Science

Science Learning through Embodied Performances in Elementary and Middle School

This project's approach uses two types of embodied performances: experiential performances that engage learners in using their bodies to physically experience scientific phenomena (e.g., the increase of heart rate during exercise), and dramatic performances where learners act out science ideas (e.g., the sources and impact of air pollution) with gestures, body movement, dances, role-plays, or theater productions.

Project Email: 
Award Number: 
1908272
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2019 to Sun, 07/31/2022
Project Evaluator: 
Full Description: 

There is a need to develop ways of making scientific ideas and practices more accessible to students, in particular students in elementary grades and from populations underrepresented in STEM disciplines. Learning science involves the construction of scientific knowledge and science identities, both of which can be supported by science instruction that integrates scientific practices with theater and literacy practices. This project's approach uses two types of embodied performances: experiential performances that engage learners in using their bodies to physically experience scientific phenomena (e.g., the increase of heart rate during exercise), and dramatic performances where learners act out science ideas (e.g., the sources and impact of air pollution) with gestures, body movement, dances, role-plays, or theater productions. Body movements, positions, and actions along with language and other modes of representation are employed as critical constituents of meaning making, which offer learners opportunities to understand science core ideas, crosscutting concepts, and scientific practices by dramatizing them for and with others. This project is adding to the limited science education literature on the use, value, and impact of embodied performances in science classrooms, and on the brilliance, ingenuity, and science knowledge that all youth, and particularly historically marginalized young people, have and can further develop in urban school classrooms.

This project's research focuses on understanding how embodied performances of science concepts and processes can shape classroom science learning, and how their impact is similar and/or different across science topics, elementary and middle school grade levels, and as the school year progresses. It explores the kinds of science ideas students learn, the multimodal literacy practices in which they engage, and the science identities they construct. The research attends to learning for all young people with a specific focus on children from historically marginalized groups in STEM. Using design-based research, the project team (students and teachers in Chicago Public Schools, teaching artists, and researchers) designs embodied performances that are implemented, studied, and revised throughout the project's duration. Ten teachers participate in professional development to learn relevant theater practices (including adaptation, workshopping, and inter- and intra-personal embodiment practices), to strengthen their science understandings, and to learn ways of intertwining both in their teaching. They are subsequently supported by teaching artists through the implementation of various activities in their classrooms, eventually implementing them without any scaffolding. Data sources include fieldnotes during classwork related to embodied performances; written materials, images, sound files, and other digital productions created to enhance, share, expand, and/or support performances; ongoing written student reflections on learning science and the role of embodied performances; regular assessments found in the science curriculum; reflective conversations with student teams about their embodied performances; one-on-one semi-structured interviews with 6 focal students per classroom about science identity development twice in a school year; video of classwork related to embodied performances; and video of science ideas performed by students to school and community audiences. Analyses include structured and focused coding of qualitative data, multimodal discourse analysis, and content analysis. The findings of this research are providing empirical evidence of the value and impact of integrating performing-arts practices into science teaching and learning and the potential of this approach to transform urban science classrooms into spaces where young people from marginalized groups find access to science to engage with it creatively and deeply.

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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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Case Studies of a Suite of Next Generation Science Instructional, Assessment, and Professional Development Materials in Diverse Middle School Settings

This project addresses a gap between vision and implementation of state science standards by designing a coordinated suite of instructional, assessment and teacher professional learning materials that attempt to enact the vision behind the Next Generation Science Standards. The study focuses on using state-of-the-art technology to create an 8-week long, immersive, life science field experience organized around three investigations.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1907944
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Full Description: 

New state science standards are ambitious and require important changes to instructional practices, accompanied by a coordinated system of curriculum, assessment, and professional development materials. This project addresses a gap between vision and implementation of such standards by designing a coordinated suite of instructional, assessment and teacher professional learning materials that attempt to enact the vision behind the Next Generation Science Standards. The study focuses on the design of such materials using state-of-the-art technology to create an 8-week long, immersive, life science field experience organized around three investigations. Classes of urban students in two states will collect data on local insect species with the goal of understanding, sharing, and critiquing environmental management solutions. An integrated learning technology system, the Learning Navigator, draws on big data to organize student-gathered data, dialogue, lessons, an assessment information. The Learning Navigator will also amplify the teacher's role in guiding and fostering next generation science learning. This project advances the field through an in-depth exploration of the goals for the standards documents. The study begins to address questions about what works when, where, and for whom in the context of the Next Generation Science Standards.

The project uses a series of case studies to create, test, evaluate and refine the system of instructional, assessment and professional development materials as they are enacted in two distinct urban school settings. It is designed with 330 students and 22 teachers in culturally, racially and linguistically diverse, under-resourced schools in Pennsylvania and California. These schools are located in neighborhoods that are economically challenged and have students who demonstrate patterns of underperformance on state standardized tests. It will document the process of team co-construction of Next Generation Science-fostering instructional materials; develop assessment tasks for an instructional unit that are valid and reliable; and, track the patterns of use of the instructional and assessment materials by teachers. The study will also record if new misconceptions are revealed as students develop Next Generation Science knowledge,  comparing findings across two diverse school locations in two states. Data collection will include: (a) multiple types of data to establish validity and reliability of educational assessments, (b) the design, evaluation and use of a classroom observation protocol to gather information on both frequency and categorical degree of classroom practices that support the vision, and (c) consecutive years of ten individual classroom enactments through case studies analyzed through cross-case analyses. This should lead to stronger and better developed understandings about what constitutes strong Next Generation Science learning and the classroom conditions, instructional materials, assessments and teacher development that foster it.

Streams of Data: Nurturing Data Literacy in Young Science Learners (Collaborative Research: Robeck)

This project will develop an approach to support fourth grade students' data literacy with complex, large-scale, professionally collected data sets. The work will focus on analytical thinking as a subset of data literacy, specifically evaluating and interpreting data. The project will teach students about working with geoscience data, which connect to observable, familiar aspects of the natural world and align with Earth science curriculum standards.

Award Number: 
1906286
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Thu, 06/30/2022
Full Description: 

These skills are essential for working with scientific data sets, but educators know very little about how to prepare students for the issues involved in making appropriate inferences from data. The need is compounded by the fact that studies that exist have worked with data sets that students themselves collected, whereas the many electronic data sets, proliferating in the public domain, pose different challenges. This project will develop an approach to support fourth grade students' data literacy with complex, large-scale, professionally collected data sets. The work will focus on analytical thinking as a subset of data literacy, specifically evaluating and interpreting data. The project will teach students about working with geoscience data, which connect to observable, familiar aspects of the natural world and align with Earth science curriculum standards. An interdisciplinary team of educators, researchers, and scientists from the Oceans of Data Institute at Educational Development Center and the American Geological Institute will (1) conduct baseline research to understand students' natural affinities for understanding inference from complex data and phenomena; (2) develop and test scaffolding activities that leverage students' intellectual assets and minimize barriers to analytical thinking with professionally collected data; and (3) examine the degree to which the resulting activities support students to do productive work with professionally collected data. In developing an instructional approach, the project informs generally how professionally collected, scientific data can be used to support elementary students to develop data literacy skills.

Hypothesizing that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education generally can benefit from the instructional use of complex, large, interactive, and professionally-collected (CLIP) data sets (e.g., related to precipitation, stream flow, and groundwater levels), this study will explore approaches to integrating those data into fourth grade classroom instruction. The research is based on a premise that students who engage with CLIP data early in their classroom STEM experiences will develop skills and attitudes that promote meaningful analyses of those data earlier than if that exposure is delayed until secondary courses. The project will use a three-phase iterative design that will unfold in three urban and suburban school districts in Virginia and Maryland. Phase one will focus on creating a baseline of the reasoning students employ when making inferences from data. It will involve 45 students from grades 3-5 in targeted interviews, which will be recorded, transcribed and analyzed. Phases two and three will focus on design and development in grade 4. Phase two will develop and test activities through an iterative design plan that employs a semi-clinical method with small groups of students. Phase three will implement the activities that result from that process in six classrooms across three districts with approximately 150 students. A scoring rubric that captures student learning will be constructed in phase two and used to measure impacts of the field testing in phase three. Observations and interviews will also be conducted at field sites to understand what students learn about analytical thinking from the activities.

Streams of Data: Nurturing Data Literacy in Young Science Learners (Collaborative Research: Kochevar)

This project will develop an approach to support fourth grade students' data literacy with complex, large-scale, professionally collected data sets. The work will focus on analytical thinking as a subset of data literacy, specifically evaluating and interpreting data. The project will teach students about working with geoscience data, which connect to observable, familiar aspects of the natural world and align with Earth science curriculum standards.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1906264
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Thu, 06/30/2022
Full Description: 

These skills are essential for working with scientific data sets, but educators know very little about how to prepare students for the issues involved in making appropriate inferences from data. The need is compounded by the fact that studies that exist have worked with data sets that students themselves collected, whereas the many electronic data sets, proliferating in the public domain, pose different challenges. This project will develop an approach to support fourth grade students' data literacy with complex, large-scale, professionally collected data sets. The work will focus on analytical thinking as a subset of data literacy, specifically evaluating and interpreting data. The project will teach students about working with geoscience data, which connect to observable, familiar aspects of the natural world and align with Earth science curriculum standards. An interdisciplinary team of educators, researchers, and scientists from the Oceans of Data Institute at Educational Development Center and the American Geological Institute will (1) conduct baseline research to understand students' natural affinities for understanding inference from complex data and phenomena; (2) develop and test scaffolding activities that leverage students' intellectual assets and minimize barriers to analytical thinking with professionally collected data; and (3) examine the degree to which the resulting activities support students to do productive work with professionally collected data. In developing an instructional approach, the project informs generally how professionally collected, scientific data can be used to support elementary students to develop data literacy skills.

Hypothesizing that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education generally can benefit from the instructional use of complex, large, interactive, and professionally-collected (CLIP) data sets (e.g., related to precipitation, stream flow, and groundwater levels), this study will explore approaches to integrating those data into fourth grade classroom instruction. The research is based on a premise that students who engage with CLIP data early in their classroom STEM experiences will develop skills and attitudes that promote meaningful analyses of those data earlier than if that exposure is delayed until secondary courses. The project will use a three-phase iterative design that will unfold in three urban and suburban school districts in Virginia and Maryland. Phase one will focus on creating a baseline of the reasoning students employ when making inferences from data. It will involve 45 students from grades 3-5 in targeted interviews, which will be recorded, transcribed and analyzed. Phases two and three will focus on design and development in grade 4. Phase two will develop and test activities through an iterative design plan that employs a semi-clinical method with small groups of students. Phase three will implement the activities that result from that process in six classrooms across three districts with approximately 150 students. A scoring rubric that captures student learning will be constructed in phase two and used to measure impacts of the field testing in phase three. Observations and interviews will also be conducted at field sites to understand what students learn about analytical thinking from the activities.

Developing an Online Game to Teach Middle School Students Science Research Practices in the Life Sciences Collaborative Research: Metcalf)

This project will develop and research AquaLab 9, an online video game to engage middle school students in learning science research practices in life sciences content. By engaging in science research practices, students will develop intellectual skills that link directly to many state academic standards and are important for developing STEM literacy and pursuing STEM career pathways.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1907398
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Full Description: 

The project will develop and research AquaLab 9, an online video game to engage middle school students in learning science research practices in life sciences content. By engaging in science research practices, students will develop intellectual skills that link directly to many state academic standards and are important for developing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) literacy and pursuing STEM career pathways. Learners will take on the role of a scientist working at an ocean-floor research station, cut off from the surface due to a catastrophe. They must identify problems, design experiments, create models, and argue from evidence to lead the station to survival. Learners will be challenged with highly relevant, contemporary issues such as waste management, energy use/production/storage, and ecological sustainability in the setting of a fantastical story. Designed for Grades 5-8, the game will be playable in 30-minute segments and will work on Chromebooks and tablet computers. The game will involve 40 educators in a yearlong fellowship where they will become co-designers, steer the project to serve the diverse students they represent, learn about games in education, facilitate playtests in their classrooms, and report their experiences to peers. The resulting game, in English and Spanish, will be utilized by at least 162,000 students by the end of the project and hundreds of thousands more after the project is completed. The project will broaden access through digital distribution and minimal technology requirements, which will create a low-cost opportunity for students to engage in science practices, even in schools where time, equipment, or expertise are not available.

Learning progressions are the steps that students go through when they are learning about a topic. The project will research how learning progressions can provide a framework for educational game design. These progressions will be empirically derived from large audience game play data. The game can thus be designed to create personalized interventions for students to improve learning outcomes. Project research will use an approach called stealth assessment, which analyzes data from students' game behavior without requiring a disruption or intervention in the game activities. This project will use this approach for developing empirically validated understandings of how different students develop their science practices. Based on this research, the game will be revised to improve student learning by providing individualized feedback to each student.

Developing an Online Game to Teach Middle School Students Science Research Practices in the Life Sciences (Collaborative Research: Baker)

This project will develop and research AquaLab 9, an online video game to engage middle school students in learning science research practices in life sciences content. By engaging in science research practices, students will develop intellectual skills that link directly to many state academic standards and are important for developing STEM literacy and pursuing STEM career pathways.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1907437
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Full Description: 

The project will develop and research AquaLab 9, an online video game to engage middle school students in learning science research practices in life sciences content. By engaging in science research practices, students will develop intellectual skills that link directly to many state academic standards and are important for developing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) literacy and pursuing STEM career pathways. Learners will take on the role of a scientist working at an ocean-floor research station, cut off from the surface due to a catastrophe. They must identify problems, design experiments, create models, and argue from evidence to lead the station to survival. Learners will be challenged with highly relevant, contemporary issues such as waste management, energy use/production/storage, and ecological sustainability in the setting of a fantastical story. Designed for Grades 5-8, the game will be playable in 30-minute segments and will work on Chromebooks and tablet computers. The game will involve 40 educators in a yearlong fellowship where they will become co-designers, steer the project to serve the diverse students they represent, learn about games in education, facilitate playtests in their classrooms, and report their experiences to peers. The resulting game, in English and Spanish, will be utilized by at least 162,000 students by the end of the project and hundreds of thousands more after the project is completed. The project will broaden access through digital distribution and minimal technology requirements, which will create a low-cost opportunity for students to engage in science practices, even in schools where time, equipment, or expertise are not available.

Learning progressions are the steps that students go through when they are learning about a topic. The project will research how learning progressions can provide a framework for educational game design. These progressions will be empirically derived from large audience game play data. The game can thus be designed to create personalized interventions for students to improve learning outcomes. Project research will use an approach called stealth assessment, which analyzes data from students' game behavior without requiring a disruption or intervention in the game activities. This project will use this approach for developing empirically validated understandings of how different students develop their science practices. Based on this research, the game will be revised to improve student learning by providing individualized feedback to each student.

Developing an Online Game to Teach Middle School Students Science Research Practices in the Life Sciences (Collaborative Research: Gagnon)

This project will develop and research AquaLab 9, an online video game to engage middle school students in learning science research practices in life sciences content. By engaging in science research practices, students will develop intellectual skills that link directly to many state academic standards and are important for developing STEM literacy and pursuing STEM career pathways.

Award Number: 
1907384
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Full Description: 

The project will develop and research AquaLab 9, an online video game to engage middle school students in learning science research practices in life sciences content. By engaging in science research practices, students will develop intellectual skills that link directly to many state academic standards and are important for developing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) literacy and pursuing STEM career pathways. Learners will take on the role of a scientist working at an ocean-floor research station, cut off from the surface due to a catastrophe. They must identify problems, design experiments, create models, and argue from evidence to lead the station to survival. Learners will be challenged with highly relevant, contemporary issues such as waste management, energy use/production/storage, and ecological sustainability in the setting of a fantastical story. Designed for Grades 5-8, the game will be playable in 30-minute segments and will work on Chromebooks and tablet computers. The game will involve 40 educators in a yearlong fellowship where they will become co-designers, steer the project to serve the diverse students they represent, learn about games in education, facilitate playtests in their classrooms, and report their experiences to peers. The resulting game, in English and Spanish, will be utilized by at least 162,000 students by the end of the project and hundreds of thousands more after the project is completed. The project will broaden access through digital distribution and minimal technology requirements, which will create a low-cost opportunity for students to engage in science practices, even in schools where time, equipment, or expertise are not available.

Learning progressions are the steps that students go through when they are learning about a topic. The project will research how learning progressions can provide a framework for educational game design. These progressions will be empirically derived from large audience game play data. The game can thus be designed to create personalized interventions for students to improve learning outcomes. Project research will use an approach called stealth assessment, which analyzes data from students' game behavior without requiring a disruption or intervention in the game activities. This project will use this approach for developing empirically validated understandings of how different students develop their science practices. Based on this research, the game will be revised to improve student learning by providing individualized feedback to each student.

Aligning the Science Teacher Education Pathway: A Networked Improvement Community

This project will study the activities of a Networked Improvement Community (NIC) as a vehicle to bridge gaps across four identified steps along the science teacher training and development pathways within local contexts of 8 participating universities. The overarching goal of the project is to strengthen the capacity of universities and school districts to reliably produce teachers of science who are knowledgeable about and can effectively enact the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), although prepared in varied organizational contexts.

Award Number: 
1908900
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Full Description: 

California State University will study the activities of a Networked Improvement Community (NIC) as a vehicle to bridge gaps across four identified steps along the science teacher training and development pathways within local contexts of 8 participating universities (NIC sites). Networked Improvement Community (NIC) will co-create a shared vision and co-defined research agenda between university researchers, science educators and school district practitioners working together to reform teacher education across a variety of local contexts. By studying outcomes of shared supports and teacher tools for use in multiple steps along the science teacher education pathway, researchers will map variation existing in the system and align efforts across the science teacher education pathway. This process will integrate an iterative nature of educational change in local contexts impacting enactment of the NGSS in both university teacher preparation programs and in school district professional training activities and classrooms.

The overarching goal of the project is to strengthen the capacity of universities and school districts to reliably produce teachers of science who are knowledgeable about and can effectively enact the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), although prepared in varied organizational contexts. The project will accomplish this goal 1) leveraging the use of an established Networked Improvement Community, composed of science education faculty from eight university campuses and by 2) improving and studying coherence in the steps along the science teacher education pathway within and across these universities and school districts. The project will use a mixed methods approach to data collection and analysis. Consistent with Improvement Science Theory, research questions will be co-defined by all stakeholders.

Building Professional Capital in Elementary Science Teaching through a District-wide Networked Improvement Community Model

This project will focus on a networked improvement community (NIC) model of professional learning that shifts K-5 science instruction from traditional approaches to a three-dimensional design as outlined in the Next Generation Science Standards. The project will feature a multi-level model involving university educators and researchers and school district practitioners in an effort to co-defined problems of practice valuable to both parties.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1907471
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Thu, 06/30/2022
Full Description: 

This project will focus on a networked improvement community (NIC) model of professional learning that shifts K-5 science instruction from traditional approaches to a three-dimensional design as outlined in the Next Generation Science Standards. The need to make this shift stems from the school district's decision to address inequities in science as some schools offer minimal to no science instruction during the elementary years. The NIC model will draw on expertise from school personnel and university partners to ensure that students will have access to and benefit from authentic model-based inquiry daily in the early grades. This model embraces the challenges of scale and sustainability by targeting the design and substance of professional learning and its organization within the district, balancing integration with existing system infrastructure, and shifting the system based on theory-driven practices. To prepare teachers for this major change, professional development will shift from: (1) training on the use of kit-based curricular materials to professional learning grounded in NGSS-inspired sets of practices and tools; (2) working as individual practitioners to teaching as collaborative investigations; (3) using centralized efforts to distributed knowledge-building and leadership; (4) learning science as decontextualized facts to deep engagement with real-world phenomena; and (5) teaching lessons as prescribed by curriculum to a focus on responsive teaching and building on students' funds of knowledge. The NIC model will provide a pathway for integrating and implementing these shifts via a multilevel, knowledge-building, problem-solving system. This system will go beyond a single focus on improving students' understanding of science content to incorporating teaching practices that advances knowledge about student's written and spoken scientific language and use of explanations and arguments. Through the NIC model all K-5 elementary students in the district will benefit from a rigorous and equitable approach to science learning.

This project will feature a multi-level model involving university educators and researchers and school district practitioners in an effort to co-defined problems of practice valuable to both parties. A mixed methods research design will examine how the NIC model develops professional capital through changes in implementation over multiple iterations. These changes will be captured through short and long-term instruments. Regarding the shorter term, practical measures sensitive to change and directly tied to small manageable, short-term goals will provide quick responses to everyday real-time questions. These measures will help assess specific improvement goals using language relevant and meaningful to researchers and practitioners. For longer term goals, in-depth case studies, interviews, observations, pre-posttests, surveys, and questionnaires will collect data on several variables critical to documenting improvements at the teacher and student levels. Both sets of data will generate knowledge about ambitious and equitable science teaching practices with a focus on students' cultural and linguistic resources and experiences. Through such pathways, knowledge will be generated on teachers' and students' growth as active builders and collaborators in the development of improved learning and experiences. The outcomes will identify critical facets that support advances and sustainability that illuminate variations within the district to better understand what works, for whom, and under what conditions. the research findings will also be used to inform decision making about teaching science at the elementary grades and to further refine equity-based practices, resources, and tools for building on students' funds of knowledge vital to supporting, sustaining, and scaling educational outcomes for all students in the district and beyond.

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