Instructional Practice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking Back and Looking Forward: Increasing the Impact of Educational Research on Practice

The focus of this conference is to carefully examine past and current research with an eye toward improving its impact on practice and to create concrete steps that could shape the nature and impact of mathematics education research.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1941494
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2019 to Mon, 08/31/2020
Full Description: 

The focus of the proposed conference is to carefully examine past and current research with an eye toward improving its impact on practice. This conference is designed to create concrete steps that could shape the nature and impact of mathematics education research for years to come. A diverse group of 50 participants will be invited to participate. Participants include 10 experienced K-12 educators whose perspectives will be used to anchor the conference in problems of practice. Other participants represent senior through more junior scholars who have demonstrated a commitment to addressing the disconnect between research and practice, along with technology experts to advise participants on capabilities and innovative uses of modern technologies for instruction, assessment and data management.

The overarching goal for the conference is to help the field of mathematics education think deeply about the most productive ways to answer the following questions: [1] Why hasn't past research had a more direct impact on practice? What can be learned from this historical analysis for future research? [2] What is a possible vision for research that would have a more direct impact on practice? What questions should be asked? What methods should be used? What concrete steps can be taken to launch the new research programs? [3] What are the implications of adopting new kinds of research programs? If they gain traction, how will such changes affect the broader education community and infrastructure, including preservice teacher education, teacher professional development, and the training of future researchers? How should the roles of researchers and teachers change? What incentive structures might motivate these changes? How will new programs of research interact with existing programs?

Design and Implementation of Immersive Representations of Practice

This project will address the potential positive and negative impacts of using 360-degree video for bridging the gap between theory and practice in mathematics instruction by investigating how preservice teachers' tacit and explicit professional knowledge are facilitated using immersive video technology and annotations.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1908159
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2019 to Wed, 08/31/2022
Full Description: 

Various researchers have documented that a large proportion of preservice teachers (PSTs) demonstrate less sophisticated professional knowledge for teaching both fractions and multiplication/division. Use of representations of practice (i.e., video, animation), and accompanying annotation technology, are effective in improving such professional knowledge, but PSTs continue to demonstrate a lack of precision in attending to or noticing particular mathematics in classroom scenarios. Fortunately, a new technology, 360-degree video, has emerged as a means of training novices for professional practice. This project will address the potential positive and negative impacts of using 360-degree video for bridging the gap between theory and practice in mathematics instruction. Specifically, PSTs demonstrate difficulty in synthesizing explicit knowledge learned in the college classroom with tacit professional knowledge situated in professional practice. The initial pilot of the technology resulted in PSTs demonstrating specific attention to the mathematics. The purpose of the project will be to investigate how PSTs' tacit and explicit professional knowledge are facilitated using immersive video technology and annotations (technologically embedded scaffolds). To do this, the project will examine where and what PSTs attend to when viewing 360-degree videos, both at a single point in the classroom and through incorporating multiple camera-perspectives in the same class. Additionally, the project will examine the role of annotation technology as applied to 360-degree video and the potential for variations in annotation technology. Findings will allow for an improved understanding of how teacher educators may support PSTs' tacit and explicit knowledge for teaching. The project will make video experiences publicly available and the platform used in the project to create these video experiences for teacher educators to use, create, and share 360-degree video experiences.

The project will examine how representations of practice can facilitate preservice teachers' professional knowledge for teaching fractions and multiplication/division. The project will: examine the effect of single versus multiple perspective in PSTs' professional knowledge; examine how PSTs use annotation technology in immersive video experiences, and its effect on PSTs' professional knowledge for teaching fractions and multiplication/division; and design a platform for teacher educators to create their own 360 video immersive experiences. Using an iterative design study process, the project team will develop and pilot single and multi-perspective 360-degree video experiences in grade 3-5 classrooms including developing a computer program to join multiple 360-degree videos. They will also develop an annotation tool to allow PSTs to annotate the single and multi-perspective 360 video experiences. Using a convergent mixed methods design, the project team will analyze the quantitative data using multiple regressions of pre-post data on mathematical knowledge for teaching and survey data on PSTs reported immersion and presence in viewing the videos to compare single and multi-perspective 360-degree video data. They will also qualitatively analyze heat maps generated from eye tracking, written responses from PSTs' noticing prompts, and field notes from implementation to examine the effect of single versus multiple perspectives. The team will use similar methods to examine how PSTs use the annotation technology and its effect. The results of the research and the platform will be widely disseminated.


Project Videos

2020 STEM for All Video Showcase

Title: Use of 360 Video in Elementary Mathematics Teacher Education

Presenter(s): Karl Kosko, Christina Austin, Richard Ferdig, Enrico Gandolfi, Qiang Guan, Jennifer Heisler, Annette Kratcoski, Cheng-Chang Lu, Yuxin Yang, & Maryam Zolfaghari


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.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1907506
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Fri, 06/30/2023
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.

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

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

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

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

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

Advancing Coherent and Equitable Systems of Science Education

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

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

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

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

Ed+gineering: An Interdisciplinary Partnership Integrating Engineering into Elementary Teacher Preparation Programs

In this project, over 500 elementary education majors will team with engineering majors to teach engineering design to over 1,600 students from underrepresented groups. These standards-based lessons will emphasize student questioning, constructive student-to-student interactions, and engineering design processes, and they will be tailored to build from students' interests and strengths.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1908743
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2019 to Thu, 08/31/2023
Full Description: 

Engineering education, with its emphasis on developing creative solutions to relevant problems, is a promising approach to increasing elementary students' interest in scientific fields. Despite its potential, engineering education is often absent from elementary classes because many teachers feel underprepared to integrate it into their instruction. This project addresses this issue through an innovative approach to undergraduate elementary education programs. In this approach, called Ed+gineering, undergraduate elementary education majors team with undergraduate engineering majors to develop and teach engineering lessons to elementary students in out-of-school settings. In this project, over 500 elementary education majors will team with engineering majors to teach engineering design to over 1,600 students from underrepresented groups. These standards-based lessons will emphasize student questioning, constructive student-to-student interactions, and engineering design processes, and they will be tailored to build from students' interests and strengths. The research team will study whether Ed+gineering is correlated with positive outcomes for the elementary education majors. They will also study whether and how the elementary education majors subsequently provide engineering instruction during their first year of licensed teaching. This project will advance knowledge by resulting in a model for teacher education that has the potential to improve future elementary teachers' confidence and ability to teach engineering. In turn, more elementary students may have opportunities to experience engineering as they discover how innovative applications of science can be used to solve problems in the world around them.

Researchers at Old Dominion University will study whether a teacher preparation model is associated with positive outcomes for pre-service teachers while they are undergraduates and in their first year as professional teachers. Undergraduate elementary education majors and undergraduate engineering majors will work in interdisciplinary teams, comprised of four to six people, in up to three mandatory collegiate courses in their respective disciplinary programs. Each semester, these interdisciplinary teams will develop and teach a culturally responsive, engineering-based lesson with accompanying student materials during a field trip or after-school program attended by underrepresented students in fourth, fifth, or sixth grade. Using a quasi-experimental design with treatment and matched comparison groups, researchers will identify whether the teacher preparation model is associated with increased knowledge of engineering, beliefs about engineering integration, self-efficacy for engineering integration, and intention to integrate engineering, as determined by existing validated instruments as well as by new instruments that will be adapted and validated by the research team. Additionally, the researchers will follow program participants using surveys, interviews, and classroom observations to determine whether and how they provide engineering instruction during their first year as licensed teachers. Constant comparative analyses of these data will indicate barriers and enablers to engineering instruction among beginning teachers who participated in the Ed+gineering program. This project will result in an empirically-based model of teacher preparation, a predictive statistical model of engineering integration, field-tested engineering lesson plans, and validated instruments that will be disseminated widely to stakeholders.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pages

Subscribe to Instructional Practice