teachers’ noticing practice this research builds a theory of teacher knowledge surrounding this practice to be leveraged in the design of teacher learning.

Children from “non-dominant communities” (Gutiérrez & Rogoff, 2003)—including Appalachian communities—are particularly affected by issues of equity and access to early science learning opportunities. Therefore, supporting elementary science teaching is key, as it can either open up or shut down opportunities for children to learn in science. An ultimate goal of this research is to impact science teaching in Appalachian communities in order to open up science learning opportunities for all children.

In this context, this research examines teachers’ noticing of children’s thinking in science and focuses on designing web-based teacher learning materials surrounding this teaching practice. It is grounded in constructivist and situated theories of children’s learning—children draw on rich and varied cultural resources to form ideas about the natural world and these ideas form the basis for science learning. Thus, teachers’ noticing of these rich and varied resources embedded in students’ thinking should be central to the work of teaching science.

This project involves both interpretive participant observational research and design-based research methodologies with a goal of building theory of teacher knowledge and practice surrounding teachers’ noticing that can be leveraged in the design of teacher learning materials and experiences—specific to an Appalachian context.

The teachers participating in this project have deep West Virginia roots—all were raised in Appalachian communities much like the ones from which their students come. While data analysis is ongoing, what has become clear is that when asked to notice their students’ thinking, these teachers draw on a vast knowledge base of the rich cultural resources their students bring to bear in science learning and this knowledge base seems to be unique and deeply connected to Appalachia. Although preliminary, this is quite interesting if the data shows that Appalachian teachers’ noticing is unique to the Appalachian context.


  • CADRE Project Page
  • The design of the web-based teacher noticing learning materials that are part of this project are in progress. These will be made publicly available in the future.

Job Embedded Education on Computational Thinking for Rural STEM Discipline Teachers (NSF #1942500)

PI: Colby Tofel-Grehl | STEM Discipline(s): Science; Technology; Engineering; Mathematics | Target Audience(s): Rural Middle School Teachers...click to read more

Project Description:

This project cultivates a professional development model that allows rural teachers to build their professional skills at integrating STEM. Focusing on Pacific Islanders, a group with a unique cultural identity largely underrepresented in STEM fields, the project seeks to help teachers better teach STEM and Hawaii's computer science education standards.

This project develops a new way of engaging teachers in professional learning that is situated in their classrooms while they perform the tasks of their paid employment. Traditional professional development structures frequently place financial and professional pressures on teachers, which limits participation. Rural teachers in particular may have fewer opportunities due to barriers of distance, limited resources, and lack of available staff. Further, they are most likely to be underqualified and most likely to spend their entire teaching careers at their first district prospectively teaching multiple generations of students from their community. The state of Hawaii has a high proportion of such rural schools and a shortage of STEM teachers especially in the area of computer science. This project will investigate a professional development model using fading scaffolds (support that is gradually reduced over time) as part of participants’ paid summer school teaching. Through this model, 20 rural teachers will learn to integrate computational thinking, coding, and science content while working with students from their own communities, with 10 becoming master teachers supporting others throughout the state. Improving teachers’ ability to prepare students to benefit from opportunities in STEM and computing will advance students’ opportunities for future prosperity. 

L-MAP: Pre-service Middle School Teachers’ Knowledge of Mathematical Argumentation and Proving (NSF #1350802)

PI: Marta Magiera | STEM Discipline(s): Mathematics | Target Audience(s): Grades K-8; Preservice Teacher Education...click to read more

Project Description:

This project supports grades 1-8 prospective teachers in developing knowledge and dispositions for teaching and learning K-8 mathematics with a focus on mathematical argumentation. The project explores the development of prospective teachers’ knowledge of argumentation in mathematics and mathematics-focused pedagogy and field experience courses and follows them into their student-teaching practice.

Argumentation is an essential practice that is relevant to all STEM-related fields. Encouraging students to formulate and test conjectures supports their ability to critically question claims, which is a critical habit in the 21st century.

Facilitating argumentation in elementary and middle grades mathematics is challenging for many teachers. Teacher education programs have then a great deal of responsibility in preparing prospective teachers to effectively respond to curricular visions about argumentation in mathematics teaching and learning. The objective of this program of research is to examine how middle school prospective teachers’ knowledge of mathematical argumentation develops in a teacher preparation program. Cross-sectional and longitudinal studies of prospective teachers’ models or systems of interpretation of mathematical argumentation are conducted to provide an understanding of the trajectory that captures how prospective teachers develop their knowledge of mathematical argumentation throughout their university mathematics and pedagogy courses, and into their student teaching.

Using problem-solving as a context for our examination of explanatory arguments generated by prospective teachers, we examined explanations prospective teachers constructed to support their own problem solutions, and explanations they provided in support of their critiques of student-generated explanations. We also examined features of explanations on which PSTs drew in their critiques of mathematical explanations of students. Our results show the importance of helping prospective teachers develop competencies in constructing and critiquing mathematical explanations concurrently. The results also suggest that prospective teachers might benefit from activities that help them recognize different features of student-generated explanations by explicitly directing their attention to the specific aspects of explanations (e.g., justifications, generality, foundations—which may also include any assumptions that underlie the solution to the problem). Engaging prospective teachers in analyzing and critiquing student-generated explanations gives them tools to self-critique of explanations they generate.

Magiera, M. T. & Zambak, V. S. (2020). Exploring prospective teachers’ ability to generate and analyze evidence-based explanatory arguments. International Journal of Research in Education and Science (IJRES), 6(2), 327-346.


We report on a teaching experiment with prospective teachers intended to support their understanding of the validity of mathematical arguments, and their ability to formulate mathematical arguments by conducting case analysis. We used Toulmin’s framework and engaged prospective teachers in collective argumentation in the context of solving crypto-arithmetic problems about a multi-digit addition algorithm. The problems facilitated reasoning about cases. We show the evolution of prospective teachers’ reasoning skills over time. A significant proportion of prospective teachers moved away from providing unsupported claims, towards constructing all-encompassing deductive-like arguments with clearly stated claims, supporting evidence, and reasons. We suggest a plausible sequence of learning activities for mathematics teacher educators to consider in an effort to strengthen prospective teachers’ argumentation skills. The goal is to support their ability to reason about and analyze cases while solving problems that lend themselves to drawing logical inferences with strategic approaches.

Zambak, V. S., & Magiera, M. T. (In press). Supporting grades 1-8 PSTs’ argumentation skills: Constructing mathematical arguments in situations that facilitate analyzing cases. International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology. DOI 10.1080/0020739X.2020.1762938


Our work shows that by carefully designing learning environments for prospective teachers, they develop positive dispositions and views on argumentation in elementary and middle school mathematics. We document that prospective teachers value argumentation primarily as a teaching-learning practice, not as a disciplinary practice of doing mathematics. This result is significant for two reasons. Prospective K-8 teachers who value argumentation as a teaching-learning practice are more likely to facilitate argumentation in their classrooms. On the other hand, prospective teachers who do not see argumentation as a way of doingmathematics might limit opportunities for their students to engage in argumentation as an inquiry into the truth of mathematical claims. Our result provides insights into the design of interventions focused on supporting teacher candidates in developing this latter, complementary vision of argumentation in school mathematics.

Park, H., & Magiera, M. T. (2019). Pre-service teachers’ conceptions of mathematical argumentation. In S. Otten, A. Candela, Z. deAraujo, C. Haines, & C. Munter (Eds.). Proceedings of the forty-first annual meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (pp. 1264-1268). St Louis, MO: University of Missouri.


We explored three teaching competencies: Prospective teachers’ professional noticing of student mathematical reasoning and strategies, their ability to assess the validity of student reasoning and strategies, and their ability to select student strategy for class discussion to engage students in argumentation. Our results reveal that PSTs with a strong awareness of mathematically significant aspects of student reasoning and strategies are better positioned to assess the validity of student reasoning and strategies. PSTs with higher strategy evaluation skills are also more likely to choose the strategy to engage students in a discussion focused on justification or to advance students’ conceptual understanding, compared to PSTs with low strategy evaluation skills

Zambak, V. S., & Magiera, M. T. (2018). Pre-service K-8 teachers’ professional noticing and strategy evaluation skills: An exploratory study. EURASIA Journal of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, 14(11), 1-19. DOI: https://doi.org/10.29333/ejmste/92021

Leveraging Contrasting Cases to Investigate Integer Understanding (NSF #1350281)

PI: Laura Bofferding | STEM Discipline(s): Mathematics | Target Audience(s): Elementary (Grades 2, 4, and 5); Rural; Urban...click to read more

Project Description:

What would happen if a student who had just solved 3 + 5 came across the problem 3 + -5, -3 + 5, or even -3 + -5?  We are investigating how factors, such as the order in which students learn integer problems, influences their integer understanding and solution strategies.

One challenge that students face when learning about integers and integer operations is building on and also modifying their prior understanding of whole numbers. Through our project we seek to clarify how students build upon and revise their whole number knowledge to learn and develop strategies with integers depending on the types of contrasting cases they experience. For example, students who first learn adding two negative integers in contrast with two positive ones (e.g., -3 + -5 vs. 3 + 5) may overlearn that problems with negative integers have negative answers. Therefore, they may be more likely to think that -3 + 5 is -8.  On the other hand, students who first learn adding a positive integer to a negative integer (e.g., -3 + 5) may overlearn that they should always count up in the number sequence. Therefore, they may be more likely to think that -3 + -5 is 2. Through randomly assigning students to experimental conditions where they evaluate different contrasting cases of integer problems, we evaluate the role problem type sequence, with connections among language, operations, and symbols (e.g., + -2, plus negative two, and more negative two), plays in students’ learning of integer addition and subtraction. 

One of the biggest challenges we’ve had in working with our data is the overwhelming realization of how complicated students’ learning of negative integers is. Students’ reasoning about integers involves their understanding of whole numbers’ quantities, number order, symbols, operations, and language⁠—all of which take on new meaning with the introduction of negative integers. Students who may correctly answer a problem sometimes provide reasoning that indicates they do not have conceptual understanding of negative integers, leading us to change the way we determine if we should consider an answer correct or not. 


  • CADRE Project Page
  • Book: Temperature Turmoil
    Based on insights from this research, we wrote and illustrated a story illuminating the difficulty students have in thinking about magnitude versus number order and the use of language with integers, which is available in a digital form.

Making Science Visible: Using Visualization Technology to Support Linguistically Diverse Middle School Students' Learning in Physical and Life Sciences (NSF #1552114)

PI: Kihyun "Kelly" Ryoo | STEM Discipline(s): Life Science; Physical Science | Target Audience(s): Grade 8; Linguistically Diverse Students...click to read more

Project Description:

This project is studying how interactive, dynamic visualizations engage linguistically diverse students in discourse-rich science practices while exploring complex scientific phenomena. Collaborating with science and English as a second language (ESL) teachers at Title I schools, we develop visualizations (e.g., simulations, animations, and modeling tools) and inquiry-based projects through design-based research.

Middle school students need to understand complex scientific systems through language-intensive science practices, such as developing models and analyzing data. While many students struggle with science practices, the challenges are amplified for ELs who are simultaneously developing proficiency in English.

To support all students in linguistically diverse science classrooms, we partner with eighth-grade science and ESL teachers to develop, test, and refine inquiry-based science materials featuring interactive, dynamic visualizations in physical and life sciences.

Our visualizations explicitly depict unobservable processes, such as relationships between energy, matter, and physical states, while providing students with multiple representations of content (e.g., molecular and macro animations, text, dynamic graphs, and symbols) to help reduce linguistic barriers to science learning.

Our visualizations are supported by scaffolding approaches, such as automated feedback and prediction-reflection prompts, to engage ELs in discourse-rich science practices. For example, students design virtual experiments exploring photosynthesis and cellular respiration by using simulations to explore content, analyze data, and reflect on their work to develop written explanations. Students also use modeling tools to develop visual models of abstract phenomena, such as how water molecules move during a phase change. Automated feedback helps students revise their models and link macro to micro changes.

Our findings from pre-post assessments and video data show that visualizations are significantly effective in not only improving both ELs’ and non-ELs’ understanding of scientific phenomena, but also in supporting their engagement in discourse-rich science practices. For instance, using scaffolded visualizations increased the opportunities for ELs to interpret multiple representations (e.g., dynamic graphs, animations, and explanations) of unobservable molecular phenomena. ELs also more frequently negotiated with partners about how to connect various sources of evidence to make sense of the visualizations. During this process, ELs used a wide range of linguistic and non-linguistic resources to communicate and refine their ideas.

Mechanisms Underlying the Relation between Mathematical Language and Mathematical Knowledge (NSF #1749294)

PI: David Purpura | STEM Discipline(s): Mathematics | Target Audience(s): Preschool Children from Families with Low Income...click to read more

Project Description:

The focus of this project is to understand how learning mathematical language concepts impacts development of math skills. We developed a series of picture books focused on quantitative and spatial language concepts to use in intervention studies with preschool children to understand how child best learn different math skills.

The two main issues we’re addressing through this project are (1) how early math language skills impact the development of math skills broadly, and (2) how to test these mechanisms in methods that can be transformed into school-based interventions that are easy to implement for teachers. We’re using picture books with built-in dialogic reading prompts to naturally scaffold instruction across multiple readings. At the completion of the project, we’ll be working to make the books available in multiple formats so they are accessible to a broad range of schools and families.

At the moment, we are in the early stages of the project. During the first year we collaborated with a professional author and a profession illustrator, as well as educators and parents, to develop three picture books rich in spatial language. During this past year we were implementing the first year of intervention in schools and are currently addressing how to deal with implications of COVID-19 on the project.

Promoting Equitable and Inclusive STEM Contexts in High School (NSF #1941992)

PI: Kelly Lynn Mulvey | STEM Discipline(s): STEM | Target Audience(s): Suburban and Rural High School Students; Districts Serving Low-income and Ethnically Diverse Populations...click to read more

Project Description:

This project centers on creating STEM classrooms where students from all backgrounds feel included and empowered to intervene if they observe stereotyping, bias, and prejudice. Using surveys and interviews of adolescents as well as testing a new intervention, the findings will document factors related to resilience in STEM fields.

An important barrier to persistence in STEM fields for marginalized groups, including women and ethnic minorities, relates to cultures in many STEM organizations, such as academic institutions, that foster discrimination, harassment and prejudicial treatment. This research will contribute to understanding the STEM educational climates in high schools and will help to identify factors that promote resilience in STEM contexts, documenting how K-12 educators can structure their classrooms to foster success of all students in STEM classes. We are examining inclusive STEM classes with attention both to college preparatory STEM classes as well as specialized STEM programs that are preparing youth for immediate entry into the STEM workforce upon graduation. Further, this work will explore how to create schools where students stand-up for each other and support each other so that any interested student will feel welcome in STEM classes and programs. This work is innovative in bringing a bystander intervention lens to classroom-based exclusionary experiences. Research on aggression demonstrates how powerful bystanders can be in interrupting unacceptable behavior, but no prior work has examined whether students can be empowered to serve as active bystanders in STEM classrooms to help create inclusive spaces for all students.

We are just getting started! Right now, we are setting up our partnerships with districts and thinking about how the new landscape of education since COVID-19 may shape the findings we obtain.

Proof in Secondary Classrooms: Decomposing a Central Mathematical Practice (PISC Project) (NSF #1453493)

PI: Michelle Cirillo | STEM Discipline(s): Mathematics; Geometry | Target Audience(s): Secondary Students Learning Proof in Geometry...click to read more

Project Description:

Through lesson study, the PISC Project explores the effect of an intervention to support the teaching and learning of proof in secondary geometry. PISC takes as its premise that if we scaffold proof, by first teaching particular sub-goals of proof, then students will be more successful with proof later on.

Despite that fact that proof is considered a central mathematical process, and policy documents have consistently recommended that proof be taught in school mathematics, success with proof remains elusive. A preponderance of evidence suggests that proof is challenging for teachers to teach (e.g., Cirillo, 2011; Knuth, 2002) and for students to learn (e.g., Chazan, 1993; Senk, 1985). Factors identified as contributing to these challenges include: impoverished curricula (Otten et al., 2014); teachers’ content and pedagogical knowledge (Knuth, 2002); and the lack of recommendations about how to scaffold proof so that students can be successful (Cirillo et al, 2017).

PISC draws on pilot study data and findings that suggest a promising approach to scaffolding the introduction to proof in geometry. Based on these findings, we developed the Geometry Proof Scaffold (GPS)⁠—a pedagogical framework that outlines eight sub-goals and corresponding competencies that can be taught one at a time. For example, prior to being asked to work on a proof, students learn to draw valid conclusions from given information or assumptions. The eight sub-goals in the GPS are: Understanding Geometric Concepts, Defining, Coordinating Geometric Modalities, Conjecturing, Drawing Conclusions, Using Common Sub-Arguments, Understanding Theorems, and Understanding the Nature of Proof.       

A set of 16 detailed lessons plans and corresponding student investigations, focused on the sub-goals of proof, served as the study intervention. Using a mixed-methods approach, data were collected from control and experimental groups to test the effect of the intervention. Comparing student interviews and written assessments from these groups provided compelling evidence that the PISC lessons had a positive impact on student learning. Statistical analyses demonstrate that gains made by students were significantly larger under the PISC curriculum. Clinical interviews conducted with students in control and experimental groups also provided compelling qualitative evidence about the effect of the intervention.

Scaffolding Engineering Design to Develop Integrated STEM Understanding with WISEngineering (NSF #1253523)

PI: Jennifer Chiu | STEM Discipline(s): Science; Technology; Engineering; Mathematics | Target Audience(s): Grades 6-10...click to read more

Project Description:

This project helped teachers and students implement engineering design projects in secondary classrooms through knowledge integration-based scaffolds and technologies. The project investigated how cyberlearning technologies such as simulations, CAD tools, and automated feedback to teachers can help middle school students learn science and mathematics through engineering.

Engineering design projects can provide authentic and relevant contexts for students to learn and engage in mathematics and science. However, many mathematics and science teachers need support to implement engineering design projects and engage students in engineering design practices in classrooms. This project explored the use of a computer-based learning environment (WISEngineering) to support students and teachers to implement engineering design, based on technologies for knowledge integration from the Web-based Inquiry Science Environment (WISE; wise.berkeley.edu). WISEngineering projects explicitly scaffold engineering practices for students and teachers, including tools to help students define problems, generate ideas, and test and revise ideas. WISEngineering also incorporates simulations and visualizations to help students learn underlying scientific and mathematics concepts. To support teachers implementing design projects, the project also explored the use of automated feedback within WISEngineering to teachers to help teachers notice and respond to students’ ideas within design contexts.

Across multiple contexts and design projects, results demonstrated that WISEngineering projects engage students in engineering practices while also helping students learn underlying science and mathematics concepts. Findings also suggest the potential of supporting teachers to give high-quality feedback to students in design settings by putting teachers “in the loop” of automated technologies.

Spreading Computational Literacy Equitably via Integration of Computing in Preservice Teacher Preparation (NSF #1941642)

PI: Lauren Margulieux | STEM Discipline(s): All Disciplines, STEM | Target Audience(s): All Grades; Preservice Teachers; Urban...click to read more

Project Description:

This project studies the effect of integrating computing into preservice teacher programs across grade bands and disciplines. The project explores how to connect computing concepts and integration activities to teachers' subject area knowledge and teaching practice, and which computing concepts are most valuable for general computational literacy.

The project broadens participation in computer science and computational thinking by preparing all preservice teachers at Georgia State University to integrate computing activities into their courses. The impact of preparing all teachers to use computing activities is that students receive exposure to multiple computing activities throughout preK-12 and understand how computing is used in all disciplines. Even if students do not pursue a job in computer science, they are better prepared to use computing solutions in their chosen profession and in their personal lives. Integrating computing activities also gives teachers new tools to teach within their discipline, and the computing activities are co-designed with teacher preparation faculty to ensure that they are authentic to the primary discipline. This project is unique because it is integrating computing activities across disciplines and grade bands simultaneously. In this context, researchers can explore which computing concepts and practices are universal and should be considered part of a general computational literacy, a topic that is debated on computing education researchers.

In our pilot work, we have found that early in the learning process teachers appreciate activities that also include a detailed lesson plan for how they can use it with students. More structured activities that come with a detailed lesson plans make teachers more comfortable to use the activities in student teaching or practicums. Once teachers use the activities with students, the enthusiasm of the students to engage with the activity makes the teachers motivated to continue to use the activity and to explore variations of the activity or other activities.


Supporting Elementary Teaching and Learning by Integrating Uncertainty in Classroom Science Investigations (NSF #1749324)

PI: Eve Manz | STEM Discipline(s): Science | Target Audience(s): Grades K-5...click to read more

Project Description:

In this project, researchers and K-5 practitioners work together to rethink the elementary school science investigation. We are designing tools and materials that allow elementary students to productively engage with some of the forms of uncertainty scientists grapple with as they design, conduct, and make sense of investigations.

Scientific activity is driven by the need to manage uncertainty; uncertainty not only about how to explain the world, but how to represent the world in the form of an experiment, what to measure, and how to convince peers to see what the scientist wants them to see. Yet elementary science investigations typically reflect little of the uncertainty that scientists grapple with. This project seeks to develop a conceptual framework and set of tools that allow teachers and elementary students to engage productively with uncertainty in empirical activity⁠—for example, uncertainty about how to represent phenomena in investigations, how to develop measures, and how to make sense of what investigations don’t explain. We use methods drawn from design-based research, co-design, and implementation research to examine existing investigations and students’ experience of them, re-design so that students can grapple with key uncertainties, and understand how to develop learning environments where uncertainty supports conceptual innovation and meaningful engagement in science practices such as investigation, argumentation, and explanation. We partner closely with a local school district and work with district leaders and teachers to develop and implement materials, analyze student engagement and learning, and develop professional learning experiences.

We are finding that several of the forms of uncertainty that we conjectured to be useful foci for elementary students appear to be productive in our investigations, in that as students grapple with these uncertainties we see them engaging in scientific practices and developing or refining conceptual understandings. We are particularly interested in how young students can engage productively in making sense of ways their investigations do not generalize to the phenomena of interest, and how examining the gap between what happened in an investigation and what could happen supports conceptual innovation. We are currently examining how students consider scale and relation when generalizing from an investigation to a target phenomenon they are seeking to understand.

The UJIMA Project (NSF #1845841)

PI: Maisie Gholson | STEM Discipline(s): Mathematics | Target Audience(s): Grades 7-12; Urban and Suburban; Black/African American...click to read more

Project Description:

The goal of the UJIMA project is to study the mathematics learning and identity development of approximately 350 Black youth from middle school to high school across three communities of varying socioeconomic status. The project also explores the design features of a curriculum that promote Black youths’ connections to mathematics.

The UJIMA project expands our understanding of the mathematical development of Black youth as a demographic, as well as the curricular supports that can move a mathematics identity from a private, neutral, and implicit space into a public, political, explicit space of learning.