Equity

Supporting Teachers to Develop Equitable Mathematics Instruction Through Rubric-Based Coaching (Collaborative Research: Hill)

This project brings together a successful mathematics rubric-based coaching model (MQI Coaching) and an empirically developed observation tool focused on equity-focused instructional practices, the Equity and Access Rubrics for Mathematics Instruction (EAR-MI). The project measures the effects of the coaching model on teachers' beliefs and instructional practices and on students' mathematical achievement and sense of belonging in mathematics.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2100961
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2021 to Sun, 08/31/2025
Full Description: 

Creating supportive middle school mathematics learning spaces that foster students' self-efficacy and mathematics learning is a critical need in the United States. This need is particularly urgent for mathematics classrooms with students who have been historically marginalized in such spaces. While many instructional improvement efforts have focused on broadening access to mathematical ideas, fewer efforts have paid explicit attention to the ways instructional practices may serve to marginalize students. Supporting teachers in identifying and refining their equitable mathematics instructional practices is a persistent challenge. This project brings together a successful mathematics rubric-based coaching model (MQI Coaching) and an empirically developed observation tool focused on equity-focused instructional practices, the Equity and Access Rubrics for Mathematics Instruction (EAR-MI). The project's work integrates the EAR-MI rubrics into the MQI Coaching model with 24 middle grades mathematics coaches supporting 72 teachers at grades 5-8. The project measures the effects of the coaching model on teachers' beliefs and instructional practices and on students' mathematical achievement and sense of belonging in mathematics. The project also investigates how teachers' attitudes and beliefs impact their participation and what teachers take away from engagement with the coaching model.

The project makes use of a delayed-treatment experimental design to investigate effects on teacher beliefs and practices and student achievement and sense of belonging. A cohort of 14 coaches are randomly selected to participate in the coaching in Years 2 and 3, with the remaining 10 coaches assigned to a business-as-usual model in Year 2 and engaging in the training in Year 3. Coaches engage in a 4-day summer training to become acquainted with the model with coaching cycles and follow-up meetings during the school year. Each coach will engage teachers in 8-10 coaching cycles in treatment years. Data on the nature of the coaching includes logs and surveys from the coaches. Teachers submit surveys related to their beliefs and practices and two lessons each at the start and end of the academic year for analysis. Student assessment data, course grades, and administrative data, combined with survey data from students on classroom belonging and perceptions of ability and confidence in mathematics, are used to describe student outcomes. Teacher outcomes are captured through the analysis of classroom video, surveys about ethnic-racial identity and racial attitudes, beliefs about students and instruction, and beliefs about and efficacy for culturally responsive teaching. The project uses a set of survey measures with established reliability and validity, adapting some instruments to include specific indicators related to the equity and access rubrics. Analysis of the data uses a multi-level model accounting for the clustering of teachers within schools and students within classrooms and schools.

Supporting Teachers to Develop Equitable Mathematics Instruction Through Rubric-based Coaching (Collaborative Research: Litke)

This project brings together a successful mathematics rubric-based coaching model (MQI Coaching) and an empirically developed observation tool focused on equity-focused instructional practices, the Equity and Access Rubrics for Mathematics Instruction (EAR-MI). The project measures the effects of the coaching model on teachers' beliefs and instructional practices and on students' mathematical achievement and sense of belonging in mathematics.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2100793
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2021 to Sun, 08/31/2025
Full Description: 

Creating supportive middle school mathematics learning spaces that foster students' self-efficacy and mathematics learning is a critical need in the United States. This need is particularly urgent for mathematics classrooms with students who have been historically marginalized in such spaces. While many instructional improvement efforts have focused on broadening access to mathematical ideas, fewer efforts have paid explicit attention to the ways instructional practices may serve to marginalize students. Supporting teachers in identifying and refining their equitable mathematics instructional practices is a persistent challenge. This project brings together a successful mathematics rubric-based coaching model (MQI Coaching) and an empirically developed observation tool focused on equity-focused instructional practices, the Equity and Access Rubrics for Mathematics Instruction (EAR-MI). The project's work integrates the EAR-MI rubrics into the MQI Coaching model with 24 middle grades mathematics coaches supporting 72 teachers at grades 5-8. The project measures the effects of the coaching model on teachers' beliefs and instructional practices and on students' mathematical achievement and sense of belonging in mathematics. The project also investigates how teachers' attitudes and beliefs impact their participation and what teachers take away from engagement with the coaching model.

The project makes use of a delayed-treatment experimental design to investigate effects on teacher beliefs and practices and student achievement and sense of belonging. A cohort of 14 coaches are randomly selected to participate in the coaching in Years 2 and 3, with the remaining 10 coaches assigned to a business-as-usual model in Year 2 and engaging in the training in Year 3. Coaches engage in a 4-day summer training to become acquainted with the model with coaching cycles and follow-up meetings during the school year. Each coach will engage teachers in 8-10 coaching cycles in treatment years. Data on the nature of the coaching includes logs and surveys from the coaches. Teachers submit surveys related to their beliefs and practices and two lessons each at the start and end of the academic year for analysis. Student assessment data, course grades, and administrative data, combined with survey data from students on classroom belonging and perceptions of ability and confidence in mathematics, are used to describe student outcomes. Teacher outcomes are captured through the analysis of classroom video, surveys about ethnic-racial identity and racial attitudes, beliefs about students and instruction, and beliefs about and efficacy for culturally responsive teaching. The project uses a set of survey measures with established reliability and validity, adapting some instruments to include specific indicators related to the equity and access rubrics. Analysis of the data uses a multi-level model accounting for the clustering of teachers within schools and students within classrooms and schools.

Supporting Teachers to Develop Equitable Mathematics Instruction Through Rubric-based Coaching (Collaborative Research: Wilson)

This project brings together a successful mathematics rubric-based coaching model (MQI Coaching) and an empirically developed observation tool focused on equity-focused instructional practices, the Equity and Access Rubrics for Mathematics Instruction (EAR-MI). The project measures the effects of the coaching model on teachers' beliefs and instructional practices and on students' mathematical achievement and sense of belonging in mathematics.

Award Number: 
2100830
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2021 to Sun, 08/31/2025
Full Description: 

Creating supportive middle school mathematics learning spaces that foster students' self-efficacy and mathematics learning is a critical need in the United States. This need is particularly urgent for mathematics classrooms with students who have been historically marginalized in such spaces. While many instructional improvement efforts have focused on broadening access to mathematical ideas, fewer efforts have paid explicit attention to the ways instructional practices may serve to marginalize students. Supporting teachers in identifying and refining their equitable mathematics instructional practices is a persistent challenge. This project brings together a successful mathematics rubric-based coaching model (MQI Coaching) and an empirically developed observation tool focused on equity-focused instructional practices, the Equity and Access Rubrics for Mathematics Instruction (EAR-MI). The project's work integrates the EAR-MI rubrics into the MQI Coaching model with 24 middle grades mathematics coaches supporting 72 teachers at grades 5-8. The project measures the effects of the coaching model on teachers' beliefs and instructional practices and on students' mathematical achievement and sense of belonging in mathematics. The project also investigates how teachers' attitudes and beliefs impact their participation and what teachers take away from engagement with the coaching model.

The project makes use of a delayed-treatment experimental design to investigate effects on teacher beliefs and practices and student achievement and sense of belonging. A cohort of 14 coaches are randomly selected to participate in the coaching in Years 2 and 3, with the remaining 10 coaches assigned to a business-as-usual model in Year 2 and engaging in the training in Year 3. Coaches engage in a 4-day summer training to become acquainted with the model with coaching cycles and follow-up meetings during the school year. Each coach will engage teachers in 8-10 coaching cycles in treatment years. Data on the nature of the coaching includes logs and surveys from the coaches. Teachers submit surveys related to their beliefs and practices and two lessons each at the start and end of the academic year for analysis. Student assessment data, course grades, and administrative data, combined with survey data from students on classroom belonging and perceptions of ability and confidence in mathematics, are used to describe student outcomes. Teacher outcomes are captured through the analysis of classroom video, surveys about ethnic-racial identity and racial attitudes, beliefs about students and instruction, and beliefs about and efficacy for culturally responsive teaching. The project uses a set of survey measures with established reliability and validity, adapting some instruments to include specific indicators related to the equity and access rubrics. Analysis of the data uses a multi-level model accounting for the clustering of teachers within schools and students within classrooms and schools.

Co-Designing for Statewide Alignment of a Vision for High-Quality Mathematics Instruction (Collaborative Research: Wilson)

This project will develop a process for creating a shared, state-wide vision of high-quality mathematics instruction. It will also develop and study the resources to implement that vision at the state, district, and school levels. In addition, the project will investigate a collaborative process of designing and implementing high-quality mathematics instruction at a state level.

Award Number: 
2100903
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/15/2021 to Mon, 06/30/2025
Full Description: 

Mathematics teaching and learning is influenced by policy and practice at the state, district, and school levels. To support large-scale change, it is important for high-quality mathematics instruction to be aligned and cohesive across each level of the education system. This can be supported through regional partnerships among state, district, and school-based leaders, mathematics teachers, education researchers, and mathematicians. Such partnerships create instructional tools and resources to document the vision for instruction. For example, teams can work together to create instructional frameworks for each grade band that describe standards, mathematics teaching, and units for teaching. This project will develop a process for creating a shared, state-wide vision of high-quality mathematics instruction. It will also develop and study the resources to implement that vision at the state, district, and school levels. In addition, the project will investigate a collaborative process of designing and implementing high-quality mathematics instruction at a state level.

This project will develop a shared vision of high-quality mathematics instruction intended to improve systemic coherence during the implementation of education innovations. The project uses a research-practice partnership with a design-based implementation research design. To examine and support implementation of the vision, partners will continue a process of developing instructional frameworks, research and practice briefs, as well as additional resources as needed by stakeholders in the system. Engaging partners at all levels of the system is a central component of developing the shared vision of instruction. This project includes three major research questions. First, what are visions of high-quality mathematics instruction held by educators at different levels of a state educational system? Second, in what ways do educators' visions of high-quality mathematics instruction mediate their use of implementation resources in practice? Finally, in what ways do educators’ visions of high-quality mathematics instruction mediate their participation in the co-design of implementation resources? An activity theory framework is used to understand the interactions between partners at different levels in the system and the creation of artifacts during the design process. The research methods for the study are situated in design-based research to capture the conjectures, instructional resources, design processes, and outcomes of the process. The project will use case studies of partner districts, data gathering from interactions with partners, artifacts of the design process, and other documentation to understand how the vision is created and enacted in different settings and to develop an empirically supported design framework and methodology for implementing STEM innovations at scale that centralizes a shared instructional vision.

Co-Designing for Statewide Alignment of a Vision for High-Quality Mathematics Instruction (Collaborative Research: Mawhinney)

This project will develop a process for creating a shared, state-wide vision of high-quality mathematics instruction. It will also develop and study the resources to implement that vision at the state, district, and school levels. In addition, the project will investigate a collaborative process of designing and implementing high-quality mathematics instruction at a state level.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2100833
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/15/2021 to Mon, 06/30/2025
Full Description: 

Mathematics teaching and learning is influenced by policy and practice at the state, district, and school levels. To support large-scale change, it is important for high-quality mathematics instruction to be aligned and cohesive across each level of the education system. This can be supported through regional partnerships among state, district, and school-based leaders, mathematics teachers, education researchers, and mathematicians. Such partnerships create instructional tools and resources to document the vision for instruction. For example, teams can work together to create instructional frameworks for each grade band that describe standards, mathematics teaching, and units for teaching. This project will develop a process for creating a shared, state-wide vision of high-quality mathematics instruction. It will also develop and study the resources to implement that vision at the state, district, and school levels. In addition, the project will investigate a collaborative process of designing and implementing high-quality mathematics instruction at a state level.

This project will develop a shared vision of high-quality mathematics instruction intended to improve systemic coherence during the implementation of education innovations. The project uses a research-practice partnership with a design-based implementation research design. To examine and support implementation of the vision, partners will continue a process of developing instructional frameworks, research and practice briefs, as well as additional resources as needed by stakeholders in the system. Engaging partners at all levels of the system is a central component of developing the shared vision of instruction. This project includes three major research questions. First, what are visions of high-quality mathematics instruction held by educators at different levels of a state educational system? Second, in what ways do educators' visions of high-quality mathematics instruction mediate their use of implementation resources in practice? Finally, in what ways do educators’ visions of high-quality mathematics instruction mediate their participation in the co-design of implementation resources? An activity theory framework is used to understand the interactions between partners at different levels in the system and the creation of artifacts during the design process. The research methods for the study are situated in design-based research to capture the conjectures, instructional resources, design processes, and outcomes of the process. The project will use case studies of partner districts, data gathering from interactions with partners, artifacts of the design process, and other documentation to understand how the vision is created and enacted in different settings and to develop an empirically supported design framework and methodology for implementing STEM innovations at scale that centralizes a shared instructional vision.

Co-Designing for Statewide Alignment of a Vision for High-Quality Mathematics Instruction (Collaborative Research: Schwartz)

This project will develop a process for creating a shared, state-wide vision of high-quality mathematics instruction. It will also develop and study the resources to implement that vision at the state, district, and school levels. In addition, the project will investigate a collaborative process of designing and implementing high-quality mathematics instruction at a state level.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2100895
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/15/2021 to Mon, 06/30/2025
Full Description: 

Mathematics teaching and learning is influenced by policy and practice at the state, district, and school levels. To support large-scale change, it is important for high-quality mathematics instruction to be aligned and cohesive across each level of the education system. This can be supported through regional partnerships among state, district, and school-based leaders, mathematics teachers, education researchers, and mathematicians. Such partnerships create instructional tools and resources to document the vision for instruction. For example, teams can work together to create instructional frameworks for each grade band that describe standards, mathematics teaching, and units for teaching. This project will develop a process for creating a shared, state-wide vision of high-quality mathematics instruction. It will also develop and study the resources to implement that vision at the state, district, and school levels. In addition, the project will investigate a collaborative process of designing and implementing high-quality mathematics instruction at a state level.

This project will develop a shared vision of high-quality mathematics instruction intended to improve systemic coherence during the implementation of education innovations. The project uses a research-practice partnership with a design-based implementation research design. To examine and support implementation of the vision, partners will continue a process of developing instructional frameworks, research and practice briefs, as well as additional resources as needed by stakeholders in the system. Engaging partners at all levels of the system is a central component of developing the shared vision of instruction. This project includes three major research questions. First, what are visions of high-quality mathematics instruction held by educators at different levels of a state educational system? Second, in what ways do educators' visions of high-quality mathematics instruction mediate their use of implementation resources in practice? Finally, in what ways do educators’ visions of high-quality mathematics instruction mediate their participation in the co-design of implementation resources? An activity theory framework is used to understand the interactions between partners at different levels in the system and the creation of artifacts during the design process. The research methods for the study are situated in design-based research to capture the conjectures, instructional resources, design processes, and outcomes of the process. The project will use case studies of partner districts, data gathering from interactions with partners, artifacts of the design process, and other documentation to understand how the vision is created and enacted in different settings and to develop an empirically supported design framework and methodology for implementing STEM innovations at scale that centralizes a shared instructional vision.

Co-Designing for Statewide Alignment of a Vision for High-Quality Mathematics Instruction (Collaborative Research: McCulloch)

This project will develop a process for creating a shared, state-wide vision of high-quality mathematics instruction. It will also develop and study the resources to implement that vision at the state, district, and school levels. In addition, the project will investigate a collaborative process of designing and implementing high-quality mathematics instruction at a state level.

Award Number: 
2100947
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/15/2021 to Mon, 06/30/2025
Full Description: 

Mathematics teaching and learning is influenced by policy and practice at the state, district, and school levels. To support large-scale change, it is important for high-quality mathematics instruction to be aligned and cohesive across each level of the education system. This can be supported through regional partnerships among state, district, and school-based leaders, mathematics teachers, education researchers, and mathematicians. Such partnerships create instructional tools and resources to document the vision for instruction. For example, teams can work together to create instructional frameworks for each grade band that describe standards, mathematics teaching, and units for teaching. This project will develop a process for creating a shared, state-wide vision of high-quality mathematics instruction. It will also develop and study the resources to implement that vision at the state, district, and school levels. In addition, the project will investigate a collaborative process of designing and implementing high-quality mathematics instruction at a state level.

This project will develop a shared vision of high-quality mathematics instruction intended to improve systemic coherence during the implementation of education innovations. The project uses a research-practice partnership with a design-based implementation research design. To examine and support implementation of the vision, partners will continue a process of developing instructional frameworks, research and practice briefs, as well as additional resources as needed by stakeholders in the system. Engaging partners at all levels of the system is a central component of developing the shared vision of instruction. This project includes three major research questions. First, what are visions of high-quality mathematics instruction held by educators at different levels of a state educational system? Second, in what ways do educators' visions of high-quality mathematics instruction mediate their use of implementation resources in practice? Finally, in what ways do educators’ visions of high-quality mathematics instruction mediate their participation in the co-design of implementation resources? An activity theory framework is used to understand the interactions between partners at different levels in the system and the creation of artifacts during the design process. The research methods for the study are situated in design-based research to capture the conjectures, instructional resources, design processes, and outcomes of the process. The project will use case studies of partner districts, data gathering from interactions with partners, artifacts of the design process, and other documentation to understand how the vision is created and enacted in different settings and to develop an empirically supported design framework and methodology for implementing STEM innovations at scale that centralizes a shared instructional vision.

Understanding STEM Teaching through Integrated Contexts in Everyday Life (Collaborative Research: Marco-Bujosa)

Increased focus on school accountability and teacher performance measures have resulted in STEM instruction that emphasizes content and procedural knowledge over critical thinking and real-world applications. Yet, critical thinking and application are essential in developing functional scientific literacy skills among students. This need is perhaps most pressing in economically depressed urban settings. One strategy to promote STEM engagement and learning is to make clear and meaningful connections between STEM concepts, principles, and STEM-related issues relevant to the learner.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101144
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/01/2021 to Mon, 06/30/2025
Full Description: 

Increased focus on school accountability and teacher performance measures have resulted in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) instruction that emphasizes content and procedural knowledge over critical thinking and real-world applications. Yet, critical thinking and application are essential in developing functional scientific literacy skills among students. This need is perhaps most pressing in economically depressed urban settings. One strategy to promote STEM engagement and learning is to make clear and meaningful connections between STEM concepts, principles, and STEM-related issues relevant to the learner. Socioscientific issues (SSI) can provide a powerful avenue for promoting the desired kinds of engagement. SSI are debatable and ill-defined problems that have a basis in science but necessarily include moral and ethical choices. SSI for economically disadvantaged, culturally diverse students in urban settings might include, for example, lead paint contamination, poor water or air quality, or the existence of “food deserts.” By integrating locally relevant SSI with the goals of social justice, the Social Justice STEM Pedagogies (SJSP) framework the project uses is intended to support students to use their scientific expertise to be agents of change. SJSP can be potentially transformative for teachers, students, schools, and the communities in which students live. For SJSP to effectively promote STEM learning, however, teachers must learn how to integrate STEM-concepts and practices into the various real-world SSI present in their students’ environment. This collaborative project is designed to implement and evaluate a comprehensive professional development plan for grades 7 –12 STEM teachers from economically disadvantaged school districts in Philadelphia and surrounding areas. Teachers will develop ways to incorporate SSI into their instruction that are grounded in standards to foster students’ STEM engagement. The instructional practices enacted by teachers will enhance students’ STEM literacy while utilizing their own knowledge and culture in solving complex and ethically challenging STEM issues, thus promoting students’ abilities to be change agents.

This collaborative research project involves Arcadia University, Mercyhurst University, LaSalle University, Villanova University, and St. Joseph’s University. It is designed to investigate the effectiveness of a professional development (PD) program for STEM teachers to develop their pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) in teaching SSI and SJSP. Over four years, three cohorts of 25 grades 7-12 teachers will participate in about 200 hours of PD. The SSI and SJSP encompass authentic, complex real-world, STEM-based issues that are directly related to the inequities experienced by students and their communities that students can engage with in the classroom through the use of inquiry-based learning strategies. By promoting students’ engagement in and awareness of the relevance of STEM in everyday life, teacher participants in this PD will foster STEM learning, especially among students who have been historically marginalized from STEM disciplines, and who are from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The research plan is designed to reveal elements of the PD program that are most effective in supporting teachers’ increased capacity to design and implement units of study that incorporate scientific, social, and discursive elements of SSI. Using predominantly qualitative methods, other outcomes include how teachers’ PCK change towards teaching with SSI/SJSP; what factors support and inhibit teacher’s abilities to promote SSI/SJSP; and how justice-centered STEM lessons help students to develop moral and ethical reasoning, scientific skepticism, STEM inquiry/modeling, and SSI discourse/argumentation.

Understanding STEM Teaching through Integrated Contexts in Everyday Life (Collaborative Research: Johnson)

Increased focus on school accountability and teacher performance measures have resulted in STEM instruction that emphasizes content and procedural knowledge over critical thinking and real-world applications. Yet, critical thinking and application are essential in developing functional scientific literacy skills among students. This need is perhaps most pressing in economically depressed urban settings. One strategy to promote STEM engagement and learning is to make clear and meaningful connections between STEM concepts, principles, and STEM-related issues relevant to the learner.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101287
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/01/2021 to Mon, 06/30/2025
Full Description: 

Increased focus on school accountability and teacher performance measures have resulted in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) instruction that emphasizes content and procedural knowledge over critical thinking and real-world applications. Yet, critical thinking and application are essential in developing functional scientific literacy skills among students. This need is perhaps most pressing in economically depressed urban settings. One strategy to promote STEM engagement and learning is to make clear and meaningful connections between STEM concepts, principles, and STEM-related issues relevant to the learner. Socioscientific issues (SSI) can provide a powerful avenue for promoting the desired kinds of engagement. SSI are debatable and ill-defined problems that have a basis in science but necessarily include moral and ethical choices. SSI for economically disadvantaged, culturally diverse students in urban settings might include, for example, lead paint contamination, poor water or air quality, or the existence of “food deserts.” By integrating locally relevant SSI with the goals of social justice, the Social Justice STEM Pedagogies (SJSP) framework the project uses is intended to support students to use their scientific expertise to be agents of change. SJSP can be potentially transformative for teachers, students, schools, and the communities in which students live. For SJSP to effectively promote STEM learning, however, teachers must learn how to integrate STEM-concepts and practices into the various real-world SSI present in their students’ environment. This collaborative project is designed to implement and evaluate a comprehensive professional development plan for grades 7 –12 STEM teachers from economically disadvantaged school districts in Philadelphia and surrounding areas. Teachers will develop ways to incorporate SSI into their instruction that are grounded in standards to foster students’ STEM engagement. The instructional practices enacted by teachers will enhance students’ STEM literacy while utilizing their own knowledge and culture in solving complex and ethically challenging STEM issues, thus promoting students’ abilities to be change agents.

This collaborative research project involves Arcadia University, Mercyhurst University, LaSalle University, Villanova University, and St. Joseph’s University. It is designed to investigate the effectiveness of a professional development (PD) program for STEM teachers to develop their pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) in teaching SSI and SJSP. Over four years, three cohorts of 25 grades 7-12 teachers will participate in about 200 hours of PD. The SSI and SJSP encompass authentic, complex real-world, STEM-based issues that are directly related to the inequities experienced by students and their communities that students can engage with in the classroom through the use of inquiry-based learning strategies. By promoting students’ engagement in and awareness of the relevance of STEM in everyday life, teacher participants in this PD will foster STEM learning, especially among students who have been historically marginalized from STEM disciplines, and who are from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The research plan is designed to reveal elements of the PD program that are most effective in supporting teachers’ increased capacity to design and implement units of study that incorporate scientific, social, and discursive elements of SSI. Using predominantly qualitative methods, other outcomes include how teachers’ PCK change towards teaching with SSI/SJSP; what factors support and inhibit teacher’s abilities to promote SSI/SJSP; and how justice-centered STEM lessons help students to develop moral and ethical reasoning, scientific skepticism, STEM inquiry/modeling, and SSI discourse/argumentation.

Understanding STEM Teaching through Integrated Contexts in Everyday Life (Collaborative Research: Richardson)

Increased focus on school accountability and teacher performance measures have resulted in STEM instruction that emphasizes content and procedural knowledge over critical thinking and real-world applications. Yet, critical thinking and application are essential in developing functional scientific literacy skills among students. This need is perhaps most pressing in economically depressed urban settings. One strategy to promote STEM engagement and learning is to make clear and meaningful connections between STEM concepts, principles, and STEM-related issues relevant to the learner.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101324
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/01/2021 to Mon, 06/30/2025
Full Description: 

Increased focus on school accountability and teacher performance measures have resulted in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) instruction that emphasizes content and procedural knowledge over critical thinking and real-world applications. Yet, critical thinking and application are essential in developing functional scientific literacy skills among students. This need is perhaps most pressing in economically depressed urban settings. One strategy to promote STEM engagement and learning is to make clear and meaningful connections between STEM concepts, principles, and STEM-related issues relevant to the learner. Socioscientific issues (SSI) can provide a powerful avenue for promoting the desired kinds of engagement. SSI are debatable and ill-defined problems that have a basis in science but necessarily include moral and ethical choices. SSI for economically disadvantaged, culturally diverse students in urban settings might include, for example, lead paint contamination, poor water or air quality, or the existence of “food deserts.” By integrating locally relevant SSI with the goals of social justice, the Social Justice STEM Pedagogies (SJSP) framework the project uses is intended to support students to use their scientific expertise to be agents of change. SJSP can be potentially transformative for teachers, students, schools, and the communities in which students live. For SJSP to effectively promote STEM learning, however, teachers must learn how to integrate STEM-concepts and practices into the various real-world SSI present in their students’ environment. This collaborative project is designed to implement and evaluate a comprehensive professional development plan for grades 7 –12 STEM teachers from economically disadvantaged school districts in Philadelphia and surrounding areas. Teachers will develop ways to incorporate SSI into their instruction that are grounded in standards to foster students’ STEM engagement. The instructional practices enacted by teachers will enhance students’ STEM literacy while utilizing their own knowledge and culture in solving complex and ethically challenging STEM issues, thus promoting students’ abilities to be change agents.

This collaborative research project involves Arcadia University, Mercyhurst University, LaSalle University, Villanova University, and St. Joseph’s University. It is designed to investigate the effectiveness of a professional development (PD) program for STEM teachers to develop their pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) in teaching SSI and SJSP. Over four years, three cohorts of 25 grades 7-12 teachers will participate in about 200 hours of PD. The SSI and SJSP encompass authentic, complex real-world, STEM-based issues that are directly related to the inequities experienced by students and their communities that students can engage with in the classroom through the use of inquiry-based learning strategies. By promoting students’ engagement in and awareness of the relevance of STEM in everyday life, teacher participants in this PD will foster STEM learning, especially among students who have been historically marginalized from STEM disciplines, and who are from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The research plan is designed to reveal elements of the PD program that are most effective in supporting teachers’ increased capacity to design and implement units of study that incorporate scientific, social, and discursive elements of SSI. Using predominantly qualitative methods, other outcomes include how teachers’ PCK change towards teaching with SSI/SJSP; what factors support and inhibit teacher’s abilities to promote SSI/SJSP; and how justice-centered STEM lessons help students to develop moral and ethical reasoning, scientific skepticism, STEM inquiry/modeling, and SSI discourse/argumentation.

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