Case Study

Developing Teachers' Capacity to Promote Argumentation in Secondary Science

This project will produce insights into the challenges teachers face in modifying their teaching in the substantial and complex ways demanded by the Next Generation Science Standards. This project will develop and study a program of professional development to help middle and high school science teachers support their students to learn to argue scientifically. 

Award Number: 
1503511
Funding Period: 
Wed, 07/01/2015 to Sun, 06/30/2019
Full Description: 

This project will produce insights into the challenges teachers face in modifying their teaching in the substantial and complex ways demanded by the Next Generation Science Standards. This project will develop and study a program of professional development to help middle and high school science teachers support their students to learn to argue scientifically. The program includes strategies for organizing science activities to create contexts where students have something to argue about and teaching practices that promote sustained, productive argumentation among students. Results will document what aspects of these new practices teachers find easier and more difficult to implement, and how challenges are influenced by the urban schooling contexts in which project teachers work. The project will also further our understanding of how site-based professional development can be structured to support teacher learning and improvement.

The project is a longitudinal study of a cohort of 30 secondary science teachers from an urban school district in California. The professional development (PD) program will be organized around intensive summer institutes followed by 2 school-based lesson study cycles each year, facilitated by trained coaches. The PD work will be carried out over three years. All PD sessions will be recorded for interaction analysis to identify variations in coaching and teacher participation and the influences of such variation on teacher learning. Repeated measures of teachers' conceptions of argumentation will be given over 3 years as a measure of teacher learning. An observation protocol will be developed and used to measure teacher talk and its change over time. A sub-sample of teachers' classrooms will be video recorded to produce a longitudinal record for interaction analyses to link teacher talk to patterns of student argumentation. The third year of the project will add measures of student learning and link them to variations in teacher practice. The final year of the project will produce retrospective analyses that link pathways in teacher learning to features of the PD program and teachers' participation. The Discovery Research K-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of innovative resources, models and tools (RMTs). Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects.

STEM Practice-Rich Investigations for NGSS Teaching (SPRINT)

This is an exploratory project that will research and develop resources and a model for professional learning needed to meet the demand of implementing the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The Exploratorium Teacher Institute will engage middle school science teachers in a one-year professional learning program to study how familiar routines and classroom tools, specifically hands-on science activities, can serve as starting points for teacher learning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1503153
Funding Period: 
Mon, 06/01/2015 to Wed, 05/31/2017
Full Description: 

The Discovery Research K-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of innovative resources, models and tools (RMTs). Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects.

STEM Practice-rich Investigations for NGSS Teaching (SPRINT) is an exploratory project that will research and develop resources and a model for professional learning needed to meet the demand of implementing the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The Exploratorium Teacher Institute will engage middle school science teachers in a one-year professional learning program to study how familiar routines and classroom tools, specifically hands-on science activities, can serve as starting points for teacher learning. The Teacher Institute will use existing hands-on activities as the basis for developing "practice-rich investigations" that provide teachers and students with opportunities for deep engagement with science and engineering practices. The results of this project will include: (1) empirical evidence from professional learning experiences that support teacher uptake of practice-rich investigations in workshops and their classrooms; (2) a portfolio of STEM practice-rich investigations developed from existing hands-on activities that are shown to enhance teacher understanding of NGSS; and (3) a design tool that supports teachers in modifying existing activities to align with NGSS.

SPRINT conjectures that to address the immediate challenge of supporting teachers to implement NGSS, professional learning models should engage teachers in the same active learning experiences they are expected to provide for their students and that building on teachers' existing strengths and understanding through an asset-based approach could lead to a more sustainable implementation. SPRINT will use design-based research methods to study (a) how creating NGSS-aligned, practice-rich investigations from teachers' existing resources provides them with experiences for three-dimensional science learning and (b) how engaging in these investigations and reflecting on classroom practice can support teachers in understanding and implementing NGSS learning experiences.


Project Videos

2019 STEM for All Video Showcase

Title: Immersed in Phenomena: Helping Teachers Transition to NGSS

Presenter(s): Julie Yu, Sara Heredia, & Jessica Parker


SmartCAD: Guiding Engineering Design with Science Simulations (Collaborative Research: Magana-de-Leon)

This project investigates how real time formative feedback can be automatically composed from the results of computational analysis of student design artifacts and processes with the envisioned SmartCAD software. The project conducts design-based research on SmartCAD, which supports secondary science and engineering with three embedded computational engines capable of simulating the mechanical, thermal, and solar performance of the built environment.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1503436
Funding Period: 
Mon, 06/15/2015 to Fri, 05/31/2019
Full Description: 

The Discovery Research K-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of innovative resources, models and tools (RMTs). Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects. 

In this project, SmartCAD: Guiding Engineering Design with Science Simulations, the Concord Consortium (lead), Purdue University, and the University of Virginia investigate how real time formative feedback can be automatically composed from the results of computational analysis of student design artifacts and processes with the envisioned SmartCAD software. Through automatic feedback based on visual analytic science simulations, SmartCAD is able to guide every student at a fine-grained level, allowing teachers to focus on high-level instruction. Considering the ubiquity of CAD software in the workplace and their diffusion into precollege classrooms, this research provides timely results that could motivate the development of an entire genre of CAD-based learning environments and materials to accelerate and scale up K-12 engineering education. The project conducts design-based research on SmartCAD, which supports secondary science and engineering with three embedded computational engines capable of simulating the mechanical, thermal, and solar performance of the built environment. These engines allow SmartCAD to analyze student design artifacts on a scientific basis and provide automatic formative feedback in forms such as numbers, graphs, and visualizations to guide student design processes on an ongoing basis. 

The research hypothesis is that appropriate applications of SmartCAD in the classroom results in three learning outcomes: 1) Science knowledge gains as indicated by a deeper understanding of the involved science concepts and their integration at the completion of a design project; 2) Design competency gains as indicated by the increase of iterations, informed design decisions, and systems thinking over time; and 3) Design performance improvements as indicated by a greater chance to succeed in designing a product that meets all the specifications within a given period of time. While measuring these learning outcomes, this project also probes two research questions: 1) What types of feedback from simulations to students are effective in helping them attain the outcomes? and 2) Under what conditions do these types of feedback help students attain the outcomes? To test the research hypothesis and answer the research questions, this project develops three curriculum modules based on the Learning by Design (LBD) Framework to support three selected design challenges: Solar Farms, Green Homes, and Quake-Proof Bridges. This integration of SmartCAD and LBD situate the research in the LBD context and shed light on how SmartCAD can be used to enhance established pedagogical models such as LBD. Research instruments include knowledge integration assessments, data mining, embedded assessments, classroom observations, participant interviews, and student questionnaires. This research is carried out in Indiana, Massachusetts, and Virginia simultaneously, involving more than 2,000 secondary students at a number of socioeconomically diverse schools. Professional development workshops are provided to familiarize teachers with SmartCAD materials and implementation strategies prior to the field tests. An external Critical Review Committee consisting of five engineering education researchers and practitioners oversee and evaluate this project formatively and summative. Project materials and results are disseminated through publications, presentations, partnerships, and the Internet.

CAREER: Algebraic Knowledge for Teaching: A Cross-Cultural Perspective

The goal of this CAREER program of research is to identify, from a cross-cultural perspective, essential Algebraic Knowledge for Teaching (AKT) that will enable elementary teachers to better develop students' algebraic thinking. This study explores AKT based on integrated insights of the U.S. and Chinese expert teachers' classroom performance.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1350068
Funding Period: 
Fri, 08/15/2014 to Wed, 07/31/2019
Full Description: 

What content knowledge is needed for the teaching of mathematics? What practices are more effective for realizing student success? These questions have received considerable attention in the mathematics education community. The goal of this CAREER program of research is to identify, from a cross-cultural perspective, essential Algebraic Knowledge for Teaching (AKT) that will enable elementary teachers to better develop students' algebraic thinking. Focusing on two fundamental mathematical ideas recently emphasized by the Common Core State Standards - inverse relations and properties of operations - this study explores AKT based on integrated insights of the U.S. and Chinese expert teachers' classroom performance. It will be focused on three objectives: (1) identify AKT that facilitates algebraic thinking and develop preliminary findings into teaching materials; (2) refine research-based teaching materials based on the evaluative data; and (3) integrate research with education through course development at Temple University and teacher outreach in Philadelphia.

The model underlying this research program is that improved pedagogy will improve student learning, both directly and indirectly. A design-based research method will be used to accomplish objectives #1 and #2. Cross-cultural videotaped lessons will be first analyzed to identify AKT, focusing on teachers' use of worked examples, representations, and deep questions. This initial set of findings will then be developed into teaching materials. The U.S. and Chinese expert teachers will re-teach the lessons as part of the refinement process. Data sources will include: baseline and updated survey data (control, context, and process variables), observation, documents, videos, and interviews. The statistical techniques will include descriptive and inferential statistics and HLM will to address the hierarchical nature of the data.

This project involves students and teachers at various levels (elementary, undergraduate, and graduate) at Temple University and the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) in the U.S. and Nanjing Normal University and Nantong School District in China. A total of 600 current and future elementary teachers and many of their students will benefit directly or indirectly from this project. Project findings will be disseminated through various venues. Activities of the project will promote school district-university collaboration, a novice-expert teacher network, and cross-disciplinary and international collaboration. It is anticipated that the videos of expert teaching will also be useful future research by cognitive researchers studying ways to improve mathematics learning.

Publications
G indicates graduate student author; U indicates undergraduate student author

Journal Articles in English

  1. Ding, M., G Chen, W., & G Hassler, R. (2019). Linear quantity models in the US and Chinese elementary mathematics classrooms. Mathematical Thinking and Learning, 21, 105-130 doi: 10.1080/10986065.2019.1570834 . PDF
  2. Barnett, E., & Ding, M. (2019). Teaching of the associative property: A natural classroom investigation. Investigations of Mathematics Learning, 11, 148-166. doi: 10.1080/19477503.2018.1425592  PDF
  3. Ding, M., & G Heffernan, K. (2018). Transferring specialized content knowledge to elementary classrooms: Preservice teachers’ learning to teach the associative property. International Journal of Mathematics Educational in Science and Technology, 49, 899-921.doi: 10.1080/0020739X.2018.1426793 PDF
  4. Ding, M. (2018). Modeling with tape diagrams. Teaching Children Mathematics25, 158-165. doi: 10.5951/teacchilmath.25.3.0158  PDF
  5. G Chen, W., & Ding, M.* (2018). Transitioning from mathematics textbook to classroom instruction: The case of a Chinese expert teacher. Frontiers of Education in China, 13, 601-632. doi: 10.1007/s11516-018-0031-z (*Both authors contributed equally). PDF
  6. Ding, M., & G Auxter, A. (2017). Children’s strategies to solving additive inverse problems: A preliminary analysis. Mathematics Education Research Journal, 29, 73-92. doi:10.1007/s13394-017-0188-4  PDF
  7. Ding, M. (2016).  Developing preservice elementary teachers’ specialized content knowledge for teaching fundamental mathematical ideas: The case of associative property. International Journal of STEM Education, 3(9), 1-19doi: 10.1186/s40594-016-0041-4  PDF
  8. Ding, M. (2016). Opportunities to learn: Inverse operations in U.S. and Chinese elementary mathematics textbooks. Mathematical Thinking and Learning, 18, 45-68. doi: 10.1080/10986065.2016.1107819  PDF

Journal Articles in Chinese
Note: The Chinese journals Educational Research and Evaluation (Elementary Education and Instruction教育研究与评论 (小学教育教学) and Curriculum and Instructional Methods (课程教材教法) are both official, core journals in mathematics education field in China.

  1. Chen, W. (2018). Strategies to deal with mathematical representations – an analysis of expert’s classroom instruction. Curriculum and Instructional Methods. 数学教学的表征处理策略——基于专家教师的课堂教学分析. 课程教材教法. PDF
  2. Ma, F. ( 2018) – Necessary algebraic knowledge for elementary teachers- an ongoing cross-cultural study. Educational Research and Evaluation (Elementary Education and Instruction), 2, 5-7.  小学教师必备的代数学科知识-跨文化研究进行时。教育研究与评论 (小学教育教学), 2, 5-7. PDF
  3. Chen, J. (2018) Infusion and development of children’s early algebraic thinking – a comparative study of the US and Chinese elementary mathematics teaching. Educational Research and Evaluation (Elementary Education and Instruction), 2, 8-13.  儿童早期代数思维的渗透与培养-中美小学数学教学比较研究。教育研究与评论(小学教育教学),28-13.  PDF
  4. Zong, L. (2018). A comparative study on the infusion of inverse relations in the US and Chinese classroom teaching. Educational Research and Evaluation (Elementary Education and Instruction), 2, 14-19.  中美逆运算渗透教学对比研究。教育研究与评论(小学教育教学,2,14-19.  PDF
  5. Wu, X. (2018). Mathematical representations and development of children’s mathematical thinking: A perspective of US-Chinese comparison. Educational Research and Evaluation (Elementary Education and Instruction), 2, 20-24.  数学表征与儿童数学思维发展-基于中美比较视角。教育研究与评论(小学教育教学,2, 20-24.  PDF

Dissertations

  1. Hassler, R. (2016). Mathematical comprehension facilitated by situation models: Learning opportunities for inverse relations in elementary school.Published dissertation, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA. (Chair: Dr. Meixia Ding)  PDF
  2. Chen, W. (2018). Elementary mathematics teachers’ professional growth: A perspectives of TPACK (TPACK 视角下小学数学教师专业发展的研究). Dissertation, Nanjing Normal University. Nanjing, China. PDF

National Presentations
G indicates graduate student author; U indicates undergraduate student author

  • Ding, M (symposium organizer, 2019, April). Enhancing elementary mathematics instruction: A U.S.-China collaboration. Papers presented at NCTM research conference (Discussant: Jinfa Cai). (The following three action research papers were written by my NSF project teachers under my guidance).
      • Milewski Moskal, M., & Varano, A. (2019). The teaching of worked examples: Chinese approaches in U.S. classrooms. Paper 
      • Larese, T., Milewski Moskal, M., Ottinger, M., & Varano, A., (2019). Introducing Investigations math games in China: Successes and surprises. Paper
      • Murray, D., Seidman, J., Blackmon, E., Maimon, G., & Domsky, A. (2019). Mathematic instruction across two cultures: A teacher perspective. Paper
    • Ding, M., & Ying Y. (2018, June). CAREER: Algebraic knowledge for teaching: A cross-cultural perspective. Poster presentation at the National Science Foundation (NSF) PI meeting, Washington, DC.  Poster
    • Ding, M., Brynes, J., G Barnett, E., & Hassler, R. (2018, April). When classroom instruction predicts students’ learning of early algebra: A cross-cultural opportunity-propensity analysis. Paper presented at 2018 AERA conference. New York, NY.  Paper
    • Ding, M., Li, X., Manfredonia, M., & Luo, W. (2018, April). Video as a tool to support teacher learning: A Cross-cultural analysis. Paper presented at 2018 NCTM conference. Washington, DC.  PPT
    • GBarnett, E., & Ding, M. (2018, April). Teaching the basic properties of arithmetic: A natural classroom investigation of associativity. Poster presentation at 2018AERA conference, New York, NY.  Poster
    • Hassler, R., & Ding, M. (2018, April). The role of deep questions in promoting elementary students’ mathematical comprehension. Poster presentation at 2018AERA conference, New York, NY.
    • Ding, M., G Chen, W., G Hassler, R., Li, X., & G Barnett, E. (April, 2017). Comparisons in the US and Chinese elementary mathematics classrooms. Poster presentation at AERA 2017 conference (In the session of “Advancing Mathematics Education Through NSF’s DRK-12 Program”). San Antonio, TX. Poster
    • Ding, M., Li, X., G Hassler, R., & G Barnett, E. (April, 2017). Understanding the basic properties of operations in US and Chinese elementary School. Paper presented at AERA 2017 conference. San Antonio, TX.  Paper
    • Ding, M., G Chen, W., & G Hassler, R. (April, 2017). Tape diagrams in the US and Chinese elementary mathematics classrooms. Paper presented at NCTM 2017 conference. San Antonio, TX.  Paper
    • Ding, M., & G Hassler, R. (2016, June). CAREER: Algebraic knowledge for teaching in elementary school: A cross-cultural perspective. Poster presentation at the NSF PI meeting, Washington, DC. Poster
    • Ding, M. (symposium organizer, 2016, April). Early algebraic in elementary school: A cross-cultural perspective. Proposals presented at 2016 AERA conference, Washington, DC.
        • Ding, M. (2016, April). A comparative analysis of inverse operations in U.S. and Chinese elementary mathematics textbooks. Paper 
        • G Hassler, R. (2016, April). Elementary Textbooks to Classroom Teaching: A Situation Model Perspective. Paper
        • G Chen, W., & Ding, M. (2016, April). Transitioning textbooks into classroom teaching: An action research on Chinese elementary mathematics lessons. Paper
        • Li, X., G Hassler, R., & Ding, M. (2016, April). Elementary students’ understanding of inverse relations in the U.S. and China.  Paper
        • Stull, J., Ding, M., G Hassler, R., Li, X., & U George, C. (2016, April). The impact of algebraic knowledge for teaching on student learning: A Preliminary analysis. Paper
      • Ding, M., G Hassler, R., Li., X., & G Chen, W. (2016, April). Algebraic knowledge for teaching: An analysis of US experts' lessons on inverse relations. Paper presented at 2016 NCTM conference, San Francisco, CA. Paper
      • G Hassler. R., & Ding, M. (2016, April). Situation model perspective on mathematics classroom teaching: A case study on inverse relations. Paper presented at 2016 NCTM conference, San Francisco, CA.  Paper
      • Ding, M., & G Copeland, K. (2015, April). Transforming specialized content knowledge: Preservice elementary teachers’ learning to teach the associative property of multiplication. Paper presented at AERA 2015 conference, Chicago, IL. Paper PPT
      • Ding, M., & G Auxter, A. (2015, April). Children’s strategies to solving additive inverse problems: A preliminary analysis. Paper presented at AERA 2015 conference, Chicago, IL.  Paper

      Learning about Ecosystems Science and Complex Causality through Experimentation in a Virtual World

      This project will develop a modified virtual world and accompanying curriculum for middle school students to help them learn to more deeply understand ecosystems patterns and the strengths and limitations of experimentation in ecosystems science. The project will build upon a computer world called EcoMUVE, a Multi-User Virtual Environment or MUVE, and will develop ways for students to conduct experiments within the virtual world and to see the results of those experiments.

      Project Email: 
      Lead Organization(s): 
      Award Number: 
      1416781
      Funding Period: 
      Mon, 09/01/2014 to Thu, 08/31/2017
      Full Description: 

      EcoXPT from videohall.com on Vimeo.

      Comprehending how ecosystems function is important knowledge for citizens in making decisions and for students who aspire to become scientists. This understanding requires deep thinking about complex causality, unintended side-effects, and the strengths and limitations of experimental science. These are difficult concepts to learn due to the many interacting components and non-linear interrelationships involved. Ecosystems dynamics is particularly difficult to teach in classrooms because ecosystems involve complexities such as phenomena distributed widely across space that change over long time frames. Learning when and how experimental science can provide useful information in understanding ecosystems dynamics requires moving beyond the limited affordances of classrooms. The project will: 1) advance understanding of experimentation in ecosystems as it can be applied to education; 2) show how student learning is affected by having opportunities to experiment in the virtual world that simulate what scientists do in the real world and with models; and 3) produce results comparing this form of teaching to earlier instructional approaches. This project will result in a learning environment that will support learning about the complexities of the earth's ecosystem.

      The project will build upon a computer world called EcoMUVE, a Multi-User Virtual Environment or MUVE, developed as part of an earlier NSF-funded project. A MUVE is a simulated world in which students can virtually walk around, make observations, talk to others, and collect data. EcoMUVE simulates a pond and a forest ecosystem. It offers an immersive context that makes it possible to teach about ecosystems in the classroom, allowing exploration of the complexities of large scale problems, extended time frames and and multiple causality. To more fully understand how ecosystems work, students need the opportunity to experiment and to observe what happens. This project will advance this earlier work by developing ways for students to conduct experiments within the virtual world and to see the results of those experiments. The project will work with ecosystem scientists to study the types of experiments that they conduct, informing knowledge in education about how ecosystem scientists think, and will build opportunities for students that mirror what scientists do. The project will develop a modified virtual world and accompanying curriculum for middle school students to help them learn to more deeply understand ecosystems patterns and the strengths and limitations of experimentation in ecosystems science. The resulting program will be tested against existing practice, the EcoMUVE program alone, and other programs that teach aspects of ecosystems dynamics to help teachers know how to best use these curricula in the classroom.

      Teaching Environmental Sustainability - Model My Watershed (Collaborative Research: Kerlin)

      This project will develop curricula for environmental/geoscience disciplines for high-school classrooms. The Model My Watershed (MMW) v2 app will bring new environmental datasets and geospatial capabilities into the classroom, to provide a cloud-based learning and analysis platform accessible from a web browser on any computer or mobile device, thus overcoming the cost and technical obstacles to integrating Geographic Information System technology in secondary education.

      Lead Organization(s): 
      Award Number: 
      1418133
      Funding Period: 
      Mon, 09/01/2014 to Fri, 08/31/2018
      Project Evaluator: 
      Education Design
      Full Description: 

      This project will develop curricula for environmental/geoscience disciplines for high-school classrooms. It will teach a systems approach to problem solving through hands-on activities based on local data and issues. This will provide an opportunity for students to act in their communities while engaging in solving problems they find interesting, and require synthesis of prior learning. The Model My Watershed (MMW) v2 app will bring new environmental datasets and geospatial capabilities into the classroom, to provide a cloud-based learning and analysis platform accessible from a web browser on any computer or mobile device, thus overcoming the cost and technical obstacles to integrating Geographic Information System technology in secondary education. It will also integrate new low-cost environmental sensors that allow students to collect and upload their own data and compare them to data visualized on the new MMW v2. This project will transform the ability of teachers throughout the nation to introduce hands-on geospatial analysis activities in the classroom, to explore a wide range of geographic, social, political and environmental concepts and problems beyond the project's specific curricular focus.

      The Next Generation Science Standards state that authentic research experiences are necessary to enhance STEM learning. A combination of computational modeling and data collection and analysis will be integrated into this project to address this need. Placing STEM content within a place- and problem-based framework enhances STEM learning. Students, working in groups, will not only design solutions, they will be required to defend them within the application portal through the creation of multimedia products such as videos, articles and web 2.0 presentations. The research plan tests the overall hypothesis that students are much more likely to develop an interest in careers that require systems thinking and/or spatial thinking, such as environmental sciences, if they are provided with problem-based, place-based, hands-on learning experiences using real data, authentic geospatial analysis tools and models, and opportunities to collect their own supporting data. The MMW v2 web app will include a data visualization tool that streams data related to the modeling application. This database will be modified to integrate student data so teachers and students can easily compare their data to data collected by other students and the government and research data. All data will be easily downloadable so that students can increase the use of real data to support the educational exercises. As a complement to the model-based activities, the project partners will design, manufacture, and distribute a low-cost environmental monitoring device, called the Watershed Tracker. This device will allow students to collect real-world data to enhance their understanding of watershed dynamics. Featuring temperature, light, humidity, and soil moisture sensors, the Watershed Tracker will be designed to connect to tablets and smartphones through the audio jack common to all of these devices.

      Supporting Secondary Students in Building External Models (Collaborative Research: Damelin)

      This project will (1) develop and test a modeling tool and accompanying instructional materials, (2) explore how to support students in building and using models to explain and predict phenomena across a range of disciplines, and (3) document the sophistication of understanding of disciplinary core ideas that students develop when building and using models in grades 6-12. 

      Lead Organization(s): 
      Award Number: 
      1417809
      Funding Period: 
      Fri, 08/01/2014 to Tue, 07/31/2018
      Full Description: 

      The Concord Consortium and Michigan State University will collaborate to: (1) develop and test a modeling tool and accompanying instructional materials, (2) explore how to support students in building and using models to explain and predict phenomena across a range of disciplines, and (3) document the sophistication of understanding of disciplinary core ideas that students develop when building and using models in grades 6-12. By iteratively designing, developing and testing a modeling tool and instructional materials that facilitate the building of dynamic models, the project will result in exemplary middle and high school materials that use a model-based approach as well as an understanding of the potential of this approach in supporting student development of explanatory frameworks and modeling capabilities. A key goal of the project is to increase students' learning of science through modeling and to study student engagement with modeling as a scientific practice. 

      The project provides the nation with middle and high school resources that support students in developing and using models to explain and predict phenomena, a central scientific and engineering practice. Because the research and development work will be carried out in schools in which students typically do not succeed in science, the products will also help produce a population of citizens capable of continuing further STEM learning and who can participate knowledgeably in public decision making. The goals of the project are to (1) develop and test a modeling tool and accompanying instructional materials, (2) explore how to support students in building, using, and revising models to explain and predict phenomena across a range of disciplines, and (3) document the sophistication of understanding of disciplinary core ideas that students develop when building and using models in grades 6-12. Using a design-based research methodology, the research and development efforts will involve multiple cycles of designing, developing, testing, and refining the systems modeling tool and the instructional materials to help students meet important learning goals related to constructing dynamic models that align with the Next Generation Science Standards. The learning research will study the effect of working with external models on student construction of robust explanatory conceptual understanding. Additionally, it will develop a set of professional development resources and teacher scaffolds to help the expanding community of teachers not directly involved in the project take advantage of the materials and strategies for maximizing the impact of the curricular materials.

      Science in the Learning Gardens (SciLG): Factors that Support Racial and Ethnic Minority Students’ Success in Low-Income Middle Schools

      Science in the Learning Gardens (SciLG) designs and implements curriculum aligned with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and uses school gardens as learning contexts in grade 6 (2014-2015), grade 7 (2015-2016) and grade 8 (2016-2017) in two low-income urban schools. The project investigates the extent to which SciLG activities predict students’ STEM identity, motivation, learning, and grades in science using a theoretical model of motivational development.

      Lead Organization(s): 
      Partner Organization(s): 
      Award Number: 
      1418270
      Funding Period: 
      Mon, 09/01/2014 to Thu, 08/31/2017
      Full Description: 

      Science in the Learning Gardens (SciLG) will use school gardens as the context for learning at two low-income middle schools with predominantly racial and ethnic minority students in Portland, Oregon. There are thousands of gardens flourishing across the country that are underutilized as contexts for active engagement in the middle grades. School gardens provide important cultural contexts while addressing environmental and food issues. SciLG will bring underrepresented youth into gardens at a critical time in their intellectual development to broaden the factors that support motivation to pursue STEM careers and educational pathways. The project will adapt, organize, and align two disparate sets of existing resources into the project curriculum: 6th grade science curriculum resources, and garden-based lessons and units. The curriculum will be directly aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). 

      The project will use a design-based research approach to refine instruction and formative assessment, and to investigate factors for student success in science proficiency and their motivational engagement in relation to the garden curriculum. The curriculum will be pilot-tested during the first year of the project in five sixth-grade classes with 240 students in Portland Public Schools. Students will be followed longitudinally in grades 7 and 8 in years 2 and 3 respectively, as curricular integration continues. The research team will support participating teachers each year in using their schools' gardens, and study how this context can serve as an effective pedagogical strategy for NGSS-aligned science curriculum. Academic learning will be measured by assessments of student progress towards the end of middle-school goals defined by NGSS. Motivation will be measured by a validated motivational engagement instrument. SciLG results along with the motivational engagement instrument will be disseminated widely through a variety of professional networks to stimulate implementation nationwide.

      Promoting Active Learning Strategies in Biology (PALS)

      This project examines the potential of two research-based and college-tested active learning strategies in high school classrooms: Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) and Peer Instruction by adapting the strategies for implementation in biology classes, with the goal of determining which strategy shows the most promise for increasing student achievement and attitudes toward science.

      Award Number: 
      1417735
      Funding Period: 
      Mon, 09/01/2014 to Thu, 08/31/2017
      Full Description: 

      The use of active learning strategies has long been advocated in the sciences, but high school science instruction remains highly didactic across the country. This project addresses this longstanding concern by examining the potential of two research-based and college-tested learning strategies in high school classrooms: Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) and Peer Instruction. The POGIL strategy was developed initially for chemistry classes, and Peer Instruction was developed within physics classes. These two learning strategies will be adapted for implementation in biology classes, with the goal of determining which strategy shows the most promise for increasing student achievement and attitudes toward science. The project will also study the influence of these instructional strategies on teacher beliefs about active learning and the contributions of these beliefs on student success in biology. Creation of the professional development model and materials for this project bring together high school biology teachers, university biology faculty, and science education specialists.

      The project will conduct design and development research to iteratively develop the instructional materials through a collaboration of high school teachers and college faculty members experienced in using the instructional approaches being compared. Adaptation of the learning strategies for use in biology was chosen because biology is the science course most often taught across schools in the country, and it is required for graduation in the state where this project is being conducted. To compare the outcomes of the two instructional approaches, 42 teacher pairs will be randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups: POGIL, Peer Instruction, or traditional instruction. Outcomes of the instructional approaches will be measured in terms of conceptual gains among teachers and students, attitudes toward science, personal agency beliefs, and instructional implementation fidelity.

      Preparing Urban Middle Grades Mathematics Teachers to Teach Argumentation Throughout the School Year

      The objective of this project is to develop a toolkit of resources and practices that will help inservice middle grades mathematics teachers support mathematical argumentation throughout the school year. A coherent, portable, two-year-long professional development program on mathematical argumentation has the potential to increase access to mathematical argumentation for students nationwide and, in particular, to address the needs of teachers and students in urban areas.

      Lead Organization(s): 
      Award Number: 
      1417895
      Funding Period: 
      Sun, 06/15/2014 to Thu, 05/31/2018
      Full Description: 

      The project is an important study that builds on prior research to bring a comprehensive professional development program to another urban school district, The District of Columbia Public Schools. The objective of this full research and development project is to develop a toolkit  that provides resources and practices for inservice middle grades mathematics teachers to support mathematical argumentation throughout the school year. Mathematical argumentation, the construction and critique of mathematical conjectures and justifications, is a fundamental disciplinary practice in mathematics that students often never master. Building on a proof of concept of the project's approach ifrom two prior NSF-funded studies, this project expands the model to help teachers support mathematical argumentation all year. A coherent, portable, two-year-long professional development program on mathematical argumentation has the potential to increase access to mathematical argumentation for students nationwide and, in particular, to address the needs of teachers and students in urban areas. Demonstrating this program in the nation's capital will likely attract broad interest and produces important knowledge about how to implement mathematical practices in urban settings. Increasing mathematical argumentation in schools has the potential for dramatic contributions to students' achievement and participation in 21st century workplaces.

      Mathematical argumentation is rich discussion in which students take on mathematical authority and co-construct conjectures and justifications. For many teachers, supporting such discourse is challenging; many are most comfortable with Initiate-Respond-Evaluate types of practices and/or have insufficient content understanding. The professional development trains teachers to be disciplined improvisers -- professionals with a toolkit of tools, knowledge, and practices to be deployed creatively and responsively as mathematical argumentation unfolds. This discipline includes establishing classroom norms and planning lessons for argumentation. The model's theory of action has four design principles: provide the toolkit, use simulations of the classroom to practice improvising, support learning of key content, and provide job-embedded, technology-enabled supports for using new practices all year. Three yearlong studies will address design, feasibility, and promise. In Study 1 the team co-designs tools with District of Columbia Public Schools staff. Study 2 is a feasibility study to examine program implementation, identify barriers and facilitators, and inform improvements. Study 3 is a quasi-experimental pilot to test the promise for achieving intended outcomes: expanding teachers' content knowledge and support of mathematical argumentation, and increasing students' mathematical argumentation in the classroom and spoken argumentation proficiency. The studies will result in a yearlong professional development program with documentation of the theory of action, design decisions, pilot data, and instrument technical qualities.

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