Biology

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.

Supporting Large Scale Change in Science Education: Understanding Professional Development and Adoption Variation Related to the Revised Advanced Placement Curriculum (PD-RAP)

This proposal leverages the re-design of the Advanced Placement (AP) curricula currently under way to study the impact of teacher professional development on student achievement in a natural experiment at scale. In addition to supporting the improvement of professional development of AP teachers by the College Board, the findings contribute to a better understanding of the relationship between professional development and student achievement more generally.

Award Number: 
1221861
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/15/2012 to Wed, 08/31/2016
Full Description: 

This proposal leverages the re-design of the Advanced Placement (AP) curricula currently under way to study the impact of teacher professional development on student achievement in a natural experiment at scale. Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Boston, Harvard University, the University of Michigan, and the Education Development Center, Inc are conducting a quasi-experimental research study to examine the professional development experienced by AP Biology, Chemistry and Physics teachers to determines 1) the relationship between teacher and school characteristics and the professional development patterns that teachers choose; 2) the relationship between the professional development patterns that various types of teachers choose and their students' outcomes; and 3) the challenges encountered in delivering various forms of professional development at this level of scale. In addition to supporting the improvement of professional development of AP teachers by the College Board, the findings contribute to a better understanding of the relationship between professional development and student achievement more generally.

This study uses the existing context of the AP Course Audit by which all teachers of AP courses submit a syllabus, descriptions of laboratory investigations, and information regarding contact hours and the background of teachers, including the professional development programs accessed. The teachers who submit audits will be surveyed using the Stages of Concern Questionnaire together with other items to determine their perceptions of the AP Science redesign. The experiences of over 20,000 teachers are examined over the course of the study. Teachers who participate in AP professional development conducted by the College Board and the Active AP online Teacher Community (APoTC) will be surveyed about their professional development experiences. Case studies of 40 using interview, elaborated survey items, and artifacts from their teaching provide information about the quality of the teacher implementation of the AP course. Scores on the AP exams of all of the students will be linked to the teachers and the relationships among those scores and teacher professional development experiences analyzed using multi-level regression analyses.

The findings from this study have considerable importance for those individuals who provide professional development for science teachers. The results will inform the College Board and others who provide professional development directly to AP science teachers about how that support needs to change in order to more effectively support teachers. Improving the support that AP teachers receive has the potential to improve the learning experiences of the students who participate in those classes. In addition, this study will provide information about issues and challenges to providing professional development at scale to a wider audience of professional development providers. As the Next Generation Science Standards come online, this information will be useful to policy makers and practitioners.

SimScientists Assessments: Physical Science Links

The goal of this project is to develop and validate a middle school physical science assessment strand composed of four suites of simulation-based assessments for integrating into balanced (use of multiple measures), large-scale accountability science testing systems. It builds on the design templates, technical infrastructure, and evidence of the technical quality, feasibility, and instructional utility of the NSF-funded Calipers II project. The evaluation plan addresses both formative and summative aspects.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1221614
Funding Period: 
Mon, 10/01/2012 to Fri, 09/30/2016
Full Description: 

The goal of this project is to develop and validate a middle school physical science assessment strand composed of four suites of simulation-based assessments for integrating into balanced (use of multiple measures), large-scale accountability science testing systems. It builds on the design templates, technical infrastructure, and evidence of the technical quality, feasibility, and instructional utility of the NSF-funded Calipers II project. The assessment strand consists of multilevel (increased thinking levels) assessment designs grounded on evidence-centered principles that target practices and key disciplinary conceptual schemes, such as matter, motion, energy, and waves identified in the National Research Council report "A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Knowledge, and Core Ideas". The assessment model vertically links simulations (interactive with feedback to students, coaching, and reflection); curriculum-embedded assessments for formative use; unit benchmark assessment for interim summative purposes; and a set of "signature tasks" (short-term simulations on recurring problem types). Members of the Advisory Board and an Assessment Review Panel actively participate in the development and implementation of this effort. Heller Research Associates is the external evaluator. The evaluation plan addresses both formative and summative aspects.

The project's theory of action is based on model-based learning and evidence-centered design reflective of the notion that the construct of science is multidimensional, requiring (a) understanding how the components of a science conceptual system interact to produce behaviors of the system; and (b) the use of inquiry practices to investigate the dynamic behaviors and underlying components' interactions of the system. A total of eight research and development questions guide the scope of work. The questions focus on: (a) validity (substantive and technical quality) of the individual simulation assessments; and (b) classroom implementation (feasibility, fidelity, utility). The methodology for test construction and revision follows the testing standards of major professional organizations (i.e., American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, and National Council of Measurement in Education) through three development phases. Phase I (Assessment Development) focuses on the alignment, quality, and prototype testing, including leverage and modification of prior work, and design of new assessment suites and signature tasks. Phase II (Pilot and Validation Studies) deals with the testing of all assessments, research instruments, and study methods. Phase III (Cross-Validation Studies) substantiates the multilevel integration assessment model, cross-validates the assessments piloted in Phase II, and establishes a reliable argument that the assessments measure the intended content and inquiry practices suitable for use in district and state-level assessment systems.

Expected outcomes are: (1) a research-informed and field-tested physical science simulations-based assessment model with high potential for extended use in middle school grades; and (2) a policy brief that provides recommendations for integrating assessments into districts and state large-scale, multi-level, balanced science assessments.

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.

Videocases for Science Teaching Analysis Plus (ViSTA Plus): Efficacy of a Videocase-Based, Analysis-of-Practice Teacher Preparation Program

The new ViSTA Plus study explores implementation of a program for pre-service/beginning teachers that is fully centered on learning from an analysis-of-practice perspective, addressing the central research question of "What is the value of a videocase-based, analysis-of-practice approach to elementary science teacher preparation?" The project is producing science-specific, analysis-of-practice materials to support the professional development of teacher educators and professional development leaders using the ViSTA Plus program at universities and in district-based induction programs.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1220635
Funding Period: 
Wed, 08/01/2012 to Sat, 06/30/2018
Full Description: 

Prior studies have demonstrated the positive impact of content-specific videocases of other teachers' practice on science content knowledge and ability to analyze teaching when the videocases are incorporated in the methods courses for preservice teachers. Similar outcomes occurred for experienced, inservice teachers in a year-long professional development that included analyzing video of their own and others' teaching, and these teachers changed their practice in ways that influenced students' science learning. The new ViSTA Plus study explores implementation of a 2-year program for preservice/beginning teachers that is fully centered on learning from an analysis-of-practice perspective, addressing the central research question of "What is the value of a videocase-based, analysis-of-practice approach to elementary science teacher preparation?"

ViSTA Plus presents a distinctive version of practice-based teacher education, one that immerses teachers into practice via scaffolded, collaborative analyses of videocases - starting with analysis of other teachers' videocases and moving to collaborative analysis of teachers' own videocases. The ViSTA Plus conceptual framework supports teachers in using Student Thinking and Science Content Storyline Lenses to analyze science teaching and in using a set of teaching strategies that support use of each of these lenses in their planning and teaching. Through this analysis work, teachers deepen their science content knowledge, develop the ability to analyze teaching and learning, and improve their teaching and their students' learning. The current study incorporates a quasi-experimental design to compare the impact of the ViSTA Plus program to that of traditional teacher preparation programs when implemented at universities that serve diverse populations, especially Native American, Hispanic, and low-SES students. Teacher measures are assessing science content knowledge (pre, mid, and posttests), ability to analyze science teaching and learning (pre, mid, and post video analysis tasks), and teaching practice (videorecorded lessons during student teaching and first year of teaching). Elementary students' science achievement is being assessed using pre-post unit tests during student teaching and the first year of teaching.

The study design addresses a gap in the research on preservice teacher preparation by following the pathway of program influence from teacher learning to teaching practice to student learning, and accomplishes this in the context of ViSTA Plus, an alternative, practice-based approach to teacher preparation that embeds all phases of teacher learning in practice from the beginning. Partner universities in this effort are eager to reimagine the traditional teacher preparation sequence, offering new models for the field. The project is producing science-specific, analysis-of-practice materials (videocases, methods course guides, study group guides) to support the professional development of teacher educators and professional development leaders using the ViSTA Plus program at universities and in district-based induction programs.

Pages

Subscribe to Biology