Biology

CAREER: Scaffolding Engineering Design to Develop Integrated STEM Understanding with WISEngineering

The development of six curricular projects that integrate mathematics based on the Common Core Mathematics Standards with science concepts from the Next Generation Science Standards combined with an engineering design pedagogy is the focus of this CAREER project.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1253523
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2013 to Sat, 06/30/2018
Full Description: 

The development of six curricular projects that integrate mathematics based on the Common Core Mathematics Standards with science concepts from the Next Generation Science Standards combined with an engineering design pedagogy is the focus of this DRK-12 CAREER project from the University of Virginia. Research on the learning sciences with a focus on a knowledge integration perspective of helping students build and retain connections among normative and relevant ideas and existing knowledge structures the development of the WiseEngineering learning environment, an online learning management system that scaffolds engineering design projects. WiseEngineering provides support for students and teachers to conduct engineering design projects in middle and high school settings. Dynamic virtualizations that enable learners to observe and experiment with phenomena are combined with knowledge integration patterns to structure a technology rich learning environments for students. The research focuses on the ways in which metacognition, namely self-knowledge and self-regulation interact with learning in these technology-enhanced environments.Embedded assessments and student pre and post-testing of key science and mathematics constructs provide evidence of the development of student understanding.A rubric that examines knowledge integration is used to examine the extent wo which students understand how multiple concepts interact in a given context. A mixed-methods research design will examines how students and teachers in middle school mathematics and science courses develop understanding of the underlying principles in STEM. The PI of this award has integrated research and education in this proposal by connecting her research on engineering design and technology-enabled learning environments with the preservice secondary education methods course that she teachs. In addition, she has folded the research into the instructional technology graduate courses of which she is the instructor.

Engineering design is a key area of the Next Generation Science Standards that requires additional curricular materials development and research on how students integrate concepts across mathematics and science to engage in these engineering practices. The technology-rich learning environment, WISEngineering, provides the context to examine how student engineering design principles evolve over time. The opportunitiy for students to provide critiques of each others' work provides the context in which to examine crucial metacognitive principles. Classroom observations and teacher interviews provides the opportunity to examine how the technology-rich engineering design learning environment integrates STEM knowledge for teachers as well as students.

Enhancing Teaching and Learning with Social Media: Supporting Teacher Professional Learning and Student Scientific Argumentation

This exploratory proposal is researching and developing professional learning activities to help high school teachers use available and emerging social media to teach scientific argumentation. The project responds to the growing emphasis on scientific argumentation in new standards.

Award Number: 
1316799
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2013 to Mon, 07/31/2017
Full Description: 

This exploratory proposal is researching and developing professional learning activities to help high school teachers use available and emerging social media to teach scientific argumentation. The project responds to the growing emphasis on scientific argumentation in new standards. Participants include a team of ninth and tenth grade Life Science teachers collaborating as co-researchers with project staff in a design study to develop one socially mediated science unit. It also produces strategies, tools and on-line materials to support teachers' development of the pedagogical, content, and technological knowledge needed to integrate emerging technologies into science instruction. This project focuses on the flexible social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that students frequently use in their everyday lives. Research questions explore the technology of social media and the pedagogy needed to support student engagement in scientific argumentation. The Year Three pilot analyses provide data on the professional learning model. The project provides a basis for scale-up with this instructional and professional learning model to other core science content, cross-cutting themes, and STEM practices.

Innovate to Mitigate: A Crowdsourced Carbon Challenge

This project is designing and conducting a crowd-sourced open innovation challenge to young people of ages 13-18 to mitigate levels of greenhouse gases. The goal of the project is to explore the extent to which the challenge will successfully attract, engage and motivate teen participants to conduct sustained and meaningful scientific inquiry across science, technology and engineering disciplines.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1316225
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2013 to Mon, 08/31/2015
Full Description: 

This project is designing and conducting a crowd-sourced open innovation challenge to young people of ages 13-18 to mitigate levels of greenhouse gases. The goal of the project is to explore the extent to which the challenge will successfully attract, engage and motivate teen participants to conduct sustained and meaningful scientific inquiry across science, technology and engineering disciplines. Areas in which active cutting edge research on greenhouse gas mitigation is currently taking place include, among others, biology (photosynthesis, or biomimicry of photosynthesis to sequester carbon) and chemistry (silicon chemistry for photovoltaics, carbon chemistry for decarbonization of fossil fuels). Collaborating in teams of 2-5, participants engage with the basic science in these areas, and become skilled at applying scientific ideas, principles, and evidence to solve a design problem, while taking into account possible unanticipated effects. They refine their solutions based on scientific knowledge, student-generated sources of evidence, prioritized criteria, and tradeoff considerations.

An interactive project website describes specifications for the challenge and provides rubrics to support rigor. It includes a library of relevant scientific resources, and, for inspiration, links to popular articles describing current cutting-edge scientific breakthroughs in mitigation. Graduate students recruited for their current work on mitigation projects provide online mentoring. Social networking tools are used to support teams and mentors in collaborative scientific problem-solving. If teams need help while working on their challenges, they are able to ask questions of a panel of expert scientists and engineers who are available online. At the end of the challenge, teams present and critique multimedia reports in a virtual conference, and the project provides awards for excellence.

The use of open innovation challenges for education provides a vision of a transformative setting for deep learning and creative innovation that at the same time addresses a problem of critical importance to society. Researchers study how this learning environment improves learning and engagement among participants. This approach transcends the informal/formal boundaries that currently exist, both in scientific and educational institutions, and findings are relevant to many areas of research and design in both formal and informal settings. Emerging evidence suggests that open innovation challenges are often successfully solved by participants who do not exhibit the kinds of knowledge, skill or disciplinary background one might expect. In addition, the greater the diversity of solvers is, the greater the innovativeness of challenge solutions tends to be. Therefore, it is expected that the free choice learning environment, the nature of the challenge, the incentives, and the support for collaboration will inspire the success of promising young participants from underserved student populations, as well as resulting in innovative solutions to the challenge given the diversity of teams.

Building High School Students’ Understanding of Evolution—Both Common Ancestry and Natural Selection—Through Mathematical Arguments, Evidence-based Explanations, and an Understanding of Heredity

The University of Utah will develop a plan for a model curriculum and associated assessments project that integrates science practices, crosscutting concepts, and core disciplinary ideas through the integration of mathematics and science and the application of appropriate educational technologies. The unit plan and prototype lessons will model ways in which quantitative literacy and the Common Core Standards of Mathematics can be addressed in the biology curriculum.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1222869
Funding Period: 
Mon, 10/01/2012 to Wed, 09/30/2015
Full Description: 

The University of Utah will develop a plan for a model curriculum and associated assessments project that integrates science practices, crosscutting concepts, and core disciplinary ideas through the integration of mathematics and science and the application of appropriate educational technologies. The unit plan and prototype lessons will model ways in which quantitative literacy and the Common Core Standards of Mathematics can be addressed in the biology curriculum. This two-year exploratory research project will take place in the general biology classrooms of teachers in Utah, Maryland and Washington, DC.

The project will develop the following: a detailed plan for a new, 5-week curriculum replacement unit for high school biology that helps students build a coherent understanding of evolution; a valid and reliable set of test items to assess students' understanding of the unit's learning goals using Project 2061 and to refine these measures using an iterative process of development, testing, expert review and revision; prototypes of five evolution lessons from the planned unit. In addition a the researchers will conduct a small-scale pilot test of the prototype lessons with diverse student populations.

The unit plan and prototype lessons will be developed using a learning-goals-driven design model that includes iterative rounds of development, analysis for content coherence using American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Project 2061's valid and reliable analysis procedure, reviews by scientists and teachers, and revision.

Cyber-Enabled Learning: Digital Natives in Integrated Scientific Inquiry Classrooms (Collaborative Research: Campbell)

This project explores the potential of information and communications technologies (ICT) as cognitive tools for engaging students in scientific inquiry and for enhancing teacher learning. A comprehensive professional development program of over 240 hours, along with follow-up is used to determine how teachers can be supported to use ICT tools effectively in classroom instruction to create meaningful learning experiences for students, reduce the gap between formal and informal learning, and improve student learning outcomes.

Award Number: 
1401350
Funding Period: 
Mon, 10/01/2012 to Wed, 09/30/2015
Full Description: 

There is an increasing gap between the use of cyber-enabled resources in schools and the realities of their use by students in out of school settings. This project explores the potential of information and communications technologies (ICT) as cognitive tools for engaging students in scientific inquiry and for enhancing teacher learning. A comprehensive professional development program of over 240 hours, along with follow-up is used to determine how teachers can be supported to use ICT tools effectively in classroom instruction to create meaningful learning experiences for students, reduce the gap between formal and informal learning, and improve student learning outcomes. In the first year, six teachers from school districts in Utah and New York are prepared to become teacher leaders and advisors. Then three cohorts of 30 teachers matched by characteristics are provided professional development and field test units over two years in a delayed-treatment design. Biologists from Utah State University and New York College of Technology develop four modules that meet the science standards for both states -- the first being changes in the environment. Teachers are then guided to develop additional modules. The key technological resource to be used in the project is the Opensimulator 3D application Server (OpenSim), an open source, modular, expandable platform used to create simulated 3D spaces with customizable terrain, weather and physics.

The effects of the professional development program are measured by classroom observations using RTOP and Technology Use in Science Instruction (TUSI), selected interviews of teachers and students, and validated assessments of student learning. An external evaluator assesses the quality of the professional development activity and the quality of the cyber-enabled learning resources and reviews the research design and implementation. An advisory board will monitor the project.

The principal outcome of this project will be insight into the professional development needed to make teachers comfortable teaching with the kinds of multi-user simulations and communication technologies that students use everyday. The enactment with OpenSim also provides an opportunity to demonstrate the level of planning and preparation that go into fashioning modules with selected cyber-enabled cognitive tools such as GoogleEarth and Biologica.

This project was associated with the NSF award number 1258854 with the same title.

(Note: This project was originally awarded to the Lead Organization, Utah State University under the Award #1020086 and for the Funding Period:  Wed, 09/01/2010 - Mon, 08/31/2015. Due to a change in institution by the PI of the project, a new award was issued: Award # 1258854)

GeniVille: Exploring the Intersection of School and Social Media

This project examines the design principles by which computer-based science learning experiences for students designed for classroom use can be integrated into virtual worlds that leverage students' learning of science in an informal and collaborative online environment. GeniVille is the integration of Geniverse, a education based game that develops middle school students' understanding of genetics with Whyville, an educational virtual word in which students can engage in a wide variety of science activities and games.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1238625
Funding Period: 
Mon, 10/01/2012 to Tue, 09/30/2014
Full Description: 

This project examines the design principles by which computer-based science learning experiences for students designed for classroom use can be integrated into virtual worlds that leverage students' learning of science in an informal and collaborative online environment. GeniVille, developed and studied by the Concord Consortium, is the integration of Geniverse, a education based game that develops middle school students' understanding of genetics with Whyville, developed and studied by Numedeon, Inc., an educational virtual word in which students can engage in a wide variety of science activities and games. Genivers has been extensively researched in its implementation in the middle school science classroom. Research on Whyville has focused on how the learning environment supports the voluntary participation of students anywhere and anytime. This project seeks to develop an understanding of how these two interventions can be merged together and to explore mechanisms to create engagement and persistence through incentive structures that are interwoven with the game activities. The project examines the evidence that students in middle schools in Boston learn the genetics content that is the learning objective of GeniVille.

The project uses an iterative approach to the modification of Geniverse activites and the Whyville context so that the structured learning environment is accessible to students working collaboratively within the less structured context. The modification and expansion of the genetics activities of the project by which various inheritance patterns of imaginary dragons are studied continues over the course of the first year with pilot data collected from students who voluntarily engage in the game. In the second year of the project, teachers from middle schools in Boston who volunteer to be part of the project will be introduced to the integrated learning environment and will either use the virtual learning environment to teach genetics or will agree to engage their students in their regular instruction. Student outcomes in terms of engagement, persistence and understanding of genetics are measured within the virtual learning environment. Interviews with students are built into the GeniVille environment to gauge student interest. Observations of teachers engaging in GeniVille with their students are conducted as well as interviews with participating teachers.

This research and development project provides a resource that blends together students learning in a computer simulation with their working in a collaborative social networking virtual system. The integration of the software system is designed to engage students in learning about genetics in a simulation that has inherent interest to students with a learning environment that is also engaging to them. The project leverages the sorts of learning environments that make the best use of online opportunities for students, bringing rich disciplinary knowledge to educational games. Knowing more about how students collaboratively engage in learning about science in a social networking environment provides information about design principles that have a wide application in the development of new resources for the science classroom.

Ocean Tracks: Investigating Marine Migrations in a Changing Ocean (Collaborative Research: Krumhansl)

Ocean Tracks is developing and classroom testing powerful Web-based visualization and analysis tools derived from state-of-the-art knowledge about how to support student inquiry with data. Powerful Web-based visualization and analysis tools, derived from state-of-the-art knowledge about how to support student inquiry with data, allow students to learn and apply core concepts in ecology, biology, environmental science, earth science, oceanography, and climate science.

Award Number: 
1222413
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/15/2012 to Sun, 08/31/2014
Full Description: 

Ocean Tracks: Investigating Marine Migrations in a Changing Ocean, a collaboration between Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), and Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station, is developing a unique model of how to enable high school students to use authentic scientific data via an interactive Web-interface. Ocean Tracks is developing and classroom testing powerful Web-based visualization and analysis tools derived from state-of-the-art knowledge about how to support student inquiry with data. An interactive website provides access to near-real-time and archival data from electronically tagged marine animals, drifting buoys, and Earth-orbiting satellites collected through the Global Tagging of Pelagic Predators, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Adopt-a-Drifter, and MY NASA DATA programs. Powerful Web-based visualization and analysis tools, derived from state-of-the-art knowledge about how to support student inquiry with data, allow students to learn and apply core concepts in ecology, biology, environmental science, earth science, oceanography, and climate science.

Concurrently, agencies such as the NSF, NOAA, and NASA are making significant investments in sophisticated cyberinfrastructures (CI) that will make available a treasure trove of scientific data via the Internet to scientists and educators; there is tremendous potential for this data to transform teaching and learning by engaging students in authentic scientific work. However, modifying expert-data interfaces for use by students and supporting students as they engage in scientific inquiry with data are significant challenges. There is an urgent need for model programs such as Ocean Tracks that instantiate the best knowledge of experienced educators and education researchers, practicing scientists, and technology experts. Ocean Tracks harnesses the promise of emerging CI to engage high school students in the use of data visualization tools to study the movement patterns and habitat usage of marine animals (e.g., sharks, tunas, turtles, seals, and seabirds) in relation to oceanographic variables (e.g., sea surface temperature, chlorophyll, and current speed and direction). The knowledge gained from Ocean Tracks will have broad impact by serving as a model for designing and implementing projects in which students, teachers, and scientists collaborate to conduct scientific research, even in classrooms that are far from the ocean and scientists' laboratories.

Ocean Tracks: Investigating Marine Migrations in a Changing Ocean (Collaborative Research: Block)

Ocean Tracks is developing and classroom testing powerful Web-based visualization and analysis tools derived from state-of-the-art knowledge about how to support student inquiry with data. Powerful Web-based visualization and analysis tools, derived from state-of-the-art knowledge about how to support student inquiry with data, allow students to learn and apply core concepts in ecology, biology, environmental science, earth science, oceanography, and climate science.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1222220
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/15/2012 to Sun, 08/31/2014
Full Description: 

Ocean Tracks: Investigating Marine Migrations in a Changing Ocean, a collaboration between Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), and Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station, is developing a unique model of how to enable high school students to use authentic scientific data via an interactive Web-interface. Ocean Tracks is developing and classroom testing powerful Web-based visualization and analysis tools derived from state-of-the-art knowledge about how to support student inquiry with data. An interactive website provides access to near-real-time and archival data from electronically tagged marine animals, drifting buoys, and Earth-orbiting satellites collected through the Global Tagging of Pelagic Predators, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Adopt-a-Drifter, and MY NASA DATA programs. Powerful Web-based visualization and analysis tools, derived from state-of-the-art knowledge about how to support student inquiry with data, allow students to learn and apply core concepts in ecology, biology, environmental science, earth science, oceanography, and climate science.

Concurrently, agencies such as the NSF, NOAA, and NASA are making significant investments in sophisticated cyberinfrastructures (CI) that will make available a treasure trove of scientific data via the Internet to scientists and educators; there is tremendous potential for this data to transform teaching and learning by engaging students in authentic scientific work. However, modifying expert-data interfaces for use by students and supporting students as they engage in scientific inquiry with data are significant challenges. There is an urgent need for model programs such as Ocean Tracks that instantiate the best knowledge of experienced educators and education researchers, practicing scientists, and technology experts. Ocean Tracks harnesses the promise of emerging CI to engage high school students in the use of data visualization tools to study the movement patterns and habitat usage of marine animals (e.g., sharks, tunas, turtles, seals, and seabirds) in relation to oceanographic variables (e.g., sea surface temperature, chlorophyll, and current speed and direction). The knowledge gained from Ocean Tracks will have broad impact by serving as a model for designing and implementing projects in which students, teachers, and scientists collaborate to conduct scientific research, even in classrooms that are far from the ocean and scientists' laboratories.

Evaluation of the Sustainability and Effectiveness of Inquiry-Based Advanced Placement Science Courses: Evidence From an In-Depth Formative Evaluation and Randomized Controlled Study

This study examines the impact of the newly revised Advanced Placement (AP) Biology and Chemistry courses on students' understanding of and ability to utilize scientific inquiry, on students' confidence in engaging in college-level material, and on students’ enrollment and persistence in college STEM majors. The project provides estimates of the impact of students' AP-course taking on their progress into postsecondary educational experiences and their intent to continue to prepare to be future engineers and scientists.

Award Number: 
1220092
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/15/2012 to Wed, 08/31/2016
Full Description: 

This study examines the impact of the newly revised Advanced Placement (AP) Biology and Chemistry courses on students' understanding of and ability to apply scientific inquiry, on students' confidence in successfully engaging in college-level material, and on students enrollment and persistence in college STEM majors. AP Biology and Chemistry courses represent an important educational program that operates at a large scale across the country. The extent to which the AP curricula vary in implementation across the schools in the study is also examined to determine the range of students' opportunity to learn the disciplinary content and the knowledge and skills necessary to engage in inquiry in science. Schools that are newly implementing AP courses are participants in this research and the challenges and successes that they experience are also a component of the research plan. Researchers at the University of Washington, George Washington University and SRI International are conducting the study.

The research design for this study includes both formative components and a randomized control experiment. Formative elements include observations, interviews and surveys of teachers and students in the AP courses studied. The experimental design includes the random assignment of students to the AP offered and follows the performances of the treatment and control students in two cohorts into their matriculation into postsecondary educational experiences. Surveys measure students' experiences in the AP courses, their motivations to study AP science, the level of stress they experience in their high school coursework and their scientific inquiry skills and depth of disciplinary knowledge. The study examines the majors chosen by those students who enter into colleges and universities to ascertain the extent to which they continue in science and engineering.

This project informs educators about the challenges and successes schools encounter when they expand access to AP courses. The experiences of the teachers who will be teaching students with variable preparation inform future needs for professional development and support. The project provides estimates of the impact of students' AP-course taking on their progress into postsecondary educational experiences and their intent to continue to prepare to be future engineers and scientists. It informs policy efforts to improve the access to more rigorous advanced courses in STEM and provides strong experimental evidence of the impact of AP course taking. The project has the potential to demonstrate to educational researchers how to study an educational program that operates at scale.

Researching the Efficacy of the Science and Literacy Academy Model (Collaborative Research: Strang)

This project is studying three models of professional development (PD) to test the efficacy of a practicum for grade 3-5 in-service teachers organized in three cohorts of 25. There will be 75 teachers and their students directly impacted by the project. Additional impacts of the project are research results and professional development materials, including a PD implementation guide and instructional videos.

Award Number: 
1223021
Funding Period: 
Wed, 08/01/2012 to Sun, 07/31/2016
Full Description: 

This award is doing a research study of three models of professional development (PD) to test the efficacy of a practicum for grade 3-5 in-service teachers organized in three cohorts of 25. Model 1 is a one-week institute based on classroom discourse practices and a 2-week practicum (cohort 1). Model 2 is the one-week institute (cohort 2). Model 3 is a "business as usual" model (cohort 3) based on normal professional development provided by the school district. Cohorts 1 and 2 experience the interventions in year 1 with four follow-up sessions in each of years 2 and 3. In year 4 they receive no PD, but are being observed to see if they sustain the practices learned. Cohort 3 receives no treatment in years 1 and 2, but participates in a revised version of the institute plus practicum in year 3 with four follow up sessions in year 4. The Lawrence Hall of Science provides the professional development, and Stanford University personnel are conducting the research. The teachers come from the Oakland Unified School District. Science content is the GEMS Ocean Sciences Sequence.

There are 3 research questions;

1. In what ways do practicum-based professional development models influence science instructional practice?

2. What differences in student outcomes are associated with teachers' participation in the different PD programs?

3. Is the impact of the revised PD model different from the impact of the original model?

This is a designed-based research model. Teacher data is based on interviews on beliefs about teaching and the analysis of video tapes of their practicum and classroom performance using the Discourse in Inquiry Science Classrooms instrument. Student data is based on the GEMS unit pre- and post-tests and the California Science Test for 5th graders. Multiple analyses are being conducted using different combinations of the data from 8 scales across 4 years.

There will be 75 teachers and their students directly impacted by the project. Additional impacts of the project are research results and professional development materials, including a PD implementation guide and instructional videos. These will be presented in publications and conference presentations and be posted on linked websites at the Lawrence Hall of Science and the Center to Support Excellence in Teaching at Stanford University.

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