Professional Development

Continuous Learning and Automated Scoring in Science (CLASS)

This five-year project investigates how to provide continuous assessment and feedback to guide students' understanding during science inquiry-learning experiences, as well as detailed guidance to teachers and administrators through a technology-enhanced system. The assessment system integrates validated automated scorings for students' written responses to open-ended assessment items into the "Web-based Inquiry Science Environment" (WISE) program.

Award Number: 
1119670
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2011 to Mon, 08/31/2015
Full Description: 

This five-year project investigates how to provide continuous assessment and feedback to guide students' understanding during science inquiry-learning experiences, as well as detailed guidance to teachers and administrators through a technology-enhanced system. The assessment system integrates validated automated scorings for students' written responses to open-ended assessment items (i.e., short essays, science narratives, concept mapping, graphing problems, and virtual experiments) into the "Web-based Inquiry Science Environment" (WISE) program. WISE is an online science-inquiry curricula that supports deep understanding through visualization of processes not directly observable, virtual experiments, graphing results, collaboration, and response to prompts for explanations. In partnership with Educational Testing Services (ETS), project goals are: (1) to develop five automated inquiry assessment activities that capture students' abilities to integrate their ideas and form coherent scientific arguments; (2) to customize WISE by incorporating automated scores; (3) to investigate how students' systematic feedback based on these scores improve their learning outcomes; and (4) to design professional development resources to help teachers use scores to improve classroom instruction, and administrators to make better informed decisions about teacher professional development and inquiry instruction. The project targets general science (life, physical, and earth) in three northern California school districts, five middle schools serving over 4,000 6th-8th grade students with diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and 29 science teachers. It contributes to increase opportunities for students to improve their science achievement, and for teachers and administrators to make efficient, evidence-based decisions about high-quality teaching and learning.

A key research question guides this effort: How automated scoring of inquiry assessments can increase success for diverse students, improve teachers' instructional practices, and inform administrators' decisions about professional development, inquiry instruction, and assessment? To develop science inquiry assessment activities, scoring written responses include semantic, syntax, and structure of meaning analyses, as well as calibration of human-scored items with a computer-scoring system through the c-rater--an ETS-developed cyber learning technology. Validity studies are conducted to compare automated scores with human-scored items, teacher, district, and state scores, including sensitivity to the diverse student population. To customize the WISE curriculum, the project modifies 12 existing units and develops nine new modules. To design adaptive feedback to students, comparative studies explore options for adaptive guidance and test alternatives based on automated scores employing linear models to compare student performance across randomly assigned guidance conditions; controlling for covariates, such as prior science scores, gender, and language; and grouping comparison studies. To design teacher professional development, synthesis reports on auto-scored data are created to enable them to use evidence to guide curricular decisions, and comments' analysis to improve feedback quality. Workshops, classroom observations, and interviews are conducted to measure longitudinal teachers' change over time. To empower administrators' decision making, special data reports, using-evidence activities, individual interviews, and observation of administrators' meetings are conducted. An advisory board charged with project evaluation addresses both formative and summative aspects.

A research-informed model to improve science teaching and learning at the middle school level through cyber-enabled assessment is the main outcome of this effort. A total of 21 new, one- to three-week duration standards-based science units, each with four or more automatically scored items, serve as prototypes to improve students' performance, teachers' instructional approaches, and administrators' school policies and practices.

Mathematical Argumentation in Middle School: Bridging from Professional Development to Classroom Practice

This exploratory project is working in collaboration with teachers to increase their knowledge of mathematics for teaching in middle school. In addition to geometry and algebra, the research component of the project is providing insights into how teachers use their mathematical knowledge to increase argumentation in the classroom and to help students build skills in mathematical argumentation.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1119518
Funding Period: 
Sat, 10/01/2011 to Mon, 09/30/2013
Project Evaluator: 
SRI International evaluation team
Full Description: 

Mathematical Argumentation in the Middle School is an exploratory project that is working in collaboration with teachers to increase their knowledge of mathematics for teaching in middle school. In addition to geometry and algebra, the professional development is focusing on the role of mathematical argumentation in the middle school and strategies for increasing argumentation. The research component of the project is providing insights into how teachers use their mathematical knowledge to increase argumentation in the classroom and to help students build skills in mathematical argumentation. In addition, the project is studying student outcomes such as reasoning, communication skills, and mathematical knowledge.

The project researchers are using both qualitative and quantitative methodologies to ensure that they have high quality data and analysis that will provide insights into the following research questions: 1) How do teachers use what they learn from the professional development (PD) experiences when they teach in the classroom? 2) To what extent does teachers? use of the project materials and what they learn in the PD result in mathematical argumentation in their classroom discourse? 3) Do students gain conceptual understanding of the mathematics as a result of their participation in argumentation in the classroom? Based on previous research, there is adequate evidence to believe that argumentation in the classroom does increase for participants in the workshop, but the researchers are seeking a better understanding of how teachers use their knowledge and the project materials to enact such an important change in mathematics lessons and in student learning. The professional development uses the dynamic software Geometers' Sketchpad, a carefully-designed, geometry curricular unit, and student materials to help teachers see how to set up a classroom environment that supports mathematical conjectures, arguments, and discussion. The research is done in the classroom and assesses the various components of the professional development in promoting argumentation.

The project is providing insights into how teachers use their mathematical knowledge to implement changes in the classroom. The project is creating effective professional development strategies, a middle school curriculum unit on geometry that emphasizes argumentation, and associated materials. The research is explaining how teachers use their knowledge and the materials and providing information on how students' conceptual knowledge develops through argumentation.

Investigating and Supporting the Development of Ambitious and Equitable Mathematics Instruction at Scale

This project is supporting and investigating the implementation of reformed mathematics instruction at the middle school level in two large school districts. The primary goal of the project is to develop an empirically grounded theory of action for implementing reform at school and district levels. The researchers are investigating reform within a coherent system that focuses on leadership and school-based professional development.

 

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1119122
Funding Period: 
Mon, 08/15/2011 to Tue, 07/31/2012
Full Description: 

The Development of Ambitious and Equitable Mathematics Instruction project is supporting and investigating the implementation of reformed mathematics instruction at the middle school level in two large school districts. Project researchers are asking: What does it take to support mathematics teachers' development of ambitious and equitable instructional practices on a large scale? The project has built on what was learned in a previous, successful project studying the implementation of a middle school mathematics curriculum. The primary goal of the new project is to develop an empirically grounded theory of action for implementing reform at school and district levels. The researchers are investigating reform within a coherent system that focuses on leadership and school-based professional development. In addition, they are facilitating a longitudinal study of the curriculum implementation by continuing the data collection from the original study.

In order to build a theory of action, the project team is synthesizing data from a variety of domains including instructional systems (e.g., curriculum, materials, professional development, support for struggling students, and learning communities), mathematics coaching, networks of teachers, school leadership, and district leadership. Investigators are using a variety of analytic techniques to successfully integrate both quantitative and qualitative data as they seek to understand how school district strategies are playing out in schools and classrooms and how those strategies can be revised in order to improve student learning of mathematics.

An empirically grounded theory of action for implementing reform will help the mathematics education community to implement and to understand the process of reforming mathematics instruction at the middle school level. Many advances in mathematics instruction have been documented within a limited context, but researchers and practitioners need to understand the full range of action necessary to achieve similar successes at a district-wide level. The model developed from this project, in conjunction with longitudinal data, has the potential to guide future reform efforts that seek to provide ambitious and equitable mathematics instruction.

Further Development and Testing of the Target Inquiry Model for Middle and High School Science Teacher Professional Development (Collaborative Research: Herrington)

This project scales and further tests the Target Inquiry professional development model. The scale-up and further testing would involve adding physics, biology and geology at Grand Valley State University, and implementing the program at Miami University with chemistry teachers. The project is also producing a website of instructional materials for middle and secondary science.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1118658
Funding Period: 
Mon, 08/15/2011 to Wed, 07/31/2013
Full Description: 

This project scales and further tests the Target Inquiry (TI) professional development model. The TI model involves teachers in three core experiences: 1) a research experience for teachers (RET), 2) materials adaptation (MA), and 3) an action research (AR) project. The original program was implemented with high school chemistry teachers at Grand Valley State University (GVSU), and was shown to result in significant increases, with large effect sizes, in teachers' understanding of science inquiry and quality of instruction, and in science achievement of those teachers' students. The scale-up and further testing would involve adding physics, biology and geology at GVSU, and implementing the program at Miami University (MU) with chemistry teachers. Three research questions will be studied:

1) How do the three TI core experiences influence in-service high school science teachers' (i) understanding of the nature of science; (ii) attitudes and beliefs about inquiry instruction; and (iii) classroom instructional methods in two new applications of the TI model?

2) How does teacher participation in TI affect students' process skills (scientific reasoning and metacognition) and conceptual understanding of science in two new applications of the TI model?

3) What are the challenges and solutions related to implementing TI in science disciplines beyond chemistry and in other regions?

The research design is quasi-experimental and longitudinal, incorporating implementation with research, and using quantitative and qualitative methods blended in a design research framework. A total of 54 middle and high school science teachers are being recruited for the study. The TI group is completing the TI program (N = 27; 15 at GVSU; 12 at MU) while the comparison group (same sizes and locations) is not. The comparison group is matched according to individual characteristics and school demographics. All teachers are being studied, along with their students, for 4 years (pre-program, post-RET, post-MA, post-AR/post-program). TI teachers are taking 15 credits of graduate level science courses over three years, including summers. Courses include a graduate seminar focused on preparing for the research experience, the research experience in a faculty member's science lab during the summer, application of research to teaching, action research project development, adaptation and evaluation of inquiry-focused curricula, and interpretation and analysis of classroom data from action research. Consistent feedback from professional development providers, other teachers, and evaluation, including comparison with the previous implementation, contributes to a design-based approach. Teacher factors being studied include beliefs about the nature of science, inquiry teaching knowledge and beliefs, and quality of inquiry instruction. Student factors being studied include scientific reasoning; metacognition, self-efficacy, and learning processes in science; and content knowledge and conceptual understanding. Only established quantitative and qualitative instruments are being used. Quantitative analysis includes between-group comparisons by year on post-tests, with pre-tests as covariates, and multi-level models with students nested within teachers, and teachers within sites, with the teacher level as the primary unit of change. Trends over time between the treatment and comparison groups are being examined. The evaluation is using a combination of pre/post causal comparative quantitative measures and relevant qualitative data from project leaders and participants, as well as from the comparison group, to provide formative and summative evaluation input.

Outcomes of the project include documentation and understanding of the impacts on science teachers' instruction and student outcomes of research experiences for teachers when they are supported by materials adaptation and action research, and an understanding of what it takes to scale the model to different science disciplines and a different site. The project is also producing a website of instructional materials for middle and secondary science.

System-Level Professional Development: Articulating Research Ideas That Support Implementation of PD Needed for Making the CCSS in Mathematics Reality for K-12 Teachers

This project aims to pull together a diverse set of experts to make research-based recommendations on how to implement massive professional development that is needed to effectively employ the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in a way that will reform classroom instruction in mathematics for grades K-12.  The project is convening a meeting of experts to recommend how to design, implement, and assess large-scale professional development systems.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1114933
Funding Period: 
Tue, 03/01/2011 to Wed, 02/29/2012
Full Description: 

This project is engaged in an effort to pull together a diverse set of experts to make research-based recommendations on how to implement massive professional development that is needed to effectively employ the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in a way that will reform classroom instruction in mathematics for grades K-12. Thirty-five states have adopted the CCSS in mathematics, and there is a need to help teachers and the public learn about the standards and how to use them to increase mathematics learning. The project is convening a meeting of experts to recommend how to design, implement, and assess large-scale professional development systems that have the potential to reform mathematics instruction. A final report with recommendations and reactions from professional organizations will be disseminated through the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

The work of the project is assisted by the following organizations: Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators, Mathematics Association of America, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics, and the Association of State Supervisors of Mathematics.

Measuring the Effects of a School-Based, Data-Driven Professional Learning Model for Raising Secondary Mathematics Achievement

This project is designing and implementing a professional development model that uses data from the Surveys of Enacted Curriculum (SEC) to improve mathematics instruction at the high school level.

Award Number: 
1020310
Funding Period: 
Tue, 03/01/2011 to Thu, 02/28/2013
Project Evaluator: 
WestEd
Full Description: 

The Surveys of Enacted Curriculum Professional Development Model (SECPDM) project, at RMC Research Corporation in Oregon, is designing and implementing a professional development model that uses data from the Surveys of Enacted Curriculum (SEC) to improve mathematics instruction at the high school level. Teachers participating in the professional development work together at the school level to learn how to use the data gathered through the SEC to align their curriculum with state and district standards. The teachers work in professional development communities within schools to better understand the content embedded in curriculum materials and assessments, and to be able to use that understanding to improve their daily instruction.

The SEC collects data from K-12 teachers of mathematics, science, and English language arts on course content and instructional practices. Using this data, one can determine the alignment between instruction in a specific school and state standards or assessments. Efforts to use the SEC data for school improvement have been hampered by two key constraints: (1) The survey is lengthy and not easy to complete and (2) The results provide a year-end summary that does not reach teachers in time to adjust instruction for the current year. The SECPDM project is designing a teacher log system in which teachers enter brief reports more frequently and get useful feedback throughout the year. The project is also designing and conducting professional development that will help teachers learn to use the data and feedback to align their instruction with state standards, and it is helping teachers build professional development communities within their schools. This project includes teachers in Ohio, New York, and Oregon. The project is conducting a quasi-experimental research study to test the hypothesis that if a critical mass of mathematics teachers collaboratively implements the professional development plan, then (1) the mathematics courses will be better articulated and aligned with state standards and assessments, (2) teachers will improve their instructional practices, and (3) student achievement in mathematics will increase.

The SECPDM project has the potential to improve the use of the Survey of Enacted Curriculum (SEC) by making the data entry process easier for teachers and the survey data more useful. By piloting this model of professional development and analyzing their findings, the project is making a significant step towards improving the alignment of the mathematics curriculum in high schools, helping teachers use the SEC data to inform instruction, and improving student achievement in mathematics.

Expanding and Sustaining Understanding Evolution

This project will (1) identify the characteristics and needs of college-level target learners and their instructors with respect to evolution, (2) articulate the components for expanding the Understanding Evolution (UE) site to include an Undergraduate Lounge in which students and instructors will be able to access a variety of evolution resources, (3) develop a strategic plan for increasing awareness of UE, and (4) develop a strategic plan for maintenance and continued growth of the site.

Award Number: 
0841757
Funding Period: 
Wed, 10/15/2008 to Thu, 09/30/2010
Full Description: 

The University of California Museum of Paleontology (UCMP) will bring together an experienced group of evolution educators in order to inform the development and maintenance of an effective resource for improving evolution education at the college level. This effort falls under the umbrella of UCMP's highly successful Understanding Evolution (UE) project (http://evolution.berkeley.edu), which currently receives over one million page requests per month during the school year. UE was originally designed around the needs of the K-12 education community; however, increasingly, the site is being used by the undergraduate education community. UCMP intends to embark on an effort to enhance the utility of the UE site for that population, increase awareness of the site at the college level, and secure the project's future so that it can continue to serve K-16 teachers and students. To inform and guide these efforts, UCMP proposes to establish and convene a UE Advisory Board, which will be charged with helping to: (1) identify the characteristics and needs of college-level target learners and their instructors with respect to evolution, (2) articulate the recommended components for expanding the UE site to include an Undergraduate Lounge in which students and their instructors will be able to access a variety of resources for increasing understanding of evolution, (3) develop a strategic plan for increasing awareness of UE within the undergraduate education community, and (4) develop a strategic plan for maintenance and continued growth of the UE site.

Establishing a Roadmap for Large-Scale Improvement of K-12 Education in the Geographical Sciences

This project will engage in a community-wide effort to synthesize the literature from a broad range of fields and to use the findings to create frameworks that will guide the planning, implementation, and scale-up of efforts to improve geographic education over the next decade. This will result in a set of publicly reviewed, consensus reports that will guide collaborative efforts and broaden awareness of the acute need for geographic literacy and geographic science education.

Award Number: 
1049437
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/15/2010 to Fri, 08/31/2012
Project Evaluator: 
Education and Training Institute
Full Description: 

Having a geographically literate population will be critical to the economic stability, physical security, and environmental sustainability of the United States in the 21st century. Yet the U.S. still lags far behind the other developed nations in education in the geographical sciences. Recognizing the risk that geographic illiteracy poses for our country, the National Geographic Society (NGS), in collaboration with the Association of American Geographers, American Geographical Society, and National Council for Geographic Education, proposes to engage in a set of research synthesis and dissemination activities that will provide road maps for the design of assessment, professional development, instructional materials, public information, and educational research for the next decade. The work will be done by a broad range of experts from K-12 institutions as well as the geographical science and educational research communities

Building on a 25 year collaboration, NGS and its partners propose to engage in a community-wide effort to synthesize the literature from a broad range of fields and to use the findings to create frameworks that will guide the planning, implementation, and scale-up of efforts to improve geographic education over the next decade. The result of this effort will be a set of publicly reviewed, consensus reports that will guide the collaborative efforts of the project partners and the larger geographic education community, as well as broaden awareness of the increasingly significant and acute need for geographic literacy and education in the geographical sciences in our country.

This project will create three in-depth "roadmap" reports targeted at practitioners, takeholders, and policymakers. Developed by expert committees, these three reports will be on:

- Assessment frameworks for systematic monitoring and continuous improvement of geographic education programs.

- Professional development for teachers and instructional materials to support large-scale educational improvement across diverse contexts.

- Educational research agenda to set priorities and identify appropriate methodologies for research that will improve geographic education into the future.

These three reports will be summarized in an executive summary written for a broad audience of educators, policymakers, and concerned citizens.

In addition to these consensus reports, the project will also conduct research on public understanding of the nature and importance of geographic literacy, with particular attention to the key audiences of educators, policymakers, and citizens. In addition to shaping the project's reports, this research will inform the broader communications and dissemination efforts of this project and its partners.

Confronting the Challenges of Climate Literacy (Collaborative Research: McNeal)

This project is developing inquiry-based, lab-focused, online Climate Change EarthLabs modules as a context for ongoing research into how high school students grasp change over time in the Earth System on multiple time scales. This project examines the challenges to high-school students' understanding of Earth's complex systems, operating over various temporal and spatial scales, and by developing research-based insights into effective educational tools and approaches that support learning about climate change and Earth Systems Science.

Award Number: 
1443024
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/15/2010 to Sat, 10/31/2015
Full Description: 

This project is developing three inquiry-based, lab-focused, online Climate Change EarthLabs modules as a context for ongoing research into how high school students grasp change over time in the Earth System on multiple time scales. Climate literacy has emerged as an important domain of education. Yet it presents real challenges in cognition, perception, and pedagogy, especially in understanding Earth as a dynamic system operating at local to global spatial scales over multiple time scales. This research project confronts these issues by examining the challenges to high-school students' understanding of Earth's complex systems, operating over various temporal and spatial scales, and by developing research-based insights into effective educational tools and approaches that support learning about climate change and Earth Systems Science. The project is a collaborative effort among science educators at TERC, Mississippi State University, and The University of Texas at Austin.

The project uses a backward-design methodology to identify an integrated set of science learning goals and research questions to inform module development. Development and review of draft materials will be followed by a pilot implementation and then two rounds of teacher professional development, classroom implementation, and research in Texas and Mississippi. Research findings from the multiple rounds of implementation will allow an iterative process for refining the modules, the professional development materials, and the research program.

This project focuses on the design, development, and testing of innovative climate change curriculum materials and teacher professional development for Earth Systems science instruction. The materials will be tested in states with teachers in need of Earth Systems Science training and with significant numbers of low income and minority students who are likely to be hard hit by impending climate change. The research will shed light on the challenges of education for climate literacy.

Formerly Award # 1019703.

Confronting the Challenges of Climate Literacy (Collaborative Research: Ledley)

This project is developing inquiry-based, lab-focused, online Climate Change EarthLabs modules as a context for ongoing research into how high school students grasp change over time in the Earth System on multiple time scales. This project examines the challenges to high-school students' understanding of Earth's complex systems, operating over various temporal and spatial scales, and by developing research-based insights into effective educational tools and approaches that support learning about climate change and Earth Systems Science.

Project Email: 
Award Number: 
1019721
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/15/2010 to Fri, 08/31/2012
Project Evaluator: 
Susan Buhr
Full Description: 

This project is developing three inquiry-based, lab-focused, online Climate Change EarthLabs modules (focus is on the Cryosphere, Climate and Weather, and the Carbon Cycle) as a context for ongoing research into how high school students grasp change over time in the Earth System on multiple time scales. Climate literacy has emerged as an important domain of education. Yet it presents real challenges in cognition, perception, and pedagogy, especially in understanding Earth as a dynamic system operating at local to global spatial scales over multiple time scales. This research project confronts these issues by examining the challenges to high-school students' understanding of Earth's complex systems, operating over various temporal and spatial scales, and by developing research-based insights into effective educational tools and approaches that support learning about climate change and Earth Systems Science. The project is a collaborative effort among science educators at TERC, Mississippi State University, and The University of Texas at Austin.

The project uses a backward-design methodology to identify an integrated set of science learning goals and research questions to inform module development. Development and review of draft materials will be followed by a pilot implementation and then two rounds of teacher professional development, classroom implementation, and research in Texas and Mississippi. Research findings from the multiple rounds of implementation will allow an iterative process for refining the modules, the professional development materials, and the research program.

This project focuses on the design, development, and testing of innovative climate change curriculum materials and teacher professional development for Earth Systems science instruction. The materials will be tested in states with teachers in need of Earth Systems Science training and with significant numbers of low income and minority students who are likely to be hard hit by impending climate change. The research will shed light on the challenges of education for climate literacy.

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