Engineering

Systemic Transformation for Inquiry Learning Environments (STILE) for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

The goal of the grant is to establish a culture of inquiry with all partners in order to develop interdiciplinary, authentic STEM learning environments. Design-based research provides iterative cycles of implementation to explore and refine the approach as a transformative model for STEM programs. The model supports a sustainable approach by building the capacity of schools to focus on design issues related to content, pedagogy, and leadership.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1238643
Funding Period: 
Mon, 10/01/2012 to Tue, 09/30/2014
Full Description: 

The Center for Technology and School Change (CTSC) at Teachers College, Columbia University and the Center for Environmental Research and Conservation (CERC) at Columbia University's Earth Institute are working in partnership with three STEM focused New York City schools (K-8) to develop a systemic, transformative approach for interdisciplinary STEM teaching and learning. The planned model prepares teachers to design innovative, authentic STEM projects, and supports administrators in leading such efforts.

CTSC has identified key elements of a robust design process to help teachers move from business- as-usual pedagogy to dramatically new practices in content, pedagogy, and technology use. The program also identifies an interdisciplinary STEM perspective, supported with experts from CERC who provide STEM fieldwork expertise as part of the overall design. Moreover, the project creates research and educational collaborations with diverse, community-based groups (e.g., urban nature centers). The project uses a mobile learning platform to leverage social networking among schools, teachers, students, STEM experts, parents and the community.

The goal of the grant is to establish a culture of inquiry with all partners in order to develop interdiciplinary, authentic STEM learning environments. Design-based research provides iterative cycles of implementation to explore and refine the approach as a transformative model for STEM programs. The model supports a sustainable approach by building the capacity of schools to focus on design issues related to content, pedagogy, and leadership.

Spatial Mathematics, Engineering, and Science: Toward an Integrated STEM Education

The goal of this project is to develop a provisional learning progression spanning grades K-5 that articulates and tests the potential of experiencing, describing, and representing space as the core of an integrated STEM education. The science of space has an extensive scope within and across disciplinary boundaries of science, mathematics and engineering; the project will create a coherent approach to elementary instruction in which mathematical reasoning about space is systematically cultivated.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1252875
Funding Period: 
Mon, 10/01/2012 to Mon, 09/30/2013
Full Description: 

The goal of Spatial Mathematics, Engineering, and Science: Toward an Integrated STEM Education is to develop a provisional learning progression spanning grades K-5 that articulates and tests the potential of experiencing, describing, and representing space as the core of an integrated STEM education. The science of space has an extensive scope within and across disciplinary boundaries of science, mathematics and engineering, the project will create a coherent approach to elementary instruction in which mathematical reasoning about space is systematically cultivated. Simultaneously, researchers are exploring the potential of spatial mathematics as a resource for engineering design of kinematic machines and for the development of mechanistic reasoning about the behavior of these machines. Work across these disciplines situates and motivates the mathematical work and also provides opportunities to investigate the intersections and contrasts among signature disciplinary practices, such as definition and proof in mathematics, design in engineering, and modeling in science. The research and development is being conducted in a middle school which is a full partner in the project.

In partnership, researchers and participating teachers are designing and implementing curricular approaches intended to support spatial knowledge and reasoning. Professional development will enhance and capitalize on teachers' roles as specialists in student thinking. The research consists of design studies conducted in 12 participating classrooms, K-5, and small-scale teaching experiments conducted with children across the same grade span. The research will establish provisional pathways and landmarks in learning about space, as well as the curricular activities and teacher practices necessary to support integrated STEM learning.

The project is novel in three ways. First, it provides children with early and systematic access to multiple geometries (e.g., plane, cylinder, sphere) to develop sophisticated understandings of powerful, yet experientally accessible concepts, such as straight, and STEM-related practices, such as model, definition and proof. Second, both the National Research Council Science/Engineering and the Common Core State Standards Mathematics highlight the role of practices in the development of disciplinary knowledge, and this project is providing a practical avenue for coordinating the co-development of disciplinary practices and knowledge. Third, the unifying theme of space is threaded through problems and contexts in mathematics, science and engineering, which provide a sound basis for generative STEM integration-integration that does not lose sight of the distinctive practices in different disciplines, but, instead, leverages these distinctions to produce multiple ways of knowing about space. Research and development is being conducted with underrepresented populations of students who are typically underserved in STEM education. Although the numbers of students reached in this phase of the work are relatively modest, the longer-term potential is great, because instruction anchored in space may be more accessible to students who struggle with traditional forms of mathematics education. The increased attention to integrated STEM education at the national level also ensures that this effort is likely to contribute to the knowledge base required to advance interdisciplinary forms of schooling.

FUN: A Finland US Network for Engagement and STEM Learning in Games

As part of a SAVI, researchers from the U.S. and from Finland will collaborate on investigating the relationships between engagement and learning in STEM transmedia games. The project involves two intensive, 5 day workshops to identify new measurement instruments to be integrated into each other's research and development work. The major research question is to what degree learners in the two cultures respond similarly or differently to the STEM learning games.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1252709
Funding Period: 
Mon, 10/01/2012 to Tue, 09/30/2014
Full Description: 

As part of a SAVI, researchers from the U.S. and from Finland will collaborate on investigating the relationships between engagement and learning in STEM transmedia games. The members of U.S. Team for this project come from TERC, WGBH and Northern Illinois University. The project involves two intensive, 5 day workshops to identify new measurement instruments to be integrated into each other's research and development work. The major research question is to what degree learners in the two cultures respond similarly or differently to the STEM learning games.

Radical Innovation Summit

This workshop convenes leading practitioners and scholars of innovation to collectively consider how education in the US might be reconfigured to both support and teach innovation as a core curriculum mission, with a focus on STEM education. Workshop participants identify and articulate strategies for creating and sustaining learning environments that promise the development of innovative thinking skills, behaviors and dispositions and that reward students, faculty and administrator for practicing and tuning these skills.

Award Number: 
1241428
Funding Period: 
Mon, 10/01/2012 to Mon, 09/30/2013
Full Description: 

This workshop, hosted by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) and the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts and the Social Sciences (I-CHASS), convenes leading practitioners and scholars of innovation to collectively consider how education in the US might be reconfigured to both support and teach innovation as a core curriculum mission, with a focus on STEM education. Workshop participants identify and articulate strategies for creating and sustaining learning environments that promise the development of innovative thinking skills, behaviors and dispositions and that reward students, faculty and administrator for practicing and tuning these skills. A wiki or other private online space will be created where participants will be encouraged to continue discussions or comment further on ideas generated over the course of the workshop. Mapping social networks of and among participants provides insights into how innovation practices are shared and spread across relationships and networks. Findings from the workshop will be made available to others through a public web site.

Identifying and Measuring the Implementation and Impact of STEM School Models

The goal of this Transforming STEM Learning project is to comprehensively describe models of 20 inclusive STEM high schools in five states (California, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, and Texas), measure the factors that affect their implementation; and examine the relationships between these, the model components, and a range of student outcomes. The project is grounded in theoretical frameworks and research related to learning conditions and fidelity of implementation.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1238552
Funding Period: 
Mon, 10/01/2012 to Fri, 09/30/2016
Full Description: 

The goal of this Transforming STEM Learning project is to comprehensively describe models of 20 inclusive STEM high schools in five states (California, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, and Texas), measure the factors that affect their implementation; and examine the relationships between these, the model components, and a range of student outcomes. The project is grounded in theoretical frameworks and research related to learning conditions and fidelity of implementation.

The study employs a longitudinal, mixed-methods research design over four years. Research questions are: (1) What are the intended components of each inclusive STEM school model?; (2) What is the status of the intended components of each STEM school model?; (3) What are the contexts and conditions that contribute to and inhibit the implementation of components that comprise the STEM schools' models?; and (4) What components are most closely related to desired student outcomes in STEM schools? Data gathering strategies include: (a) analyses of school components (e.g., structures, interactions, practices); (b) measures of the actual implementation of components through teacher, school principals, and student questionnaires, observation protocols, teacher focus groups, and interviews; (c) identification of contextual conditions that contribute to or inhibit implementation using a framework inclusive of characteristics of the innovation, individual users, leadership, organization, and school environment using questionnaires and interviews; and (d) measuring student outcomes using four cohorts of 9-12 students, including standardized test assessment systems, grades, student questionnaires (e.g., students' perceptions of schools and teachers, self-efficacy), and postsecondary questionnaires. Quantitative data analysis strategies include: (a) assessment of validity and reliability of items measuring the implementation status of participating schools; (b) exploratory factor analysis to examine underlying dimensions of implementation and learning conditions; and (c) development of school profiles, and 2- and 3-level Hierarchical Linear Modeling to analyze relationships between implementation and type of school model. Qualitative data analysis strategies include:(a) descriptions of intra- and inter-school implementation and factor themes, (b) coding, and (c) narrative analysis.

Expected outcomes are: (a) research-informed characterizations of the range of inclusive STEM high school models emerging across the country; (b) identification of components of STEM high school models important for accomplishing a range of desired student achievement; (c) descriptions of contexts and conditions that promote or inhibit the implementation of innovative STEM teaching and learning; (d) instruments for measuring enactment of model components and the learning environments that affect them; and (e) methodological approaches for examining relationships between model components and student achievement.

Transforming STEM Competitions into Collaboratives: Developing eCrafting Collabs for Learning with Electronic Textiles

This project supports the development of technological fluency and understanding of STEM concepts through the implementation of design collaboratives that use eCrafting Collabs as the medium within which to work with middle and high school students, parents and the community. The examine how youth at ages 10-16 and families in schools, clubs, museums and community groups learn together how to create e-textile artifacts that incorporate embedded computers, sensors and actuators.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1238172
Funding Period: 
Mon, 10/01/2012 to Tue, 09/30/2014
Full Description: 

This project supports the development of technological fluency and understanding of STEM concepts through the implementation of design collaboratives that use eCrafting Collabs as the medium within which to work with middle and high school students, parents and the community. The researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and the Franklin Institute combine expertise in learning sciences, digital media design, computer science and informal science education to examine how youth at ages 10-16 and families in schools, clubs, museums and community groups learn together how to create e-textile artifacts that incorporate embedded computers, sensors and actuators. The project investigates the feasibility of implementing these collaboratives using eCrafting via three models of participation, individual, structured group and cross-generational community groups. They are designing a portal through which the collaborative can engage in critique and sharing of their designs as part of their efforts to build a model process by which scientific and engineered product design and analysis can be made available to multiple audiences.

The project engages participants through middle and high school elective classes and through the workshops conducted by a number of different organizations including the Franklin Institute, Techgirlz, the Hacktory and schools in Philadelphia. Participants can engage in the eCrafting Collabs through individual, collective and community design challenges that are established by the project. Participants learn about e-textile design and about circuitry and programming using either ModKit or the text-based Arduino. The designs are shared through the eCrafting Collab portal and participants are required to provide feedback and critique. Researchers are collecting data on learner identity in relation to STEM and computing, individual and collective participation in design and student understanding of circuitry and programming. The project is an example of a scalable intervention to engage students, families and communities in developing technological flexibility.

This research and development project provides a resource that engages students in middle and high schools in technology rich collaborative environments that are alternatives to other sorts of science fairs and robotic competitions. The resources developed during the project will inform how such an informal/formal blend of student engagement might be scaled to expand the experiences of populations of underserved groups, including girls. The study is conducting an examination of the new types of learning activities that are multiplying across the country with a special focus on cross-generational learning.

Community-Based Engineering Design Challenges for Adolescent English Learners

This study is based on a theoretical model that embeds engineering design within social, cultural, and linguistic activity, seeking to understand (a) how adolescent English learners draw from various linguistic, representational, and social resources as they work toward solving community-based engineering design challenges; (b) the problems they face in working on the challenges and how they seek to overcome those problems; and (c) adolescents' willingness to conceptualize themselves as future engineers.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1222566
Funding Period: 
Mon, 10/01/2012 to Wed, 09/30/2015
Full Description: 

The purpose of this exploratory study is to conduct in-depth ethnographic studies in Latino neighborhoods, documenting the funds of knowledge, social networks, and linguistic and representational repertoires that are available in the adolescents' online and offline communities. This study is based on a theoretical model that embeds engineering design within social, cultural, and linguistic activity, seeking to understand (a) how adolescent English learners draw from various linguistic, representational, and social resources as they work toward solving community-based engineering design challenges; (b) the problems they face in working on the challenges and how they seek to overcome those problems; and (c) adolescents' willingness to conceptualize themselves as future engineers before and after participating in the project.

The ethnographic research is being conducted over the course of three years. The first year includes a pilot study in which approximately four Latino adolescents from the same community identify an engineering design project and work toward implementing it. Upon completion of the pilot project, the advisory committee reviews the data collection instruments, the observation and interview techniques, and the data analysis methods. Year two includes a scaled-up version of the ethnography, in which two groups of five to seven adolescents identify a need in their respective communities and spend the remainder of the school year addressing that need through an engineering design. Student participants are members of both the MESA and Upward Bound programs which target ethnically diverse adolescents. In all, up to 18 participants (4 in the first year and 14 in the second year) are selected through a combination of direct recruitment and peer recommendations.

This study will generate frameworks for understanding the types of social resources and the types of literacy practices that are relevant to engineering processes. The knowledge generated in this study is essential for creating future curricular materials and professional development models that will enhance engineering education for culturally diverse students.

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.

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.

Scale-Up of Selective STEM Specialty Schools: Efficacy Study

This study addresses the question: Does gaining admission to a selective STEM specialty school improve students' academic success on the SAT, SAT II, and Advanced Placement exams? Other portions of the investigation follow additional student outcomes, including: participation and success in STEM competitions; STEM publications; intentions for postsecondary STEM education and STEM careers; and initial postsecondary STEM education. This study seeks to inform considerations of the cost/benefit of directing resources to support such schools.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1221459
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2012 to Wed, 08/31/2016
Full Description: 

The desire to better empower high-ability STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) students has contributed in the last two decades to a jump in the creation of selective STEM specialty high schools. These schools devote all of their attention to a student body comprised only of the most talented students, ones who are most likely to be able to learn the most demanding STEM content, reach their STEM learning potential, and pursue postsecondary STEM study and careers. However, there are mixed views on the role that selective STEM specialty schools play in achieving their mission. While commenting on what is known regarding education in the STEM disciplines, a recent National Research Council report entitled "Successful K-12 STEM Education" notes that "there are no systematic data that show whether the highly capable students who attend those schools would have been just as likely to pursue a STEM major or related career or make significant contributions to technology or science if they had attended another type of school." To address the research gap, this impact study addresses the question: Does gaining admission to a selective STEM specialty school improve students' academic success on the SAT, SAT II (Math Level 2), and Advanced Placement exams (Calculus AB, Chemistry, and Physics B)? Other portions of the investigation follow additional student outcomes, including: participation and success in STEM competitions; STEM publications; National Merit scholarships; intentions for postsecondary STEM education and STEM careers; and initial postsecondary STEM education.

This study is based on the most rigorous possible design for the focal topic: a true experimental investigation of outcomes for students from many selective STEM specialty schools. The study is being accomplished through random assignment of equivalent treatment and control groups, and based on enough students to yield statistical power that can produce the most clear causal result possible. Researchers are recruiting all qualified students who apply for admission to 20 selective STEM specialty schools among the approximately 100 such schools currently in the United States. For the class entering in fall 2013, study schools are revising their routine selection process to one of assigning students for acceptance (treatment condition) or not (control condition) through random assignment of qualified applicants. Researchers, then, are following treatment students via their STEM schools and also intensively tracking all control students wherever they continue their secondary education. The study also investigates relative cost-effectiveness for educating high-achieving students in selective STEM schools versus educating them at other schools.

Since there is an acute and growing U.S. shortage of STEM professionals and technicians, it is imperative for the nation's education system to ensure that talented STEM students are reaching their maximum potential and pursuing postsecondary STEM degree programs and careers. As one strategy increasingly being used to address this need is to educate talented STEM students in selective STEM specialty schools, this study is informing considerations of the cost/benefit of directing resources to support such schools.

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