Ethnography

Getting Unstuck: Designing and Evaluating Teacher Resources to Support Conceptual and Creative Fluency with Programming

The project will create opportunities for teachers to develop programming content knowledge and new understandings of the creative possibilities in computer science education, thereby increasing opportunities for students to develop conceptual and creative fluency with programming.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1908110
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Wed, 06/30/2021
Full Description: 

The project will create opportunities for teachers to develop programming content knowledge and new understandings of the creative possibilities in computer science education, thereby increasing opportunities for students to develop conceptual and creative fluency with programming. K-12 introductory programming experiences are often highly scaffolded, and it can be challenging for students to transition from constrained exercises to open-ended programming activities encountered later in-and out of-school. Teachers can provide critical support to help students solve problems and develop the cognitive, social, and emotional capacities required for conceptually and creatively complex programming challenges. Teachers - particularly elementary and middle school teachers, especially in rural and Title I schools - often lack the programming content knowledge, skills, and practices needed to support deeper and more meaningful programming experiences for students. Professional development opportunities can cultivate teacher expertise, especially when supported by curricular materials that bridge teachers' professional learning and students' classroom learning. This research responds to these needs, addressing key national priorities for increasing access to high-quality K-12 computer science education for all students through teacher professional development.

The project will involve the design and evaluation of (1) an online learning experience for teachers to develop conceptual and creative fluency through short, daily programming prompts (featuring the Scratch programming environment), and (2) educative curricular materials for the classroom (based on the online experience). The online experience and curricular materials will be developed in collaboration with three 4th through 6th-grade rural or Title I teachers. The project will evaluate teacher learning in the online experience using mixed-methods analyses of pre/post-survey data of teachers' perceived expertise and quantitative analyses of teachers' programs and evolving conceptual knowledge. Three additional 4th through 6th-grade teachers will pilot the curricular materials in their classrooms. The six pilot teachers will maintain field journals about their experiences and will participate in interviews, evaluating use of the resources in practice. An ethnography of one teacher's classroom will be developed to further contribute to understandings of the classroom-level resources in action, including students' experiences and learning. Student learning will be evaluated through student interviews and analyses of student projects. Project outcomes will inform how computer science conceptual knowledge and creative fluency can be developed both for teachers and their students' knowledge and fluency that will be critical for students' future success in work and life.

Professional Development for K-12 Science Teachers in Linguistically Diverse Classrooms

This project will engage science teachers in a sustained professional development (PD) program embedded in an afterschool science program designed for a linguistically diverse group of English learners (ELs).

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1813937
Funding Period: 
Tue, 05/01/2018 to Sat, 04/30/2022
Full Description: 

This project will engage science teachers in a sustained professional development (PD) program embedded in an afterschool science program designed for a linguistically diverse group of English learners (ELs). The project targets science teachers (chemistry, physics, biology, and earth science) who teach in a high school that includes refugees from Myanmar, Central America, and Africa. Roughly 20% of the students are classified as ELs, representing almost 20 different linguistic groups, including a variety of Asian, Spanish, and Arabic languages. The fundamental issue that the project seeks to address is the design of science learning environments to facilitate ELs' learning in linguistically diverse high school classrooms. Research on science education for ELs has recommended several effective teaching approaches, such as building on students' diverse and rich resources, engaging students in authentic science learning practices, and encouraging and valuing flexible use of multiple languages. However, previously most research has focused on teaching speakers of Spanish in elementary and middle school level science classrooms in which a majority of ELs speak the same language. Furthermore, while many PD programs supporting science education for ELs provide a short-term workshop and/or newly designed curriculum and curriculum guide, there is a lack of PD models that engage teachers in a sustained community of practice through collaboration between researchers and teachers.

The project's primary goal includes broadening participation with direct impact on 14 science teachers, who will impact over 2000 students, including over 450 ELs, during the project implementation period. The project provides a sustained model of the PD program which further impacts EL students of teachers who participated in the various phases of the project. The project has a potential to make an impact on ELs and high school science teachers of ELs in three different ways. First, by generating PD materials that include effective teaching materials and instructional practices for ELs, which can be used by other educators situated in similar educational contexts. Second, by giving presentations and publish papers that communicate findings of the project to academic communities. These outputs can impact other researchers who would like to design PD programs to foster ELs' science learning. Third, by implementing the developed and tested PD program in a larger scale. The implementation of the project will build capacity to conduct a larger PD project to impact more teachers and students. These anticipated outputs and outcomes will provide valuable resources for researcher and practitioners looking to support ELs' science learning and steps forward to equity. Finally, the project team and two cohorts of science teachers will co-design a school-wide science teacher PD to transform science teaching materials and practices of non-participating teachers.

Learning Labs: Using Videos, Exemplary STEM Instruction and Online Teacher Collaboration to Enhance K-2 Mathematics and Science Practice and Classroom Discourse

This project will develop and study two sets of instructional materials for K-2 teacher professional development in mathematics and science that are aligned with the CCSS and NGSS. Teachers will be able to review the materials online, watch video of exemplary teaching practice, and then upload their own examples and students' work to be critiqued by other teachers enrolled in professional learning communities as well as expert coaches.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1417757
Funding Period: 
Wed, 04/15/2015 to Sat, 03/31/2018
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. The investigators of this study propose to develop and study two sets of instructional materials for K-2 teacher professional development in mathematics and science that are aligned with the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics (CCSS) and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). They will develop two modules in each subject area and an introductory module that prefaces and integrates the science and mathematics materials. Teachers will be able to review the materials online, watch video of exemplary teaching practice, and then upload their own examples and students' work to be critiqued by other teachers enrolled in professional learning communities as well as expert coaches. New instructional materials aligned with the standards are needed to assist teachers in meeting the challenging instructional practices recommended. To date, scant few resources of this type exist and, given many school districts have limited resources, more cost-effective forms of development such as this must be found. A particular strength of this project is that teachers will be able to engage in the courses online, on an ongoing basis and integrate what they have learned into their daily teaching practice.

The investigators propose a program of design research to develop and improve the modules. The central hypothesis is a test of the Teaching Channel model--that the modules and professional learning communities result in significant changes in the quality of instructional practice. Text analytics will be performed on the online discussion to detect changes in group discourse over time. Changes in instructional quality and vision will be measured by observing the videos posted by teachers. Pre-post tests of student work will be performed. The findings of the research will be disseminated through conference presentations, publications, and the Teaching Channel website.

Tools for Teaching and Learning Engineering Practices: Pathways Towards Productive Identity Work in Engineering

Identifying with engineering is critical to help students pursue engineering careers. This project responds to this persistent large-scale problem. The I-Engineering framework and tools address both the learning problem (supporting students in learning engineering design) and the identity problem (supporting students in recognizing that they belong in engineering). 

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1502755
Funding Period: 
Fri, 05/01/2015 to Tue, 04/30/2019
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. Identifying with engineering is critical to help students pursue engineering careers. This project responds to this persistent large-scale problem. The I-Engineering framework and tools address both the learning problem (supporting students in learning engineering design) and the identity problem (supporting students in recognizing that they belong in engineering). I-Engineering will support identity development as a part of learning two core practices in engineering: 1) defining problems and 2) designing solutions. In particular, the I-Engineering framework and tools will help middle grades teachers and students engage in the engineering design process using meaningful, authentic and often youth-driven contexts. The project will ground this work in two engineering design challenges: 1) safe and green commutes and 2) portable energy, both of which exemplify engineering for sustainable communities. The objectives are to: 1) To develop research-based understandings of how to support identity development among middle school students from underrepresented backgrounds in the context of learning engineering. 2) To develop and refine a framework and tools (I-Engineering) in support of student learning and identity development in engineering with a focus on sustainability. 3) To collaborate with grades 6 and 7 teachers to implement and refine I-Engineering for classroom use. 4) To study whether the I-Engineering framework/tools support identity development in engineering among middle school students from underrepresented backgrounds. 

The project draws upon design-based implementation research to develop and test the I-Engineering framework and tools among students and teachers in grades 6 and 7. Using social practice theory, how aspects of the learning environment shape identity development will be identified, yielding information on the impact of the instructional tools generated. The research questions are grounded in two areas: supporting identity development in engineering, understanding how students progress in their engineering development and patterns across implementation of the I-Engineering resources. Studies will shed light on mechanisms that support identity development in engineering, how that might be scaffolded, and how such scaffolds can transport across context. The mixed-method student- and classroom-level studies will allow for empirical claims regarding how and under what conditions youth from underrepresented backgrounds may progress in their identity development in engineering. The research plan includes student case studies drawing on task-based interviews, observations and student work and classroom studies using observations, student and teacher interviews, an engineering identity survey, student work and formative assessments of engineering practices. I-Engineering will reach over 500 students and their teachers in schools that serve predominantly underrepresented populations. The project team will disseminate the findings, framework and tools in support of teaching engineering practices, and promoting understanding of the importance of identity development in broadening participation.

Developing and Testing the Internship-inator, a Virtual Internship in STEM Authorware System

The Internship-inator is an authorware system for developing and testing virtual internships in multiple STEM disciplines. In a virtual internship, students are presented with a complex, real-world STEM problem for which there is no optimal solution. Students work in project teams to read and analyze research reports, design and perform experiments using virtual tools, respond to the requirements of stakeholders and clients, write reports and present and justify their proposed solutions. 

Award Number: 
1418288
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/01/2014 to Fri, 08/31/2018
Full Description: 

Ensuring that students have the opportunities to experience STEM as it is conducted by scientists, mathematicians and engineers is a complex task within the current school context. This project will expand access for middle and high school students to virtual internships, by enabling STEM content developers to design and customize virtual internships. The Internship-inator is an authorware system for developing and testing virtual internships in multiple STEM disciplines. In a virtual internship, students are presented with a complex, real-world STEM problem for which there is no optimal solution. Students work in project teams to read and analyze research reports, design and perform experiments using virtual tools, respond to the requirements of stakeholders and clients, write reports and present and justify their proposed solutions. The researchers in this project will work with a core development network to develop and refine the authorware, constructing up to a hundred new virtual internships and a user group of more than 70 STEM content developers. The researchers will iteratively analyze the performance of the authorware, focusing on optimizing the utility and the feasibility of the system to support virtual internship development. They will also examine the ways in which the virtual internships are implemented in the classroom to determine the quality of the STEM internship design and influence on student learning.

The Intership-inator builds on over ten years of NSF support for the development of Syntern, a platform for deploying virtual internships that has been used in middle schools, high schools, informal science programs, and undergraduate education. In the current project, the researchers will recruit two waves of STEM content developers to expand their current core development network. A design research perspective will be used to examine the ways in which the developers interact with the components of the authorware and to document the influence of the virtual internships on student learning. The researchers will use a quantitative ethnographic approach to integrate qualitative data from surveys and interviews with the developers with their quantitative interactions with the authorware and with student use and products from pilot and field tests of the virtual internships. Data-mining and learning analytics will be used in combination with hierarchical linear modeling, regression techniques and propensity score matching to structure the quasi-experimental research design. The authorware and the multiple virtual internships will provide researchers, developers, and teachers a rich learning environment in which to explore and support students' learning of important college and career readiness content and disciplinary practices. The findings of the use of the authorware will inform STEM education about the important design characteristics for authorware that supports the work of STEM content and curriculum developers.

Multimedia Engineering Notebook Tools to Support Engineering Discourse in Urban Elementary School Classrooms (Collaborative Research: Paugh)

This collaborative, exploratory, learning strand project focuses on improving reflective decision-making among elementary school students during the planning and re-design activities of the engineering design process. Five teacher researchers in three elementary schools provide the classroom laboratories for the study. Specified units from Engineering is Elementary, a well-studied curriculum, provide the engineering content.

Award Number: 
1316762
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2013 to Sun, 07/31/2016
Full Description: 

This collaborative, exploratory, learning strand project focuses on improving reflective decision-making among elementary school students during the planning and re-design activities of the engineering design process. Five teacher researchers in three elementary schools provide the classroom laboratories for the study. Specified units from Engineering is Elementary, a well-studied curriculum, provide the engineering content. In year one, the qualitative research observes student discourse as students develop designs. Based on the results, a paper engineering note book with prompts is designed for use in year two while a digital notebook is developed. In year three, the students use the digital notebook to develop their designs and redesigns.

The research identifies patterns of language that contribute to the reflective discourse and determines how the paper and electronic versions of the notebook improve the discourse. An advisory committee provides advice and evaluation. The notebooks are described in conference proceedings and made available online.

This work synthesizes what is known about the use of the notebooks in science and engineering education at the elementary school and investigates how to improve their use through digital media.

Language-Rich Inquiry Science with English Language Learners Through Biotechnology (LISELL-B)

This is a large-scale, cross-sectional, and longitudinal study aimed at understanding and supporting the teaching of science and engineering practices and academic language development of middle and high school students (grades 7-10) with a special emphasis on English language learners (ELLs) and a focus on biotechnology.

Award Number: 
1316398
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2013 to Tue, 07/31/2018
Full Description: 

This is a large-scale (4,000 students, 32 teachers, 5 classes per teacher per year); cross-sectional (four grade levels); and longitudinal (three years) study aimed at understanding and supporting the teaching of science and engineering practices and academic language development of middle and high school students (grades 7-10) with a special emphasis on English language learners (ELLs) and a focus on biotechnology. It builds on and extends the pedagogical model, professional development framework, and assessment instruments developed in a prior NSF-funded exploratory project with middle school teachers. The model is based on the research-supported notion that science and engineering practices and academic language practices are synergistic and should be taught simultaneously. It is framed around four key learning contexts: (a) a teacher professional learning institute; (b) rounds of classroom observations; (c) steps-to-college workshops for teachers, students, and families; and (d) teacher scoring sessions to analyze students' responses to assessment instruments.

The setting of this project consists of four purposefully selected middle schools and four high schools (six treatment and two control schools) in two Georgia school districts. The study employs a mixed-methods approach to answer three research questions: (1) Does increased teacher participation with the model and professional development over multiple years enhance the teachers' effectiveness in promoting growth in their students' understanding of scientific practices and use of academic language?; (2) Does increased student participation with the model over multiple years enhance their understanding of science practices and academic language?; and (3) Is science instruction informed by the pedagogical model more effective than regular instruction in promoting ELLs' understanding of science practices and academic language at all grade levels? Data gathering strategies include: (a) student-constructed response assessment of science and engineering practices; (b) student-constructed response assessment of academic language use; (c) teacher focus group interview protocol; (d) student-parent family interview protocol; (e) classroom observation protocol; (f) teacher pedagogical content knowledge assessment; and (g) teacher log of engagement with the pedagogical model. Quantitative data analysis to answer the first research question includes targeted sampling and longitudinal analysis of pretest and posttest scores. Longitudinal analysis is used to answer the second research question as well; whereas the third research question is addressed employing cross-sectional analysis. Qualitative data analysis includes coding of transcripts, thematic analysis, and pattern definition.

Outcomes are: (a) a research-based and field-tested prototype of a pedagogical model and professional learning framework to support the teaching of science and engineering practices to ELLs; (b) curriculum materials for middle and high school science teachers, students, and parents; (c) a teacher professional development handbook; and (d) a set of valid and reliable assessment instruments usable in similar learning environments.

CAREER: Adapting Curriculum for Learning in Mathematics Education (ACCLIME): Processes and Factors in Teachers' Evolving Adaptations of Curriculum Materials

The ACCLIME project investigates teachers' uses and adaptations of CMP, an NSF-funded middle school curriculum. The study seeks to better articulate: (1) the ways that teachers adapt CMP over time and how they develop professionally as a result of using the curriculum materials; (2) the connection between district policy, resource development, and teachers' curriculum processes; and (3) the dynamic nature of districts' long-term curriculum implementations.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0746573
Funding Period: 
Sun, 06/01/2008 to Fri, 05/31/2013
Full Description: 

The ACCLIME project investigates teachers' uses and adaptations of CMP, an NSF-funded middle school curriculum. The project comprises three nested series of case studies involving school districts that are long-term CMP implementers and that have provided substantial and ongoing support, and 16 middle school mathematics teachers within these districts. The study seeks to better articulate: (1) the ways that teachers adapt CMP over time and how they develop professionally as a result of using the curriculum materials; (2) the connection between district policy, resource development, and teachers' curriculum processes; and (3) the dynamic nature of districts' long-term curriculum implementations.

Computer-Supported Math Discourse Among Teachers and Students (Collaborative Research: Powell)

This project will design, develop, and test an online collaborative learning environment where students and teachers solve mathematical problems and communicate their thinking.  This online collaborative learning environment will help increase the quality and quantity of math discourse among mathematics teachers and students.  The researchers will also examine the impact of the online collaborative learning environment on students' significant mathematical discourse and achievement.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1118888
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2011 to Fri, 08/31/2018
Full Description: 

This full research and development project is to design, develop, and test a cutting-edge learning environment where students and teachers solve mathematical problems and communicate their thinking with others through the virtual environment. The major focus is to increase the quality and quantity of significant math discourse among mathematics teachers and their students by using the virtual learning environment. The researchers will test the usability of the learning environment for engaging students in high quality discourse. The researchers will also examine the impact of the virtual learning environment on student significant mathematical discourse and achievement.

The project uses a design research method as well as summative evaluations to achieve research and development goals. Mixed methods will be used to examine the impact of the virtual learning environment on student significant mathematical discourse and achievement.

The findings of the project contribute to the field in three ways: (1) The virtual learning environment can be both an effective pedagogical tool and a research tool in mathematics education; (2) It will contribute to our understanding about the nature of mathematical discourse online as well as about ways to foster the quality and quantity of significant math discourse among teachers and their students; and (3) This project can provide insights into effective online deliveries of courses.

Cyber-Enabled Learning: Digital Natives in Integrated Scientific Inquiry Classrooms (Collaborative Research: Wang)

This project investigated the professional development needed to make teachers comfortable teaching with multi-user simulations and communications that students use every day. The enactment with OpenSim (an open source, modular, expandable platform used to create simulated 3D spaces with customizable terrain, weather and physics) also provides an opportunity to demonstrate the level of planning and preparation that go into fashioning modules with all selected cyber-enabled cognitive tools framed by constructivism, such as GoogleEarth and Biologica.

Award Number: 
1020091
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2010 to Wed, 08/31/2011
Project Evaluator: 
HRI
Full Description: 

There is an increasing gap between the assumptions governing the use of cyber-enabled resources in schools and the realities of their use by students in out of school settings. The potential of information and communications technologies (ICT) as cognitive tools for engaging students in scientific inquiry and enhancing teacher learning is explored. A comprehensive professional development program of over 240 hours, along with follow-up is used to determine how teachers can be supported to use ICT tools effectively in classroom instruction to create meaningful learning experiences for students, reducing the gap between formal and informal learning and improve student learning outcomes. In the first year, six teachers from school districts - two in Utah and one in New York - are educated to become teacher leaders and advisors. Then three cohorts of 30 teachers matched by characteristics are provided professional development and field test units over two years in a delayed-treatment design. Biologists from Utah State University and New York College of Technology develop four modules that meet the science standards for both states - the first being changes in the environment. Teachers are guided to develop additional modules. The key technological resource to be used in the project is the Opensimulator 3D application Server (OpenSim), an open source, modular, expandable platform used to create simulated 3D spaces with customizable terrain, weather and physics. 

The research methodology includes the use of the classroom observations using RTOP and Technology Use in Science Instruction (TUSI), selected interviews of teachers and students and validated assessments of student learning. Evaluation, by an external evaluator, assesses the quality of the professional development and the quality of the cyber-enabled learning resources, as well as reviews the research design and implementation. An Advisory Board will monitor the project. 

The project is to determine the professional development needed to make teachers comfortable teaching with multi-user simulations and communications that students use everyday. The enactment with OpenSim also provides an opportunity to demonstrate the level of planning and preparation that go into fashioning modules with all selected cyber-enabled cognitive tools framed by constructivism, such as GoogleEarth and Biologica.

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