Curriculum

CAREER: Engaging Elementary Students in Data Analysis Through Study of Physical Activities

This project is investigating the learning that can take place when elementary school students are directly involved in the collection, sense-making, and analysis of real, personally-meaningful data sets. The hypotheses of this work are that by organizing elementary statistics instruction around the study of physical activities, students will have greater personal engagement in data analysis processes and that students will also develop more robust understandings of statistical ideas.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1054280
Funding Period: 
Fri, 07/01/2011 to Sat, 06/30/2018
Full Description: 

This CAREER awardee at Utah State University is investigating the learning that can take place when elementary school students are directly involved in the collection, sense-making, and analysis of real, personally-meaningful data sets. The project responds to increasing attention to data collection and analysis in elementary grades and aims to make important contributions to the knowledge base on effective approaches to these topics. The hypotheses of this work are that by organizing elementary statistics instruction around the study of physical activities, students will have greater personal engagement in data analysis processes and that students will also develop more robust understandings of statistical ideas. Students and teachers from fifth grade classrooms from several elementary schools from northern Utah, are participating in the project. This work is co-funded by the EPSCoR program.

Statistics topics include measures of center and variation. Students use pedometers, heart rate monitors, other probeware, and the TinkerPlots software. The research team investigates the influence of personal ownership and relationships to data on students' understanding of learning of elementary statistics concepts and their ability to analyze data. The research involves multi-year clinical interviews and video-recorded classroom design experiments.

Research results are expected to be published in appropriate journals and are expected to be presented at professional meetings. Lesson plans and student instructional materials related to physical activity, measures of center, and data distributions are made available for use in partner elementary schools.

Implementing the Mathematical Practice Standards: Enhancing Teachers' Ability to Support the Common Core State Standards

This is a four-year project that is producing materials designed to help teachers see how the mathematical practices described in the Common Core State Standards for mathematics can be implemented in mathematics instruction. The goal of the improved instruction is to help students adopt and value these critical mathematical practices.

Award Number: 
1119163
Funding Period: 
Mon, 08/01/2011 to Tue, 07/31/2012
Full Description: 

The Implementing Mathematical Practices Standards (IMPS) is a four-year project that is producing materials designed to help teachers see how the mathematical practices described in the Common Core State Standards for mathematics can be implemented in mathematics instruction. The goal of the improved instruction is to help students adopt and value these critical mathematical practices. Researchers at the Education Development Center are developing videos and print materials that exemplify the mathematical practices and are working with teachers in grades 5-10 to help them use the materials effectively. The research questions of the project are focused on what features of the materials are most helpful to teachers and what professional development characteristics facilitate implementation of the mathematics practices in classroom instruction. The external evaluation of the project is being conducted by evaluators at TERC who are looking the process of developing materials and how the materials are used.

The materials will include professionally-produced videos exemplifying a particular mathematical practice being implemented in a classroom as well as printed dialogues that are designed to help teachers understand the practice and why it is critical for students to acquire that mathematical practice. The exemplars of mathematical practices are being developed based on pilot work and systematic advice from mathematicians, mathematics educators and mathematics teachers in grades 5-10. The design process is iterative and materials are refined based on feedback that is received. Facilitators are being prepared to conduct professional development and materials are being tested by more than 150 teachers in a variety of school districts.

Professional groups such as NCTM and NCSM have called for materials that exemplify the CCSS mathematical practices. They have argued that teachers need to understand how these standards can be achieved in classrooms. IMPS systematic effort to design materials that exemplify the standards and to test not only the materials but also the professional development associated with the materials is responding to the national need. The videos and dialogues will be available through broad dissemination.

Developing and Testing a Model to Support Student Understanding of the Sub-microscopic Interactions That Govern Biological and Chemical Processes

This project designs, develops, and tests coherent interdisciplinary instructional materials to support high school students' integrated understanding of the forces and energetics involved in interactions that occur between atoms and molecules, and explores how students' learning progresses across time. The project will be implemented in three Michigan school districts with students who traditionally do not succeed in science. 

Award Number: 
1232388
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2011 to Wed, 08/31/2016
Project Evaluator: 
Steven McGee, The Learning Partnership
Full Description: 

This project designs, develops, and tests coherent interdisciplinary instructional materials to support high school students' integrated understanding of the forces and energetics involved in interactions that occur between atoms and molecules, and explores how students' learning progresses across time. Instructional materials focus on physical science core ideas identified in "A Framework for K-12 Science Education" (NRC, 2011), and "College Board Standards for College Success" (College Board, 2009). The two research questions are: (1) How does learning progress over time when students experience a set of interdisciplinary instructional materials designed to help them advance toward important learning goals related to interactions at very small scales?; and (2) How do the various learning activities support the development of integrated understanding? The project is implemented in three Michigan school districts with students who traditionally do not succeed in science. Two of the school districts serve urban communities with ethnically diverse student populations; the third serves a rural, primarily Caucasian community. 

To develop and test instructional materials and associated assessments, the project joins efforts with the Concord Consortium and employs the Construct-Centered Design process (a principled process based on evidence-centered assessment and learning goal-driven designs); uses physical and computer-based models and simulations; and draws on previous and ongoing work on a learning progression of the hypothetical students' path in their understanding of the structure, properties, interactions, and transformations of matter. Four instructional units are produced: (1) Introduction to Electrical Forces, (2) Water, (3) Larger Molecules, and (4) Bio-Molecules, with a duration of two to six weeks each. After testing for usability, the units go through two additional phases. Phase I comprises pilot testing with at least one teacher at two sites, two classrooms each, yielding information from 100-120 students per unit. Phase II consists of field testing the units with a larger sample. Using a power analysis to determine sample size, the project tests two different sequences of the units: (a) four teachers, eight classrooms, and 200 students use the units as a single semester course before taking biology or chemistry; and (b) four teachers, eight classrooms, and 200 students use the units in appropriate points within a chemistry or biology course. Eight teachers from the same school districts, 16 classrooms, and 400 students who do not use the units, serve as the comparison group. A mixed-methods approach is used to collect and analyze data. Data collection strategies include: (a) pre- and post- tests, (b) unit-embedded assessments, (c) students' interest and attitudes, (d) assessments to place students in the learning progression, (e) classroom observations, (f) analysis of student classroom work, and (g) interviews with students and teachers. Data interpretation strategies include: (a) coding of students' and teachers' responses from interviews, (b) identification of patterns, and (c) using item-response theory (IRT) procedures to place students' responses in the learning progression. A range of methods are used to assess validity and reliability of instruments used, including: (a) construct validity, (b) content validity, and (c) IRT procedures. Project external evaluation addresses both formative and summative aspects.

Key project outcomes include: (a) a research-informed and field-tested semester-long course comprising four integrated units with specific objectives, learning tasks, phenomena to illustrate and support understanding at key points, reading materials, and embedded assessments; (b) computer simulations aligned with the units; (c) educative materials for teachers; (d) valid and reliable instruments to measure students' understanding and attitudes; and (e) a set of research manuscripts focused on how the new materials work and promote student learning of key challenging ideas.

Further Development and Testing of the Target Inquiry Model for Middle and High School Science Teacher Professional Development (Collaborative Research: Herrington)

This project scales and further tests the Target Inquiry professional development model. The scale-up and further testing would involve adding physics, biology and geology at Grand Valley State University, and implementing the program at Miami University with chemistry teachers. The project is also producing a website of instructional materials for middle and secondary science.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1118658
Funding Period: 
Mon, 08/15/2011 to Wed, 07/31/2013
Full Description: 

This project scales and further tests the Target Inquiry (TI) professional development model. The TI model involves teachers in three core experiences: 1) a research experience for teachers (RET), 2) materials adaptation (MA), and 3) an action research (AR) project. The original program was implemented with high school chemistry teachers at Grand Valley State University (GVSU), and was shown to result in significant increases, with large effect sizes, in teachers' understanding of science inquiry and quality of instruction, and in science achievement of those teachers' students. The scale-up and further testing would involve adding physics, biology and geology at GVSU, and implementing the program at Miami University (MU) with chemistry teachers. Three research questions will be studied:

1) How do the three TI core experiences influence in-service high school science teachers' (i) understanding of the nature of science; (ii) attitudes and beliefs about inquiry instruction; and (iii) classroom instructional methods in two new applications of the TI model?

2) How does teacher participation in TI affect students' process skills (scientific reasoning and metacognition) and conceptual understanding of science in two new applications of the TI model?

3) What are the challenges and solutions related to implementing TI in science disciplines beyond chemistry and in other regions?

The research design is quasi-experimental and longitudinal, incorporating implementation with research, and using quantitative and qualitative methods blended in a design research framework. A total of 54 middle and high school science teachers are being recruited for the study. The TI group is completing the TI program (N = 27; 15 at GVSU; 12 at MU) while the comparison group (same sizes and locations) is not. The comparison group is matched according to individual characteristics and school demographics. All teachers are being studied, along with their students, for 4 years (pre-program, post-RET, post-MA, post-AR/post-program). TI teachers are taking 15 credits of graduate level science courses over three years, including summers. Courses include a graduate seminar focused on preparing for the research experience, the research experience in a faculty member's science lab during the summer, application of research to teaching, action research project development, adaptation and evaluation of inquiry-focused curricula, and interpretation and analysis of classroom data from action research. Consistent feedback from professional development providers, other teachers, and evaluation, including comparison with the previous implementation, contributes to a design-based approach. Teacher factors being studied include beliefs about the nature of science, inquiry teaching knowledge and beliefs, and quality of inquiry instruction. Student factors being studied include scientific reasoning; metacognition, self-efficacy, and learning processes in science; and content knowledge and conceptual understanding. Only established quantitative and qualitative instruments are being used. Quantitative analysis includes between-group comparisons by year on post-tests, with pre-tests as covariates, and multi-level models with students nested within teachers, and teachers within sites, with the teacher level as the primary unit of change. Trends over time between the treatment and comparison groups are being examined. The evaluation is using a combination of pre/post causal comparative quantitative measures and relevant qualitative data from project leaders and participants, as well as from the comparison group, to provide formative and summative evaluation input.

Outcomes of the project include documentation and understanding of the impacts on science teachers' instruction and student outcomes of research experiences for teachers when they are supported by materials adaptation and action research, and an understanding of what it takes to scale the model to different science disciplines and a different site. The project is also producing a website of instructional materials for middle and secondary science.

A Model for Interactive, Web-based Curricula to Support Responsive Teaching and Student Inquiry in Elementary Science Classrooms

Day: 
Thu

Session participants will explore and discuss a beta version of an interactive, Web-based, curricular environment designed to facilitate responsive teaching and students’ science inquiry.

Date/Time: 
8:30 am to 9:45 am
Session Type: 
Product Feedback Session

The presenters of this session seek feedback on the design and feasibility of an interactive, Web-based  curriculum environment that aims to support responsive teaching and elementary students' science inquiry. Session participants will explore and discuss a beta version of an interactive, Web-based,  curriculum environment designed to facilitate responsive teaching and students’ science inquiry.

References: 

Resource mentioned during the presentation:

Promoting Inquiry web site: http://cipstrends.sdsu.edu/car_module/

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

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

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1313718
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2012 to Mon, 08/31/2015
Full Description: 

The Mathematics, Science, and Literacy (MSL) curriculum project is using empirically-tested mathematics and science programs and research-based approaches to develop a six module interdisciplinary curriculum for pre-K students. Mathematics and science content is included with literacy/language and social-emotional development. The curriculum is being designed to counter the frequent situation of devoting most pre-school instructional time to literacy by having activities that join literacy with mathematics and science. The project is housed at the University of Buffalo, but also has sites at Rutgers University New Brunswick and Michigan State University. A detailed process, a curriculum development framework that has been used to develop prior curriculum materials is being used for developing the MSL curriculum. The design of the materials is giving strong attention to being viable for at-risk students.

The MSL materials are research-based and incorporate learning trajectories developed from prior work. The materials are being developed in the first two years of the project and piloted by a four teachers at each of the three sites. In the third year of the four year project, the materials will be piloted by four different teachers at each of the three sites. Formative evaluation data are being used to revise the materials. Pretests and posttests in each of the three content areas are being used to measure improved learning. An external evaluator is verifying the analyses of data and that valid conclusions are being made. The development effort includes attending to the professional development needs of teachers who will be using the six module pre-K curriculum and teachers who will have students who have completed the curriculum.

The main deliverable will be the research-based six module curriculum for pre-K mathematics, science, and literacy. In addition, a detailed formative evaluation of the curriculum's creation and implementation is being produced along with a detailed description and evaluation of the curriculum model used. A publisher has indicated interest in publishing the materials and is interacting with the developers throughout the process. There is a potential that the interdisciplinary curriculum will be widely used. The curriculum is being designed using the most current learning trajectories with the expectations that these will particularly helpful for at risk students.

This project was previously funded under award # 1020118.

Confronting the Challenges of Climate Literacy (Collaborative Research: McNeal)

This project is developing inquiry-based, lab-focused, online Climate Change EarthLabs modules as a context for ongoing research into how high school students grasp change over time in the Earth System on multiple time scales. This project examines the challenges to high-school students' understanding of Earth's complex systems, operating over various temporal and spatial scales, and by developing research-based insights into effective educational tools and approaches that support learning about climate change and Earth Systems Science.

Award Number: 
1443024
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/15/2010 to Sat, 10/31/2015
Full Description: 

This project is developing three inquiry-based, lab-focused, online Climate Change EarthLabs modules as a context for ongoing research into how high school students grasp change over time in the Earth System on multiple time scales. Climate literacy has emerged as an important domain of education. Yet it presents real challenges in cognition, perception, and pedagogy, especially in understanding Earth as a dynamic system operating at local to global spatial scales over multiple time scales. This research project confronts these issues by examining the challenges to high-school students' understanding of Earth's complex systems, operating over various temporal and spatial scales, and by developing research-based insights into effective educational tools and approaches that support learning about climate change and Earth Systems Science. The project is a collaborative effort among science educators at TERC, Mississippi State University, and The University of Texas at Austin.

The project uses a backward-design methodology to identify an integrated set of science learning goals and research questions to inform module development. Development and review of draft materials will be followed by a pilot implementation and then two rounds of teacher professional development, classroom implementation, and research in Texas and Mississippi. Research findings from the multiple rounds of implementation will allow an iterative process for refining the modules, the professional development materials, and the research program.

This project focuses on the design, development, and testing of innovative climate change curriculum materials and teacher professional development for Earth Systems science instruction. The materials will be tested in states with teachers in need of Earth Systems Science training and with significant numbers of low income and minority students who are likely to be hard hit by impending climate change. The research will shed light on the challenges of education for climate literacy.

Formerly Award # 1019703.

Confronting the Challenges of Climate Literacy (Collaborative Research: Ledley)

This project is developing inquiry-based, lab-focused, online Climate Change EarthLabs modules as a context for ongoing research into how high school students grasp change over time in the Earth System on multiple time scales. This project examines the challenges to high-school students' understanding of Earth's complex systems, operating over various temporal and spatial scales, and by developing research-based insights into effective educational tools and approaches that support learning about climate change and Earth Systems Science.

Project Email: 
Award Number: 
1019721
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/15/2010 to Fri, 08/31/2012
Project Evaluator: 
Susan Buhr
Full Description: 

This project is developing three inquiry-based, lab-focused, online Climate Change EarthLabs modules (focus is on the Cryosphere, Climate and Weather, and the Carbon Cycle) as a context for ongoing research into how high school students grasp change over time in the Earth System on multiple time scales. Climate literacy has emerged as an important domain of education. Yet it presents real challenges in cognition, perception, and pedagogy, especially in understanding Earth as a dynamic system operating at local to global spatial scales over multiple time scales. This research project confronts these issues by examining the challenges to high-school students' understanding of Earth's complex systems, operating over various temporal and spatial scales, and by developing research-based insights into effective educational tools and approaches that support learning about climate change and Earth Systems Science. The project is a collaborative effort among science educators at TERC, Mississippi State University, and The University of Texas at Austin.

The project uses a backward-design methodology to identify an integrated set of science learning goals and research questions to inform module development. Development and review of draft materials will be followed by a pilot implementation and then two rounds of teacher professional development, classroom implementation, and research in Texas and Mississippi. Research findings from the multiple rounds of implementation will allow an iterative process for refining the modules, the professional development materials, and the research program.

This project focuses on the design, development, and testing of innovative climate change curriculum materials and teacher professional development for Earth Systems science instruction. The materials will be tested in states with teachers in need of Earth Systems Science training and with significant numbers of low income and minority students who are likely to be hard hit by impending climate change. The research will shed light on the challenges of education for climate literacy.

Modeling Engineered Levers for the 21st Century Teaching of STEM (Collaborative Research: Schunn)

This project will develop three replacement units for biology and refine them through classroom testing. The units will be models of STEM integration by using the important concepts of proportional reasoning and algebraic thinking and engineering re-design to address big ideas in science while also promoting the learning of 21st century skills. The materials will be educative for teachers, and the teacher materials and professional development methods will work at scale and distance.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1027629
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2010 to Sun, 08/31/2014
Project Evaluator: 
Bill Bickel
Full Description: 

Research in biology has become increasingly mathematical, but high school courses in biology use little mathematics. To address this concern, this project will develop three replacement units for biology and refine them through classroom testing. The units will be models of STEM integration by using the important concepts of proportional reasoning and algebraic thinking and engineering re-design to address big ideas in science while also promoting the learning of 21st century skills. The materials build on existing work on the use of model eliciting activities and focus science and technology instruction on high-stakes weaknesses in mathematics and science. They address the scaling issue as part of the core design work by developing small units of curriculum that can be applied by early adopters in each context. The materials will undergo many rounds of testing and revision in the early design process with at least ten teachers each time. The materials will be educative for teachers, and the teacher materials and professional development methods will work at scale and distance.

Learning of science content will be measured through the use of existing instruments in wide use. Existing scales of task values, achievement goals and interest are used to measure student motivation. The work performed is guided by a content team; a scaling materials team; a scaling research team; the PI team of a cognitive scientist, a robotics educator, and a mathematics educator specializing in educational reform at scale; and the summative evaluation team lead by an external evaluator.

There is great interest in understanding whether integrated STEM education can interest more students in STEM disciplines. The focus on mathematics integrated with engineering in the context of a science topic is interesting and novel and could contribute to our understanding of integrating mathematics, engineering and science. The development team includes a cognitive scientist, a mathematics educator, teachers and scientists. The issues and challenges of interdisciplinary instruction will be investigated.

Supporting Scientific Practices in Elementary and Middle School Classrooms

This project will develop a learning progression that characterizes how learners integrate and interrelate scientific argumentation, explanation and scientific modeling, building ever more sophisticated versions of practice over time using the three common elements of sense-making, persuading peers and developing consensus.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1020316
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2010 to Fri, 08/31/2012
Full Description: 

Research on student learning has developed separate progressions for scientific argumentation, explanation and scientific modeling. Engaging Learners in Scientific Practices develops a learning progression that characterizes how learners integrate and interrelate scientific argumentation, explanation and scientific modeling, building ever more sophisticated versions of practice over time using the three common elements of sense-making, persuading peers and developing consensus. The learning progression is constructed through improvements in students' performance and understanding of scientific practice as measured by their attention to generality of explanation, attention to clarity of communication and audience understanding, attention to evidentiary support, and attention to mechanistic versus descriptive accounts. The project is led by researchers at Northwestern University, the University of Texas, Wright State University, Michigan State University, and the BEAR assessment group. Two cohorts of 180 students each are followed for two years from 4th to 5th grade in Illinois and two cohorts of 180 students each are followed for two years from 5th to 6th grade in Michigan The elementary school students will work with FOSS curriculum units modified to embed supports for scientific practices. Two cohorts of 500 middle school students are followed for three years from 6th to 8th grade as they work with coordinated IQWST units over three years. The outcome measures include analyses of classroom discourse, pre- and pos-test assessments of student learning, and reflective interviews grounded in students' own experiences with practices in the classroom to assess their growth across the dimensions. The BEAR team is responsible for validation and calibration of the frameworks and instruments, and design of the scheme for analysis of the data. Horizon Research performs the formative and summative evaluation. The project will produce an empirically-tested learning progression for scientific practices for grades 4-8 along with tested curriculum materials and validated assessment items that support and measure students' ability in the scientific practices of explanation, argumentation and modeling. In the process of development, an understanding is gained about how to design and test this learning progression. The framework is articulated on a website for use by other researchers and developers. The project also builds capacity by educating several graduate students.


Project Videos

2019 STEM for All Video Showcase

Title: Science Storylines

Presenter(s): Brian Reiser, Kelsey Edwards, Barbara Hug, Tara McGill, Jamie Noll, Michael Novak, Bill Penuel, Trey Smith, & Aliza Zivic


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