Case Study

CAREER: Changing the Landscape: Towards the Development of a Physics Identity in High School

This project will contribute to the understanding of how high school physics can have a positive impact on students' self-perceptions, impacting important educational outcomes in this subject matter. Its focus is on the development of a positive physics identity (self-perceptions with respect to physics in terms of competence, performance, interest, and recognition by others) among high school students, particularly females, as a means to increase current and future engagement with the subject.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1431846
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/01/2010 to Thu, 06/30/2016
Full Description: 

The purpose of this study is to contribute to the understanding of how high school physics can have a maximum positive impact on students' self-perceptions, thus noticeably impacting their outcomes in this subject matter. Its focus is on the development of a positive physics identity (students' perceptions of themselves in relation to this field in terms of competence, performance, persistence, interest, and recognition by others) among high school students, particularly females, as a means to increase their academic performance.

Preliminary data analysis from an ongoing NSF-funded project (GSE/RES 0624444) suggests a strong correlation between the physics identity construct (e.g., Do you see yourself as a physics person?) and the study's proposed physics identity measures (i.e., performance, competence, recognition, and interest). Although most students, especially females, conveyed depressed attitudes toward themselves as physics learners, as well as toward the discipline, those who expressed favorable perceptions toward physics learning identified a set of activities that appear to affect the development of a positive physics identity: (a) focus on conceptual understanding, (b) frequency of laboratory activities that address their beliefs, (c) frequency of opportunities to share and interact, (d) teacher encouragement, and (e) holding discussions on current relevant science topics.

The PI hypothesizes that students in general, and females in particular, develop depressed attitudes toward physics, and negative perceptions of themselves as physics learners due to the lack of personally meaningful learning experiences. Thus, she submits the following research questions: (1) What high school physics teaching practices predict physics identity development?; (2) How do these strategies influence physics identity development, especially mediated by perceptions of their performance, competence, recognition, and interest?; (3) What is the long-term impact of these experiences on physics identity as students traverse their undergraduate careers?; and (4) What is the most appropriate pedagogical plan for high school physics teachers to ensure adequate development of positive physics identity?

The study's proposed methods consist of case studies, a longitudinal study, development of a pedagogical plan, and the implementation of this plan. Classroom case studies of successful teachers draw on the previously referred survey of which 348 (90 females) finished high school physics with a self-rating as a physics person (5 on a 0-5 scale), including positive perceptions of instructional and leaning experiences. The longitudinal study aims at understanding the long-term impact of specific pedagogical practices on students' physics identity,including 15 students (8 females) who will be tracked over 3 to 4 years through surveys and interviews at the end of each academic year. Development of the pedagogical plan will include 15 sample lesson plans with detailed activities that connect physics content to real-world contexts, counter stereotypes about physics, analysis of underrepresentation in physics, and physics identity formative assessments. The plan will be tested through a quasi-experimental study with four teachers using the same physics course with at least two groups. Each teacher will implement the plan in one of the groups; the other group will be used as control. Of the 180 physics classes, approximately 15 (one every two weeks) will use the education plan. A physics identity scale will be administered at the beginning and end of each course. Classroom observations will be conducted while the plan is implemented.

This project is associated with the project number 0952460 with the same title.

CAREER: Examining the Role of Context in the Mathematical Learning of Young Children

This project involves a longitudinal, ethnographic study of children's mathematical performances from preschool to first grade in both formal classroom settings and informal settings at school and home. The study seeks to identify opportunities for mathematical learning, to map varied performances of mathematical competence, to chart changes in mathematical performance over time, and to design and assess the impact of case studies for teacher education.

Award Number: 
1461468
Funding Period: 
Mon, 06/15/2009 to Tue, 05/31/2011
Full Description: 

This project involves a longitudinal, ethnographic study of children's mathematical performances from preschool to first grade in both formal classroom settings and informal settings at school and home. The proposed site for the study is a small, predominately African-American pk-12 school. The study seeks to identify opportunities for mathematical learning by young children across multiple contexts, to map varied performances of mathematical competence by young children, to chart changes in young children's mathematical performance over time, and to design and assess the impact of case studies for teacher education that explore young children's mathematical competencies. Research questions focus on mathematical opportunities for learning in various contexts, children's development of knowledge, skills, and dispositions over time, the characteristics of competent mathematical performances, and the role of case studies in helping beginning teachers to understand young minority children's mathematical thinking. Data collected will include video tapes of classroom activities, written fieldnotes of formal and informal settings, student work, parent focus group transcripts, and children's interview performances. Analysis will involve both thematic coding and construction of case studies. The overarching goal of this project is to transform the ways that researchers think about and study the mathematical learning of young minority children as well as the quality of schooling these children experience.

Scale Up of Math and Science K-12 Education Reform in a Large Urban District

The project describes and analyzes efforts made between 2002 and 2008 when the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) was clearly engaged in a process of systemic reform of K-12 math and science education aimed at improving students' and teachers' classroom experiences and academic performance.   http://www.luc.edu/scaleup/index.php

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0935816
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/01/2008 to Tue, 08/31/2010
Project Evaluator: 
OEIE Kansas State University
Full Description: 

The project describes and analyzes efforts made between 2002 and 2008 when the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) was clearly engaged in a process of systemic reform of K-12 math and science education aimed at improving students' and teachers' classroom experiences and academic performance. The data drawn upon is a body of high-quality, quantitative and qualitative longitudinal empirical data initially collected for evaluation purposes. It documents systemic reform efforts of K-12 STEM education, from the stages of design, planning, and initial implementation through scale-up and adaptation. A key product of project is a hyper-linked web-based resource that describes and analyzes in great detail the aims and actions of this reform effort of CPS math and science education.  http://www.luc.edu/scaleup/index.php

Discourse Analysis: A Catalyst for Reflective Inquiry in Mathematics Classrooms

This project is examining the nature of mathematical discourse in middle school mathematics classrooms; the ways in which middle school mathematics teachers’ beliefs impact the discourse when working to enact reform-oriented instruction; and how this information can be used to incorporate practitioner research using concepts and tools of discourse analysis to improve mathematics instruction. The educational goal is to design a long-term professional development program that will continue beyond funding with other cohorts of teachers.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0829306
Funding Period: 
Thu, 05/01/2008 to Sat, 07/31/2010
Full Description: 

The objectives of this project are to examine: the nature of mathematical discourse in middle school mathematics classrooms; the ways in which middle school mathematics teacher's beliefs impact the discourse when working to enact reform-oriented instruction; and how this information can be used to incorporate practitioner research using
concepts and tools of discourse analysis to improve mathematics instruction. The significance of this work comes in understanding how classroom discourse can affect the learning environment and engage students in learning mathematics in the ways proposed by the Standards. The focus of those documents has been to promote conceptual understanding and sense making instead of the procedural emphasis that often takes precedence in more traditional
mathematics teaching. The Standards vision can only be achieved if some of the discourse patterns in current mathematics instruction are changed from a transmission model of communication to one that supports inquiry.

The project is conducting case studies of the discourse in middle school mathematics classrooms. These case studies highlight classroom discourse patterns -the form, function, and meaning. In addition, we capture the process of teachers engaging in practitioner research projects in which they choose an aspect of their discourse to change and
study the affects of that change on the classroom learning environment. The project also examines how the combination of tools and concepts from discourse analysis and practitioner research projects affect teacher beliefs. Having teachers choose their focus of inquiry helps them invest and own the research process and enables them to understand, change and test out new ideas. It also allows them to gather evidence that can potentially change their beliefs.

The educational goal of this project is to design a long-term professional development program that will continue beyond this funding with other cohorts of teachers. The research case studies and other data are used to write case studies for both undergraduate methods courses and to as part of a long-term professional development program. In addition, these cases are made available to other teacher educators. The university-researchers and teacher researchers are collaboratively developing the courses and workshops that comprise the professional
development program.

This work offers a different approach to professional development (i.e., practitioner research) and different theoretical perspectives (i.e., tools and concepts of discourse analysis) for improving mathematics teaching and learning. focuses on teachers who would like to examine their instructional practice (or "enacted beliefs") at a fine-grained level. The research and educational activities make use of current advances in the study of and development of mathematics teaching and teachers. In addition, these activities offer a new perspective to be brought to the mathematics classroom - that of discourse tools and concepts as a mechanism of inquiry.

As discussed above, the intellectual merits lie in its ability to: a) offer insight into changes in teacher beliefs and classroom practices, b) provide frameworks and methodologies for studying classroom discourse, and c) uncover ways of helping teachers focus more centrally on the role of mathematics in classroom discourse. The broader impacts include: a) graduate students and teacher researchers will do research in a collaborative environment, disseminate findings to broad audiences, and be involved in planning the professional development program and coursework; b) case studies will be written and made available to other mathematics teacher educators; c) a long-term professional development program will continue with other cohorts of mathematics teachers; and d) similar case studies and activities will be used in undergraduate methods courses.

 

Project Publications and Presentations:

Herbel-Eisenmann, B. & Schleppegrell, M. (2008). 'What question would I be asking myself in my head?' Helping all students reason mathematically. Mathematics for all: Instructional strategies for diverse classrooms, Grades 6-8.

Males, L., Otten, S, & Herbel-Eisenmann, B. (2010).Challenges of critical colleagueship: Examining and reflecting on study group interactions. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, v. 13 (6), 459-471.

Herbel-Eisenmann, B.; Wagner, D & Cortes, V (2010). Lexical bundle analysis in mathematics classroom discourse: The significance of stance. Educational Studies in Mathematics, v. 75 (1), 23-42.

Otten, S.; Herbel-Eisenmann, B. & Males, L.M. (2010). Proof in algebra: An example of reasoning beyond examples. Mathematics Teacher, v.103 (7), 514-518.

Multimodal Science: Supporting Elementary Science Education through Graphic-enhanced Communication

This project enhances elementary students' engagement in and learning of science through visual communication skills using student-generated graphics in science notebooks. The products include two professional development modules for each grade level 2–5 that explicitly teach specific forms of graphical representation used in science, how these representations complement written and numeric information, and how teachers can promote the thoughtful reflection and discussion of these representations in small-group and whole-class settings.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0733217
Funding Period: 
Tue, 01/01/2008 to Wed, 06/30/2010
Project Evaluator: 
....
Full Description: 

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Learning Progressions for Scientific Inquiry: A Model Implementation in the Context of Energy

The project has had three major areas of focus:  (1) Offering professional development to help elementary and 6th grade teachers become more responsive teachers, attending and responding to their students' ideas and reasoning; (2)  Developing web-based resources (both curriculum and case studies) to promote responsive teaching in science; and (3) research how both teachers and students progress in their ability to engage in science inquiry. 

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0732233
Funding Period: 
Tue, 01/01/2008 to Mon, 12/31/2012
Project Evaluator: 
Lawrence Hall of Science

Untangling Mathematical KnoTSS (Knowledge for Teaching Secondary School): An Investigation of Collaborations Between Mathematicians and Mathematics Educators

This project examines the nature and process of collaborations between mathematicians and mathematics teacher educators engaged in the preparation of secondary mathematics teachers. KnoTSS participants are teams of mathematicians and educators who co-teach two courses (one mathematics course and one methods of teaching mathematics course) aimed at building integrated knowledge of content and pedagogy.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0821996
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/01/2008 to Tue, 08/31/2010

CAREER: Collaborative Learning with Classroom Networks: Integrating Technological and Pedagogical Innovations

This project studies teaching practices in a year-long high school algebra course that integrates hand-held and other electronic devices. Of particular interest is how these technologies can support learners' capacity to efficiently and effectively draw on the distributed intelligences that technical and social networks make available. The investigation focuses on collaborative learning tasks centered on collective mathematical objects, such as functions, expressions, and coordinates that participants in a group must jointly manipulate through networked computers.

Award Number: 
0747536
Funding Period: 
Tue, 07/01/2008 to Sun, 06/30/2013

Assessment for Learning Research Scholars: Capacity Building in Mathematics and Science Education

This project seeks to advance knowledge in K-12 STEM education and assessment practices by building capacity for Assessment for Learning, improving assessments and teacher preparation courses, and providing models for pre-service teacher preparation through enhanced teaching modules. Three goals are: (1) faculty from three centers form a learning community, (2) recruit 5 STEM research scholars to conduct research on measurement and evaluation, and (3) expose pre-service teachers to assessment models in their coursework.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0733590
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2007 to Tue, 08/31/2010

High School Mathematics and Science Pipeline Study

This project uses a mixed-methods design to test the hypothesis that key approaches to high school reform grease the mathematics and science pipelines for all students in reforming high schools. This study is intended to provide understanding of pipeline progression in reforming high schools and strategies successful schools employ to ensure timely pipeline progress for all students, particularly those historically underrepresented and underserved in mathematics and science and post-secondary education.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0723412
Funding Period: 
Wed, 08/15/2007 to Sun, 07/31/2011

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