Quasi-experimental

Science Literacy through Science Journalism (SciJourn)

This project aims to develop, pilot, and evaluate a model of instruction that advances the scientific literacy of high school students by involving them in science journalism, and to develop research tools for assessing scientific literacy and engagement. We view scientific literacy as public understanding of and engagement with science and technology, better enabling people to make informed science-related decisions in their personal lives, and participate in science-related democratic debates in public life.

 

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0822354
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/01/2008 to Fri, 08/31/2012
Project Evaluator: 
Brian Hand, University of Iowa
Full Description: 

For a more in-depth look at Scijourn, visit the project spotlight.

The Impact of Online Professional Development: An Experimental Study of Professional Development Modalities Linked to Curriculum

This project is designed to enhance understanding of how online professional development environments contribute to teach learning, changes in classroom practice and changes in student learning in comparison to face-to-face professional development. Using secondary school teachers learning to use a reformed-oriented environmental science curriculum, groups of teachers will be randomly assigned to one of three conditions: (1) traditional face-to-face workshop, (2)self-guided online professional development, or (3)online “short course” professional development guided by a facilitator.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0455582
Funding Period: 
Fri, 07/01/2005 to Thu, 06/30/2011

Change Thinking for Global Science: Fostering and Evaluating Inquiry Thinking About the Ecological Impacts of Climate Change

This project draws from the expertise of a fully collaborative educator-scientist team to create learning progressions, curricular units and assessment instruments towards large scale research on the teaching and learning of climate change and impacts by 7-12th graders in primarily under-resourced schools. Products include eight week curricular units, IPCC-compliant simplified future scenarios, an online interface with guided predictive distribution modeling, and research results.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0918590
Funding Period: 
Sat, 08/01/2009 to Wed, 07/31/2013
Project Evaluator: 
Dr. Amelia Gotwals
Full Description: 

Overview

It is increasingly important for all American students to become sophisticated thinkers of science. The Center for Essential Science at the University of Michigan is conducting educational research to engage and support complex thinkers of science and to improve science learning in high-poverty, urban, elementary and middle school classrooms, with particular focus on the Detroit Public Schools. Our previous work focused on fourth through sixth grades, a period when the performance of American science students falls significantly behind that of students in other countries. In this grant, we extend our learning progressions and associated curricular materials, visualization technologies and educational research from fourth to the tenth grade. In particular, this grant is focused in two areas:

  • the development and empirical evaluation of eight to twelve-week curricular units and associated technologies to promote students' deep understandings of the impact of climate change on ecosystems dynamics and animal interactions, and
  • the exploration of new ideas in educational assessment leading to tests that evaluate students' complex reasoning with science.

A Sense of Urgency on Learning Ecological Impacts of Global Climate Change

The modern world is experiencing substantial and rapid changes that are reshaping not only human societies but natural ecosystems worldwide. During the lifetimes of our current middle and high school students, it is likely that our planet will undergo more anthropogenic change than it has during all of human history to date.  While scientists from many disciplines are modeling, monitoring, predicting, and analyzing climate change, understanding the impacts and consequences of climate change cannot be left to scientists alone.

While scientists are aware of the sense of urgency to develop scientific understanding of the impacts of global climate changes, science education resources and sound research on students’ development of complex reasoning about ecological impacts of global climate change are scarce, despite recognition from scientists and policy makers of the importance of this topic. Several factors contribute to this absence. First, global climate change is an extremely multi-disciplinary domain that does not easily fit into existing K-12 disciplinary boundaries of earth science, life science, and physical science. The American Institute for Global Change Research defines global change as “the interactions of biological, chemical and physical processes that regulate changes in the function on the Earth system, including the particular ways in which these changes are influenced by human activities” (American Institute for Global Change Research, 2008). Second, scientific information associated with global climate change is relatively new and emergent, disallowing strong representation in science standards, high stakes tests, textbooks or curricular units utilized in classrooms. Our previous research suggests that the complexity of content coupled with almost no representation on high stakes tests leads to a low priority for many classroom teachers and consequently little to no classroom time. (S. Blum, personal communication 11.6.08). Third, global climate change is a dynamic topic that might be best addressed with resources that couple curricular activities which guide the development of complex inquiry reasoning and modeling/simulation resources to represent the dynamic nature of the science. While modeling and simulation resources exist for professional scientists (e.g., Lifemapper designed by proposal co-PI), neither the guided curricular activities nor the modeling and simulation resources are widely available for middle and high school audiences.

Together, a sense of urgency exists to build a solid, research-based foundation about a new and essential focus area within pre-college science education: students’ complex inquiry reasoning about the impact of global changes on ecosystem dynamics. This sense of urgency can be addressed through the combination of three research-based activities addressed in this proposal: (1) the extension of existing 4-6th grade curricular units towards the development and empirical evaluation of a 4-10th grade curricular progression focused on complex reasoning about biodiversity and the impact of global changes on populations of animals and ecosystem dynamics; (2) the development and evaluation of ecological simulation and modeling resources to accompany the middle and high school units; and (3) sound educational research to provide strong empirical evidence of both growth spurts and plateaus, as well as documentation of how and when complex inquiry reasoning occurs among middle and early high school students in these focus areas.

The program outlined will serve as the major research vehicle for research questions in several interrelated areas. We propose a research design with a series of quasi-experimental studies that will complement each other and provide multiple lenses for understanding complex questions such as these. Our research questions are:

1. Which scientific content and reasoning skills are essential for 7-10th graders’ complex reasoning and modeling of the ecological impacts of climate change? How are these manifested in content and inquiry reasoning progressions?

2. What dynamic visualization and modeling resources support the development of deep thinking about the ecological impacts of climate change?

3. What scaffolding and instructional activities support the development of deep thinking about the ecological impacts of climate change, including both content (ecological impacts) and complex reasoning components (science practices) of this knowledge, within cohorts of 7-10th graders in two new curricular units?

4. Utilizing quantitative (growth curve models, cross sectional studies) and qualitative (think aloud interviews) analyses, what learning outcomes and growth trajectories are realized by 7-10th intervention and control students as measured by both traditional standardized items and assessments focusing on complex thinking about ecological impacts of climate change?

We believe the greatest contribution of our work will be clear empirical information (growth spurts, growth plateaus and achievement information) associated with middle and high school students’ learning of complex and dynamic science associated with the ecological impacts of global climate change. We see the empirically driven development of learning progressions, curricular units, assessment instruments and professional development resources as important secondary contributions. The hypotheses we wish to test are the following:  Do Detroit, rural and small city students who work with coordinated scaffold-rich inquiry programs and visualization resources focusing on impacts of global climate change develop deep conceptual understandings as compared to matched cohorts students?  As determined by growth curve analyses, what do their learning trajectories look like? What new insights about the design of scaffold-rich curricular units and visualization technologies can be gleaned from an analysis of students’ growth trajectories and summative achievement results?  What kinds of assessment instruments are needed to provide reliable and valid measurement of learning progressions in these focus areas? What can we learn about the design of a series of multi-year, coordinated learning resources from the empirically driven development of learning progressions associated with an important emerging science, the ecological impacts of climate change? 

 

Developing Algebra-ready Students for Middle School: Exploring the Impact of Early Algebra

This project is developing and testing a curricular learning progression of early algebra objectives and activities for students in grades 3 - 5. The goal of the work is to provide teachers with curricular guidance and instructional resources that are useful in preparing students for success in study of algebra at the middle grade level. The project is also developing and validating assessment tools for evaluating student progress toward essential pre-algebra mathematical understandings.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1207945
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2011 to Sat, 08/31/2013
Full Description: 

 

An Architecture of Intensification: Building a Comprehensive Program for Struggling Students in Double-Period Algebra Classes

This project is carrying out a research and development initiative to increase the success rates of our most at-risk high school students—ninth-grade students enrolled in algebra classes but significantly underprepared for high school mathematics. It will also result in new understandings about effective approaches for teaching mathematics to struggling students and about effective ways for implementing these approaches at scale, particularly in urban school districts.

Award Number: 
0918434
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2009 to Thu, 03/01/2012
Project Evaluator: 
Inverness Research Inc.
Full Description: 

Intensified Algebra I, a comprehensive program used in an extended-time algebra class, helps students who are one to two years behind in mathematics become successful in algebra. It is a research and development initiative of the Charles A. Dana Center at The University of Texas at Austin, the Learning Sciences Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Agile Mind, that transforms the teaching of algebra to students who struggle in mathematics. Central to the program is the idea that struggling students need a powerful combination of a challenging curriculum, cohesive, targeted supports, and additional well-structured classroom time. Intensified Algebra I seeks to addresses the need for a robust Algebra I curriculum with embedded, efficient review and repair of foundational mathematical skills and concepts. It aims to address multiple dimensions of learning mathematics, including social, affective, linguistic, and cognitive. Intensified Algebra I uses an asset-based approach that builds on students’ strengths and helps students to develop academic skills and identities by engaging them in the learning experience. The program is designed to help struggling students succeed in catching up to their peers, equipping them to be successful in Algebra I and their future mathematics and science courses.

Evaluation of the Cognitive, Psychometric, and Instructional Affordances of Curriculum-embedded Assessments: A Comprehensive Validity-based Approach

This project’s overarching goal is to evaluate the assessment components embedded within two NSF-supported mathematics curricula: Everyday Mathematics and Math Trailblazers. The investigators will apply a comprehensive validity perspective that integrates a variety of empirical evidence regarding the cognitive, psychometric, and instructional affordances of multiple assessments embedded in these curricula as part of their overall instructional design.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0732090
Funding Period: 
Tue, 01/01/2008 to Mon, 12/31/2012
Project Evaluator: 
James Minstrell

Learning Science as Inquiry with the Urban Advantage: Formal-Informal Collaborations to Increase Science Literacy and Student Learning

This project hypothesizes that learners must have access to the real work of scientists if they are to learn both about the nature of science and to do inquiry themselves. It explores the question "How can informal science education institutions best design resources to support teachers, school administrators, and families in the teaching and learning of students to conduct scientific investigations and better understand the nature of science?"

Award Number: 
0918560
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2009 to Sat, 08/31/2013
Project Evaluator: 
Learning Innovations at WestEd
Full Description: 

The American Museum of Natural History and Michigan State University propose a research and development project focused on DR-K12 challenge #2 and the hypothesis that learners must have access to the real work of scientists if they are to learn both about the nature of science and to do inquiry themselves. The overarching questions that drive this project are: How can informal science education institutions best design resources to support teachers, school administrators, and families in the teaching and learning of students to conduct scientific investigations and better understand the nature of science? How are these resources then used, and to what extent and in what ways do they contribute to participants’ learning? How are those resources then used for student learning? Answering these questions will involve the use of existing and new resources, enhancement of existing relationships, and a commitment to systematically collect evidence. Urban Advantage (UA) is a middle school science initiative involving informal science education institutions that provides professional development for teachers and hands-on learning for students to learn how to conduct scientific investigations. This project will (1) refine the UA model by including opportunities to engage in field studies and the use of authentic data sets to investigate the zebra mussel invasion of the Hudson River ecosystem; (2) extend the resources available to help parents, administrators, and teachers understand the nature of scientific work; and (3) integrate a research agenda into UA. Teaching cases will serve as resources to help teachers, students, administrators, and families understand scientific inquiry through research on freshwater ecosystems, and—with that increased understanding—support student learning. Surveys, observations, and assessments will be used to document and understand the effects of professional development on teachers, students, administrators, and parents. The study will analyze longitudinal, multivariate data in order to identify associations between professional development opportunities for teachers, administrators, and parents, their use of resources to support their own learning and that of students, middle school teachers’ instructional practices, and measures of student learning.

Exploring the Development of Beginning Secondary Science Teachers in Various Induction Programs

This research study focuses on the impact of different teacher preparation and induction models, as well as on the quality and persistence of secondary science teachers. Combining the strengths of case-based research with a quasi-experimental design this study will follow 120 secondary science teachers for three years from four different and well characterized preservice - induction programs.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0550847
Funding Period: 
Thu, 06/16/2005 to Fri, 04/30/2010

Geniverse: A Student Collaboratory for Biology Cyberlearning

This project addresses biology teachers and students at the high school level, responding to the exponential increases occurring in biology knowledge today and the need for students to understand the experimental basis behind biology concepts. The project studies the feasibility of engaging students in an environment where they can learn firsthand how science knowledge develops in the fields of bioinformatics and DNA science by performing collaborative, simulated experiments to solve open-ended problems.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0918642
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/15/2009 to Tue, 08/31/2010
Full Description: 

Logging Opportunities in Online Programs for Science (LOOPS): Student and Teacher Learning

The project makes use of technology to create timely, valid, and actionable reports to teachers by analyzing assessments and logs of student actions generated in the course of using computer-based curriculum materials. The reports allow teachers to make data-based decisions about alternative teaching strategies. The technology supports student collaborations and the assignment of different learning activities to groups, an essential function needed for universal design for learning (UDL).

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0733299
Funding Period: 
Tue, 01/01/2008 to Fri, 12/31/2010
Project Evaluator: 
David Reider, Education Design Inc.

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