The purpose of this project is to create a research-based model of how students with learning disabilities (LDs) develop multiplicative reasoning via reform-oriented pedagogy; convert the model into a computer system that dynamically models every students’ evolving conceptions and recommends tasks to promote their advancement to higher level, standard-based multiplicative structures and operations; and study how this tool impacts student outcomes.
A major scientific issue of our time is global warming and climate change. Many facets of human life are and will continue to be influenced by this. However, an adequate understanding of the problem requires an understanding of various domains of science. There has been little research done on effects of intervention on student learning of these topics. This project shows an improvement in student knowledge of climate change and related issues.
SRI International developed a formative assessment intervention that integrates classroom network technologies and contingent curriculum activities to help middle school teachers adjust instruction to improve student learning of Earth science concepts. The intervention was tested as part of a quasi-experimental study within an urban school district in Colorado that includes ethnically and economically diverse student populations. Findings indicate significant student learning gains for students in implementation classes as compared to students in comparison classes.
SRI is developing a formative assessment intervention that integrates existing classroom network technologies (GroupScribbles and Classroom Performance Systems), interactive formative assessments, and contingent curriculum activities to help teachers adjust instruction to improve middle school student learning of selected Earth science concepts (the rock cycle, forces that shape Earth's surface, and plate tectonics). To test the hypothesis that integrating response system technology, assessment, and curriculum can improve K-12 science teaching and learning, the project is developing and testing (1) pedagogical routines for teachers to follow when using classroom network technologies, (2) diagnostic questions for teachers to elicit student preconceptions, (3) decision rules for teachers to use alternative learning activities that supplement an existing geoscience curriculum, (4) training materials that prepare teachers to enact the intervention, and (5) research- and classroom-based instruments that measure changes in teacher instructional practice, student thinking, and student achievement. The intervention is being tested in two urban school districts located in two western states (Colorado and California) that have ethnically and economically diverse student populations.
This project is exploring how curricula and assessment using dynamic, interactive scientific visualizations of complex phenomena can ensure that all students learn significant science content. Dynamic visualizations provide an alternative pathway for students to understand science concepts, which can be exploited to increase the accessibility of a range of important science concepts. Computer technologies offer unprecedented opportunities to design curricula and assessments using visual technologies and to explore them in research, teaching, and learning.
This project investigates how vignette illustrations minimize the impact of limited English proficiency on student performance in science tests. Different analyses will determine whether and how ELL and non-ELL students differ significantly on the ways they use vignettes to make sense of items; whether the use of vignettes reduces test-score differences due to language factors between ELL and non-ELL students; and whether the level of distance of the items moderates the effectiveness of vignette-illustrated items.
This exploratory project within the Contextual Strand (Challenge a) addresses validity in the assessment of science and mathematics for English language learners (ELLs), and the urgent need for effective testing accommodations for ELLs. Motivation for this investigation originated from a previous, NSF-funded project on the testing of ELLs. We observed that items which were accompanied by illustrations tended to be responded correctly by a higher percentage of students than items without illustrations. We will investigate the factors that are relevant to designing and using a new form of accommodation in the assessment of science and mathematics for ELLs—vignette illustrations.
This three-year project will be guided by four research questions: What principles underlie the effective design of science and mathematics test items with illustrations in ways that minimize limited English proficiency as a factor that prevents ELLs from understanding the items? Is the presence of an illustration a moderator in students’ understanding test items? If so, Is the effect due to the simple presence of a graphical component or due to characteristics of the illustrations that are created based on principled design? Does the presence of an illustration have a different effect on the performance of ELLs and the performance of non-ELL students?
We expect to be able to: 1) identify the role of illustrations in the cognitive activities elicited by vignette-illustrated items; 2) determine whether any differences between performance on vignette-illustrated items and other kinds of items are due to the this form of accommodation’s capacity to address language as a construct-irrelevant factor; 3) identify the set of practical and methodological issues that are critical to properly developing and using vignette-illustrated items; and 4) propose a set of documents and procedures for the systematic and cost-effective design and development of vignette-illustrated items.
We will test ELL and non-ELL students with items of three types (vignette-illustrated items whose illustrations are designed systematically, vignette-illustrated items whose illustrations are created arbitrarily, and items without illustrations) at two levels of distance to the enacted curriculum (close and distal). Diverse forms of analysis will allow us to determine whether and how ELL and non-ELL students differ on the ways in which they use vignettes to make sense of items, whether the use of vignettes reduces test score differences due to language factors between ELL and non-ELL students, and whether the level of distance of the items moderates the effectiveness of vignette-illustrated items.
Intellectual merit. This project will provide information that will help to advance our understanding in two assessment arenas: effective accommodations for ELLs, and item development practices. While illustrations are frequently used in test items, there is not guidance in the assessment development literature on how to approach illustrations. Furthermore, the value of illustrations as a resource for ensuring that ELL students understand what a given item is about and what the item asks them to do has not been systematically investigated. Semiotics, cognitive psychology, and linguistics and socio-cultural theory are brought together to develop systematic procedures for developing illustrations as visual supports in tests. Understanding the role that images play in test taking is relevant to devising more effective ways of testing students. While this project aims to improve testing accommodations practices for ELLs, knowledge gained from it will inform test development practices relevant to all student populations.
Broader impact. We expect outcomes of this project to contribute to enhanced practice in both classroom and large-scale assessment. The push for including ELLs in large-scale testing programs with accountability purposes is not corresponded by effective testing accommodation practices. Many testing accommodations used by national and state assessment programs are not defensible, are not effective, or are improperly implemented. Vignette illustrations have the potential to become a low-cost, easy-to-implement form of testing accommodation for ELLs. Results form this investigation will allow us to identify a set of principles for the proper design and use of vignette illustrations as a form of testing accommodation for ELLs. The project is important not only because it explores the potential of an innovative form of accommodation but because it uses a systematic procedure for designing that form of accommodation.
Project M2 is producing and disseminating curriculum materials in geometry and measurement for students in grades K-2. This builds on success of the M3 U.S. Department of Education curriculum grant for students in Grades 3-5. (www.projectm3.org). Project M2 units are advanced units for all students designed using research-based practices in mathematics, early childhood, and gifted education. Curricular materials focus on promising discourse and hands-on inquiry of rich problem-situations.
Project Publications and Presentations:
Gavin, M. K.; Casa, Tuita, M.; Chapin, S. & Sheffield, L. (2010). Designing a Shape Gallery: Geometry with Meerkats.
Gavin, M. K.; Casa, Tuita, M.; Chapin, S. & Sheffield, L. (2010). Designing a Shape Gallery: Geometry with the Meerkats Student Mathematician's Journal. Student Mathematician's Journal.
Casa, T.; Firmender, J. & Gavin, M. K. (2010, April). Designing a Shape Gallery: Making Geometry Connections for Primary Students. Presented at National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA.
Casa, T. & Gavin, M. K. (2010, March). Exploring Shapes in Space: Geometry with the Frogonauts. Presented at Keefe Bruyette Symposium, Saint Joseph College, West Hartford, CT.
Gavin, M. K. (2009, November). Mentoring Young Mathematicians: New Advanced Curriculum for Primary-level Students. Presented at the National Association for Gifted Children Annual Meeting, St. Louis, MO.
Gavin, K. M. (2010, April). Nurturing Mathematically Promising and Creative Students, Project M2: Mentoring Young Mathematicians. Presented at National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics Annual Conference, San Diego, CA.
Gavin, M. K.; Firmender, J. M. & Casa, Tuita, M. (2010, April). Project M2's Approach: Connecting Math and Language Arts through Communication. Presented at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA.
Gavin, M. K.; Casa, T. M., Chapin, S. & Sheffield, L. (2011). Using Everyday Measures: Measuring with the Meerkats.
This project uses a mixed-methods design to test the hypothesis that key approaches to high school reform grease the mathematics and science pipelines for all students in reforming high schools. This study is intended to provide understanding of pipeline progression in reforming high schools and strategies successful schools employ to ensure timely pipeline progress for all students, particularly those historically underrepresented and underserved in mathematics and science and post-secondary education.
The goal of this project is to accelerate the progress of early-career and pre-service science teachers from novice to expert-like pedagogical reasoning and practice by developing and studying a system of discourse tools. The tools are aimed at developing teachers' capabilities in shaping instruction around the most fundamental science ideas; scaffolding student thinking; and adapting instruction to diverse student populations by collecting and analyzing student data on their thinking levels.
Researchers are developing a practice-based curriculum for the professional education of preservice and practicing secondary mathematics teachers that focuses on reasoning and proving; has narrative cases as a central component; and supports the development of knowledge of mathematics needed for teaching. This curriculum is comprised of eight constellations of activities that focus on key aspects of reasoning and proving such as identifying patterns; making conjectures; providing proofs; and providing non-proof arguments.
This project is developing new instructional materials for middle school earth science classes that incorporate emerging cyber-enabled technologies such as Google Earth as a transformative data analysis tool. The materials emphasize the use of claims, evidence, and reasoning in the exploration of volcanoes, earthquakes, and plate tectonics, leading students through a process of discovery to help them build a deeper understanding of the driving forces and resulting manifestations of plate tectonics.
Cyber-Enabled Earth Exploration (CE3) is a research and development project aimed at motivating and challenging students in science, which has been identified as one of the reasons the U.S. lags behind other nations on an array of economic and educational indicators (National Center on Education and the Economy 2006). The project will develop new instructional materials for middle school science teachers that help create a compelling classroom culture of scientific discovery, engage students in the creative opportunities that abound in science, and inspire them to pursue the high school science coursework needed for future careers in science.
The materials will incorporate emerging and widely available technologies such as Google Earth to engage middle school students in exploring an essential science question, “Does the Earth’s structure affect you?” The use of computer technologies has been shown to successfully motivate middle school students (Pelligrino 2000), and the use of an integrated Earth system science approach provides the knowledge base, methodologies, and global context to make science accessible, relevant and meaningful for middle school students.
A complete learning unit and teacher’s guide will be developed by a team of experts in K-12 curriculum design, geology, and geography, using a Learning-for-Use curriculum design framework. The materials will be tested for ease-of-use and effectiveness in approximately ten classrooms across Montana, which include both large and small class sizes, urban and rural communities, and white and Native American students. Participating teachers will provide feedback to help guide revision of the materials, which will subsequently be disseminated to the national K-12 community.
The intellectual merits of CE3 include: (1) creation of an innovative, technology-rich curriculum that engages students and teachers in authentic scientific questions about essential Earth systems science concepts; (2) introduction of the use of Google Earth as a new and potentially transformative data analysis tool for teachers and students; and (3) strengthening of curriculum models that help students acquire skills in problem solving, information management, communication, the integration of quantitative and qualitative data, and critical and creative thinking skills.
The broader impacts include: (1) partnering among researchers and educators to develop, test, adapt, and disseminate new research-based approaches to science teaching, (2) participation of underserved rural and tribal schools in state-of-the-art educational practices, (3) development of next-generation instructional materials that will be made available to K-12 educators across the country, (4) dissemination of project results through several multidisciplinary conferences, and (5) geosciences learning materials that incorporate the societal implications of earth processes, which better prepare students to become engaged global citizens.