Curricula/Activities

International Mind, Brain and Education Society (IMBES): 2020 Biennial Conference

This award will support teacher practitioners from the U.S. to attend the 2020 International Mind, Brain, and Education Society (IMBES) conference. The IMBES conference is an opportunity for scholars and educators to come together to engage in reciprocal dialogue about research and practice in biology, education, and the cognitive and developmental sciences.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2016241
Funding Period: 
Sun, 03/15/2020 to Thu, 12/31/2020
Full Description: 

The International Mind, Brain, and Education Society (IMBES) conference has taken place every 2-3 years since 2007. IMBES aims to facilitate cross-cultural collaboration in biology, education, and the cognitive and developmental sciences. The IMBES meeting is an opportunity for scholars and educators to come together to engage in reciprocal dialogue about research and practice. Researchers investigating learning processes have the opportunity to share results with educators and receive feedback on the translational opportunities for the research. Educators can update their understanding of the cognitive and neural bases of learning and impart their knowledge of efficacious techniques, tools, and classroom practices with researchers. This type of interaction between researchers and practitioners is crucial for generating research that contributes to usable knowledge for education. This conference aims to assess the degree to which scientific ideas are ready for the classroom, consider the extent to which further educational research is still required, evaluate the potential of current research in meaningfully shaping pedagogy, and recognize opportunities to use the classroom to challenge the robustness of research.

This award to Temple University will provide partial support for the International, Mind, Brain, and Education Society (IMBES) conference to be held in Montreal in June 2020. This award will specifically support teacher practitioners from the U.S. to attend the conference and learn more about educational neuroscience and its potential implications for practice. The teacher practitioners will also have opportunities to share with researchers the nature of effective educational practice.

Evolving Minds: Promoting Causal-Explanatory Teaching and Learning of Biological Evolution in Elementary School

Adopting a teaching and curricular approach that will be novel in its integration of custom explanatory storybook materials with hands-on investigations, this project seeks to promote third grade students' understanding of small- and large-scale evolution by natural selection. By studying students across multiple school districts, this research will shed light on the benefits to diverse students of instruction that focuses on supporting children's capacities to cogently explain aspects of the biological world rather than learn disparate facts about it.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2009176
Funding Period: 
Mon, 06/01/2020 to Fri, 05/31/2024
Full Description: 

Natural selection is a fundamental mechanism of evolution, the unifying principle of biology. It is central to understanding the functional specialization of living things, the origin of species diversity and the inherent unity of biological life. Despite the early emergence of tendencies that can make evolution increasingly challenging to learn over time, natural selection is currently not taught until middle or high school. This is long after patterns of misunderstanding are likely to have become more entrenched. The current research responds to this situation. It targets elementary school as the time to initiate comprehensive instruction on biological evolution. Adopting a teaching and curricular approach that will be novel in its integration of custom explanatory storybook materials with hands-on investigations, it seeks to promote third grade students' understanding of small- and large-scale evolution by natural selection. By studying students across multiple school districts, this research will shed light on the benefits to diverse students of instruction that focuses on supporting children's capacities to cogently explain aspects of the biological world rather than learn disparate facts about it. It will also illuminate the value of simple tools, like explanatory storybooks, for elementary school teachers who are often expected to teach counterintuitive topics such as natural selection while not feeling confident in their own understanding.

This project will investigate changes in Grade 3 students' learning and reasoning about living things during implementation of a guided inquiry curriculum unit on evolution by natural selection that emphasizes causal-mechanistic explanation. Classroom inquiry activities and investigations into a range of real-world phenomena will be framed by engagement with a sequence of innovative custom causal-explanatory storybook, animation and writing prompt materials that were developed under prior NSF support to promote transferable, scientifically accurate theory- and evidence-based reasoning about natural selection. In response to the distinctive challenges of life science and evolution learning, the project will integrate and thematically unify currently disparate Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) content and practice standards to create a comprehensive unit that addresses all three NGSS dimensions and is accompanied by evidence-based approaches to teacher professional development (PD). Using a design based research approach, and informed by cognitive developmental findings, this 4-year project will engage at least 700 students and their teachers and include partners from at least four school districts, Boston University, and TERC.

Improving the Teaching of Genetics in High School to Avoid Instilling Misconceptions about Gender Differences (Collaborative Research: Riegle-Crumb)

This project will study the aspects of genetics instruction that affect students' beliefs in neurogenetic essentialism, which is implicated in lowering girls' sense of STEM abilities, feeling of belonging in STEM classes, and interest in pursuing further education in STEM fields. The goal of the project is to answer important questions about how to teach genetics at the high school level in a manner that is scientifically accurate but does not have these detrimental side effects.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1956119
Funding Period: 
Wed, 07/01/2020 to Mon, 06/30/2025
Full Description: 

Recent research suggests that learning about genetics during high school biology can lead to a belief that inherent differences in the genes and brains of men and women are the main causes of gender differences in behavior and intellectual abilities (a belief known as neurogenetic essentialism). This belief is implicated in lowering girls' sense of their own STEM abilities, their feelings of belonging in STEM classes, and their interest in pursuing further education in STEM fields. The goal of this project, led by a team of researchers at Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, the University of Texas, Austin, and New York University is to answer important questions about how to teach genetics at the high school level in a manner that is scientifically accurate, but does not have these detrimental side effects. Specifically, this new line of experimental research will identify and revise the content in common genetics instruction that promotes the belief in neurogenetic essentialism. The proposed experiments will also explore how the beliefs of peers and teachers contribute to changes in such beliefs in students. This work has further implications for how the topic of differences between men and women is addressed during high school biology education. Furthermore, the research findings will advance theory on factors that contribute to gender disparities in STEM attitudes and aspirations.

Building on preliminary evidence, this project aims to accomplish four key goals. First, the project will study which specific aspects of genetics instruction affect students' beliefs in neurogenetic essentialism. Second, the project will identify the cognitive mechanisms through which these effects occur. Third, the project will uncover the downstream effects of revised genetics instructional materials on a broad range of motivational variables relevant to STEM pursuit, such as implicit person theories, sense of belonging in STEM, and interest in this domain. Fourth, the project will explore the contextual factors (e.g., teacher and peer beliefs) that may moderate or mediate how students respond to the instructional materials. The research team will develop and iteratively refine genetics educational materialsthat teach about genetic, neurological, and behavioral variation within and between sexes, as well as the social causes of such differences. The research team will then test the effectiveness of these revised materials through two large-scale randomized control trials, one targeting students directly and one targeting students' learning via their teachers. The results of this project will produce generalizable knowledge regarding the cognitive, sociological, and educational factors that contribute to STEM gender disparities.

Responding to an Emerging Epidemic through Science Education

This research project will produce curricular materials designed to help students learn about viral epidemics as both a scientific and social issue. It will engage students in scientific modeling of the epidemic and in critical analyses of media and public health information about the virus. This approach helps students connect their classroom learning experiences with their lives beyond school, a key characteristic of science literacy.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2023088
Funding Period: 
Sun, 03/01/2020 to Sun, 02/28/2021
Full Description: 

At this moment, there is global concern about the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and its potential to become an epidemic in the U.S. and other countries. Reports of past studies on student understanding of epidemics and how they are taught in school indicate that teachers are reticent to teach the material because the science is unclear given the emerging nature of evidence, or because they don?t understand it well themselves. Curricular resources are limited. Consequently, many students are left on their own to grapple with a potential public health emergency that could affect them and their families. The problem is further complicated by misinformation that may be spread through social media. There is less public understanding about the science of the virus and how it spreads; the risk of being infected; treatment, or, the severity of the illness. This research project will produce curricular materials designed to help students learn about viral epidemics as both a scientific and social issue. It will engage students in scientific modeling of the epidemic and in critical analyses of media and public health information about the virus. This approach helps students connect their classroom learning experiences with their lives beyond school, a key characteristic of science literacy. This project is an example of how science education can be both engaging and relevant.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina and the University of Missouri have been studying how to teach about issues at the crossroads of science and social concerns such as community health; they have developed a framework to build curriculum materials focused on student learning of such complex issues through modeling and inquiry. For this study on the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); first, the researchers will study student responses to the epidemic in real time, collecting data on student initial understandings and concerns. Then, using this information, they will work with 7 high school science teachers familiar with their framework to build a prototype curriculum unit, and test it in classrooms in 4 high schools selected for their socio-economic and ethnic/racial diversity. The study will gather data on student interest in the epidemic, as well as how students access information about it through various forms of media, and how they vet news reports and social media. The researchers will also use pre- and post-test data to assess student learning. After this initial enactment of the curriculum materials developed to teach about the epidemic, researchers and teachers will revise the curriculum materials to make them more effective. The final products will be a curriculum unit that will be readily available and modifiable for teaching and learning about future epidemics, as well as greater understanding about how students deal with vast amounts of information about societal issues that affect their immediate lives and the science behind them.

CAREER: Exploring Teacher Noticing of Students' Multimodal Algebraic Thinking

This project investigates and expands teachers' learning to notice in two important ways. First, the research expands beyond teachers' noticing of written and verbal thinking to attend to gesture and other aspects of embodied and multimodal thinking. Second, the project focuses on algebraic thinking and seeks specifically to understand how teacher noticing relates to the content of algebra. Bringing together multimodal thinking and the mathematical ideas in algebra has the potential to support teachers in providing broader access to algebraic thinking for more students.

Award Number: 
1942580
Funding Period: 
Mon, 06/01/2020 to Sat, 05/31/2025
Full Description: 

Effective teachers of mathematics attend to and respond to the substance of students' thinking in supporting classroom learning. Teacher professional development programs have supported teachers in learning to notice students' mathematical thinking and using that noticing to make instructional decisions in the classroom. This project investigates and expands teachers' learning to notice in two important ways. First, the research expands beyond teachers' noticing of written and verbal thinking to attend to gesture and other aspects of embodied and multimodal thinking. Second, the project focuses on algebraic thinking and seeks specifically to understand how teacher noticing relates to the content of algebra. Bringing together multimodal thinking and the mathematical ideas in algebra has the potential to support teachers in providing broader access to algebraic thinking for more students.

To study teacher noticing of multimodal algebraic thinking, this project will facilitate video club sessions in which teachers examine and annotate classroom video. The video will allow text-based and visual annotation of the videos to obtain rich portraits of the thinking that teachers notice as they examine algebra-related middle school practice. The research team will create a video library focused on three main algebraic thinking areas: equality, functional thinking, and proportional reasoning. Clips will be chosen that feature multimodal student thinking about these content areas, and provide moments that would be fruitful for advancing student thinking. Two cohorts of preservice teachers will engage in year-long video clubs using this video library, annotate videos using an advanced technological tool, and engage in reflective interviews about their noticing practices. Follow-up classroom observations will be conducted to see how teachers then notice multimodal algebraic thinking in their classrooms. Materials to conduct the video clubs in other contexts and the curated video library will be made available, along with analyses of the teacher learning that resulted from their implementation.

PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs StoryMaker: STEM-Integrated Student Journalism

In this project, Student Reporting Labs will develop an online curriculum delivery platform called StoryMaker and a unique set of tools called Storymaker:STEM that will supply in-demand interdisciplinary, multi-modal, STEM-infused teaching and learning tools to classrooms across the country. The project aims to produce unique STEM stories from a teen perspective and partners with local public media stations to provide mentorship and amplify the voices of young people.

Project Email: 
Award Number: 
1908515
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2019 to Thu, 08/31/2023
Project Evaluator: 
Full Description: 

PBS NewsHour's Student Reporting Labs (SRL) is a youth journalism program that creates transformative educational experiences through video production and community engagement. The program aims to produce unique STEM stories from a teen perspective and partners with local public media stations to provide mentorship and amplify the voices of young people. In this project, Student Reporting Labs will develop an online curriculum delivery platform called StoryMaker and a unique set of tools called Storymaker:STEM that will supply in-demand interdisciplinary, multi-modal, STEM-infused teaching and learning tools to classrooms across the country. SRL StoryMaker:STEM will be a free, self-directed online curriculum delivery system designed to guide educators working with middle and high school-age students through videojournalism experiences that highlight and integrate STEM skills, concepts, issues, and potential solutions into the learning process. This program will also develop mentoring connections with 40 journalism professionals and STEM professionals to provide supports for participating teachers and students. The project will recruit and work with about 100 teachers and their students over the course of the project to inform, test, implement and provide feedback on the SRL StoryMaker:STEM platform and resources. The associated research will explore evidence-based strategies for structuring co-learning and mentorship connections for students and teachers with journalists and science content experts around SRL StoryMaker:STEM to best support student and teacher outcomes.

The four-year associated research study will contribute to understanding how teachers collaborate on teaching STEM across academic disciplines through a series of interviews, surveys, and site visits with the pilot teachers and their students using SRL StoryMaker:STEM. The analysis of the data will focus on identifying the benefits of developing a community of teachers who collaborate on teaching STEM across the academic discipline through journalism practice. Specifically, a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods will be used to examine the following research questions: What teacher affordances are necessary for using journalism practices to support STEM learning across academic disciplines? How do teacher perceptions of their school constraints influence their use of STEM-based learning activities? How do teachers from different disciplines teach numerical reasoning, communicating with data, and the other essential STEM thinking skills? How might an online support community be structured to encourage teacher-to-teacher scaffolding related to STEM content given variation in their pedagogical training? Meanwhile, front-end evaluation will identify barriers and opportunities specific to this project. Formative evaluation will focus on how each specific iteration is meeting teachers' needs and aspirations, and summative evaluation will examine teachers' STEM learning and teachers' perception of students' STEM outcomes.

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Crowdsourcing Neuroscience: An Interactive Cloud-based Citizen Science Platform for High School Students, Teachers, and Researchers

This project will develop a cloud-based platform that enables high school students, teachers, and scientists to conduct original neuroscience research in school classrooms.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1908482
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2019 to Mon, 07/31/2023
Full Description: 

Current priorities in school science education include engaging students in the practices of science as well as the ideas of science. This project will address this priority by developing a cloud-based platform that enables high school students, teachers, and scientists to conduct original neuroscience research in school classrooms. Before students and teachers initiate their own studies using the system, they will participate in existing research studies by contributing their own data and collaborating with researchers using the online, interactive system. When experienced with the system, students and teachers will become researchers by developing independent investigations and uploading them to the interactive platform. Both student-initiated and scientist-initiated proposals will be submitted to the platform, peer-reviewed by students and scientists, revised, and included in the online experimental bank. In addition to conducting their own studies using the platform, scientists will act as educators and mentors by populating the experiment bank with studies that can serve as models for students and provide science content for the educational resource center. This online system addresses a critical need in science education to involve students more fully and authentically in scientific inquiry where they gain experience in exploring the unknown rather than confirming what is already known.

This early stage design and development study is guided by three goals: 1) Develop an open-science citizen science platform for conducting human brain and behavior research in the classroom, 2) Develop a remote neuroscience Student-Teacher-Scientists (STS) partnership program for high schools, and 3) Evaluate the design, development, and implementation of the program and its impacts on students and tachers. In developing this project, the project team will link two quickly emerging trends, one in science education, and one in the sciences. Consistent with current priorities in science education, the project will engage students and their teachers in authentic, active inquiry where they learn scientific practices by using them to conduct authentic inquiry where a search for knowledge is grounded in finding evidence-based answers to original questions. On the science side, students and their science partners will participate in an open science approach by pre-registering their research and committing to an analysis plan before data are collected. In this project, students will primarily be using reaction time and online systems to do research that includes study of their own brain function. The project research is guided by three research questions. How does an online citizen neuroscience STS platform: a) impact students' understanding of, and abilities to apply neuroscience and experimental design concepts? b) Impact students' interests in, and attitudes toward science, including an awareness of science careers and applications? and c) Affect teachers' attitudes towards neuroscience teaching, and the use of inquiry-based strategies? A design-based research approach will be used to iteratively design a sustainable and scalable inquiry-based neuroscience curriculum with teachers as design partners.

Advancing Coherent and Equitable Systems of Science Education

This project will examine how partnerships among state science leaders, education researchers and education practitioners cultivate vertical coherence and equity in state science education.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1920249
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2019 to Mon, 07/31/2023
Full Description: 

This project will examine how partnerships among state science leaders, education researchers and education practitioners cultivate vertical coherence and equity in state science education. This is an important study because in most states, the student population is becoming more diverse, and states need help in finding ways to better serve schools and districts within their jurisdictions. Through this effort, state science leaders will participate in a networked improvement community model organized to develop and test state-level strategies. Specifically, the focus will be on the adaptation of instructional materials and formative assessment as linked policy strategies for aligning curriculum, instruction, and assessment and for relating instruction to the interests and histories of local communities. State science leaders and researchers will investigate how and under what conditions certain strategies support the emergence of coherent and equitable state systems of science education in which all students have opportunities to meet challenging new science standards. The project will build knowledge and theory about the conditions under which a network of state teams can promote coherent guidance for culturally-based instruction in local districts and schools. Together the partners will collaborate to diagnose current challenges to promoting coherence and equity and then develop knowledge and resources about conditions that promote coherence and equity by testing and studying strategies for cultivating it.

An iterative design-based research approach will be used to build foundational knowledge for the equitable implementation of the vision of science and engineering learning that integrates disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts working from a cultural perspective on learning. A multiple-case study will be used to collect data about the impact of the networked improvement community model on leadership development to effectively improve state efforts. Surveys and interviews will be used to gather information on co-designing efforts, use and adaptation of resources, and knowledge gained by state science leaders. Data will also be collected on political conditions and infrastructures of teamwork as potential facilitators and barriers to the development of strategic knowledge leadership. Analyses of data will identify patterns or configurations of conditions associated with growth in science leaders' strategic knowledge leadership related to equity. This technique will generate evidence-based claims for how and when supports and barriers matter for growth in strategic knowledge leadership for equity.

Generalized Embodied Modeling to Support Science through Technology Enhanced Play (Collaborative Research: Danish)

The project will develop and research a new Mixed Reality environment (MR), called GEM-STEP, that leverages play and embodiment as resources for integrating computational modeling into the modeling cycle as part of science instruction for elementary students.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1908632
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2019 to Sun, 07/31/2022
Full Description: 

The project will develop and research a new Mixed Reality environment (MR), called GEM-STEP, that leverages play and embodiment as resources for integrating computational modeling into the modeling cycle as part of science instruction for elementary students. GEM stands for Generalized Embodied Modeling. Through these embodied, play-as-modeling activities, students will learn the core concepts of science, and the conceptual skills of modeling and systematic measurement. MR environments use new sensing technologies to help transform young children's physical actions during pretend play into a set of symbolic representations and parameters in a science simulation. As students physically move around the classroom, the computer will track their motion and interactions with selected objects and translate their physical activity into a shared display. For example, students pretend they are water particles and work together to model different states of matter. The children see their activity projected onto a computer simulation where a model of a water particle is displayed over the video of themselves. As students collectively reflect upon the nature of a water molecule, they refine their understanding of water as ice, a liquid or a gas. The proposed innovation allows the students to program and revise their own mixed reality simulations as part of their modeling cycle. Embodied and computational modeling will help students to reflect on their models in a unique way that will make their models more computationally accurate and enhance their understanding of the underlying concepts.

The project will research how using the body as a component of the modeling cycle differs from and interacts with the articulation of a scientific model through more structured computational means. The project will investigate the benefits of combining embodiment with computational elements in GEM:STEP by studying the range of concepts that students can learn in this manner. Lessons will be developed to address different disciplinary core ideas, such as states of matter, pollination as a complex system, or decomposition, as well as cross-cutting concepts of systems thinking, and energy/matter flow, all of which link directly to upper elementary science curriculum. Project research will gather data to understand what kinds of models students develop, what learning processes are supported using GEM:STEP, and what learning results. The data will include: (1) documenting and analyzing what students modeled and how accurate the models are; (2) recording student activity using audio and voice to code their activity to document learning processes and to look at how different forms of modeling interact with one another to promote learning; and (3) pre-post content measures to assess learning. All of the software that is developed for GEM:STEP will be made available as Open Source projects, allowing other researchers to build upon and extend this work. The results of the research will be disseminated in academic conferences and peer reviewed journals. The motion tracking software is already available on Github, a popular open-source repository. Once developed, the aim is to implement GEM:STEP in a wide range of classroom contexts, supported by a user-friendly interface, teacher guides, and professional development.

Generalized Embodied Modeling to Support Science through Technology Enhanced Play (Collaborative Research: Enyedy)

The project will develop and research a new Mixed Reality environment (MR), called GEM-STEP, that leverages play and embodiment as resources for integrating computational modeling into the modeling cycle as part of science instruction for elementary students.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1908791
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2019 to Sun, 07/31/2022
Full Description: 

The project will develop and research a new Mixed Reality environment (MR), called GEM-STEP, that leverages play and embodiment as resources for integrating computational modeling into the modeling cycle as part of science instruction for elementary students. GEM stands for Generalized Embodied Modeling. Through these embodied, play-as-modeling activities, students will learn the core concepts of science, and the conceptual skills of modeling and systematic measurement. MR environments use new sensing technologies to help transform young children's physical actions during pretend play into a set of symbolic representations and parameters in a science simulation. As students physically move around the classroom, the computer will track their motion and interactions with selected objects and translate their physical activity into a shared display. For example, students pretend they are water particles and work together to model different states of matter. The children see their activity projected onto a computer simulation where a model of a water particle is displayed over the video of themselves. As students collectively reflect upon the nature of a water molecule, they refine their understanding of water as ice, a liquid or a gas. The proposed innovation allows the students to program and revise their own mixed reality simulations as part of their modeling cycle. Embodied and computational modeling will help students to reflect on their models in a unique way that will make their models more computationally accurate and enhance their understanding of the underlying concepts.

The project will research how using the body as a component of the modeling cycle differs from and interacts with the articulation of a scientific model through more structured computational means. The project will investigate the benefits of combining embodiment with computational elements in GEM:STEP by studying the range of concepts that students can learn in this manner. Lessons will be developed to address different disciplinary core ideas, such as states of matter, pollination as a complex system, or decomposition, as well as cross-cutting concepts of systems thinking, and energy/matter flow, all of which link directly to upper elementary science curriculum. Project research will gather data to understand what kinds of models students develop, what learning processes are supported using GEM:STEP, and what learning results. The data will include: (1) documenting and analyzing what students modeled and how accurate the models are; (2) recording student activity using audio and voice to code their activity to document learning processes and to look at how different forms of modeling interact with one another to promote learning; and (3) pre-post content measures to assess learning. All of the software that is developed for GEM:STEP will be made available as Open Source projects, allowing other researchers to build upon and extend this work. The results of the research will be disseminated in academic conferences and peer reviewed journals. The motion tracking software is already available on Github, a popular open-source repository. Once developed, the aim is to implement GEM:STEP in a wide range of classroom contexts, supported by a user-friendly interface, teacher guides, and professional development.

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