Standards

Teaching Science Outdoors: A Next Generation Approach for Advancing Elementary Science Teaching in Urban Communities

This project project is designed to enhance the capacity of elementary teachers in high-poverty urban communities for enacting Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)-aligned science approaches using the outdoors as part of their classroom. The goal of the project is to advance elementary teachers' pedagogical practices and determine how this affects cognitive and non-cognitive learning outcomes of their students, particularly those who are traditionally marginalized in science classrooms.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1907506
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Project Evaluator: 
Full Description: 

This project addresses a long-standing challenge in science education centered on providing meaningful science education opportunities to students living in communities of high poverty and attending under-resourced elementary schools. These students are significantly less likely to receive high-quality science learning opportunities and to be encouraged to engage in (rather than simply learn about) science. This Michigan State University research project is designed to enhance the capacity of elementary teachers in high-poverty urban communities for enacting Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)-aligned science approaches using the outdoors as part of their classroom. It builds on and advances prior outdoor education work for the current context of science education that requires elementary teachers to engage students in making sense of phenomena using next generation science and engineering practices. The goal of this project is to advance elementary teachers' pedagogical practices and determine how this affects cognitive and non-cognitive learning outcomes of their students, particularly those who are traditionally marginalized in science classrooms. It also will advance knowledge on ways to bridge informal and formal learning environments. To achieve these goals, the project will develop, enact and study a program that involves a scaffolded series of summer professional development sessions focused on outdoor learning and school year follow-up meetings and classroom-based coaching for elementary teachers and informal educators from two high-need districts.

Design-based research will be utilized to: 1) foster teacher practices and study how these develop over time, 2) work with teachers to measure student outcomes, and 3) determine what aspects of this formal/informal approach are productive, measures of student engagement and student learning artifacts--will be analyzed. The project will serve as a model for developing partnerships between informal science organizations, educators, and K-12 programs. Revised measures and outcomes of teacher practices and student learning; outdoor-focused lesson plans; cases illustrating how elementary teachers develop and enact NGSS-aligned outdoor lessons; a revised informal-formal theoretical model; and information about dissemination of products including facilitation guidelines and coaching approaches will be developed and disseminated.

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

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

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

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

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

Articulating a Transformative Approach for Designing Tasks that Measure Young Learners' Developing Proficiencies in Integrated Science and Literacy (Collaborative Research: Harris)

The main goal of this study will be to conduct exploratory-design work to produce both the design approach and the early-stage tasks that are critical inputs for creating a program of research and development to more fully develop a suite of innovative assessment tasks for the early grades.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1903103
Funding Period: 
Sat, 12/15/2018 to Sat, 11/30/2019
Full Description: 

SRI International, University of California-Berkeley (Lawrence Hall of Science), and WestEd will join efforts to articulate a potentially transformative approach for designing new kinds of classroom-based, three-dimensional assessment tasks that measure first graders' proficiencies in integrated science and literacy learning. The main goal of this study will be to conduct exploratory-design work to produce both the design approach and the early-stage tasks that are critical inputs for creating a program of research and development to more fully develop a suite of innovative assessment tasks for the early grades. Specific goals of the effort will be: (1) to iteratively develop and refine a design approach that enables assessment designers to develop Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)-aligned tasks and rubrics that include a literacy component for the early grades; (2) to use this design approach to create two exemplar assessment tasks that are feasible for classroom use; and (3) to collect initial evidence that informs the promise of the design approach.

The work's research question will be: How can we extend current methodology to create assessments that integrate the three dimensions of the NGSS and literacy for early learners? The study will select first grade as the learning environment and two of the NGSS first grade performance expectations as the assessment targets. First grade students are typically at a critical point in developing their language and literacy proficiencies, which will allow the team to take on the challenges of variation in language and literacy skills. Correspondingly, the study will select two NGSS first grade life sciences performance expectations, because they include direct ties to literacy practices in science: (1) From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes (Read texts and use media to determine patterns in behavior of parents and offspring that help offspring survive); and (2) Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits (Make observations to construct an evidence-based account that young plants and animals are like, but not exactly like their parents). The design phase of the activity will consist of an assessment of the learning context and targets of the study, and the development of an assessment framework following the National Research Center's report, "Designing Assessments for the Next Generation Science Standards" (2014), including the principled assessment evidence-centered-design methodology. Data gathering, and interpretation strategies will include Experts' Review of the design approach, a focus group of teachers (n=8), and one-on-one cognitive interviews with students (n=20), conducted by researchers, which will be recorded to determine the quality and usability of the assessments using qualitative methods. The ultimate outcome of the proposed work will be a design approach for creating assessment tasks in a principled way across science disciplines for early elementary grade students. An advisory board will provide formative assessment feedback to the research team.

Articulating a Transformative Approach for Designing Tasks that Measure Young Learners' Developing Proficiencies in Integrated Science and Literacy (Collaborative Research: Rutstein)

The main goal of this study will be to conduct exploratory-design work to produce both the design approach and the early-stage tasks that are critical inputs for creating a program of research and development to more fully develop a suite of innovative assessment tasks for the early grades.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1853923
Funding Period: 
Sat, 12/15/2018 to Sat, 11/30/2019
Full Description: 

SRI International, University of California-Berkeley (Lawrence Hall of Science), and WestEd will join efforts to articulate a potentially transformative approach for designing new kinds of classroom-based, three-dimensional assessment tasks that measure first graders' proficiencies in integrated science and literacy learning. The main goal of this study will be to conduct exploratory-design work to produce both the design approach and the early-stage tasks that are critical inputs for creating a program of research and development to more fully develop a suite of innovative assessment tasks for the early grades. Specific goals of the effort will be: (1) to iteratively develop and refine a design approach that enables assessment designers to develop Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)-aligned tasks and rubrics that include a literacy component for the early grades; (2) to use this design approach to create two exemplar assessment tasks that are feasible for classroom use; and (3) to collect initial evidence that informs the promise of the design approach.

The work's research question will be: How can we extend current methodology to create assessments that integrate the three dimensions of the NGSS and literacy for early learners? The study will select first grade as the learning environment and two of the NGSS first grade performance expectations as the assessment targets. First grade students are typically at a critical point in developing their language and literacy proficiencies, which will allow the team to take on the challenges of variation in language and literacy skills. Correspondingly, the study will select two NGSS first grade life sciences performance expectations, because they include direct ties to literacy practices in science: (1) From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes (Read texts and use media to determine patterns in behavior of parents and offspring that help offspring survive); and (2) Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits (Make observations to construct an evidence-based account that young plants and animals are like, but not exactly like their parents). The design phase of the activity will consist of an assessment of the learning context and targets of the study, and the development of an assessment framework following the National Research Center's report, "Designing Assessments for the Next Generation Science Standards" (2014), including the principled assessment evidence-centered-design methodology. Data gathering, and interpretation strategies will include Experts' Review of the design approach, a focus group of teachers (n=8), and one-on-one cognitive interviews with students (n=20), conducted by researchers, which will be recorded to determine the quality and usability of the assessments using qualitative methods. The ultimate outcome of the proposed work will be a design approach for creating assessment tasks in a principled way across science disciplines for early elementary grade students. An advisory board will provide formative assessment feedback to the research team.

Articulating a Transformative Approach for Designing Tasks that Measure Young Learners' Developing Proficiencies in Integrated Science and Literacy (Collaborative Research: Billman)

The main goal of this study will be to conduct exploratory-design work to produce both the design approach and the early-stage tasks that are critical inputs for creating a program of research and development to more fully develop a suite of innovative assessment tasks for the early grades.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1853951
Funding Period: 
Sat, 12/15/2018 to Sat, 11/30/2019
Full Description: 

SRI International, University of California-Berkeley (Lawrence Hall of Science), and WestEd will join efforts to articulate a potentially transformative approach for designing new kinds of classroom-based, three-dimensional assessment tasks that measure first graders' proficiencies in integrated science and literacy learning. The main goal of this study will be to conduct exploratory-design work to produce both the design approach and the early-stage tasks that are critical inputs for creating a program of research and development to more fully develop a suite of innovative assessment tasks for the early grades. Specific goals of the effort will be: (1) to iteratively develop and refine a design approach that enables assessment designers to develop Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)-aligned tasks and rubrics that include a literacy component for the early grades; (2) to use this design approach to create two exemplar assessment tasks that are feasible for classroom use; and (3) to collect initial evidence that informs the promise of the design approach.

The work's research question will be: How can we extend current methodology to create assessments that integrate the three dimensions of the NGSS and literacy for early learners? The study will select first grade as the learning environment and two of the NGSS first grade performance expectations as the assessment targets. First grade students are typically at a critical point in developing their language and literacy proficiencies, which will allow the team to take on the challenges of variation in language and literacy skills. Correspondingly, the study will select two NGSS first grade life sciences performance expectations, because they include direct ties to literacy practices in science: (1) From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes (Read texts and use media to determine patterns in behavior of parents and offspring that help offspring survive); and (2) Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits (Make observations to construct an evidence-based account that young plants and animals are like, but not exactly like their parents). The design phase of the activity will consist of an assessment of the learning context and targets of the study, and the development of an assessment framework following the National Research Center's report, "Designing Assessments for the Next Generation Science Standards" (2014), including the principled assessment evidence-centered-design methodology. Data gathering, and interpretation strategies will include Experts' Review of the design approach, a focus group of teachers (n=8), and one-on-one cognitive interviews with students (n=20), conducted by researchers, which will be recorded to determine the quality and usability of the assessments using qualitative methods. The ultimate outcome of the proposed work will be a design approach for creating assessment tasks in a principled way across science disciplines for early elementary grade students. An advisory board will provide formative assessment feedback to the research team.

Teacher Professional Learning to Support Student Motivational Competencies During Science Instruction (Collaborative Research: Harris)

This project will bring together a multi-disciplinary team of researchers and science teachers to identify a set of practices that science teachers can readily incorporate into their planning and instruction. The project will design, develop, and test a research-based professional learning approach to help middle school science teachers effectively support and sustain student motivational competencies during science instruction.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1907480
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2018 to Wed, 08/31/2022
Full Description: 

Science teachers identify fostering student motivation to learn as a pressing need, yet teacher professional learning programs rarely devote time to helping teachers understand and apply motivational principles in their instruction. This project will bring together a multi-disciplinary team of researchers and science teachers to identify a set of practices that science teachers can readily incorporate into their planning and instruction. The project will design, develop, and test a research-based professional learning approach to help middle school science teachers effectively support and sustain student motivational competencies during science instruction. The approach will include use of materials addressing student motivational processes and how to support them, evaluation tools to measure student motivational competencies, lesson planning tools, and instruments for teacher self-evaluation. The translation to practice will include recognition of student diversity and consider ways to facilitate context-specific integration of disciplinary and motivational knowledge in practice. The project will focus on middle school science classrooms because this period is an important motivational bridge between elementary and secondary science learning. This project will enhance understanding of teacher pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) in that it frames knowledge about supporting motivational competencies in science as PCK rather than general pedagogical knowledge.

This early stage design and development project will iteratively develop and study a model of teacher professional learning that will help middle school science teachers create, modify, and implement instruction that integrates support for students' motivational competencies with the science practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas specified in science curriculum standards. A design-based research approach will be used to develop and test four resources teachers will use to explicitly include attention to student motivational competencies in their lesson planning efforts. The resources will include: 1) educational materials about students' motivational processes with concrete examples of how to support them; 2) easy-to-implement student evaluation tools for teachers to gauge students' motivational competencies; 3) planning tools to incorporate motivational practices into science lesson planning; and 4) instruments for teacher self-evaluation. A collaborative group of educational researchers will partner with science teachers from multiple school districts having diverse student populations to jointly develop the professional learning approach and resources. This project will contribute to systemic change by moving motivational processes from an implicit element of educating students, to an explicit and intentional set of strategies teachers can enact. Research questions will focus on how teachers respond to the newly developed professional learning model, and how students respond to instruction developed through implementing the model.

This project was previously funded under award #1813086.

Supporting Teachers in Responsive Instruction for Developing Expertise in Science (Collaborative Research: Linn)

This project takes advantage of advanced technologies to support science teachers to rapidly respond to diverse student ideas in their classrooms. Students will use web-based curriculum units to engage with models, simulations, and virtual experiments to write multiple explanations for standards-based science topics. The project will also design planning tools for teachers that will make suggestions relevant research-proven instructional strategies based on the real-time analysis of student responses.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1813713
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2018 to Wed, 08/31/2022
Full Description: 

Many teachers want to adapt their instruction to meet student learning needs, yet lack the time to regularly assess and analyze students' developing understandings. The Supporting Teachers in Responsive Instruction for Developing Expertise in Science (STRIDES) project takes advantage of advanced technologies to support science teachers to rapidly respond to diverse student ideas in their classrooms. In this project students will use web-based curriculum units to engage with models, simulations, and virtual experiments to write multiple explanations for standards-based science topics. Advanced technologies (including natural language processing) will be used to assess students' written responses and summaries their science understanding in real-time. The project will also design planning tools for teachers that will make suggestions relevant research-proven instructional strategies based on the real-time analysis of student responses. Research will examine how teachers make use of the feedback and suggestions to customize their instruction. Further we will study how these instructional changes help students develop coherent understanding of complex science topics and ability to make sense of models and graphs. The findings will be used to refine the tools that analyze the student essays and generate the summaries; improve the research-based instructional suggestions in the planning tool; and strengthen the online interface for teachers. The tools will be incorporated into open-source, freely available online curriculum units. STRIDES will directly benefit up to 30 teachers and 24,000 students from diverse school settings over four years.

Leveraging advances in natural language processing methods, the project will analyze student written explanations to provide fine-grained summaries to teachers about strengths and weaknesses in student work. Based on the linguistic analysis and logs of student navigation, the project will then provide instructional customizations based on learning science research, and study how teachers use them to improve student progress. Researchers will annually conduct at least 10 design or comparison studies, each involving up to 6 teachers and 300-600 students per year. Insights from this research will be captured in automated scoring algorithms, empirically tested and refined customization activities, and data logging techniques that can be used by other research and curriculum design programs to enable teacher customization.

Building Middle School Students' Understanding of Heredity and Evolution

This project will develop and test the impact of heredity and evolution curriculum units for middle school grades that are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The project will advance science teaching by investigating the ways in which two curriculum units can be designed to incorporate science and engineering practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas, the three dimensions of science learning described by the NGSS. The project will also develop resources to support teachers in implementation of the new modules.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1814194
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2018 to Wed, 08/31/2022
Full Description: 

This project will develop and test the impact of heredity and evolution curriculum units for middle school grades that are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The project will advance science teaching by investigating the ways in which two curriculum units can be designed to incorporate science and engineering practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas, the three dimensions of science learning described by the NGSS. The project will also develop resources to support teachers in implementation of the new modules. The planned research will also examine whether student understanding of evolution depends on the length and time of exposure to learning about heredity prior to learning about evolution.

This Early Stage Design and Development project will develop two new 3-week middle school curriculum units, with one focusing on heredity and the other focusing on evolution. The units will include embedded formative and summative assessment measures and online teacher support materials. These units will be developed as part of a curriculum learning progression that will eventually span the elementary grades through high school. This curriculum learning progression will integrate heredity, evolution, data analysis, construction of scientific explanations, evidence-based argumentation, pattern recognition, and inferring cause and effect relationships. To inform development and iterative revisions of the units, the project will conduct nation-wide beta and pilot tests, selecting schools with broad ranges of student demographics and geographical locations. The project will include three rounds of testing and revision of both the student curriculum and teacher materials. The project will also investigate student understanding of evolution in terms of how their understanding is impacted by conceptual understanding of heredity. The research to be conducted by this project is organized around three broad research questions: (a) In what ways can two curriculum units be designed to incorporate the three dimensions of science learning and educative teacher supports to guide students' conceptual understanding of heredity and evolution? (b) To what extent does student understanding of evolution depend on the length and timing of heredity lessons that preceded an evolution unit? And (c) In what ways do students learn heredity and evolution?

An Integrated Approach to Early Elementary Earth and Space Science

This project will study if, how, and under what circumstances an integration of literacy strategies, hands-on inquiry-based investigations, and planetarium experiences supports the development of science practices (noticing, recognizing change, making predictions, and constructing explanations) in early elementary level students. The project will generate knowledge about how astronomy-focused storybooks, hands-on investigations, and planetarium experiences can be integrated to develop age-appropriate science practices in very young children.

Award Number: 
1813189
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2018 to Mon, 08/31/2020
Full Description: 

State science standards increasingly emphasize the importance of engaging K-12 students directly in natural phenomena and providing opportunities to construct explanations grounded in evidence. Moreover, these state science standards introduce earth and space science content in the early elementary grades. This creates a critical need for new pedagogies, materials, and resources for science teachers in all grades, but the need is particularly urgent in grades K-3 where teachers have had little preparation to teach science, let alone astronomy. There is also growing consensus that when learning opportunities in formal and informal settings are closely aligned, children's science literacy is developed in ways greater than either setting can achieve alone. The investigators will study if, how, and under what circumstances an integration of literacy strategies, hands-on inquiry-based investigations, and planetarium experiences supports the development of science practices (noticing, recognizing change, making predictions, and constructing explanations) in early elementary level students. This project will generate knowledge about how astronomy-focused storybooks, hands-on investigations, and planetarium experiences can be integrated to develop age-appropriate science practices in very young children (noticing, recognizing change, making predictions, and constructing explanations).

Emergent research on the development of children's science thinking indicates that when young children are engaged with science-focused storybooks and activities that each highlight the same phenomenon, children notice and gather evidence, make predictions and claims based on evidence, and provide explanations grounded in the experiences provided to them. This project has two phases. In Phase 1, first and third grade teachers will be recruited. They will help identify specific learner needs as these relate to the earth and space science standards in their grade band, assist in the development and pilot testing of a prototype instructional sequence and supporting activities taking place within their classrooms and at a local planetarium. In Phase 2, the revised learning sequence and research protocol will be implemented with the same teachers and a new cohort of children. The mixed method research design includes video observations, teacher interviews, and teacher and student surveys. Data analysis will focus on science practices, connections across contexts (e.g., school and planetarium), and instructional adaptations. The project involves a research-practice collaboration between the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Rockman & Associates, the Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California, Berkeley, and West Chester University.

Promoting Engineering Problem Framing Skill-Development in High School Science and Engineering Courses

This project will develop curricular activities and assessment guidance for K-12 science and engineering educators who seek to incorporate engineering design content into their biology, chemistry, and physics classes.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1812823
Funding Period: 
Wed, 08/01/2018 to Sat, 07/31/2021
Full Description: 

This collaborative project involving Ohio Northern University, Ohio State University, and Olathe Northwest High School will develop curricular activities and assessment guidance for K-12 science and engineering educators who seek to incorporate engineering design content into their biology, chemistry, and physics classes. This work is important because students' limited exposure to engineering activities can negatively impact their decisions to enroll in STEM courses and to pursue engineering careers. Further, many states are adopting or considering adopting the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), a set of classroom standards which integrate engineering content into traditional science disciplines. While high school teachers under these standards are expected to incorporate the cross-cutting engineering content into their courses, they generally receive little high-quality support for doing so. If successful, the project could provide a powerful model of how to support busy and resource-constrained STEM teachers, and create broader student interest in STEM careers.

Drawing from best practices on instructional design, the project's main objectives are to: (1) design, field-test, and evaluate the impact of 12 NGSS-aligned, engineering problem-framing design activities on students enrolled in grades 9-12 science courses and (2) design and conduct high-quality, sustained professional development that fosters participating high school science teachers' ability to deploy the NGSS concepts-linked activities. Data sources include student design artifacts, video of classroom instruction, and surveys assessing student and teacher attitudes toward engineering, student design self-efficacy and teacher self-efficacy for teaching engineering content. These data will be analyzed to determine what teachers learned from the professional development activities, how those activities informed their teaching and in turn, how students' engagement with the engineering activities relates to their engineering design skills and attitudes. In terms of intellectual merit, the project aims to develop a learning progression of students' engineering design problem-framing skills by characterizing any observed change in students' design work and attitudes over time.

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