Teacher Content Knowledge

Integrating Quality Talk Professional Development to Enhance Professional Vision and Leadership for STEM Teachers in High-Need Schools

This project expands and augments a currently-funded NSF Noyce Track II teacher recruitment and retention grant with Quality Talk (QT), an innovative, scalable teacher-facilitated discourse model. Over the course of four years, the work will address critical needs in physics and chemistry education in 10th through 12th grade classrooms by strengthening the capacity of participating teachers to design and implement lessons that support effective dialogic interactions.

Award Number: 
1316347
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/15/2013 to Fri, 06/30/2017
Full Description: 

This project expands and augments a currently-funded NSF Noyce Track II teacher recruitment and retention grant with Quality Talk (QT), an innovative, scalable teacher-facilitated discourse model. It is hypothesized that the QT model will enhance pre- and in-service secondary teachers' development of professional vision and leadership skills necessary for 21st century STEM education. Over the course of four years, the work will address critical needs in physics and chemistry education in 10th through 12th grade classrooms in five of Georgia's high-need school districts by strengthening the capacity of participating teachers to design and implement lessons that support effective dialogic interactions. As a result of such interactions, students' scientific literacy will be enhanced, including their ability to participate in content-rich discourse (i.e., QT) through effective disciplinary critical-analytic thinking and epistemic cognition. The contributions of this project, beyond the tangible benefits for teacher and student participants, include the development, refinement, and dissemination of an effective QT intervention and professional developmental framework that the entire science education community can use to promote scientific literacy and understanding.

The project goals are being achieved through a series of three studies employing complementary methods and data sources, and a focus upon dissemination of the model in the final project year. The first two years of the project focus on developing and refining the curricular and intervention efficacy materials using design-based research methods. In Year 3, the project engages in a quasi-experimental study of the refined QT model, followed by further refinements before disseminating the materials both within Georgia and throughout the national science education community in Year 4. Quantitative measures of teacher and student discourse and knowledge, as well as video-coding and qualitative investigations of intervention efficacy, are being analyzed using multiple methods. In collaboration with, but independent from project staff and stakeholders, the participatory and responsive evaluation utilizes a variety of qualitative and quantitative methods to conduct formative and summative evaluation.

Over the course of four years, the project will involve the participation of approximately 32 teachers in Georgia whose students include substantive percentages from populations underrepresented in the STEM fields. In addition to advancing their own students' scientific literacy, these participating teachers receive professional development on how to train other teachers, outside of the project, in using QT to promote scientific literacy. Further, the project will conduct a QT Summit for educational stakeholders and non-participant teachers to disseminate the intervention and professional development model. Finally, the project team will disseminate the findings widely to applied and scholarly communities through a website with materials and PD information (http://www.qualitytalk.org), professional journals, conferences, and NSF's DRK-12 Resource Network. This project, with its focus on teacher leadership and the pedagogical content knowledge necessary to use discourse to promote student science literacy, significantly advances the nation's goals of producing critical consumers and producers of scientific knowledge.

Every Day, Every Child: A Partnership for Research with Elementary Math and Science Instructional Specialists

This exploratory project is studying the use of mathematics and science specialist teachers in elementary schools. The first four studies are in six school districts in Washington State. They are characterizing and categorizing the specialists, investigating the content knowledge, preparation and needs of these teachers, determining their instructional effectiveness, and determining their impact on student learning and attitudes towards mathematics and science.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1316520
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/15/2013 to Mon, 02/29/2016
Full Description: 

This exploratory project is studying the use of mathematics and science specialist teachers in elementary schools. The first four studies are in six school districts in Washington State. They are characterizing and categorizing the specialists, investigating the content knowledge, preparation and needs of these teachers, determining their instructional effectiveness, and determining their impact on student learning and attitudes towards mathematics and science. The project is recruiting 25 specialists in math and 15 in science and comparing them with equal numbers of matched non-specialist teachers. The fifth study is conducting a survey of state educational agencies to determine the types of specialist teaching models being used and how they are funded. The project is directed by Western Washington University in partnership with the Mathematics Education Collaboration.

The project is creating interview protocols for teachers and administrators, and utilizing Learning Math for Teaching (University of Michigan) and Assessing Teacher Learning About Science Teaching (ATLAST-Horizon Research). Classroom observations are being conducted using the Reformed Teaching Observational Protocol (RTOP-Arizona State University). Student measures include the Washington State Measures of Student Progress in math and science, an instrument to be created using items released by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the Attitudes Towards Math Inventory, and the Modified Attitudes Towards Science Inventory.

Project research results are being disseminated in mathematics and science educational journals and conference presentations and are being posted on the project website. Findings are be shared with the Educational Service Districts in Washington State and other State agencies, as well as the National Educational Association and the American Federation of Teachers.

QuEST: Quality Elementary Science Teaching

This project is examining an innovative model of situated Professional Development (PD) and the contribution of controlled teaching experiences to teacher learning and, as a result, to student learning. The project is carrying out intensive research about an existing special PD summer institute (QuEST) that has been in existence for more than five years through a state Improving Teacher Quality Grants program.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1316683
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/15/2013 to Mon, 07/31/2017
Full Description: 

The University of Missouri-Columbia is examining an innovative model of situated Professional Development (PD) and the contribution of controlled teaching experiences to teacher learning and, as a result, to student learning. The project is carrying out intensive research about an existing special PD summer institute (QuEST) that has been in existence for more than five years through a state Improving Teacher Quality Grants program. The project will do the following: (1) undertake more in-depth and targeted research to better understand the efficacy of the PD model and impacts on student learning; (2) develop and field test resources from the project that can produce broader impacts; and (3) explore potential scale-up of the model for diverse audiences. The overarching goals of the project are: (a) Implement a high-quality situated PD model for K-6 teachers in science; (b) Conduct a comprehensive and rigorous program of research to study the impacts of this model on teacher and student learning; and (c) Disseminate project outcomes to a variety of stakeholders to produce broader impacts. A comparison of two groups of teachers will be done. Both groups will experience a content (physics) and pedagogy learning experience during one week in the summer. During a second week, one group will experience "controlled teaching" of elementary students, while the other group will not. Teacher and student gains will be measured using a quantitative and qualitative, mixed-methods design.

Investigating Simulations of Teaching Practice: Assessing Readiness to Teach Elementary Mathematics

The PI of this project argues cogently that assessment of pre-service teacher preparedness to teach is based on a flawed model. The goal then is to use a simulation model from other professional arenas: the training of doctors, nurses, etc., to offer new insights and control for the many variables that come to play when conducting evaluations in practice.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1316571
Funding Period: 
Tue, 10/01/2013 to Wed, 09/30/2015
Full Description: 

The PI argues cogently that assessment of pre-service teacher preparedness to teach is based on a flawed model. The goal then is to use a simulation model from other professional arenas: the training of doctors, nurses, etc., to offer new insights and control for the many variables that come to play when conducting evaluations in practice. These might include classroom context, the difficulty of the mathematics being deployed, etc. To do this the PI will develop three assessments that vary in the simulation scenario. In the context of developing and validating these assessments, the PI will examine:

1. What do we learn about the nature of pre-service teachers skills at eliciting and interpreting students thinking and their mathematical knowledge for teaching (MKT) in use through assessments that simulate teaching practice? How does their performance correspond with eliciting and interpreting students mathematical thinking in classroom contexts?

2. How does the nature of pre-service teachers skills at eliciting and interpreting students thinking and mathematical knowledge vary in relation to different simulation scenarios? Are some simulation scenarios easier than other simulation scenarios?

3. What are the challenges of designing alternative versions of a particular simulation assessment?

Engineering for All (EfA)

This project creates, tests and revises two-six week prototypical modules for middle school technology education classes, using the unifying themes and important social contexts of food and water. The modules employ engineering design as the core pedagogy and integrate content and practices from the standards for college and career readiness.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1316601
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/15/2013 to Wed, 08/31/2016
Full Description: 

The Engineering for All project creates, tests and revises two-six week prototypical modules for middle school technology education classes, using the unifying themes and important social contexts of food and water. The modules employ engineering design as the core pedagogy and integrate content and practices from the standards for college and career readiness. Embedded assessments are developed and tested to make student learning visible to both teachers and students. Professional development for a limited group of teachers is used to increase their knowledge of engineering design and to test instruments being developed to measure (a) student and teacher capacity to employ informed design practices and (b) teacher design pedagogical content knowledge.

The project leadership is experienced at creating materials for engineering and technology and in providing professional development for teachers. The assessments and instruments are created by educational researchers. The advisory board includes engineers, science and engineering educators, and educational researchers to guide the development of the modules, the assessments and the instruments. An external evaluator reviews the protocols and their implementation.

This project has the potential to provide exemplary materials and assessments for engineering/technology education that address standards, change teacher practice, and increase the capacity of the engineering/technology education community to do research.

Misconceptions Oriented Standards-Based Assessment Resource for Teachers of High School Life Science (MOSART HSLS)

This project is developing and validating an assessment instrument that addresses the life sciences for students and teachers in grades 9 through 12 based on the Misconception Oriented Standards-based Assessment Resource for Teachers (MOSART).

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1316645
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2013 to Thu, 08/31/2017
Full Description: 

Researchers in the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics are developing and validating an assessment instrument that addresses the life sciences for students and teachers in grades 9 through 12 based on the Misconception Oriented Standards-based Assessment Resource for Teachers (MOSART). The project is developing 400 new test items that are based on core content domains for life science and are aligning these items with the previous National Science Education Standards to provide a connection to the earlier MOSART assessments. The project is also developing and validating two test instruments that address the cross cutting concepts of energy and matter for grades K-12, with a specific focus on flows, cycles and conservation. The new assessments will be made available to other researchers and practitioner through the project website and their on-line assessment system.

The assessment development is based on the process used in prior work that has produced the other MOSART instruments, including design efforts of assessment specialists, teachers, and learning scientists. Pilot items are tested through crowd-sourcing with online adult test takers. Classic test theory techniques, item response theory and Bayesian techniques model the student responses. Outcomes consist of item parameters, test and sub-test characteristics, and predictive linkages among items. A stratified, nationally representative sample of 250 high school biology teachers field test the items with classrooms of students. Descriptive statistics are generated to establish the state of student knowledge, pre-and post-test performance by item and by standard, and teacher knowledge, including the fraction of items for which teachers have correctly identified the most popular wrong answer. Descriptive analyses are followed by hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) of students within classrooms to examine the relationships between student and teacher knowledge. The dependent variables in HLM are student gain scores. Independent variables include teachers' knowledge, and student performance on grade K-8 assessments.

The MOSART instruments have been a strong line of assessment tools that are based on a model of cognition with a strong research base in misconceptions in science education. That research base is only slowly being augmented with a more coherent framework on learning progressions in STEM education, and the MOSART instruments will have the potential for extensive use for the foreseeable future. The grades 9-12 life science instrument based on coupling core ideas with science and engineering practices addresses the gaps in the current MOSART system of assessments. Given the rich literature on misconceptions in life science and the ubiquity of life science as a course at the high school level, the instrument promises to be as useful as the one for K-8 developed with MSP RETA funding. The new instruments on cross-cutting concepts provides a much needed set of assessments for researchers and practitioners, particularly teacher professional development providers. The transition to coupling core content and sciences practices with both the life sciences and the cross-cutting concepts is an opportunity to expand and update the suite of instruments.

Undergraduate Biology Education Research Program

The goals of this nine-week summer program are to develop undergraduates' knowledge and skills in biology education research, encourage undergraduates to pursue doctoral study of biology teaching and learning, expand the diversity of the talent pool in biology education research, strengthen and expand collaborations among faculty and students in education and life sciences, and contribute to the development of theory and knowledge about biology education in ways that can inform undergraduate biology instruction.

Award Number: 
1262715
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2013 to Wed, 08/31/2016
Full Description: 

The Undergraduate Biology Education Research (UBER) REU Site engages undergraduates in studying important issues specific to the teaching and learning of biology, with mentorship from faculty in the Division of Biological Sciences and the Mathematics and Science Education Department at the University of Georgia. The goals of this nine-week summer program are to develop undergraduates' knowledge and skills in biology education research, encourage undergraduates to pursue doctoral study of biology teaching and learning, expand the diversity of the talent pool in biology education research by strategically recruiting and mentoring underrepresented and disadvantaged students, strengthen and expand collaborations among faculty and students in education and life sciences, and contribute to the development of theory and knowledge about biology education in ways that can inform undergraduate biology instruction.

A programmatic effort to introduce undergraduates to the discipline of biology education research is unprecedented nationwide. Biology education research as a discipline is quite young, and systematic involvement of undergraduates has not been part of the culture or practice in biology or education. UBER aims to promote cultural change that expands the involvement of undergraduates in biology education research and raises awareness among undergraduates that biology teaching and learning are compelling foci for study that can be pursued at the graduate level and via various career paths. UBER utilizes a combined strategy of broad and strategic recruiting to attract underrepresented minority students as well as students who do not have access to biology education research opportunities at their own institutions. Evaluation plans involve tracking UBER participants over time to understand the trajectories of students who complete undergraduate training in biology education research.

Significant co-funding of this project is provided by the Division of Biological Infrastructure in the NSF Directorate for Biological Sciences in recognition of the importance of educational research in the discipline of biology. The Division of Undergraduate Education and the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings also provides co-funding.

Improving Competency in Elementary Science Teaching

This project provides elementary teachers, grades 3-5 with a pedagogical framework and related resources for distinguishing quality science teaching. The study focuses on developing and testing a framework, the Quality Science Teaching Continuum (QSTC), to determine its capacity to serve as a potent formative and collaborative tool with which teachers can reflect on their science teaching practices and recognize student behaviors that are indicators of engagement and science learning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1317068
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2013 to Tue, 06/30/2015
Full Description: 

This Stanford University project provides elementary teachers, grades 3-5 with a pedagogical framework and related resources for distinguishing quality science teaching. The study focuses on developing and testing a framework, the Quality Science Teaching Continuum (QSTC), to determine its capacity to serve as a potent formative and collaborative tool with which teachers can reflect on their science teaching practices and recognize student behaviors that are indicators of engagement and science learning. The project includes an intensive professional development (PD) that will accompany the instrument designed to develop teachers' understanding of (1) pedagogy, (2) science process and content, (3) community building, and (4) use of QSTC to improve classroom instruction and student engagement.

Teachers will be videotaped during classroom science instruction at various points in the two-year process, and the resulting digital library of teaching videos provides an ongoing reference resource for teachers and others when reflecting on their practice. The project provides a proof of concept and examines the use of a specific, formative, integrative instrument, the QSTC, within an immersive teacher professional development program.

CAREER: Scaffolding Engineering Design to Develop Integrated STEM Understanding with WISEngineering

The development of six curricular projects that integrate mathematics based on the Common Core Mathematics Standards with science concepts from the Next Generation Science Standards combined with an engineering design pedagogy is the focus of this CAREER project.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1253523
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2013 to Sat, 06/30/2018
Full Description: 

The development of six curricular projects that integrate mathematics based on the Common Core Mathematics Standards with science concepts from the Next Generation Science Standards combined with an engineering design pedagogy is the focus of this DRK-12 CAREER project from the University of Virginia. Research on the learning sciences with a focus on a knowledge integration perspective of helping students build and retain connections among normative and relevant ideas and existing knowledge structures the development of the WiseEngineering learning environment, an online learning management system that scaffolds engineering design projects. WiseEngineering provides support for students and teachers to conduct engineering design projects in middle and high school settings. Dynamic virtualizations that enable learners to observe and experiment with phenomena are combined with knowledge integration patterns to structure a technology rich learning environments for students. The research focuses on the ways in which metacognition, namely self-knowledge and self-regulation interact with learning in these technology-enhanced environments.Embedded assessments and student pre and post-testing of key science and mathematics constructs provide evidence of the development of student understanding.A rubric that examines knowledge integration is used to examine the extent wo which students understand how multiple concepts interact in a given context. A mixed-methods research design will examines how students and teachers in middle school mathematics and science courses develop understanding of the underlying principles in STEM. The PI of this award has integrated research and education in this proposal by connecting her research on engineering design and technology-enabled learning environments with the preservice secondary education methods course that she teachs. In addition, she has folded the research into the instructional technology graduate courses of which she is the instructor.

Engineering design is a key area of the Next Generation Science Standards that requires additional curricular materials development and research on how students integrate concepts across mathematics and science to engage in these engineering practices. The technology-rich learning environment, WISEngineering, provides the context to examine how student engineering design principles evolve over time. The opportunitiy for students to provide critiques of each others' work provides the context in which to examine crucial metacognitive principles. Classroom observations and teacher interviews provides the opportunity to examine how the technology-rich engineering design learning environment integrates STEM knowledge for teachers as well as students.

Electronic Communities for Mathematics Instruction (e-CMI)

This exploratory project builds on twelve years of successful experience with the summer program for secondary mathematics teachers at PCMI. It addresses the following two needs in the field of professional development for secondary mathematics teachers: increase content knowledge and understanding of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics; and investigate and develop alternative models to conduct content-based professional development that meets the recommendations of the MET-II report.

Award Number: 
1316246
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2013 to Fri, 07/31/2015
Full Description: 

This 2-year Exploratory project, Electronic Communities for Mathematics Instruction (eCMI), is designed and conducted by the Education Development Center (EDC) in collaboration with the Institute for Advanced Study and the Park City Mathematics Institute (PCMI). It builds on EDC's successful experience over the last twelve years with the design and implementation of the summer program for secondary mathematics teachers at PCMI. It addresses the following two needs in the field of professional development for secondary mathematics teachers: increase content knowledge and understanding of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics; and investigate and develop alternative models to conduct transformative, content-based professional development that meets the recommendations of the MET-II report. Addressing the need to find affordable, effective professional development models, particularly given the enormous task of helping teachers understand the implications of the Common Core, the project eCMI will design and conduct a research study and pilot a professional development design, centering on the following two questions: (1) How can tools, experiences, and facilitation be structured in order to build an authentic and vibrant multisite community of learners? (2) To what extent and in what ways does participation in eCMI lead to increases in secondary teachers' knowledge of mathematics, particularly the knowledge and use of mathematical habits of mind? The long-term goal is for eCMI to evolve into a common large-scale national professional development program that helps secondary teachers implement the Common Core, with special focus on the Standards for Mathematical Practice.

To create a context for investigating the two questions above, eCMI will develop and pilot a blended program using online and local mathematics facilitation in a course focused on deepening knowledge of mathematics using the Common Core as a blueprint. The project team will refine and extend the "e-table" concept, developed over the past few years at PCMI, in which teachers in different sites work together with a facilitator via sophisticated electronic conferencing technology. The mathematics course will consist of nine three-hour sessions conducted online during the academic year. Each session will integrate challenging mathematics content, carefully designed and focused on developing mathematical habits of mind through problem solving, with explicit opportunities that ask teachers to reflect on the implications of these experiences for their learning and beliefs. Teachers will be asked to spend time between sessions in deeper discussions online by sharing responses to reflective prompts and responding to each other's prompts. Sessions will be delivered to tables of five or six participants and a table leader meeting live at the same site and connected electronically to other sites. Table leaders will be teachers or university faculty experienced with the following style of delivery: serious and challenging mathematics that is driven by problem-based experience. The project team will collect information on teachers' beliefs about the nature of mathematics and their strategies for approaching mathematics.

Secondary teachers who immplement the standards for mathematical practice require extensive experiences in the practice of mathematics. Several professional development programs, including PCMI, have been able to provide such experiences but they are expensive in cost and labor. eCMI will adapt the proven PCMI design, one that uses carefully designed problem sets in which significant mathematical results emerge from reflection on numerical and geometric experiments, to blend online and face-to-face platforms in a way that has the potential to increase the reach of the program by orders of magnitude. The exploratory project, through pilot and research programs, will lay the foundation for such a scale up by working with 15-30 secondary mathematics teachers. Results of the research will inform the field about ways in which teachers can be provided with genuine mathematical experiences through the use of online media paired with local facilitation.

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