This project is assessing the capacities needed by elementary teachers for productive use of mathematics curriculum materials. The project is guided by the assumption that well-designed curriculum programs have the potential to contribute to improvement in mathematics learning opportunities in K-12 classrooms. Yet, minimal research has examined the kind of knowledge and capacities necessary for teachers to use these resources productively. The project will undertake such research and develop tools to assess these capacities.
This project seeks to advance knowledge in K-12 STEM education and assessment practices by building capacity for Assessment for Learning, improving assessments and teacher preparation courses, and providing models for pre-service teacher preparation through enhanced teaching modules. Three goals are: (1) faculty from three centers form a learning community, (2) recruit 5 STEM research scholars to conduct research on measurement and evaluation, and (3) expose pre-service teachers to assessment models in their coursework.
This project is conducting an empirical analysis of NAEP assessment items in science to determine whether evidence supports the hypothesis that standardized tests capture only a limited amount of student knowledge because of their cultural background. The investigator will create a model of test design more likely to extract student knowledge from students of varied cultures by expanding items’ content. The study will examine the experience of American Indian groups, Alaska Natives, and Pacific Islanders.
This project has pioneered simulation-based assessments of model-based science learning and inquiry practices for middle school physical and life science systems. The assessment suites include curriculum-embedded, formative assessments that provide immediate, individualized feedback and graduated coaching with supporting reflection activities as well as summative end-of-unit benchmark assessments. The project has documented the instructional benefits, feasibility, utility, and technical quality of the assessments with over 7,000 students and 80 teachers in four states.
This project is developing a system for producing automated professional mentoring while students play computer games based on STEM professions. The project explores a specific hypothesis about STEM mentoring: A sociocultural model as the basis of an automated tutoring system can provide a computational model of participation in a community of practice, which produces effective professional feedback from nonplayercharacters in a STEM learning game.
This project investigates the potential of online role-playing games for scientific literacy through the iterative design and research of Saving Lake Wingra, an online role-playing game around a controversial development project in an urban area. Saving Lake Wingra positions players as ecologists, department of natural resources officials, or journalists investigating a rash of health problems at a local lake, and then creating and debating solutions.
The goal of this project is to accelerate the progress of early-career and pre-service science teachers from novice to expert-like pedagogical reasoning and practice by developing and studying a system of discourse tools. The tools are aimed at developing teachers' capabilities in shaping instruction around the most fundamental science ideas; scaffolding student thinking; and adapting instruction to diverse student populations by collecting and analyzing student data on their thinking levels.
This CAREER proposal has four objectives: 1) examine the nature of mathematics teachers' learning opportunities for instructional improvement, 2) examine how work contexts influence the quality of teacher learning opportunities, 3) examine the impact of teacher learning opportunities on changes in student mathematics achievement over four years, and 4) work with district and school administrators to promote instructional improvement and student achievement by effectively providing learning opportunities to mathematics teachers.
This CAREER proposal has four objectives: 1) examine the nature of mathematics teachers' learning opportunities for instructional improvement, 2) examine how work contexts influence the quality of teacher learning opportunities, 3) examine the impact of teacher learning opportunities on changes in student mathematics achievement over four years, and 4) work with district and school administrators to promote instructional improvement and student achievement by effectively providing learning opportunities to mathematics teachers. The PI will conduct a statewide survey of 1,047 mathematics teachers in 201 middle schools and their 35,304 students in grades 6-8 throughout the state of Missouri.
This project was originally funded under award # 0746936.
The project team is developing, implementing and evaluating a prototype for an integrated assessment system in elementary teacher education in mathematics. The project is documenting both the development of the student teachers in the practice of teaching mathematics to students from diverse backgrounds and of cooperating teachers and field instructors as they learn to analyze the practice of the student teachers and provide feedback.
This project draws from the expertise of a fully collaborative educator-scientist team to create learning progressions, curricular units and assessment instruments towards large scale research on the teaching and learning of climate change and impacts by 7-12th graders in primarily under-resourced schools. Products include eight week curricular units, IPCC-compliant simplified future scenarios, an online interface with guided predictive distribution modeling, and research results.
It is increasingly important for all American students to become sophisticated thinkers of science. The Center for Essential Science at the University of Michigan is conducting educational research to engage and support complex thinkers of science and to improve science learning in high-poverty, urban, elementary and middle school classrooms, with particular focus on the Detroit Public Schools. Our previous work focused on fourth through sixth grades, a period when the performance of American science students falls significantly behind that of students in other countries. In this grant, we extend our learning progressions and associated curricular materials, visualization technologies and educational research from fourth to the tenth grade. In particular, this grant is focused in two areas:
- the development and empirical evaluation of eight to twelve-week curricular units and associated technologies to promote students' deep understandings of the impact of climate change on ecosystems dynamics and animal interactions, and
- the exploration of new ideas in educational assessment leading to tests that evaluate students' complex reasoning with science.
A Sense of Urgency on Learning Ecological Impacts of Global Climate Change
The modern world is experiencing substantial and rapid changes that are reshaping not only human societies but natural ecosystems worldwide. During the lifetimes of our current middle and high school students, it is likely that our planet will undergo more anthropogenic change than it has during all of human history to date. While scientists from many disciplines are modeling, monitoring, predicting, and analyzing climate change, understanding the impacts and consequences of climate change cannot be left to scientists alone.
While scientists are aware of the sense of urgency to develop scientific understanding of the impacts of global climate changes, science education resources and sound research on students’ development of complex reasoning about ecological impacts of global climate change are scarce, despite recognition from scientists and policy makers of the importance of this topic. Several factors contribute to this absence. First, global climate change is an extremely multi-disciplinary domain that does not easily fit into existing K-12 disciplinary boundaries of earth science, life science, and physical science. The American Institute for Global Change Research defines global change as “the interactions of biological, chemical and physical processes that regulate changes in the function on the Earth system, including the particular ways in which these changes are influenced by human activities” (American Institute for Global Change Research, 2008). Second, scientific information associated with global climate change is relatively new and emergent, disallowing strong representation in science standards, high stakes tests, textbooks or curricular units utilized in classrooms. Our previous research suggests that the complexity of content coupled with almost no representation on high stakes tests leads to a low priority for many classroom teachers and consequently little to no classroom time. (S. Blum, personal communication 11.6.08). Third, global climate change is a dynamic topic that might be best addressed with resources that couple curricular activities which guide the development of complex inquiry reasoning and modeling/simulation resources to represent the dynamic nature of the science. While modeling and simulation resources exist for professional scientists (e.g., Lifemapper designed by proposal co-PI), neither the guided curricular activities nor the modeling and simulation resources are widely available for middle and high school audiences.
Together, a sense of urgency exists to build a solid, research-based foundation about a new and essential focus area within pre-college science education: students’ complex inquiry reasoning about the impact of global changes on ecosystem dynamics. This sense of urgency can be addressed through the combination of three research-based activities addressed in this proposal: (1) the extension of existing 4-6th grade curricular units towards the development and empirical evaluation of a 4-10th grade curricular progression focused on complex reasoning about biodiversity and the impact of global changes on populations of animals and ecosystem dynamics; (2) the development and evaluation of ecological simulation and modeling resources to accompany the middle and high school units; and (3) sound educational research to provide strong empirical evidence of both growth spurts and plateaus, as well as documentation of how and when complex inquiry reasoning occurs among middle and early high school students in these focus areas.
The program outlined will serve as the major research vehicle for research questions in several interrelated areas. We propose a research design with a series of quasi-experimental studies that will complement each other and provide multiple lenses for understanding complex questions such as these. Our research questions are:
1. Which scientific content and reasoning skills are essential for 7-10th graders’ complex reasoning and modeling of the ecological impacts of climate change? How are these manifested in content and inquiry reasoning progressions?
2. What dynamic visualization and modeling resources support the development of deep thinking about the ecological impacts of climate change?
3. What scaffolding and instructional activities support the development of deep thinking about the ecological impacts of climate change, including both content (ecological impacts) and complex reasoning components (science practices) of this knowledge, within cohorts of 7-10th graders in two new curricular units?
4. Utilizing quantitative (growth curve models, cross sectional studies) and qualitative (think aloud interviews) analyses, what learning outcomes and growth trajectories are realized by 7-10th intervention and control students as measured by both traditional standardized items and assessments focusing on complex thinking about ecological impacts of climate change?
We believe the greatest contribution of our work will be clear empirical information (growth spurts, growth plateaus and achievement information) associated with middle and high school students’ learning of complex and dynamic science associated with the ecological impacts of global climate change. We see the empirically driven development of learning progressions, curricular units, assessment instruments and professional development resources as important secondary contributions. The hypotheses we wish to test are the following: Do Detroit, rural and small city students who work with coordinated scaffold-rich inquiry programs and visualization resources focusing on impacts of global climate change develop deep conceptual understandings as compared to matched cohorts students? As determined by growth curve analyses, what do their learning trajectories look like? What new insights about the design of scaffold-rich curricular units and visualization technologies can be gleaned from an analysis of students’ growth trajectories and summative achievement results? What kinds of assessment instruments are needed to provide reliable and valid measurement of learning progressions in these focus areas? What can we learn about the design of a series of multi-year, coordinated learning resources from the empirically driven development of learning progressions associated with an important emerging science, the ecological impacts of climate change?