Achievement/Growth

Measuring the Effectiveness of Middle School STEM Innovation and Engineering Design Curricula

Researchers from Georgia Tech have developed a three-year middle school Engineering and Technology course sequence that introduces students to advanced manufacturing tools such as computer aided design (CAD) and 3D printing, incorporates engineering concepts such as pneumatics, robotics and aeronautics, increases student awareness of career paths, and addresses the concerns of technical employers wanting workers with problem solving, teamwork, and communication skills.

Award Number: 
2101441
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2021 to Sun, 08/31/2025
Full Description: 

Inclusion of engineering in the Next Generation Science Standards has led to increased opportunities for K-12 students to learn engineering related concepts and skills, and learn about engineering career paths. However, a persistent challenge is the lack of high-quality, research-based engineering curricular resources that align with science and math education standards. Further, the opportunities for K-12 students to also learn about manufacturing and how manufacturing is related to engineering, math, and science are limited. Researchers from Georgia Tech have developed a three-year middle school Engineering and Technology course sequence that introduces students to advanced manufacturing tools such as computer aided design (CAD) and 3D printing, incorporates engineering concepts such as pneumatics, robotics and aeronautics, increases student awareness of career paths, and addresses the concerns of technical employers wanting workers with problem solving, teamwork, and communication skills. This DRK-12 impact study project will investigate the effectiveness of STEM-Innovation and Design (STEM-ID) curricula in approximately 29 middle schools, targeting 29 engineering teachers and approximately 5,000 students across middle grades in Georgia. This impact research study will determine whether STEM-ID courses are equally effective across different demographic groups and school environments under normal implementation conditions and whether the courses have the potential to positively impact a vast number of students around the country, particularly students who have struggled to stay engaged with their STEM education. It is a critical part of a larger effort to move the STEM-ID curricula, developed with NSF support, from the research lab to large-scale practice in schools.

To facilitate large-scale implementation, the project will transfer all curriculum and teacher support materials to an online dissemination site, develop just-in-time teacher support materials to embed within the curriculum, create an online professional development platform, and conduct professional learning in multiple areas of the state. The project team will then assess the transferability of the STEM-ID curricula and identify teacher outcomes that affect the implementation. They will also examine the generalizability of the curriculum by measuring student outcomes in STEM academic achievement and on social-emotional scales. The project’s research questions consider 1) contextual factors that influence scaling; 2) the fidelity of implementation, curriculum adaptations and sustainability; 3) the effects of professional development on teachers’ engineering self-efficacy and instructional practices; 4) the effect of participation on student academic performance in mathematics and science; 5) the effect of participation on student social-emotional outcomes; and 5) the relationship between the way STEM-ID is implemented and the student outcomes.  To examine the effects of STEM-ID on achievement and achievement growth, the investigators will use a multilevel growth model and mediation analysis to explore if the intervention’s effect on achievement was mediated by students’ engagement, academic self-efficacy, and/or interest in STEM. Additionally, drawing upon Century and Cassata’s Fidelity of Implementation framework (FOI), they will examine the array of factors that influence implementation of the STEM-ID curricula across diverse school settings.

Reducing Racially Biased Beliefs by Fostering a Complex Understanding of Human Genetics Research in High School Biology Students (Collaborative Research: Donovan)

The project will refine a genetics education curriculum, called Humane Genome Literacy (HGL), in order to reduce belief in genetic essentialism. This research will provide curriculum writers and educators with knowledge about how to design a humane genetics education to maximize reductions in students’ genetic essentialist beliefs. The research findings will demonstrate how to support teachers who wish to reduce beliefs in genetic essentialism by teaching students about the complexity of human genetics research using the HGL learning materials.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2100864
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2021 to Sun, 08/31/2025
Full Description: 

Genetic essentialism is the belief that people of the same race share genes that make them physically, cognitively, and behaviorally uniform, and thus different from other races. The project will refine a genetics education curriculum, called Humane Genome Literacy (HGL), in order to reduce belief in genetic essentialism. This research will provide curriculum writers and educators with knowledge about how to design a humane genetics education to maximize reductions in students’ genetic essentialist beliefs and minimize the threat of backfiring (unintentionally increasing belief in essentialism). The research findings will demonstrate how to support teachers who wish to reduce beliefs in genetic essentialism by teaching students about the complexity of human genetics research using the HGL learning materials.  Project research findings, learning materials, and professional development institutes will be made available to educators and researchers across the country who desire to teach genetics to reduce racial prejudice.

To prepare for the research, the project will revise and augment the project’s existing HGL curriculum and professional development institutes.  In year one, the project will develop new versions of the HGL interventions. Using these materials, the project will train teachers to implement new versions of the HGL interventions in their classrooms. Researchers will video and audio record a sample of teachers and students as they learn. These data will be analyzed qualitatively to: (1) examine how the conceptual change of genetic essentialism was promoted or impeded by interactions between teachers, students, and the materials; and (2) identify and corroborate general factors undergirding the backfiring effect.  Knowledge constructed through these studies will be used to revise the HGL interventions and PDIs.  In year three, using the revised versions of the HGL intervention, the project will conduct a cluster randomized trial (CRT). The CRT will compare the HGL interventions to a well-defined “business as usual” genetics curriculum, using a statistically powerful and geographically diverse sample (N = 135 teachers, N = 16,200 students, from 33 states). Using data from the CRT, the project will identify classrooms where the interventions reduced essentialism, had no effect on it, and where it backfired. Then, the project will use stimulated recall methods to interview the teachers and students in those classrooms to make sense of factors that contributed to these outcomes. The project will use this information to develop the final version of the HGL interventions and PDI materials. By the end of year four, the project will have trained an additional 90-100 teachers to use HGL interventions, reaching an additional 10,800-12,000 students, in at least 33 different states.

Reducing Racially Biased Beliefs by Fostering a Complex Understanding of Human Genetics Research in High School Biology Students (Collaborative Research: Duncan)

The project will refine a genetics education curriculum, called Humane Genome Literacy (HGL), in order to reduce belief in genetic essentialism. This research will provide curriculum writers and educators with knowledge about how to design a humane genetics education to maximize reductions in students’ genetic essentialist beliefs. The research findings will demonstrate how to support teachers who wish to reduce beliefs in genetic essentialism by teaching students about the complexity of human genetics research using the HGL learning materials.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2100876
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2021 to Sun, 08/31/2025
Full Description: 

Genetic essentialism is the belief that people of the same race share genes that make them physically, cognitively, and behaviorally uniform, and thus different from other races. The project will refine a genetics education curriculum, called Humane Genome Literacy (HGL), in order to reduce belief in genetic essentialism. This research will provide curriculum writers and educators with knowledge about how to design a humane genetics education to maximize reductions in students’ genetic essentialist beliefs and minimize the threat of backfiring (unintentionally increasing belief in essentialism). The research findings will demonstrate how to support teachers who wish to reduce beliefs in genetic essentialism by teaching students about the complexity of human genetics research using the HGL learning materials.  Project research findings, learning materials, and professional development institutes will be made available to educators and researchers across the country who desire to teach genetics to reduce racial prejudice.

To prepare for the research, the project will revise and augment the project’s existing HGL curriculum and professional development institutes.  In year one, the project will develop new versions of the HGL interventions. Using these materials, the project will train teachers to implement new versions of the HGL interventions in their classrooms. Researchers will video and audio record a sample of teachers and students as they learn. These data will be analyzed qualitatively to: (1) examine how the conceptual change of genetic essentialism was promoted or impeded by interactions between teachers, students, and the materials; and (2) identify and corroborate general factors undergirding the backfiring effect.  Knowledge constructed through these studies will be used to revise the HGL interventions and PDIs.  In year three, using the revised versions of the HGL intervention, the project will conduct a cluster randomized trial (CRT). The CRT will compare the HGL interventions to a well-defined “business as usual” genetics curriculum, using a statistically powerful and geographically diverse sample (N = 135 teachers, N = 16,200 students, from 33 states). Using data from the CRT, the project will identify classrooms where the interventions reduced essentialism, had no effect on it, and where it backfired. Then, the project will use stimulated recall methods to interview the teachers and students in those classrooms to make sense of factors that contributed to these outcomes. The project will use this information to develop the final version of the HGL interventions and PDI materials. By the end of year four, the project will have trained an additional 90-100 teachers to use HGL interventions, reaching an additional 10,800-12,000 students, in at least 33 different states.

Reducing Racially Biased Beliefs by Fostering a Complex Understanding of Human Genetics Research in High School Biology Students (Collaborative Research: Wedow)

The project will refine a genetics education curriculum, called Humane Genome Literacy (HGL), in order to reduce belief in genetic essentialism. This research will provide curriculum writers and educators with knowledge about how to design a humane genetics education to maximize reductions in students’ genetic essentialist beliefs. The research findings will demonstrate how to support teachers who wish to reduce beliefs in genetic essentialism by teaching students about the complexity of human genetics research using the HGL learning materials.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2100959
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2021 to Sun, 08/31/2025
Full Description: 

Genetic essentialism is the belief that people of the same race share genes that make them physically, cognitively, and behaviorally uniform, and thus different from other races. The project will refine a genetics education curriculum, called Humane Genome Literacy (HGL), in order to reduce belief in genetic essentialism. This research will provide curriculum writers and educators with knowledge about how to design a humane genetics education to maximize reductions in students’ genetic essentialist beliefs and minimize the threat of backfiring (unintentionally increasing belief in essentialism). The research findings will demonstrate how to support teachers who wish to reduce beliefs in genetic essentialism by teaching students about the complexity of human genetics research using the HGL learning materials.  Project research findings, learning materials, and professional development institutes will be made available to educators and researchers across the country who desire to teach genetics to reduce racial prejudice.

To prepare for the research, the project will revise and augment the project’s existing HGL curriculum and professional development institutes.  In year one, the project will develop new versions of the HGL interventions. Using these materials, the project will train teachers to implement new versions of the HGL interventions in their classrooms. Researchers will video and audio record a sample of teachers and students as they learn. These data will be analyzed qualitatively to: (1) examine how the conceptual change of genetic essentialism was promoted or impeded by interactions between teachers, students, and the materials; and (2) identify and corroborate general factors undergirding the backfiring effect.  Knowledge constructed through these studies will be used to revise the HGL interventions and PDIs.  In year three, using the revised versions of the HGL intervention, the project will conduct a cluster randomized trial (CRT). The CRT will compare the HGL interventions to a well-defined “business as usual” genetics curriculum, using a statistically powerful and geographically diverse sample (N = 135 teachers, N = 16,200 students, from 33 states). Using data from the CRT, the project will identify classrooms where the interventions reduced essentialism, had no effect on it, and where it backfired. Then, the project will use stimulated recall methods to interview the teachers and students in those classrooms to make sense of factors that contributed to these outcomes. The project will use this information to develop the final version of the HGL interventions and PDI materials. By the end of year four, the project will have trained an additional 90-100 teachers to use HGL interventions, reaching an additional 10,800-12,000 students, in at least 33 different states.

Using Natural Language Processing to Inform Science Instruction (Collaborative Research: Linn)

This project takes advantage of language to help students form their own ideas and pursue deeper understanding in the science classroom. The project will conduct a comprehensive research program to develop and test technology that will empower students to use their ideas as a starting point for deepening science understanding. Researchers will use a technology that detects student ideas that go beyond a student's general knowledge level to adapt to a student's cultural and linguistic understandings of a science topic.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101669
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/01/2021 to Mon, 06/30/2025
Full Description: 

Often, middle school science classes do not benefit from participation of underrepresented students because of language and cultural barriers. This project takes advantage of language to help students form their own ideas and pursue deeper understanding in the science classroom. This work continues a partnership among the University of California, Berkeley, Educational Testing Service, and science teachers and paraprofessionals from six middle schools enrolling students from diverse racial, ethnic, and language groups whose cultural experiences may be neglected in science instruction. The partnership will conduct a comprehensive research program to develop and test technology that will empower students to use their ideas as a starting point for deepening science understanding. Researchers will use a technology that detects student ideas that go beyond a student's general knowledge level to adapt to a student's cultural and linguistic understandings of a science topic. The partnership leverages a web-based platform to implement adaptive guidance designed by teachers that feature dialog and peer interaction. Further, the platform features teacher tools that can detect when a student needs additional help and alert the teacher. Teachers using the technology will be able to track and respond to individual student ideas, especially from students who would not often participate because of language and cultural barriers.

This project develops AI-based technology to help science teachers increase their impact on student science learning. The technology is aimed to provide accurate analysis of students' initial ideas and adaptive guidance that gets each student started on reconsidering their ideas and pursuing deeper understanding. Current methods in automated scoring primarily focus on detecting incorrect responses on test questions and estimating the overall knowledge level in a student explanation. This project leverages advances in natural language processing (NLP) to identify the specific ideas in student explanations for open-ended science questions. The investigators will conduct a comprehensive research program that pairs new NLP-based AI methods for analyzing student ideas with adaptive guidance that, in combination, will empower students to use their ideas as starting points for improving science understanding. To evaluate the idea detection process, the researchers will conduct studies that investigate the accuracy and impact of idea detection in classrooms. To evaluate the guidance, the researchers will conduct comparison studies that randomly assign students to conditions to identify the most promising adaptive guidance designs for detected ideas. All materials are customizable using open platform authoring tools.

Using Natural Language Processing to Inform Science Instruction (Collaborative Research: Riordan)

This project takes advantage of language to help students form their own ideas and pursue deeper understanding in the science classroom. The project will conduct a comprehensive research program to develop and test technology that will empower students to use their ideas as a starting point for deepening science understanding. Researchers will use a technology that detects student ideas that go beyond a student's general knowledge level to adapt to a student's cultural and linguistic understandings of a science topic.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101670
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/01/2021 to Mon, 06/30/2025
Full Description: 

Often, middle school science classes do not benefit from participation of underrepresented students because of language and cultural barriers. This project takes advantage of language to help students form their own ideas and pursue deeper understanding in the science classroom. This work continues a partnership among the University of California, Berkeley, Educational Testing Service, and science teachers and paraprofessionals from six middle schools enrolling students from diverse racial, ethnic, and language groups whose cultural experiences may be neglected in science instruction. The partnership will conduct a comprehensive research program to develop and test technology that will empower students to use their ideas as a starting point for deepening science understanding. Researchers will use a technology that detects student ideas that go beyond a student's general knowledge level to adapt to a student's cultural and linguistic understandings of a science topic. The partnership leverages a web-based platform to implement adaptive guidance designed by teachers that feature dialog and peer interaction. Further, the platform features teacher tools that can detect when a student needs additional help and alert the teacher. Teachers using the technology will be able to track and respond to individual student ideas, especially from students who would not often participate because of language and cultural barriers.

This project develops AI-based technology to help science teachers increase their impact on student science learning. The technology is aimed to provide accurate analysis of students' initial ideas and adaptive guidance that gets each student started on reconsidering their ideas and pursuing deeper understanding. Current methods in automated scoring primarily focus on detecting incorrect responses on test questions and estimating the overall knowledge level in a student explanation. This project leverages advances in natural language processing (NLP) to identify the specific ideas in student explanations for open-ended science questions. The investigators will conduct a comprehensive research program that pairs new NLP-based AI methods for analyzing student ideas with adaptive guidance that, in combination, will empower students to use their ideas as starting points for improving science understanding. To evaluate the idea detection process, the researchers will conduct studies that investigate the accuracy and impact of idea detection in classrooms. To evaluate the guidance, the researchers will conduct comparison studies that randomly assign students to conditions to identify the most promising adaptive guidance designs for detected ideas. All materials are customizable using open platform authoring tools.

Building a Flexible and Comprehensive Approach to Supporting Student Development of Whole Number Understanding

The purpose of this project is to develop and conduct initial studies of a multi-grade program targeting critical early math concepts. The project is designed to address equitable access to mathematics and STEM learning for all students, including those with or at-risk for learning disabilities and underrepresented groups.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101308
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/01/2021 to Mon, 06/30/2025
Full Description: 

A critical goal for the nation is ensuring all students have a successful start in learning mathematics. While strides have been made in supporting at-risk students in mathematics, significant challenges still exist. These challenges include enabling access to and learning of advanced mathematics content, ensuring that learning gains don’t fade over time, and providing greater support to students with the most severe learning needs. One way to address these challenges is through the use of mathematics programs designed to span multiple grades. The purpose of this project is to develop and conduct initial studies of a multi-grade program targeting critical early math concepts. The project is designed to address equitable access to mathematics and STEM learning for all students, including those with or at-risk for learning disabilities and underrepresented groups.

The three aims of the project are to: (1) develop a set of 10 Bridging Lessons designed to link existing kindergarten and first grade intervention programs (2) develop a second grade intervention program that in combination with the kindergarten and first grade programs will promote a coherent sequence of whole number concepts, skills, and operations across kindergarten to second grade; and (3) conduct a pilot study of the second grade program examining initial promise to improve student mathematics achievement. To accomplish these goals multiple methods will be used including iterative design and development process and the use of a randomized control trial to study potential impact on student math learning. Study participants include approximately 220 kindergarten through second grade students from 8 schools across three districts. Study measures include teacher surveys, direct observations, and student math outcome measures. The project addresses the need for research developed intervention programs focused on advanced whole number content. The work is intended to support schools in designing and deploying math interventions to provide support to students both within and across the early elementary grades as they encounter and engage with critical mathematics content.

Learning about Viral Epidemics through Engagement with Different Types of Models

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for supporting student learning about viral outbreaks and other complex societal issues. Given the complexity of issues like viral outbreaks, engaging learners with different types of models (e.g., mechanistic, computational and system models) is critical. However, there is little research available regarding how learners coordinate sense making across different models.

Award Number: 
2101083
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2021 to Sun, 08/31/2025
Full Description: 

The project will develop new curriculum and use it to research how high school students learn about viral epidemics while developing competencies for scientific modeling. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for supporting student learning about viral outbreaks and other complex societal issues. Given the complexity of issues like viral outbreaks, engaging learners with different types of models (e.g., mechanistic, computational and system models) is critical. However, there is little research available regarding how learners coordinate sense making across different models. This project will address the gap by studying student learning with different types of models and will use these findings to develop and study new curriculum materials that incorporate multiple models for teaching about viral epidemics in high school biology classes. COVID-19 caused devasting impacts, and marginalized groups including the Latinx community suffered disproportionately negative outcomes. The project will directly recruit Latinx students to ensure that design products are culturally responsive and account for Latinx learner needs. The project will create new pathways for engaging Latinx students in innovative, model-based curriculum about critically important issues. Project research and resources will be widely shared via publications, conference presentations, and professional development opportunities for teachers.

The project will research three aspects of student learning: a) conceptual understandings about viral epidemics, b) epistemic understandings associated with modeling, and c) model-informed reasoning about viral epidemics and potential solutions. The research will be conducted in three phases. Phase 1 will explore how students make sense of viral epidemics through different types of models. This research will be conducted with small groups of students as they work through learning activities and discourse opportunities associated with viral epidemic models. Phase 2 will research how opportunities to engage in modeling across different types of models should be supported and sequenced for learning about viral epidemics. These findings will make it possible to revise the learning performance which will be used to develop a curricular module for high school biology classes. Phase 3 will study the extent to which students learn about viral epidemics through engagement in modeling practices across different models. For this final phase, teachers will participate in professional development about viral epidemics and modeling and then implement the viral epidemic module in their biology classes. A pre- and post-test research design will be used to explore student conceptual understandings, model-informed reasoning, and epistemic understandings.

Connecting Elementary Mathematics Teaching to Real-World Issues (Collaborative Research: Felton)

This project will engage students and teachers in rich, real-world math tasks; will support future teachers and mathematics educators in adapting, designing, and implementing similar tasks; and will provide a basis for further research on the most effective ways to design and implement real-world tasks in the mathematics classroom.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101456
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/01/2021 to Sun, 06/30/2024
Full Description: 

There are long-standing calls to make mathematics more meaningful, relevant, and applicable both inside and outside of the K-12 classroom. In particular, there is a growing recognition that mathematics is a valuable tool for helping students understand important real-world issues that affect their lives and society. Further, mathematics can support students in becoming mathematically literate and engaged democratic citizens. Despite the increased interest in connecting mathematics to real-world issues in the classroom, many teachers feel unprepared to do so. This project will engage students and teachers in rich, real-world math tasks; will support future teachers and mathematics educators in adapting, designing, and implementing similar tasks; and will provide a basis for further research on the most effective ways to design and implement real-world tasks in the mathematics classroom.

The three goals of the Connecting Elementary Mathematics to the World project are: (1) To explore how mathematics teachers adapt, design, and enact tasks that connect mathematics to the real world. We will study the teaching practices of the project team as they engage in this work in two summer camps and in elementary classrooms at two sites. (2) To develop a collection of exemplar tasks and rich records of practice for each task. These records of practice will detail the mathematical and real-world learning goals, background knowledge needed for both goals, common student responses, and videos or vignettes of the task in progress. A team of six teachers at two sites will be recruited to collaborate with the team throughout the project. Teachers will provide input and feedback on the design of, appropriateness of, and relevance of the tasks and the support materials needed to implement the real-world tasks. Initial tasks will be field tested with elementary students and additional tasks will be developed for subsequent week-long summer camps and for teaching in elementary classrooms. (3) To research both the development and enactment of these tasks. We will develop a theoretical framework for creating and implementing real-world tasks that can inform future practice and research in this area. The research products of this project will result in (a) an understanding of effective teaching and design practices for connecting mathematics to real-world issues, (b) a theoretical framework of how these practices are interconnected, and (c) how these practices differ from practices when teaching typical school mathematics tasks.

Connecting Elementary Mathematics Teaching to Real-World Issues (Collaborative Research: Thanheiser)

This project will engage students and teachers in rich, real-world math tasks; will support future teachers and mathematics educators in adapting, designing, and implementing similar tasks; and will provide a basis for further research on the most effective ways to design and implement real-world tasks in the mathematics classroom.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101463
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/01/2021 to Sun, 06/30/2024
Full Description: 

There are long-standing calls to make mathematics more meaningful, relevant, and applicable both inside and outside of the K-12 classroom. In particular, there is a growing recognition that mathematics is a valuable tool for helping students understand important real-world issues that affect their lives and society. Further, mathematics can support students in becoming mathematically literate and engaged democratic citizens. Despite the increased interest in connecting mathematics to real-world issues in the classroom, many teachers feel unprepared to do so. This project will engage students and teachers in rich, real-world math tasks; will support future teachers and mathematics educators in adapting, designing, and implementing similar tasks; and will provide a basis for further research on the most effective ways to design and implement real-world tasks in the mathematics classroom.

The three goals of the Connecting Elementary Mathematics to the World project are: (1) To explore how mathematics teachers adapt, design, and enact tasks that connect mathematics to the real world. We will study the teaching practices of the project team as they engage in this work in two summer camps and in elementary classrooms at two sites. (2) To develop a collection of exemplar tasks and rich records of practice for each task. These records of practice will detail the mathematical and real-world learning goals, background knowledge needed for both goals, common student responses, and videos or vignettes of the task in progress. A team of six teachers at two sites will be recruited to collaborate with the team throughout the project. Teachers will provide input and feedback on the design of, appropriateness of, and relevance of the tasks and the support materials needed to implement the real-world tasks. Initial tasks will be field tested with elementary students and additional tasks will be developed for subsequent week-long summer camps and for teaching in elementary classrooms. (3) To research both the development and enactment of these tasks. We will develop a theoretical framework for creating and implementing real-world tasks that can inform future practice and research in this area. The research products of this project will result in (a) an understanding of effective teaching and design practices for connecting mathematics to real-world issues, (b) a theoretical framework of how these practices are interconnected, and (c) how these practices differ from practices when teaching typical school mathematics tasks.

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