Qualitative

Supporting Elementary Teacher Learning for Effective School-Based Citizen Science (TL4CS)

This project will develop two forms of support for teachers: guidance embedded in citizen science project materials and teacher professional development. The overarching goal of the project is to generate knowledge about teacher learning that enables elementary school citizen science to support students' engagement with authentic science content and practices through data collection and sense making.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2009212
Funding Period: 
Wed, 07/01/2020 to Sun, 06/30/2024
Full Description: 

Citizen science involves individuals, who are not professional scientists, in authentic scientific research, typically in collaboration with professional scientists. When implemented well in elementary schools, citizen science projects immerse students in science content and engage them with scientific practices. These projects can also create opportunities for students to connect with their local natural surroundings, which is needed, as some research has suggested that children are becoming increasingly detached from nature. The classroom teacher plays a critical role in ensuring that school-based citizen science projects are implemented in a way that maximizes the benefits. However, these projects typically do not include substantial guidance for teachers who want to implement the projects for instructional purposes. This project will develop two forms of support for teachers: (1) guidance embedded in citizen science project materials and (2) teacher professional development. It will develop materials and professional development experiences to support teacher learning for 80 5th grade teachers impacting students in 40 diverse elementary schools.

The overarching goal of this project is to generate knowledge about teacher learning that enables elementary school citizen science to support students' engagement with authentic science content and practices through data collection and sense making. Specifically, the study is designed to address the following research questions: (1) What kinds of support foster teacher learning for enacting effective school-based citizen science? (2) How do supports for teacher learning shape the way teachers enact school-based citizen science? and (3) What is the potential of school-based citizen science for positively influencing student learning and student attitudes toward nature and science? Data collected during project implementation will include teacher surveys, student surveys and assessments, and case study protocols.

How Deep Structural Modeling Supports Learning with Big Ideas in Biology (Collaborative Research: Capps)

This project addresses the pressing need to more effectively organize STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) teaching and learning around "big ideas" that run through science disciplines. Unfortunately, finding ways to teach big ideas effectively so they become useful as knowledge frameworks is a significant challenge. Deep structure modeling (DSM), the innovation advanced in this project, is designed to meet this challenge in the context of high school biology.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2010223
Funding Period: 
Sat, 08/01/2020 to Wed, 07/31/2024
Full Description: 

This project addresses the pressing need to more effectively organize STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) teaching and learning around "big ideas" that run through science disciplines. This need is forcefully advanced by policy leaders including the National Research Council and the College Board. They point out that learning is more effective when students organize and link information within a consistent knowledge framework, which is what big ideas should provide. Unfortunately, finding ways to teach big ideas effectively so they become useful as knowledge frameworks is a significant challenge. Deep structure modeling (DSM), the innovation advanced in this project, is designed to meet this challenge in the context of high school biology. In DSM, students learn a big idea as the underlying, or "deep" structure of a set of examples that contain the structure, but with varying outward details. As learners begin to apprehend the deep structure (i.e., the big idea) within the examples, they use the tools and procedures of scientific modeling to express and develop it. According to theories of learning that undergird DSM, the result of this process should be a big idea that is flexible, meaningful, and easy to express, thus providing an ideal framework for making sense of new information learners encounter (i.e., learning with the big idea). To the extent that this explanation is born out in rigorous research tests and within authentic curriculum materials, it contributes important knowledge about how teaching and learning can be organized around big ideas, and not only for deep structural modeling but for other instructional approaches as well.

This project has twin research and prototype development components. Both are taking place in the context of high school biology, in nine classrooms across three districts, supporting up to 610 students. The work focuses on three design features of DSM: (1) embedding model source materials with intuitive, mechanistic ideas; (2) supporting learners to abstract those ideas as a deep structure shared by a set of sources; and (3) representing this deep structure efficiently within the model. In combination, these features support students to understand an abstract, intuitively rich, and efficient knowledge structure that they subsequently use as a framework to interpret, organize, and link disciplinary content. A series of five research studies build on one another to develop knowledge about whether and how the design features bring about these anticipated effects. Earlier studies in the sequence are small-scale classroom experiments randomly assigning students to either deep structural modeling or to parallel, non modeling controls. Measures discriminate for the anticipated effects during learning and on posttests. Later studies use qualitative methods to carefully trace the anticipated effects over time and across topics. As a group, these studies are contributing generalized knowledge of how learners can effectively abstract and represent big ideas and how these ideas can be leveraged as frameworks for learning content with understanding. Two research-tested biology curriculum prototypes are being developed as the studies evolve: a quarter-year DSM biology curriculum centered on energy; and an eighth-year DSM unit centered on natural selection.

How Deep Structural Modeling Supports Learning with Big Ideas in Biology (Collaborative Research: Shemwell)

This project addresses the pressing need to more effectively organize STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) teaching and learning around "big ideas" that run through science disciplines. Unfortunately, finding ways to teach big ideas effectively so they become useful as knowledge frameworks is a significant challenge. Deep structure modeling (DSM), the innovation advanced in this project, is designed to meet this challenge in the context of high school biology.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2010334
Funding Period: 
Sat, 08/01/2020 to Wed, 07/31/2024
Full Description: 

This project addresses the pressing need to more effectively organize STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) teaching and learning around "big ideas" that run through science disciplines. This need is forcefully advanced by policy leaders including the National Research Council and the College Board. They point out that learning is more effective when students organize and link information within a consistent knowledge framework, which is what big ideas should provide. Unfortunately, finding ways to teach big ideas effectively so they become useful as knowledge frameworks is a significant challenge. Deep structure modeling (DSM), the innovation advanced in this project, is designed to meet this challenge in the context of high school biology. In DSM, students learn a big idea as the underlying, or "deep" structure of a set of examples that contain the structure, but with varying outward details. As learners begin to apprehend the deep structure (i.e., the big idea) within the examples, they use the tools and procedures of scientific modeling to express and develop it. According to theories of learning that undergird DSM, the result of this process should be a big idea that is flexible, meaningful, and easy to express, thus providing an ideal framework for making sense of new information learners encounter (i.e., learning with the big idea). To the extent that this explanation is born out in rigorous research tests and within authentic curriculum materials, it contributes important knowledge about how teaching and learning can be organized around big ideas, and not only for deep structural modeling but for other instructional approaches as well.

This project has twin research and prototype development components. Both are taking place in the context of high school biology, in nine classrooms across three districts, supporting up to 610 students. The work focuses on three design features of DSM: (1) embedding model source materials with intuitive, mechanistic ideas; (2) supporting learners to abstract those ideas as a deep structure shared by a set of sources; and (3) representing this deep structure efficiently within the model. In combination, these features support students to understand an abstract, intuitively rich, and efficient knowledge structure that they subsequently use as a framework to interpret, organize, and link disciplinary content. A series of five research studies build on one another to develop knowledge about whether and how the design features bring about these anticipated effects. Earlier studies in the sequence are small-scale classroom experiments randomly assigning students to either deep structural modeling or to parallel, non modeling controls. Measures discriminate for the anticipated effects during learning and on posttests. Later studies use qualitative methods to carefully trace the anticipated effects over time and across topics. As a group, these studies are contributing generalized knowledge of how learners can effectively abstract and represent big ideas and how these ideas can be leveraged as frameworks for learning content with understanding. Two research-tested biology curriculum prototypes are being developed as the studies evolve: a quarter-year DSM biology curriculum centered on energy; and an eighth-year DSM unit centered on natural selection.

Learning to Teach During COVID-19: Leveraging Simulated Classrooms as Practice-based Spaces for Preservice Elementary Teachers within Online Teacher Education Courses

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted the ability of teacher education programs to place their teacher candidates in typical K-12 teaching settings as a part of learning to teach. This project examines how simulated classroom field experiences for preservice teachers can be implemented in online and emergency remote teacher education courses.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2032179
Funding Period: 
Mon, 06/15/2020 to Mon, 05/31/2021
Full Description: 

School-based field experiences are a critical part of preservice teacher education. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted the ability of teacher education programs to place their teacher candidates in typical K-12 teaching settings as a part of learning to teach. This project examines how simulated classroom field experiences for preservice teachers can be implemented in online and emergency remote teacher education courses. Elementary mathematics and science teacher educators are provided with opportunities to engage their preservice teachers in practice-based spaces using mixed-reality simulated classroom environments. These simulations are real-time lessons with animated student avatars that are voiced by an interactor who is responding to the teacher's lesson in real time in ways that represent authentic student thinking. This project aims to develop support materials for integrating simulated field experiences into elementary mathematics and science teacher education courses. The research will seek to understand what preservice teachers learn about teaching from these experiences, how teacher educators integrate the simulated field experiences into coursework, and how such simulated experiences can be integrated in remote, online courses in ways that support preservice teacher learning.

This project advances knowledge through the development and deployment of simulation-based tools that develop preservice elementary teachers' abilities to teach mathematics and science. Preservice teachers use performance tasks to deliver instruction in the simulated classroom. The project develops support materials for teacher educators to integrate this work into online and/or emergency remote teacher education courses (in response to COVID-19) in ways that support engagement in ambitious teaching practice. The project assesses impact on preservice teachers' ambitious teaching practice through artifacts of the simulated classroom practice, including observations and recordings of the simulated interactions and preservice teacher surveys and assessments of their use of ambitious teaching practices. The project evaluates the ways in which teacher educators integrate the simulated field experience into their emergency remote teacher education courses through surveys and interviews. The research addresses the immediate COVID-19 pandemic challenges in providing field experiences for students and provides long-term support for the ongoing challenge of finding field experience settings that are conducive to preparing highly-qualified elementary mathematics and science teachers.

Responsive Instruction for Emergent Bilingual Learners in Biology Classrooms

This project seeks to support emergent bilingual students in high school biology classrooms. The project team will study how teachers make sense of and use an instructional model that builds on students' cultural and linguistic strengths to teach biology in ways that are responsive. The team will also study how such a model impacts emergent bilingual students' learning of biology and scientific language practices, as well as how it supports students' identities as knowers/doers of science.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2010153
Funding Period: 
Wed, 07/01/2020 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Full Description: 

The population of students who are emergent bilinguals in the US is not only growing in number but also, historically, has been underrepresented in STEM fields. Emergent bilingual students have not had access to the same high-quality science education as their peers, despite bringing rich academic, linguistic and cultural strengths to their learning. Building on smaller pilot studies and ideas that have shown to be successful in supporting emergent bilingual students' learning of elementary science, this project seeks to support emergent bilingual students in high school biology classrooms. The project team will study how teachers make sense of and use an instructional model that builds on students' cultural and linguistic strengths to teach biology in ways that are responsive. The team will also study how such a model impacts emergent bilingual students' learning of biology and scientific language practices, as well as how it supports students' identities as knowers/doers of science. The collaboration will include two partner districts that will allow the project work to impact about 11,000 high school students and 30 biology teachers in Florida. Over time, the project team plans to enact and study three cohorts of teachers and students; use the information learned to improve the instructional model; and develop lessons, a website, and other materials that can be applied to other contexts to support emergent bilingual students' learning of biology. This project will increase emergent bilingual students' participation in biology classes, improve their achievement and engagement in science and engineering practices, extend current research-based practices, and document how to build on emergent bilingual students' strengths and prior experiences.

In two previous pilot studies through the collaboration of an interdisciplinary team, the project team developed an instructional model that they found supported emergent bilingual students to have high-quality opportunities for science learning. The model builds on research related to culturally responsive instruction; funds of knowledge (including work on identity affirmation and collaboration); and linguistically responsive instruction (including using students' home languages and multiple modalities, and explicit attention to academic language). Using design-based research, the project team will gather data from two primary settings: their professional development program and biology teachers' classrooms. They will use these data both to improve the instructional model and professional development for biology teachers. Additionally, the project team will study how teachers use the model to support emergent bilingual students' biology engagement and achievement, as well as study how biology teachers enact the instructional model in two school districts. The project will work toward three main outcomes: a) to develop new knowledge related to how diverse learners develop language and content knowledge in biology through engaging in science and engineering practices; b) to generate new knowledge about how biology teachers can adapt responsive instruction to local contexts and student populations; and c) to articulate an instructional model for biology teachers of emergent bilingual students that is rigorous, yet practical. The dissemination and sustainability include publishing and presenting findings at a range of conferences and journals; making available the refined instructional framework and professional development materials on a website; communication with district leaders and policymakers; and white papers that can be more widely distributed.

Parents, Teachers, and Multilingual Children Collaborating on Mathematics Together (Collaborative Research: Quintos)

The goal of this project is to develop and study a mathematics partnership that engages multilingual children, their teachers, and their parents in mathematical experiences together. The project will design professional learning opportunities for parents, teachers, and students, and study the ways in which the professional learning opportunities influence teacher beliefs, quality of instruction, parent beliefs, and teacher and parent understanding of positioning.

Award Number: 
2010417
Funding Period: 
Mon, 06/01/2020 to Fri, 05/31/2024
Full Description: 

The connections between students' home and family contexts and the activities of formal schooling are critical to support meaningful learning and family engagement in formal schooling. The need to better understand and make use of those connections is particularly important for multilingual learners whose family and cultural contexts may differ significantly from school contexts and their teachers' own experiences. The goal of this project is to develop and study a mathematics partnership that engages multilingual children, their teachers, and their parents in mathematical experiences together. These mathematical experiences are designed to advance equity in mathematics education for multilingual students. The project will design professional learning opportunities for parents, teachers, and students, and study the ways in which the professional learning opportunities influence teacher beliefs, quality of instruction, parent beliefs, and teacher and parent understanding of positioning.

This project uses a design-based implementation research (DBIR) approach, along with principles of Social Design Experiments to engage in iterative cycles of inquiry to develop, implement, and refine the model. Parents, teachers, and students in three states (Arizona, Maryland, and Missouri) will be recruited that represent diverse populations both with respect to demographics and with respect to the policy contexts surrounding multilingual learners. Two cohorts of parents will be invited to participate in the parent-teacher study group, one consisting of 6 parents and teachers per site and one consisting of 20 parents and their children's teachers per site. In each iteration, data will be collected at multiple time points related to teachers' beliefs about effective math instruction for multilingual students; quality of mathematics instruction for linguistically diverse students; focus group interviews with parents and students, and video records of teachers and parents working with their students doing mathematics during study group convenings. Data analysis will blend quantitative and qualitative methods. Quantitative methods will include t-tests, multivariate, and correlational analyses to examine changes in teacher beliefs, instructional quality, and the relationships between the two. Qualitative analyses using thematic coding and discourse analysis will be used to analyze study group meetings and outcomes related to parent and teacher positioning of multilingual learners.

Parents, Teachers, and Multilingual Children Collaborating on Mathematics Together (Collaborative Research: Pinnow)

The goal of this project is to develop and study a mathematics partnership that engages multilingual children, their teachers, and their parents in mathematical experiences together. The project will design professional learning opportunities for parents, teachers, and students, and study the ways in which the professional learning opportunities influence teacher beliefs, quality of instruction, parent beliefs, and teacher and parent understanding of positioning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2010260
Funding Period: 
Mon, 06/01/2020 to Fri, 05/31/2024
Full Description: 

The connections between students' home and family contexts and the activities of formal schooling are critical to support meaningful learning and family engagement in formal schooling. The need to better understand and make use of those connections is particularly important for multilingual learners whose family and cultural contexts may differ significantly from school contexts and their teachers' own experiences. The goal of this project is to develop and study a mathematics partnership that engages multilingual children, their teachers, and their parents in mathematical experiences together. These mathematical experiences are designed to advance equity in mathematics education for multilingual students. The project will design professional learning opportunities for parents, teachers, and students, and study the ways in which the professional learning opportunities influence teacher beliefs, quality of instruction, parent beliefs, and teacher and parent understanding of positioning.

This project uses a design-based implementation research (DBIR) approach, along with principles of Social Design Experiments to engage in iterative cycles of inquiry to develop, implement, and refine the model. Parents, teachers, and students in three states (Arizona, Maryland, and Missouri) will be recruited that represent diverse populations both with respect to demographics and with respect to the policy contexts surrounding multilingual learners. Two cohorts of parents will be invited to participate in the parent-teacher study group, one consisting of 6 parents and teachers per site and one consisting of 20 parents and their children's teachers per site. In each iteration, data will be collected at multiple time points related to teachers' beliefs about effective math instruction for multilingual students; quality of mathematics instruction for linguistically diverse students; focus group interviews with parents and students, and video records of teachers and parents working with their students doing mathematics during study group convenings. Data analysis will blend quantitative and qualitative methods. Quantitative methods will include t-tests, multivariate, and correlational analyses to examine changes in teacher beliefs, instructional quality, and the relationships between the two. Qualitative analyses using thematic coding and discourse analysis will be used to analyze study group meetings and outcomes related to parent and teacher positioning of multilingual learners.

Parents, Teachers, and Multilingual Children Collaborating on Mathematics Together (Collaborative Research: Civil)

The goal of this project is to develop and study a mathematics partnership that engages multilingual children, their teachers, and their parents in mathematical experiences together. The project will design professional learning opportunities for parents, teachers, and students, and study the ways in which the professional learning opportunities influence teacher beliefs, quality of instruction, parent beliefs, and teacher and parent understanding of positioning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2010230
Funding Period: 
Mon, 06/01/2020 to Fri, 05/31/2024
Full Description: 

The connections between students' home and family contexts and the activities of formal schooling are critical to support meaningful learning and family engagement in formal schooling. The need to better understand and make use of those connections is particularly important for multilingual learners whose family and cultural contexts may differ significantly from school contexts and their teachers' own experiences. The goal of this project is to develop and study a mathematics partnership that engages multilingual children, their teachers, and their parents in mathematical experiences together. These mathematical experiences are designed to advance equity in mathematics education for multilingual students. The project will design professional learning opportunities for parents, teachers, and students, and study the ways in which the professional learning opportunities influence teacher beliefs, quality of instruction, parent beliefs, and teacher and parent understanding of positioning.

This project uses a design-based implementation research (DBIR) approach, along with principles of Social Design Experiments to engage in iterative cycles of inquiry to develop, implement, and refine the model. Parents, teachers, and students in three states (Arizona, Maryland, and Missouri) will be recruited that represent diverse populations both with respect to demographics and with respect to the policy contexts surrounding multilingual learners. Two cohorts of parents will be invited to participate in the parent-teacher study group, one consisting of 6 parents and teachers per site and one consisting of 20 parents and their children's teachers per site. In each iteration, data will be collected at multiple time points related to teachers' beliefs about effective math instruction for multilingual students; quality of mathematics instruction for linguistically diverse students; focus group interviews with parents and students, and video records of teachers and parents working with their students doing mathematics during study group convenings. Data analysis will blend quantitative and qualitative methods. Quantitative methods will include t-tests, multivariate, and correlational analyses to examine changes in teacher beliefs, instructional quality, and the relationships between the two. Qualitative analyses using thematic coding and discourse analysis will be used to analyze study group meetings and outcomes related to parent and teacher positioning of multilingual learners.

Pandemic Learning Loss in U.S. High Schools: A National Examination of Student Experiences

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools across much of the U.S. have been closed since mid-March of 2020 and many students have been attempting to continue their education away from schools. Student experiences across the country are likely to be highly variable depending on a variety of factors at the individual, home, school, district, and state levels. This project will use two, nationally representative, existing databases of high school students to study their experiences in STEM education during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2030436
Funding Period: 
Fri, 05/15/2020 to Fri, 04/30/2021
Full Description: 

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools across much of the U.S. have been closed since mid-March of 2020 and many students have been attempting to continue their education away from schools. Student experiences across the country are likely to be highly variable depending on a variety of factors at the individual, home, school, district, and state levels. This project will use two, nationally representative, existing databases of high school students to study their experiences in STEM education during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study intends to ascertain whether students are taking STEM courses in high school, the nature of the changes made to the courses, and their plans for the fall. The researchers will identify the electronic learning platforms in use, and other modifications made to STEM experiences in formal and informal settings. The study is particularly interested in finding patterns of inequities for students in various demographic groups underserved in STEM and who may be most likely to be affected by a hiatus in formal education.

This study will collect data using the AmeriSpeak Teen Panel of approximately 2,000 students aged 13 to 17 and the Infinite Campus Student Information System with a sample of approximately 2.5 million high school students. The data sets allow for relevant comparisons of student experiences prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic and offer unique perspectives with nationally representative samples of U.S. high school students. New data collection will focus on formal and informal STEM learning opportunities, engagement, STEM course taking, the nature and frequency of instruction, interactions with teachers, interest in STEM, and career aspirations. Weighted data will be analyzed using descriptive statistics and within and between district analysis will be conducted to assess group differences. Estimates of between group pandemic learning loss will be provided with attention to demographic factors.

This RAPID award is made by the DRK-12 program in the Division of Research on Learning. The Discovery Research PreK-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics by preK-12 students and teachers, through the research and development of new innovations and approaches. 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 the projects.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

 

 

 

 

Responding to a Global Pandemic: The Role of K-12 Science Teachers

This project will support a national research study on how teachers are helping students respond to COVID-19. The findings will inform the development of curriculum materials for teaching about COVID-19 and help science teachers to adapt their instruction as they help to fulfill a critical public health function. This study will enable a better understanding of the role that science teachers can play in a national response, both now and in future crises.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2027397
Funding Period: 
Fri, 05/01/2020 to Fri, 04/30/2021
Full Description: 

When a global health crisis emerges, students at all levels turn to their science teachers for information and, at times, reassurance, according to researchers at Horizon Research, Inc. (HRI). Science teachers serve a critically important public health function and become an important part of the nation's response efforts. Given the magnitude of the current COVID-19 crisis, it is likely that students are bringing their questions and concerns to their science teachers. As this award is made, nearly all K-12 school buildings in the U.S. are closed, and science teachers face unprecedented challenges in carrying out the instruction for which they are responsible while simultaneously addressing students' questions about COVID-19. Moreover, they must do this within new instructional formats. Education is crucial for helping students to understand the facts about the virus, despite much conflicting information and misinformation available. Education helps students understand and actively participate in measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. This award will support a national research study on how teachers are helping students respond to COVID-19. The findings will inform the development of curriculum materials for teaching about COVID-19, which are much needed right now, and help science teachers to adapt their instruction as they help to fulfill a critical public health function. This study will enable a better understanding of the role that science teachers can play in a national response, both now and in future crises.

The research will build on a study of science teachers conducted by HRI following the Ebola outbreak of 2014. Specifically, the research will investigate (1) where teachers of science get their information about coronavirus and COVID-19; (2) what types of resources teachers find most useful; (3) what factors influence whether science teachers address COVID-19 in their instruction; and (4) how science teachers adapt their teaching in response to COVID-19. HRI will recruit a nationally representative sample of several thousand K-12 teachers of science and invite them to complete a survey about their instruction related to COVID-19, both before school buildings closed and after. Using the Theory of Planned Behavior, the survey will be constructed to identify factors that predict whether teachers take up the topic. The survey will also collect data about how teachers address the virus and its transmission with their students. HRI will disaggregate survey data by school-, class-, student-, and teacher-level variables to identify patterns in student opportunities. Survey data will be supplemented by interviews with 50 survey respondents to gather more in-depth information related to the constructs of interest. Study findings will be immediately shared through a preliminary report that focuses on the survey data; mainstream print media using press releases; and social media partnering with the National Science Teaching Association. HRI also will publish policy briefs intended as guidance for schools, districts, and states; and research articles.

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