Engineering

Partnerships for Early Childhood Curriculum Development: Readiness Through Integrative Science and Engineering (RISE)

The RISE project is creating curriculum resources for dual language learners (DLLs) in science, technology and engineering (STE). Participants include teachers in pre-K programs in the Boston area selected to target Hispanic and Chinese students and their families. The curriculum will be based on the Massachusetts framework, one of only a few states with pre-K standards. The evaluation will monitor both the progress of the research and development and the dissemination to the target audiences.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1221065
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2012 to Mon, 08/31/2015
Full Description: 

The RISE project is creating curriculum resources for dual language learners (DLLs) in science, technology and engineering (STE). Participants include teachers in pre-K programs in the Boston area selected to target Hispanic and Chinese students and their families. University partners include Tufts, Rutgers, Miami, and Northern Iowa, who will work with ABCD Head Start. An innovative feature is the incorporation of family funds of knowledge as a basis for the curriculum development. There are two research questions. 1. What are the most productive procedures for appropriate application of the full integrated RISE curriculum in Head Start classrooms serving DLL children? 2. What is the impact of the fully integrated RISE curriculum versus the comparison condition on teacher attitudes, classroom instruction, and quality, home-school relationships, and DLL children's STE knowledge and approaches to learning? In years 1 and two, 5 teachers are being supported, with 10 teachers in year 3. Participating parents are 40, 105, and 180 for years 1, 2 and 3. Professional development and mentoring is being provided for the teachers, and parent-teacher discussion groups are facilitating communication.

The research data is based on extensive classroom observations as well as interviews and surveys. For question 2, the project plans a quasi-experimental study of 10 RISE and 8 randomly selected comparison classrooms sampling 10 students in each classroom. Data will be analyzed with ANCOVA. The curriculum will be based on the Massachusetts framework, one of only a few states with pre-K standards. The evaluation will monitor both the progress of the research and development and the dissemination to the target audiences.

The curriculum materials are to be posted on the Tufts University website and a commercial publisher is being sought. Units are to be 6-12 weeks in duration, with a typical classroom engaging approximately four units. With the growing population of DLL students and the recognition that early childhood education in STE makes significant contributions to children's education, this project has the potential for national impacts.

Exploring the Efficacy of Engineering is Elementary (E4)

This project is developing evidence about the efficacy of the Engineering is Elementary curriculum under ideal conditions by studying the student and teacher-level effects of implementation. The project seeks to determine the core elements of the curriculum that support successful use. The findings from this study have broad implications for how engineering design curricular can be developed and implemented at the elementary level.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1220305
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/15/2012 to Fri, 08/31/2018
Full Description: 

This project is developing evidence about the efficacy of the Engineering is Elementary curriculum under ideal conditions by studying the student and teacher-level effects of implementation. The rigorous level of evidence that is developed in this study has significant utility as a support for the kinds of elementary engineering curricula that are needed as the Next Generation Science Standards come online and emphasize engineering design. The study is a randomized control trial where the assignment of teachers will be to the EiE curricular materials or to a counterfactual condition, the use of more standard design engineering curricular materials. The project studies the impact of the use of the curriculum on student learning and on teachers' use of the curriculum in a fidelity of implementation study to determine the core elements of the curriculum that support successful use. The study examines the implementation of the curricular materials in a number of contexts to more fully understand the conditions under which they work best and to explicate what aspects of such project-based inquiry materials most support student learning.

This study uses a randomized cluster trial to examine the efficacy of the EiE curriculum across 75 schools in the treatment and 75 schools in the control group samples. Two teachers per school are included in one treatment/control condition per school. Outcome measures for students include performances on project-specific measures that have been examined for technical quality of validity and reliability. A set of additional research-based survey instruments validated for use in the EiE context are also used to collect data about students' attitudes, perceptions, interest and motivation toward science and engineering. A robust fidelity of implementation research plan is being implemented that will include teachers surveys, pre and post assessments, teacher logs, as well as student engineering journals and student work from classroom implementation. The fidelity of implementation is further studied with forty treatment and ten control teachers through classroom observations and interviews.

The findings from this study have broad implications for how engineering design curricular can be developed and implemented at the elementary level. Engineering design has not been emphasized in the elementary classroom, lagging behind instruction in science with which teachers are more familiar. The results of this study inform practitioners and policy makers about what works, for whom and under what conditions. Information about the different contexts in which the curriculum has been implemented supports the dissemination of evidence-based research and development practices to strengthen STEM learning for all students.

Educational Design and Development: Planning for a STEM Learning Research Transformation

This is a planning effort to explore future directions and innovations related to educational design in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education in partnership with the International Society for Design and Development in Education. The planning activity will engage a core group of ISDDE principals in the articulation and examination of design processes for the Transforming STEM Learning program at NSF with a goal of developing an agenda for further discussion and research conceptualization.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1216850
Funding Period: 
Tue, 05/15/2012 to Tue, 04/30/2013

Crisis in K-16 STEM Education: A Regional Conference to Promote Local Solutions to a National Problem

This award is for the funding of a regional conference to study the future of STEM education, the impact of underrepresented and disadvantaged groups with regards to STEM, and STEM job growth and workforce development in a regional, as opposed to a national, context.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1212282
Funding Period: 
Wed, 02/01/2012 to Thu, 01/31/2013
Full Description: 

This award is for the funding of a regional conference to study the future of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education, the educational advancement of learners from underrepresented and disadvantaged groups with regards to STEM, and STEM job growth and workforce development in a regional, as opposed to a national, context. The project brings together regional K-16 stakeholders (teachers, administrators, policy makers, community college and four-year college faculty) with STEM education experts to address the major challenges and opportunities in supporting outstanding local programs that prepare students for STEM college-level study and careers, with a special emphasis on preparing under-represented populations. It is designed to bring together researchers and educators from the lower to mid-Hudson River Valley region of New York to layout the contours of current K-16 STEM practice, particularly from the point of view of what efforts are not working, why they are not working, and how to make these efforts work. The project is a partnership with Rockland Community College and CEJJES Institute. Approximately 150 participants from area schools and colleges in New York are expected to attend, representing approximately 200,000 K-12 public schools and 100,000 college students in a region where STEM-related industries are a prominent and growing influence.

The overarching goal of the Conference is to promote regional strategies that will enable this generation of learners, especially those from under-represented groups, to take their place in 21st century STEM careers. It is suggested that such a gathering of individuals and groups concerned with STEM education, as proposed in this project, would address four key questions: (1) How are knowledge and skill requirements for college-level study and careers in STEM changing the preparation needed for K-16? What changes need to be made with respect to curriculum, teachers and teaching, laboratories and access to resources, and in-school and out-of-school learning to improve the regional STEM outcomes? What strategies and practices can be adopted to support and advance STEM education throughout the region? (2) What are effective strategies for advancing the academic success of under-represented groups in STEM and how can they be successfully implemented in this region? (3) How does changing context for STEM education impact the knowledge and pedagogical skill requirements needed for being an effective K-16 STEM educator? What pedagogical strategies are best suited for teaching 21st century STEM skills? How well are teachers' professional development needs being met? What are some strategies for ensuring that the region?s teachers have access to the STEM professional development they need? (4) What are some current models of regional school/community/college partnerships for strengthening the K-16 STEM pipeline? How do these models address regional needs in ways that school districts cannot respond on their own? What solutions would be a good fit for this region? What unique ways in which Community Colleges and other share educational resources, serve as a STEM resource for students in middle school through college? What are the implications of this strategy for other regions concerned about K-16 STEM education?

Regional strategies offer a viable and scalable model for addressing K-16 STEM, especially when they reinforce the availability of services and support that would go beyond the reach of individual school districts. As a result of conference activities, the project will create and maintain a conference website with video capture of key elements of the presentations, conference proceedings and information and materials collected. The website will also be available for shared resources, scholarly papers, and the facilitating of future dialogue.

Morehouse College DR K-12 Pre-service STEM Teacher Initiative

This project recruited high school African American males to begin preparation for science, technology, engineering and mathematics teaching careers. The goal of the program was to recruit and prepare students for careers in secondary mathematics and science teaching thus increasing the number of African Americans students in STEM. The research will explore possible reasons why the program is or is not successful for recruiting and retaining students in STEM Teacher Education programs  

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1119512
Funding Period: 
Fri, 07/15/2011 to Sat, 06/30/2018
Project Evaluator: 
Melissa K. Demetrikopoulos
Full Description: 

Morehouse College proposed a research and development project to recruit high school African American males to begin preparation for secondary school science, technology, engineering and mathematics(STEM) teaching as a career. The major goal of the program is to recruit and prepare students for careers in secondary mathematics and science teaching thus increasing the number of African Americans students in STEM. The research will explore possible reasons why the program is or is not successful for recruiting and retaining students in STEM Teacher Education programs including: (a) How do students who remain in STEM education differ from those who leave and how do these individual factors (e.g. student preparation, self-efficacy, course work outcomes, attitudes toward STEM/STEM education, connectivity to STEM/STEM education communities, learning styles, etc) enhance or inhibit interest in STEM teaching among African American males? (b) What organizational and programmatic factors (e.g. high school summer program, Saturday Academy, pre-freshman program, summer research experience, courses, enhanced mentoring, cyber-infrastructure, college admissions guidance, leadership training, instructional laboratory, program management, faculty/staff engagement and availability, Atlanta Public Schools and Morehouse College articulation and partnership) affect (enhance or inhibit) interest in STEM teaching among African American males?

This pre-service program for future secondary STEM teachers recruits promising African American male students in eleventh grade and prepares them for entry into college.  The program provides academic guidance and curriculum-specific activities for college readiness, and creates preparation for secondary science and math teaching careers.   This project is housed within the Division of Science and Mathematics at Morehouse College and engages in ongoing collaboration with the Atlanta Public School (APS) system and Fulton County School District (FCS). The APS-FCS-MC collaboration fosters access and success of underrepresented students through (a) early educational intervention practices; (b) enhanced academic preparation; and (c) explicit student recruitment. 

The program consists of six major program components: High School Summer Program; Saturday Academy I, II, and III; Pre-Freshman Summer Program; and Summer Research Experience, which begins in the summer between the student’s junior and senior years of high school and supports the student through his sophomore year of college.  To date, collaborations between education and STEM faculty as well as between Morehouse, APS, and FCS faculty have resulted in development and implementation of all six program components.   Students spent six weeks in an intensive summer program with a follow-up Saturday Academy during their senior year before formally beginning their academic careers at Morehouse College. The program integrates STEM education with teacher preparation and mentoring in order to develop secondary teachers who have mastery in both a STEM discipline as well as educational theory. 

This pre-service program for future teachers recruited promising eleventh grade African American male students from the Atlanta Public School District to participate in a four-year program that will track them into the Teacher Preparation program at Morehouse College. The research focuses on the utility and efficacy of early recruitment of African American male students to STEM teaching careers as a mechanism to increase the number of African American males in STEM teaching careers.

InterLACE: Interactive Learning and Collaboration Environment

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

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

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

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

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

An Examination of Science and Technology Teachers' Conceptual Learning Through Concept-Based Engineering Professional Development

This project will determine the viability of an engineering concept-based approach to teacher professional development for secondary school science teachers in life science and in physical science. The project refines the conceptual base for engineering at the secondary level learning to increase the understanding of engineering concepts by the science teachers. The hypothesis is that when teachers and students engage with engineering design activities their understanding of science concepts and inquiry are also enhanced.

Project Email: 
Award Number: 
1158615
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2011 to Mon, 10/31/2011
Project Evaluator: 
Karen Peterman
Full Description: 

Technology educators from Black Hills State University and Purdue University partner with science educators from the University of Massachusetts at Boston and Stevens Institute of Technology to determine the viability of an engineering concept-based approach to teacher professional development for secondary school science teachers in life science and in physical science. The project refines the conceptual base for engineering at the secondary level learning (previously developed by the PIs) to increase the understanding of engineering concepts by the science teachers. In a pilot test of two weeks of professional development with ten teachers from each discipline, teachers become familiar with engineering concepts and study the process of infusing engineering concepts into science curricula so that they can develop modules in their discipline to be taught during the following in the school year. The following summer the teachers debrief the process and develop additional modules for their discipline. The process is revised and repeated with 22 teachers from each discipline. Teachers are explicitly provided strategies to help them meet the needs of diverse learners. The outputs of this project include: 1) a preliminary framework for secondary level engineering education to be published in both research and practitioner journals; 2) a pilot tested and validated Engineering Concept Assessment; 3) engineering-infused curriculum modules in life and physical science; and 4) a professional development model to prepare science teachers to infuse engineering in their teaching.

The project compares student learning when particular concepts in physics and biology are taught through engineering design with learning the same concepts taught an earlier group of students with present reform techniques used in the discipline. The hypothesis is that when teachers and students engage with engineering design activities their understanding of science concepts and inquiry are also enhanced. The research component of the project employs an iterative design with the design of activities followed by development and implementation. An engineering concept assessment is developed and tested to examine teacher learning and to determine how engineering concepts can be infused into the science curricula for life and physical science. Other quantitative and qualitative instruments are developed to assess the teachers? understandings of the engineering concepts and their pedagogical implications.

There is increasing emphasis on integrative STEM education. New national and international assessments are developing engineering strands and emphasizing non-routine problem solving. The framework for the Next Generation Science Standards includes engineering as one of four strands. Stand alone engineering course are not likely to be widely used. This project develops engineering infused science units and determines the professional development needed to use them effectively.

Project ATOMS: Accomplished Elementary Teachers of Mathematics and Science

The project is studying the impact of the mathematics and science intensive pre-service preparation program for elementary school teachers.  The project includes assessments of pre-service teachers' math and science content, teacher performance, self-report surveys, and teacher interviews. Each of the study dimensions (Knowledge Dimension, Teaching Performance, and Perspectives on the Program) will be assessed at three time points across this longitudinal study, providing a model for elementary teacher development of STEM teaching.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1118894
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2011 to Sat, 08/31/2019
Full Description: 

The project is studying the impact of the mathematics and science intensive pre-service preparation program for elementary school teachers at North Carolina State University called the Accomplished Elementary Teachers of Mathematics and Science (ATOMS). Faculty in NCSU's Department of Elementary Education, researchers at the Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy's Education Research Data Center and the NC State College Professional Education Office are involved in conducting this project.

The project includes assessments of pre-service teachers' math and science content, teacher performance, self-report surveys, and teacher interviews. Researchers are also tracking participants' perspectives on the program and comparing knowledge dimensions and teaching performance of a sub-sample of ATOMS teachers to a similar group of non-ATOMS teachers. Each of the study dimensions (Knowledge Dimension, Teaching Performance, and Perspectives on the Program) will be assessed at three time points across this longitudinal study, providing a model for elementary teacher development of STEM teaching.

The study has potential to advance current understanding regarding teacher preparation, especially in terms of supporting elementary teachers' instruction in science and math. The project is also innovative and potentially transformative by asking interesting and pertinent questions of how teachers can affect the learning of their students. Besides generating new knowledge, this project also has the potential to impact STEM education research. The ATOMS pre-service teacher preparation program may serve as a model for effective pre-service teacher education across the nation if the researchers can clearly demonstrate the effect of participating in the program in changing teachers' knowledge, attitudes, and skills, as well as their students' achievement. Investigators propose the dissemination of findings to both K-12 audiences and institutions of higher education. Additionally, key findings will be bulleted for policy makers in brief reports or brochures sent to deans of Colleges of Education nationwide, highlighting recommendations based on the findings.

Ready for Robotics: The Missing T and E of STEM in Early Childhood Education

The project investigates the use of robotics into early childhood education. It address two objectives: to develop and evaluate a low-cost, developmentally appropriate robotic construction kit specifically designed for early childhood education (PreK-2) and to pilot a robotics-based professional development model for early childhood educators to teach engineering and technology.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1118897
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2011 to Sun, 08/31/2014
Full Description: 

The project investigates the use of robotics into early childhood education. It address two objectives: to develop and evaluate a low-cost, developmentally appropriate robotic construction kit specifically designed for early childhood education (PreK-2) and to pilot a robotics-based professional development model for early childhood educators to teach engineering and technology. A number of research questions are included. To what extent did participating teachers gained knowledge about robotics, engineering and programming, and pedagogies? To what extent have they increased their familiarity of, comfort with, and understanding of the use of robotics in early childhood? To what extent participating in the institute can support the passage from knowledge to action? What processes/standards are used by early childhood teachers to integrate engineering and technology into their traditional curriculum? Do teachers adopt the robotics kit and curriculum for their classrooms? How do they adapt it to their own practices? What are the factors that predict successful outcomes in terms of adoption and adaptation? To what extent has the teaching practice of the teachers changed in a way that demonstrates understanding of the role of T and E in early childhood education?

Robotics provides a playful bridge to make early childhood programs more academically challenging while honoring the importance of play in the developmental trajectory. The assumption is that young children can become engineers by playing with gears, levers, motors, sensors; and programmers by exploring sequences, loops and variables. Robotics can be a gateway for children to learn about applied mathematical concepts, the scientific method of inquiry, and problem solving. Moreover, working with robotic manipulatives engages children in social interactions and negotiations while playing to learn and learning to play.

For robotics to be successfully integrated into the early childhood classroom, there are three factors that need to be considered: the robotics technology needs to be developmentally appropriate and low-cost; and teachers should be exposed to professional development. This project addresses these issues. It contributes to the emerging field of robotics in education by addressing the needs of an educational segment, early childhood, where there is a lack of new technologies and approaches to teach technology and engineering in a developmentally appropriate way.

The Effectiveness of Inclusive STEM Schools at Scale: A Multistate Longitudinal Quasi-Experiment

In this project, investigators are laying the foundation for a rigorous quasi-experiment to test the effects of attending such a school using longitudinal student records, surveys, and interviews. By documenting survey response rates, student location rates, and rates for successful matching of student administrative and survey data, this project is demonstrating that it is possible to collect data that would enable a large-scale study to be launched with the necessary instruments and experience in hand.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1118993
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2011 to Sat, 08/31/2013
Full Description: 

Concerns about both economic competitiveness and educational equity emphasize the need for the United States to broaden and diversify the pipeline of students prepared and motivated to pursue STEM college majors. An emerging strategy for addressing this need is large-scale implementation of inclusive STEM high schools. In this exploratory project, investigators from SRI International and George Washington University are laying the foundation for a rigorous quasi-experiment to test the effects of attending such a school using longitudinal student records, surveys, and interviews. The project's operational definition for an inclusive STEM high school (ISHS) is a school, school within a school, or school program that accepts students primarily on the basis of interest rather than aptitude or prior achievement and gives them the mathematics and science preparation they need to succeed in a STEM college major. ISHSs enroll students from groups underrepresented in STEM professions through an application process that does not require high test scores before high school entry. In contrast to selective STEM schools that admit gifted and talented students on the basis of entrance examination scores and thus select for perceived STEM aptitude, ISHSs have the more ambitious goal of developing STEM expertise.

To establish the feasibility of a large, multi-state investigation of the effectiveness of inclusive STEM schools at scale, researchers are:

- Developing a tentative taxonomy of ISHSs and exploring implications of ISHS heterogeneity for the research design;

- Recruiting three school partners representing different ISHS approaches;

- Using state data to identify a comparison school (without a particular focus on STEM) for each ISHS school partner and recruiting comparison school partners;

- Developing School Leader and three student surveys (fall 9th-grade, spring 12th-grade, and spring post-graduation);

- Collaborating with partner schools in design of data collection procedures, recruiting materials, and incentives;

- Piloting the School Leader Survey and two student surveys (9th-grade fall survey and 12th-grade spring survey) in six partner schools;

- Identifying and recruiting a larger sample of ISHSs and matched comparison schools for Year 2 data collection;

- Administering surveys in 40 or more high schools;

- Locating spring 2012 graduates of the three ISHS partner schools and pilot testing the post-graduation student survey with these students; and

- Engaging an Advisory Board who will provide methodological expertise and advice.

Ultimately, by documenting survey response rates, student location rates, and rates for successful matching of student administrative and survey data, this feasibility work is demonstrating that it is possible to collect the kind of data that would enable a large-scale study to be launched with the necessary instruments and experience in hand. As evidenced by the recent call from the President's Council of Advisors in Science and Technology for 1,000 new STEM schools and the National Research Council's report entitled "Successful K-12 STEM Education: Identifying Effective Approaches in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics" that highlights various STEM schools, the proposed research is highly relevant to current policy initiatives and debates. Moreover, the research has the potential to promote diversity in the STEM pipeline by influencing policymakers in states and districts that have yet to implement ISHSs at scale.

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