Engineering

Fusing Equity and Whole-School STEM Models: A Conference Proposal

This project will plan, implement, and evaluate the outcomes of an invitational conference on the role of equity in whole-school STEM education models, particularly Inclusive STEM Schools (ISS), at the high school level.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1907751
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2019 to Fri, 07/31/2020
Project Evaluator: 
Full Description: 

Interest in whole-school STEM education models is rapidly expanding in the United States, but there is limited agreement on the essential features of effective STEM schools and a limited research base on effective practices. There are also concerns regarding equity issues associated with whole-school STEM models. This project will address these issues by planning, implementing, and evaluating the outcomes of an invitational conference on the role of equity in whole-school STEM education models, particularly Inclusive STEM Schools (ISS), at the high school level. The conference will include 25 invited participants who have expertise as researchers or practitioners in equity issues or whole-school STEM reform efforts. These participants will discuss how to: 1) Create a collective understanding among a community of stakeholders regarding the role of equity in whole-school STEM models, 2) Map, synthesize, and report the terrain of existing research around the role of equity in whole-school STEM and non-STEM models including both strengths and gaps in the research base, and 3) Identify central issues and questions that can guide future research in order to prioritize these topics and initiate productive collaborations among participants to pursue answers to critical questions. These discussions will result in two key outcomes: 1) A practitioner centered logic model that integrates equity into the design and implementation of STEM at the whole-school level, and 2) A research model that supports building an empirical understanding of the intersection between equity and whole-school STEM programs.

There are various models of STEM-centered schools, with the most significant difference across models being the enrollment criteria. This project will focus on Inclusive STEM Schools which have open enrollment and provide paths for all students to advanced learning or careers in STEM fields. Federal initiatives have promoted and supported expansion of these schools, but there is little research on the impacts of these schools, and even less research on the role of equity considerations on the design and implementation of these schools. This project will address the limited research base by focusing specifically on culturally relevant and culturally responsive programing for inclusive STEM schools and initiating a research agenda on the role of equity in designing inclusive STEM programs. The project will seek to identify effective practices, and document outcomes on diverse populations.

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Human Variance and Assessment for Learning Implications for Diverse Learners of STEM: A National Conference

The conference will attract thought leaders, policy makers, supervisors of practice and scholars of measurement science to be informed of emerging thought and developments and to discuss selected models for the implementation of new ways of generating and utilizing data from education tests.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1939192
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2019 to Mon, 08/31/2020
Full Description: 

The conference purpose is to stimulate a national conversation concerning the relationships between assessment, teaching and learning that include scholarly research and development of tests; members of city and state boards of education; officials from states and major school systems; policymakers; and representatives of teachers' associations and parents' associations. This conference aims to attract these important professionals has important co-sponsors like the Urban Institute. This national conference flows from the work of the Gordon Commission on the Future of Assessment for Education that addressed the advancement of achievement in STEM disciplines (PreK-12) for students who are underrepresented among high achieving students. This issue of advancement of underrepresented high achieving students has received little concentrated effort and a conference would help in providing greater understanding of this special concern, which includes a student in poverty in complexed family structures.

The conference will attract thought leaders, policy makers, supervisors of practice and scholars of measurement science to be informed of emerging thought and developments and to discuss selected models for the implementation of new ways of generating and utilizing data from education tests. The conference will stimulate national conversation and ultimately a market that demands educational assessments that inform and improve teaching and learning transactions. The conference will be organized around four conceptual and theoretical papers that focus on the knowledge base upon which six concurrent workshops will be based. The four papers are: (1) Human Diversity and Assessment; (2) The Limits of Test Bias and Its Corrections; (3) Towards an Assessment Science Capable of Informing and Improving Learning; and  (4) Assessment in the Service of Learning. The workshops will focus on models of pedagogical practice that show promise for informing and improving teaching and learning processes and their outcomes. These issues will be discussed by 11-15 expert presenters who understand student learning and the types of information gleaned from different types of assessments. The attention to URMs and their needs and contexts are prioritized in discussions surrounding measurement science and the integration of assessment. Several important issues that address understanding of student learning, and the relationship between the varieties of information concerning students that can be accessed through assessments are: (1) The importance of the broader and more productive use of educational testing to improve the learning of STEM subject matter and values; (2) Curriculum embedded assessment and the reduction in disparities in achievement by STEM learners from diverse social divisions; (3) Innovative procedures and programs for the use of data concerning learners and teaching and learning transactions in the teaching and learning of STEM with learners who are underrepresented among high achieving STEM learners.

Ed+gineering: An Interdisciplinary Partnership Integrating Engineering into Elementary Teacher Preparation Programs

In this project, over 500 elementary education majors will team with engineering majors to teach engineering design to over 1,600 students from underrepresented groups. These standards-based lessons will emphasize student questioning, constructive student-to-student interactions, and engineering design processes, and they will be tailored to build from students' interests and strengths.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1908743
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2019 to Thu, 08/31/2023
Full Description: 

Engineering education, with its emphasis on developing creative solutions to relevant problems, is a promising approach to increasing elementary students' interest in scientific fields. Despite its potential, engineering education is often absent from elementary classes because many teachers feel underprepared to integrate it into their instruction. This project addresses this issue through an innovative approach to undergraduate elementary education programs. In this approach, called Ed+gineering, undergraduate elementary education majors team with undergraduate engineering majors to develop and teach engineering lessons to elementary students in out-of-school settings. In this project, over 500 elementary education majors will team with engineering majors to teach engineering design to over 1,600 students from underrepresented groups. These standards-based lessons will emphasize student questioning, constructive student-to-student interactions, and engineering design processes, and they will be tailored to build from students' interests and strengths. The research team will study whether Ed+gineering is correlated with positive outcomes for the elementary education majors. They will also study whether and how the elementary education majors subsequently provide engineering instruction during their first year of licensed teaching. This project will advance knowledge by resulting in a model for teacher education that has the potential to improve future elementary teachers' confidence and ability to teach engineering. In turn, more elementary students may have opportunities to experience engineering as they discover how innovative applications of science can be used to solve problems in the world around them.

Researchers at Old Dominion University will study whether a teacher preparation model is associated with positive outcomes for pre-service teachers while they are undergraduates and in their first year as professional teachers. Undergraduate elementary education majors and undergraduate engineering majors will work in interdisciplinary teams, comprised of four to six people, in up to three mandatory collegiate courses in their respective disciplinary programs. Each semester, these interdisciplinary teams will develop and teach a culturally responsive, engineering-based lesson with accompanying student materials during a field trip or after-school program attended by underrepresented students in fourth, fifth, or sixth grade. Using a quasi-experimental design with treatment and matched comparison groups, researchers will identify whether the teacher preparation model is associated with increased knowledge of engineering, beliefs about engineering integration, self-efficacy for engineering integration, and intention to integrate engineering, as determined by existing validated instruments as well as by new instruments that will be adapted and validated by the research team. Additionally, the researchers will follow program participants using surveys, interviews, and classroom observations to determine whether and how they provide engineering instruction during their first year as licensed teachers. Constant comparative analyses of these data will indicate barriers and enablers to engineering instruction among beginning teachers who participated in the Ed+gineering program. This project will result in an empirically-based model of teacher preparation, a predictive statistical model of engineering integration, field-tested engineering lesson plans, and validated instruments that will be disseminated widely to stakeholders.

STEM for All Collaboratory: Accelerating Dissemination and Fostering Collaborations for STEM Educational Research and Development

This project will capitalize on the STEM for All Video Showcase and extend its impact by creating a STEM for All Multiplex. The Multiplex will draw on past and future Video Showcase videos to create a multimedia environment for professional and public exchange, as well as to provide a way for anyone to search the growing database of videos, create thematic playlists, and re-use the content in new educational and research contexts.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1922641
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2019 to Wed, 08/31/2022
Full Description: 

The STEM for All Collaboratory will advance educational research and development through the creation and facilitation of two related and interactive platforms: the STEM for All Video Showcase, and the STEM for All Multiplex. The Video Showcase provides an annual, online, week-long, interactive event where hundreds of educational researchers and developers create, share, and discuss 3-minute videos of their federally funded work to improve Science, Mathematics, Engineering, Technology and Computer Science education. Several years of successful Video Showcases have contributed to a rich database of videos showcasing innovative approaches to STEM education. To capitalize on the growing resource and extend its impact, this project will create a STEM for All Multiplex, a unique contribution to STEM education. The Multiplex will draw on past and future Video Showcase videos to create a multimedia environment for professional and public exchange, as well as to provide a way for anyone to search the growing database of videos, create thematic playlists, and re-use the content in new educational and research contexts. The Multiplex will host interactive, monthly, thematic online events related to emerging research and practices to improve STEM and Computer Science education in formal and informal environments. Each thematic event will include selected video presentations, expert panels, resources, interactive discussions and a synthesis of lessons learned. All events will be accessible and open to the public. The project will continue to host and facilitate the annual Video Showcase event which has attracted over 70,000 people from over 180 countries over the course of a year. This effort will be guided by a collaboration with NSF resource centers, learning networks, and STEM professional organizations, and will advance the STEM research and education missions of the 11 collaborating organizations.

The Video Showcase and the Multiplex will foster increased dissemination of federally funded work and will effectively share NSF's investments aimed at improving STEM education. It will enable presenters to learn with and from each other, offering and receiving feedback, critique, and queries that will improve work in progress and to facilitate new collaborations for educational research. It will connect researchers with practitioners, enabling both groups to benefit from each other's knowledge and perspective. Further, it will connect seasoned investigators with aspiring investigators from diverse backgrounds, including those from Minority Serving Institutions. It will thereby enable new researchers to broaden their knowledge of currently funded efforts while also providing them with the opportunity to discuss resources, methodology and impact measures with the investigators. Hence, the project has the potential to broaden the future pool of investigators in STEM educational research. This work will further contribute to the STEM education field through its research on the ways that this multimedia environment can improve currently funded projects, catalyze new efforts and collaborations, build the capacity of emerging diverse leadership, and connect research and practice.

Strengthening STEM Teaching in Native American Serving Schools through Long-Term, Culturally Responsive Professional Development

This project will explore how a nationally implemented professional development model is applied in two distinct Indigenous communities, the impact the model has on teacher practice in Native-serving classrooms, and the model's capacity to promote the integration of culturally responsive approaches to STEM teaching.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1908464
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2019 to Thu, 08/31/2023
Project Evaluator: 
Full Description: 

Although there is a long-established body of knowledge about effective professional development for STEM teachers, very little of it has been applied and studied with teachers in Native American-serving school districts. This project will explore how a nationally implemented professional development model is applied in two distinct Indigenous communities, the impact the model has on teacher practice in Native-serving classrooms, and the model's capacity to promote the integration of culturally responsive approaches to STEM teaching. This project will substantially grow the data and knowledge available within this unique context, which is critical given the persistent gaps in educational achievement and STEM career participation among Indigenous people in the U.S. K-12 teachers will participate in an 8-month cohort designed to increase their STEM content knowledge and facilitate their efforts to develop academically rigorous, culturally responsive STEM instructional units for use in their classrooms. The project will add to our knowledge about the transferability of a nationally-implemented professional development model within two specific Indigenous contexts, and it will grow our knowledge about how STEM professional development impacts teacher practice. Finally, the project will provide concrete examples and knowledge about the ways culturally responsive approaches to STEM professional development, curriculum development, and teacher practice are taken up in two distinct Native-student-serving contexts.

This project includes the development and implementation of professional development that is long-term, teacher-driven, collaborative across grade levels and content areas, and facilitated by university faculty with STEM expertise. The research will follow a collective case study methodology in order to establish a robust and nuanced understanding of (1) how a national professional development model operates within two specific and distinct Indigenous contexts; (2) how a professional development model impacts teachers' STEM instructional practice in Native-serving schools; and (3) how teachers in Native-serving schools engage culturally responsive approaches to STEM curriculum development and STEM instructional practice. Data will include interviews and focus groups with participating teachers, university faculty, and other stakeholders, classroom observations and "Scoop Notebook" artifacts of teacher practice, and the teacher-developed STEM instructional units. Data will be iteratively coded with a combination of open and focused coding using a constant comparative method with a specific emphasis on identifying the culturally responsive elements present across the data sources. Individual and cross-case comparisons will be conducted to reveal broader themes that address the research questions. Results and products will be disseminated to researchers, practitioners, and community members through peer-reviewed publications, conference presentations, annual partnership meetings, and posting of the teacher developed instructional units to a web-based, freely accessible clearing house.

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Students and Teachers Learning from Nature: Studying Biologically Inspired Design in High School Engineering Education

In this project, high school engineering teachers will spend five weeks in a research lab devoted to biologically-inspired design, as they partner with cutting-edge engineers and scientists to study animal features and behavior and their applications to engineering designs. After this lab experience, the high school teachers will receive three six- to ten-week curricular units, tailored for tenth- through twelfth-grade students, which teach biologically-inspired design in the context of problems that are relevant to youth.

Award Number: 
1907906
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2019 to Mon, 07/31/2023
Full Description: 

Scientists and engineers often learn from nature to develop new products that benefit society, a process called biologically-inspired design. Aerospace engineers, for example, have studied the intricate folding patterns in ladybugs' wings to gain ideas for designing more compact satellites. In this project, high school engineering teachers will spend five weeks in a research lab devoted to biologically-inspired design, as they partner with cutting-edge engineers and scientists to study animal features and behavior and their applications to engineering designs. After this lab experience, the high school teachers will receive three six- to ten-week curricular units, tailored for tenth- through twelfth-grade students, which teach biologically-inspired design in the context of problems that are relevant to youth. The teachers will also participate in ongoing professional development sessions that demonstrate strategies for teaching these units. The research team will study whether and how the lab and professional development experiences influence the teachers' understandings of engineering and perspectives toward nature, among other outcomes. Additionally, the research team will study whether the curricular units are associated with positive learning outcomes for students. The curricula and professional development modules will be shared publicly through online resources and teacher workshops, and research findings will be widely disseminated through journals. Because previous research has suggested that biologically-inspired design is a promising approach for attracting and retaining women in engineering careers, this project is likely to result in products that foster high school girls' interest in engineering during a critical period when they are imagining their future career trajectories. Moreover, these products are likely to fuel national innovation by teaching students how to look to nature to find answers to pressing problems, and by generating knowledge about motivational educational approaches that encourage a wider range of high school students to pursue engineering careers.

This project addresses the persistent underrepresentation of girls in engineering careers by developing and testing three sets of curricula that are expected to lead to positive outcomes among high school females. These curricula incorporate biologically-inspired engineering, humanistic engineering, a focus on sustainability and ideation, and authentic design contexts. Ten high school teachers will participate in extensive professional development experiences that prepare them to effectively teach the curricula. These experiences include a five-week lab experience with scientists who are applying biologically-inspired design; a one-week workshop demonstrating strategies for teaching the units; weekly implementation meetings; and web-based professional development modules. To study the effect of the professional development on teachers, researchers will collect curriculum design logs, teacher enactment surveys, and engineering teaching self-efficacy surveys; they will also conduct classroom observations and interviews. Qualitative analyses of these sources will indicate whether and how the professional development affected teachers' understanding of the engineering design process, engineering teaching self-efficacy, and perspective toward the natural and designed world. To study the effect of the curricula on over 1,100 high school students, researchers will use a pre-post design with validated measures to determine whether the curricula are associated with greater understanding and use of the engineering design process; ability to generate well-formulated engineering design problems; engineering self-efficacy; attitudes toward the natural and designed world; sustainability awareness; and intent to persist in engineering. Subsequently, a quasi-experimental design with a matched comparison group will enable the researchers to determine whether the treatment group outperformed the comparison group on pre-post measures. Qualitative analysis of focus groups and interviews with a sub-set of high school girls will indicate whether and how the curricula supported their sense of belonging in engineering. This project is designed to advance knowledge and practice in engineering education for high school students, especially among girls, ultimately resulting in broadening participation in engineering pathways.

Developing and Validating Early Assessments of College Readiness: Differential Effects for Underrepresented Groups, Optimal Timing of Assessments, and STEM-Specific Indicators

This purpose of this project is to develop and validate a range of assessments with a focus on academic preparedness for higher education. The team will explore relevant qualities of assessments such as their differential predictive validity to ensure they are appropriate for underrepresented groups, the optimal grade level to begin assessing readiness, and measures that are most appropriate for predicting STEM-specific readiness.

Project Email: 
Award Number: 
1908630
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/15/2019 to Wed, 06/30/2021
Project Evaluator: 
Full Description: 

One third of all college freshmen are academically unprepared for entry-level college coursework and require remedial course. That figure is much higher at many colleges. The problem is more acute in STEM disciplines, particularly among students from underrepresented ethnic groups and low socioeconomic status families. This purpose of this project is to develop and validate a range of assessments with a focus on academic preparedness for higher education. The team will explore relevant qualities of assessments such as their differential predictive validity to ensure they are appropriate for underrepresented groups, the optimal grade level to begin assessing readiness, and measures that are most appropriate for predicting STEM-specific readiness.

This project will use two recent and complementary large-scale, nationally representative federal databases: the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 and the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002. Factor analysis will be used to develop composite variables of college readiness and multilevel regression will be used to develop predictive models on a range of college outcomes to test the predictive validity of composite and individual predictors. The models will be extended to conduct multiple group analyses to test for differential prediction for students from underrepresented groups. The project intends to promote 1) the use of a wider range of assessments of academic preparedness, 2) the use of measures that are more sensitive for assessing college readiness from underrepresented groups and among STEM majors, 3) earlier assessment using indicators and models with predictive validity and 4) progress monitoring of college readiness by providing a detailed example of how that can be developed and implemented. Findings will also raise student, parental, teacher, and other school personnel awareness of the range of factors relevant for preparing students for college.

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CAREER: Bridging the Digital Accessibility Gap in STEM Using Multisensory Haptic Platforms

This project investigates how to use new touch technologies, like touchscreens, to create graphics and simulations that can be felt, heard, and seen. Using readily available, low-cost systems, the principal investigator will investigate how to map visual information to touch and sound for students with visual impairments.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1845490
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2019 to Wed, 07/31/2024
Full Description: 

Consider learning visual subjects such as math, engineering, or science without being able to see. Suddenly, the graphs, charts, and diagrams that provide a quick way to gather information are no longer effective. This is a challenge that students with visual impairments face in classrooms today as educational materials are most often presented electronically. The current way that individuals with visual impairments "read" graphics is through touch, feeling raised dots and patterns on paper that represent images. Creating these touch-based graphics requires extensive time and resources, and the output provides a static, hard-copy image. Lack of access to graphics in STEM subjects is one of the most pressing challenges currently facing individuals with visual impairments. This is a concern given the low representation of students with these disabilities in STEM fields and professions.

This project investigates how to use new touch technologies, like touchscreens, to create graphics and simulations that can be felt, heard, and seen. Using readily available, low-cost systems, the principal investigator will investigate how to map visual information to touch and sound. This research builds on prior research focused on representing the building blocks of graphics (points, lines, and shapes) nonvisually. In this project, the investigator will determine how to represent more challenging graphics such as charts, plots, and diagrams, nonvisually. The project will then explore the role of touch feedback in interactive simulations, which have moving elements that change with user input, making nonvisual access challenging. Finally, the projects extends the research to students with other disabilities, toward understanding the benefits and changes necessary for touch technologies to have broad impact. The project involves group and single-subject designs with approximately 65 students with visual impairments and focuses on the following outcomes of interest: students' graph literacy, percent correct on task assessments, time of exploration, response time, number of revisits to particular areas of the graphic, and number of switches between layers. Working closely with individuals with disabilities and their teachers, this work seeks to bridge the current graphical accessibility gap in STEM and raise awareness of universal design in technology use and development.

STEM Sea, Air, and Land Remotely Operated Vehicle Design Challenges for Rural, Middle School Youth

This project provides middle school students in a high poverty rural area in Northern Florida an opportunity to pursue post-secondary study in STEM by providing quality and relevant STEM design. The project will integrate engineering design, technology and society, electrical knowledge, and computer science to improve middle school students' spatial reasoning through experiences embedded within engineering design challenges.

Award Number: 
1812913
Funding Period: 
Mon, 04/01/2019 to Thu, 03/31/2022
Full Description: 

This project provides middle school students in a high poverty rural area in Northern Florida an opportunity to pursue post-secondary study in STEM by providing quality and relevant STEM design. The design challenges will be contextualized within a rural region (i.e., GIS mapping and drones used for surveying large ranches, farms, and forests), producing a series of six design challenge modules and two competition design challenges with accompanying teacher guides for preparing relevant STEM modules for 90 middle school aged students. The project will integrate 4 components: (a) engineering design, (b) technology and society, (c) electrical knowledge, and (d) computer science. The project aims to improve middle school students' spatial reasoning through experiences embedded within engineering design challenges.

Collaborative partners consisting of school level, college level, and STEM professionals will develop the design challenges, using best practices from STEM learning research, with the intent of advancing STEM pathway awareness and participation among historically underserved students in the rural, high-poverty region served by North Florida Community College. Data regarding student outcomes will be collected before and after implementation, including measures of content mastery, spatial reasoning skills, self-efficacy, attitudes and interests in STEM, and academic achievement in science courses. Assessment of the data will involve the research and development phases of six curriculum modules and (2) an intervention study following a delayed-treatment design model.

There is a growing need for the increased broadening of STEM by underserved groups. By increasing the number of rural students who participate in STEM hands on, interdisciplinary experiences, the project has the potential to expand interest and competency in mathematics and science and expand the number of students who are aware of STEM career pathways.

Supporting Teachers in Responsive Instruction for Developing Expertise in Science (Collaborative Research: Linn)

This project takes advantage of advanced technologies to support science teachers to rapidly respond to diverse student ideas in their classrooms. Students will use web-based curriculum units to engage with models, simulations, and virtual experiments to write multiple explanations for standards-based science topics. The project will also design planning tools for teachers that will make suggestions relevant research-proven instructional strategies based on the real-time analysis of student responses.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1813713
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2018 to Wed, 08/31/2022
Full Description: 

Many teachers want to adapt their instruction to meet student learning needs, yet lack the time to regularly assess and analyze students' developing understandings. The Supporting Teachers in Responsive Instruction for Developing Expertise in Science (STRIDES) project takes advantage of advanced technologies to support science teachers to rapidly respond to diverse student ideas in their classrooms. In this project students will use web-based curriculum units to engage with models, simulations, and virtual experiments to write multiple explanations for standards-based science topics. Advanced technologies (including natural language processing) will be used to assess students' written responses and summaries their science understanding in real-time. The project will also design planning tools for teachers that will make suggestions relevant research-proven instructional strategies based on the real-time analysis of student responses. Research will examine how teachers make use of the feedback and suggestions to customize their instruction. Further we will study how these instructional changes help students develop coherent understanding of complex science topics and ability to make sense of models and graphs. The findings will be used to refine the tools that analyze the student essays and generate the summaries; improve the research-based instructional suggestions in the planning tool; and strengthen the online interface for teachers. The tools will be incorporated into open-source, freely available online curriculum units. STRIDES will directly benefit up to 30 teachers and 24,000 students from diverse school settings over four years.

Leveraging advances in natural language processing methods, the project will analyze student written explanations to provide fine-grained summaries to teachers about strengths and weaknesses in student work. Based on the linguistic analysis and logs of student navigation, the project will then provide instructional customizations based on learning science research, and study how teachers use them to improve student progress. Researchers will annually conduct at least 10 design or comparison studies, each involving up to 6 teachers and 300-600 students per year. Insights from this research will be captured in automated scoring algorithms, empirically tested and refined customization activities, and data logging techniques that can be used by other research and curriculum design programs to enable teacher customization.

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