Digital Media

Transforming STEM Competitions into Collaboratives: Developing eCrafting Collabs for Learning with Electronic Textiles

This project supports the development of technological fluency and understanding of STEM concepts through the implementation of design collaboratives that use eCrafting Collabs as the medium within which to work with middle and high school students, parents and the community. The examine how youth at ages 10-16 and families in schools, clubs, museums and community groups learn together how to create e-textile artifacts that incorporate embedded computers, sensors and actuators.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1238172
Funding Period: 
Mon, 10/01/2012 to Tue, 09/30/2014
Full Description: 

This project supports the development of technological fluency and understanding of STEM concepts through the implementation of design collaboratives that use eCrafting Collabs as the medium within which to work with middle and high school students, parents and the community. The researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and the Franklin Institute combine expertise in learning sciences, digital media design, computer science and informal science education to examine how youth at ages 10-16 and families in schools, clubs, museums and community groups learn together how to create e-textile artifacts that incorporate embedded computers, sensors and actuators. The project investigates the feasibility of implementing these collaboratives using eCrafting via three models of participation, individual, structured group and cross-generational community groups. They are designing a portal through which the collaborative can engage in critique and sharing of their designs as part of their efforts to build a model process by which scientific and engineered product design and analysis can be made available to multiple audiences.

The project engages participants through middle and high school elective classes and through the workshops conducted by a number of different organizations including the Franklin Institute, Techgirlz, the Hacktory and schools in Philadelphia. Participants can engage in the eCrafting Collabs through individual, collective and community design challenges that are established by the project. Participants learn about e-textile design and about circuitry and programming using either ModKit or the text-based Arduino. The designs are shared through the eCrafting Collab portal and participants are required to provide feedback and critique. Researchers are collecting data on learner identity in relation to STEM and computing, individual and collective participation in design and student understanding of circuitry and programming. The project is an example of a scalable intervention to engage students, families and communities in developing technological flexibility.

This research and development project provides a resource that engages students in middle and high schools in technology rich collaborative environments that are alternatives to other sorts of science fairs and robotic competitions. The resources developed during the project will inform how such an informal/formal blend of student engagement might be scaled to expand the experiences of populations of underserved groups, including girls. The study is conducting an examination of the new types of learning activities that are multiplying across the country with a special focus on cross-generational learning.

Unifying Life: Placing Urban Tree Diversity in an Evolutionary Context

This 3-year project seeks to develop and test curricular resources built around handheld mobile technology to study how these materials foster urban middle school student engagement with and learning of local biodiversity and the patterns of evolution.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1221188
Funding Period: 
Sun, 07/15/2012 to Tue, 06/30/2015
Full Description: 

City College of New York (CUNY) is conducting a 3-year exploratory project to develop and test curricular resources built around handheld mobile technology to study how these materials foster urban middle school student interest and engagement with local biodiversity and the patterns of evolution. The project aims to develop curricular resources for middle school students around Leafsnap, an iPhone tree identification app, through a co-design process; to pilot test curricular resources in the classrooms of three New York middle school teachers; to develop and revise assessment tools to measure student outcomes; and to field-test curricular resources in the classrooms of ten New York middle school teachers and analyze results to determine how the Leafsnap curriculum affects urban middle school student learning of biodiversity and the patterns of evolution. The results will be used to modify and disseminate curriculum online with the Leafsnap app.

During the project's first year, the curricular resources will be used in two East Harlem middle schools. In the second year, the resources will be used in the classrooms of ten New York City (NYC) public middle school teachers. In the third year, these resources will be integrated into a life science for middle school teachers course as part of CUNY's graduate program in secondary science education, a program specifically designed to prepare teacher candidates for careers in NYC public middle schools. Also, in the project's third year, the curricular resources will be disseminated through the Leafsnap website to a wider online audience.

The project advances understanding of underrepresented urban middle school student learning of local biodiversity in a historical evolutionary context by addressing the three major dimensions of the new Framework for K-12 Science Learning: core science content, the practice of science, and concepts that crosscut all scientific disciplines. Pre- and post-treatment clinical interviews with students will be conducted to provide qualitative insights into how use of the Leafsnap curriculum impacts students' understanding and motivation for identifying and organizing tree diversity.

Core Math Tools

This project is developing Core Math Tools, a suite of Java-based software including a computer algebra system (CAS), interactive geometry, statistics, and simulation tools together with custom apps for exploring specific mathematical or statistical topics. Core Math Tools is freely available to all learners, teachers, and teacher educators through a dedicated portal at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) web site.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1201917
Funding Period: 
Sun, 01/15/2012 to Mon, 12/31/2012
Project Evaluator: 
David Barnes, NCTM
Full Description: 

Core Math Tools is a project from Western Michigan University that meets the urgent need of providing mathematical tools that students can use as they explore and learn mathematical concepts that are aligned with the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics (CCSSM). The developers have repurposed and modified tools originally designed for an NSF-funded curriculum project (e.g., Core-Plus Mathematics), creating a suite of tools that supports student learning of mathematics regardless of the curricula choice. Core math Tools is Java-based software that includes a computer algebra system(CAS, interactive geometry, statistics, and simulation tools together with custom apps for exploring specific mathematical and statistical topics. The designers provide exemplary lessons illustrating how the software can be used in the spirit of the new CCSSM. The goal of the project is to provide equitable and easy access to mathematical software both in school and outside of school. The tools are available to all learners and teachers through the web site of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). The web site includes feedback loops for teachers to provide information about the tools. By using the NCTM website, the tools can be downloaded for use by teachers and students. The dedicated portal on the NCTM website allows supervisors to use the tools in professional development, teachers to use the tools as an integral part of instruction, and students to use the tools for exploring, conjecturing, and problem solving.

Student Mathematics Learning Through Self-Explanation, Peer Tutoring and Digital Media Production

This project engages high-school students as student-tutors who create screen-capture videos that demonstrate step-by-step solutions to mathematical problems and explicate the use of interactive applets. The project tests whether the mathematical and communication skills of student-tutors improve in the process of making the video materials. It also tests whether teachers and student users benefit from the videos. The project will examine whether the process of creating and disseminating the videos is replicable and scalable.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1119654
Funding Period: 
Mon, 08/15/2011 to Thu, 07/31/2014
Full Description: 

Watch a video report on the Teachers Create/Media Making Research effort.

This exploratory research and development project engages high-school students as student-tutors who create screen-capture videos that demonstrate step-by-step solutions to mathematical problems and explicate the use of interactive applets. The project has three development goals (a model for creating the media, a model for collaboration with teachers, and enhancements to a Lesson Study model) and three research goals (to test conjectures about student change, to analyze reconfigured roles for teachers and students, and to advance a theory of personalized learning communities.) The project tests whether the mathematical and communication skills of student-tutors improve in the process of making the video materials. It also tests whether teachers and the student users of the videos benefit from them. Further, the project will examine whether the process of creating and disseminating the videos is replicable and scalable.

The project uses design research methods as well as both formative and summative evaluations to achieve the research and development goals. The investigators pose a series of thoughtful research questions and plan to use a variety of research methods to collect and analyze data to answer them.

The project is potentially transformative. The advances in technology present opportunities and challenges for improving student learning. Built on strong theoretical and empirical foundations and prior work, the project takes full advantages of the opportunities of tutoring using 21st-century technologies - marrying screen-capture video with a model of student-delivered tutoring. The project will contribute to an understanding of how teachers and student-tutors change and exercise creativity through participating in digital media production. The findings of the project will have broader impact in at least three dimensions: (1) The videos created by students will be helpful for other students' learning; (2) The research on engaging students in creating videos can not only help us understand the effective use of technology, but also help us understand the mechanism for developing students' generative thinking and creativity; and (3) This project can provide insights about how to integrate 21st-Century technology into regular classrooms.

InterLACE: Interactive Learning and Collaboration Environment

This project designs, constructs, and field-tests a web-based, online collaborative environment for supporting the teaching and learning of inquiry-based high school physics. Based on an interactive digital workbook environment, the team is customizing the platform to include scaffolds and other supports for learning physics, fostering interaction and collaboration within the classroom, and facilitating a design-based approach to scientific experiments.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1119321
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2011 to Sat, 08/31/2013
Full Description: 

This project, under the Tufts University Center for Engineering Education and Outreach (CEEO) designs, constructs, and field-tests a web-based, online collaborative environment for supporting the teaching and learning of inquiry-based high school physics. Based on prior NSF-funded work on RoboBooks, an interactive digital workbook environment, the team is customizing the platform to include scaffolds and other supports for learning physics, fostering interaction and collaboration within the classroom, and facilitating a design-based approach to scientific experiments. The InterLACE team hypothesizes that technology seamlessly integrating physics content and process skills within a classroom learning activity will provide a wide variety of student benefits, ranging from improved learning outcomes and increased content knowledge to gains in attitudinal and social displays as well.

The hypothesis for this work is based on research that indicates teachers believe proper implementation of design-based, inquiry projects are time consuming and can be difficult to manage and facilitate in classrooms without great scaffolding or other supports. Using design-based research with a small number of teachers and students, the PIs iteratively develop the system and supporting materials and generate a web-based implementation that supports students through the various stages of design inquiry. A quasi-experimental trial in the final years of the project is used to determine the usability of the technology and efficacy of the system in enhancing teaching and learning. Through the tools and activities developed, the researchers anticipate showing increases in effective inquiry learning and enhanced accessibility to meet the needs of diverse learners and teachers, leading to changes in classroom practice.

Through this project the PIs (1) gain insights that will enable them to refine the InterLACE platform so it can be implemented and brought to scale in the near terms as a support for design-based inquiry science projects, and (2) advance theory, design and practice to support the design of technology-based learning environments, and (3) understand how connecting students? hypotheses, ideas, and data impacts their learning of physics content and scientific inquiry skills.

Next Generation Preschool Math

This project will develop, test, and refine a curriculum supplement (a hands-on technology) that (1) promotes childrens' understanding of number (counting, comparing, and ordering) and fair sharing (equipartitioning); (2) uses interactive media on an emerging handheld platform (touch screen tablets), integrating new multi-touch activities with existing hands-on activities; (3) enhances opportunities for learning with interactive media through shared use with adult guides and peers; and (4) provides professional and technical support materials for preschool educators.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1119118
Funding Period: 
Mon, 08/01/2011 to Fri, 07/31/2015
Project Evaluator: 
Education Design, Inc.
Full Description: 

In this full research and development project, a team of learning scientists and media researchers at Education Development Center and SRI International will collaborate with educational media producers at WGBH to develop, test, and refine a curriculum supplement (a hands-on technology) that (1) promotes childrens' understanding of number (counting, comparing, and ordering) and fair sharing (equipartitioning); (2) uses interactive media on an emerging handheld platform (touch screen tablets), integrating new multi-touch activities with existing hands-on activities; (3) enhances opportunities for learning with interactive media through shared use with adult guides and peers; and (4) provides professional and technical support materials for preschool educators. The project investigates if and how engagement with activities in a media-rich curriculum supplement improves low-income young childrens' early learning of number and equipartitioning.

The project builds on sound research about learning trajectories to develop materials for fostering young childrens' learning. In addition, this project will generate new research findings about how engagement with activities in a media-rich curriculum supplement can improve low-income childrens' learning. The project uses use mixed methods (ethnographic observations and interviews and HLM analyses) to answer the research questions.

This project addresses a critical need to develop quality early childhood mathematics curriculum, particularly that aimed at low-income students. This project involves two important content areas. Both the content and the mode of delivery make major contributions to curriculum development and research. This project can provide much needed insights about how to effectively use technology for improving student learning.

Promoting Spatial Thinking with Web-Based Geospatial Technologies

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

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1118677
Funding Period: 
Fri, 07/01/2011 to Sun, 06/30/2013
Project Evaluator: 
Dr. Jean Russo
Full Description: 

The Lehigh Environmental Initiative, the College of Education, and the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Lehigh University's Exploratory project from the NSF K-12 Discovery Research Program (DR K-12) is addressing the development of STEM spatial thinking skills of middle school learners. To achieve this goal, we focus on enhancing earth science education to ensure that middle school teachers are equipped with well-designed earth science investigations and support materials to promote spatial thinking. This project will design, develop, and test innovative earth science middle school spatial learningcurriculum materials that use Web GIS that includes advanced visualization and geospatial analysis capabilities that include Javascript (an open-source framework for building highly interactive, expressive Web applications that deploy consistently in all major browsers),  that can be hosted on any ArcGIS Server. The project will enable researchers to investigate how Web GIS can best be used to promote both spatial thinking and earth science learning goals with diverse learners, to analyze to what extent educative curriculum materials as a form of embedded professional development can prepare teachers to implement Web-based geospatial science pedagogical approaches to teaching, and to document the impacts in terms of student learning outcomes. The curriculum materials will be developed using frameworks and design principles for spatial learning activities that incorporate an innovative spatial learning design model and the use of educative curriculum materials that have demonstrably promoted learning at the middle school level. The currricular modules we propose will be readily adaptable for incorporation into existing middle school science curricula. 

 The intellectual merit of the project is enhanced by our innovative spatial learning design model and the creation of a new Web GIS to develop spatial thinking skills that are an enhancement to learning earth science content.  We seek to fill a deficiency in curricular materials in the earth sciences by taking advantage of newly available Web GIS applications and tools. This fulfills a pressing need in middle school STEM education. Our materials will provide research-based science learning materials designed for diverse middle school learners to promote spatial thinking. In addition, earth science literacy will be enabled through the use of design principles and frameworks that include robust educative curriculum materials to promote not only student learning, but teacher learning as well. The focus on Web-based spatial thinking and inquiry is unique in that the learning experiences we design for students will promote strong connections between national to global earth science issues while concurrently instilling spatial thinking skills. Our work will be enhanced through a design partnership model for the development of all curriculum materials that includes science educators, scientists, instructional designers, and classroom teachers. The project will advance our knowledge in important and significant ways to help the science education community understand how students develop spatial thinking skills that are essential to learning science and other disciplines with new Web GIS applications.

Broader Impacts and Enhancement for Infrastructure for Research and Education: The project will enable researchers to examine how Web-based geospatial technologies can best be used in a middle school science curriculum to promote learning with diverse learners. It will also elucidate how educative curriculum materials and other professional development experiences can be created to prepare teachers to implement geospatial science pedagogical approaches.  Further, the research conducted will reveal how Web GIS can be used effectively to impact student learning outcomes. The project will contribute to educational infrastructure by creating a series of assessment instruments designed to measure the effectiveness ofWeb-based geospatial learning and inquiry instruction on the development of earth sciences content knowledge and spatial thinking skills. The focus on diverse learners ensures that this project will impact a great number of students who are traditionally underrepresented in STEM disciplines and careers. The project has a strong dissemination component that includes ESRI, the NSF supported GeoTech Center, and national education organizations. The project will serve the education community more broadly and save other groups and commercial publishers from the time and expense of creating a Web GIS with dynamic applications such as Javascript APIs from scratch.

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

This project will iteratively design, develop, field test, refine, and rigorously study a six-unit, facilitated, online professional development (PD) course focusing on energy-related concepts in the context of alternative energy. The primary audience is high school science teachers teaching out of their field of endorsement and serving students underrepresented in the sciences. The project will investigate whether the PD will precipitate changes in teacher knowledge and practice that result in higher student achievement.

Award Number: 
1118643
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2011 to Thu, 08/31/2017
Project Evaluator: 
RMC Research Corporation
Full Description: 

The Energy: A Multidisciplinary Approach for Teachers (EMAT) project will iteratively design, develop, field test, refine, and rigorously study a seven-unit, facilitated, online professional development (PD) course focusing on energy-related concepts in the context of alternative energy. The primary audience is high school science teachers teaching out of their field of endorsement and serving students underrepresented in the sciences. The project will investigate whether the PD will precipitate changes in teacher knowledge and practice that result in higher student achievement. As a result, EMAT will improve the science achievement of underrepresented students and enhance their future participation in science. Biological Sciences Curriculum Study and partners Oregon Public Broadcasting, the National Teacher Enhancement Network, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, and RMC Research Corporation bring significant resources and are highly qualified to develop and research EMAT.

The EMAT project advances knowledge in the field of teacher professional development by merging two facets of PD that have hitherto been studied separately and testing hypotheses about the degree to which this pairing enhances learning and practice. These facets are structured constructivist experiences and experiences grounded in situated cognition learning theory. Teachers reflect on research-based teaching practices in the lesson analysis process through Science Content Storyline and Student Thinking lenses. EMAT tests longitudinal impacts on teachers' content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge, and teaching practices and students' content knowledge, contributing much needed data for future PD projects. EMAT also studies which aspects of online environments are most effective for teachers. Data collected will inform full revisions of the course and will help address significant gaps in our understanding of online PD.

EMAT advances the field's understanding of which elements of online PD are effective and the extent to which high-quality online PD translates to improved student learning. Simultaneously, the project develops and tests a scalable, flexible resource to enhance teacher learning and practice. As a result, EMAT will have a broad impact by promoting research-based teaching and learning while advancing discovery and understanding. Furthermore, by targeting the recruitment of teacher participants from large urban districts with high numbers of teachers teaching out of field, EMAT impacts students traditionally underrepresented in the sciences. EMAT will not only contribute to the research on PD, but also will be available for use in diverse settings. A facilitation guide allows the course to be freely used by school districts and teacher education and certification programs across the country. In addition, the facilitated course will be offered for graduate credit through the National Teacher Enhancement Network and will be freely available to individuals for independent study. Results of all research and evaluation will be published in science education journals and practitioner journals for teachers, and presented to PD groups at conferences. EMAT will benefit society by impacting teacher and student understanding of energy-related concepts, thereby increasing the capacity of U.S. citizens to creatively address energy challenges from a foundation of scientifically sound knowledge.

Completing, Validating, and Linking Learning Trajectories for K-8 Rational Number Reasoning Tied to the Common Core Standards

This project will build and validate learning trajectories (LTs) in mathematics for fraction, ratio, and for decimal and percent to represent learning by grades 3-7 students. A system will be developed to automate data collection for field testing assessment items to determine students' attainment of proficiency levels. Three LTs will be produced and validated along with over 125 assessment items for each of these three trajectories. These assessment items will be useful for diagnosing student learning.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1118858
Funding Period: 
Mon, 08/01/2011 to Fri, 07/31/2015
Full Description: 

This project will build and validate learning trajectories (LTs) in mathematics for fraction, ratio, and for decimal and percent to represent learning by grades 3-7 students. A system will be developed to automate data collection for field testing assessment items to determine students' attainment of proficiency levels. Three LTs will be produced and validated along with over 125 assessment items for each of these three trajectories. These assessment items will be useful for diagnosing student learning. Technologies such as mobile phones, tablets, and computers will be used to deliver, analyze, and report diagnostic data on students. The learning trajectories will be available both electronically and in print. The levels of proficiencies will be provided with the outcome spaces, the exemplary items, the student work, and videos of student responses. Publications will provide data on analysis of the diagnostic items and assessments. The project will be done by researchers at the North Carolina State University in collaboration with RoleModel Software Inc.,and the University of Maryland.

The learning trajectories will be developed through literature reviews, whole class teaching experiments, clinical interviews, and large-scale assessments. Students in grade 3 will be observed and interviewed while engaging in work on fractions, ratios, decimal, and precents. Some of these students will be observed longitudinally over the two years. Other students from grades 4 through 8 will be interviewed. For each of the three trajectories, about 150 assessment items will be developed and field tested with a large group.

Three learning trajectories will be developed and made available electronically with supporting materials. The learning trajectories will be done in coordination with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in mathematics. Because the learning trajectories and materials will be informative to teachers who will be implementing the CCSS, the work has the potential to appeal to and reach a very large audience. Publications will provide data on analysis of the diagnostic items and assessments. The researchers will seek ways for a greater audience to have access to the software for accessing and retrieving items.

Arcadia: The Next Generation—Transforming STEM Learning Through Transmedia Games

This project will study the design features of an experimental gaming environment called Arcadia: The Next Generation. Researchers working with a group of formal and informal educators to study the connections between scientific inquiry in Arcadia and STEM learning. The project provides a dynamic and evolving place where gamers, educators, parents, and citizen scientists can come together to share, rate, and build knowledge through a variety of fun science inquiry games.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1134919
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2011 to Sat, 08/31/2013
Full Description: 

Designers and researchers from the Educational Gaming Environments group (EdGE) at TERC are studying the design features (e.g., tools, media platforms, facilitation) of an experimental gaming environment called Arcadia: The Next Generation. This gaming environment supports high-quality scientific knowledge building in a diverse, public audience. EdGE and its partner, GameGurus are integrating web-based social networking, augmented reality, and data sharing apps on smartphones into Arcadia and are working with a group of formal and informal educators to study the connections between scientific inquiry in Arcadia and STEM learning. EdGE is also examining various economic models that can support the long-term sustainability of STEM gaming environments that bridge home, community, and formal and informal learning. The project provides a dynamic and evolving place where gamers, educators, parents, and citizen scientists can come together to share, rate, and build knowledge through a variety of fun science inquiry games.

The research associated with Arcadia looks specifically at how game design (tools, environment, storyline, reward system) can support and sustain scientific inquiry. Researchers will relate these design features to the extent and nature of scientific inquiry in Arcadia, the impact the gaming experience has on players' sense of science identity and behaviors, and how this varies for different types of players. Researchers are using methods from netnography (Kozinets, 2002, Hine 2000) where digital records of avatar activity are incorporated along with participant observations, surveys, and interviews. A group of players recruited through colleagues' programs in informal and formal science education settings are the subjects for a smaller sub-study that looks at how to help transfer the science skills and knowledge gained in social games to classroom and other forms of science education. EdGE has two small advisory groups: a group of formal and informal educators to help with formative evaluation and a group of experts in the areas of research to help guide the interpretation of the research findings.

Arcadia: The Next Generation is an important step in working towards a vision of future learning environments that span schools, homes, community settings, and social entertainment sites where transmedia learning networks integrate real-life components such as indoor and outdoor classrooms with free-choice Internet experiences and citizen science programs. The primary deliverable of Arcadia: The Next Generation is a model game environment that attracts and retains a player audience and engages them in high quality scientific inquiry. The associated research informs the field on how to leverage the tremendous amount of time the public spends in social digital games, and how to direct that time towards productive science learning. EdGE is partnering with youth and adult programs at informal and citizen science centers to recruit and select the research sample that is representative of the US population, including minority youth and adults, so that researchers can learn how to sustain inquiry for a broad and diverse population of social game players.

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