Elementary School

Accessible Computational Thinking in Elementary Science Classes within and across Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Contexts (Collaborative Research: Ketelhut)

This research project aims to enhance elementary teacher education in science and computational thinking pedagogy through the use of Culturally Relevant Teaching, i.e. teaching in ways that are relevant to students from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds. The project will support 60 elementary teachers in summer professional development and consistent learning opportunities during the school year to learn about and enact culturally relevant computational thinking into their science instruction.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101526
Funding Period: 
Sun, 08/15/2021 to Wed, 07/31/2024
Full Description: 

Currently, students who are white, affluent, and identify as male tend to develop a greater interest in and pursuit of science and computing-related careers compared to their Black, Latinx, Native American, and female-identifying peers. Yet, science, computing, and computational thinking drive societal decision-making and problem-solving. The lack of cultural and racial diversity in science and computing-related careers can lead to societal systems and decision-making structures that fail to consider a wide range of perspectives and expertise. Teachers play a critical role in preparing students to develop these skills and succeed in a technological and scientific world. For this reason, it is crucial to investigate how teachers can help culturally and linguistically diverse students develop a greater understanding of and interest in science and computers. This research project aims to enhance elementary teacher education in science and computational thinking pedagogy through the use of Culturally Relevant Teaching, i.e. teaching in ways that are relevant to students from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds. The project will support 60 elementary teachers in summer professional development and consistent learning opportunities during the school year to learn about and enact culturally relevant computational thinking into their science instruction. In doing so, the project aims to increase both the quantity and quality of computing experiences for all elementary students and support NSF’s commitment in broadening participation in the STEM workforce. The project will also produce resources, measures, and tools to support elementary teachers to do this kind of work, which will be shared with other STEM researchers and teacher educators.

The goal of this research project is to design and promote teaching practices that integrate computational thinking in the elementary science classroom in culturally relevant ways. This project will seek to empower practicing elementary teachers’ approaches to meaningfully and effectively integrate and adapt computational thinking into their regular science teaching practice so that all students can access the curriculum. It will also explore the impact of these approaches on student learning and self-efficacy. The scope of this project will include working with multiple highly distinct school settings in Maryland, Arizona, and Washington DC across three years, reaching approximately 60 elementary teachers and 1,200 students. To achieve the project objectives, the research team will leverage concurrent mixed methods approaches that include teacher and student interviews, reflections, observations, descriptive case study reports as well as regression and multilevel modeling. The project’s findings will inform the fields’ understanding of: (a) teachers’ conceptualization of computational thinking; (b) the barriers elementary teachers encounter when trying to integrate computational thinking with culturally relevant teaching practices; (c) the types of support that are effective in teacher professional development experiences  and throughout the school year; and (d) the development of a cohort of teachers that can maintain integration efforts in different districts.

MothEd - Authentic Science for Elementary and Middle School Students

Widely-adopted science education standards have expanded expectations for students to learn science research processes. To address these needs, the project will research and develop curricular materials and classroom practices that teachers can use to bring authentic science into their classes and engage students as active science researchers. The project, called MothEd, will focus on the study of moths, which are well-suited to the project’s goal of having students conduct authentic scientific investigations.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2100990
Funding Period: 
Sun, 08/15/2021 to Thu, 07/31/2025
Full Description: 

There are few opportunities and curriculum materials that support teachers in engaging elementary and middle-school students in scientific research processes and in conducting their own investigations. Widely-adopted science education standards have expanded expectations for students to learn science research processes. To address these needs, the project will research and develop curricular materials and classroom practices that teachers can use to bring authentic science into their classes and engage students as active science researchers. The project, called MothEd, will focus on the study of moths, which are well-suited to the project’s goal of having students conduct authentic scientific investigations. Moths are ecologically important, easy to capture, and there is a lack of research on moths compared to many other insect species. In the project activities, students will construct moth traps and collect data through research processes that they design and carry out. The project is building on an approach called community science (sometimes called citizen science), where non-scientists in local communities voluntarily contribute to scientific research. Students and teachers will work in partnership with entomologists and science educators to develop and answer questions about local ecological conditions and will become genuine producers of knowledge within science learning communities. Students will work collaboratively within an online platform to design experiments using a complete suite of research tools for collection, expression, and analysis of data, including sensors, photographs, sketches, and graphs. The project will develop curricular materials that will provide teaching and learning materials that are focused on giving students place-based opportunities to conduct age-appropriate scientific investigations.

MothEd’s educational research will investigate several questions: (1) what students understand about scientific research processes and how they see themselves in that process; (2) how students can work as partners with scientists in discovery and what do they learn about research methods and moth ecology; and (3) What supports teachers need in order to support students as active science researchers. Using a mixed methods approach, the project will collect a variety of data for the research: in-class observations of student work; pre- and post- activity surveys about their knowledge of moth ecology and their view and understanding of science research processes; teacher interviews; and analysis of data collected by project software on student work and collaboration. The project will be designed to ensure that the MothEd education materials can be adopted and used independently by teachers across the country. Project research findings and materials will be shared via conferences, journal publications, and the project’s collaborative learning environment.

Supporting Playful Learning in Elementary Mathematics Classrooms

Previous research has shown that play is an important vehicle for exploration, understanding, and learning because play involves many of the same features as sophisticated disciplinary engagement in mathematics. Despite work documenting the value of play broadly, little research has directly addressed how play could be supported or the value of doing so in mathematics classrooms.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101356
Funding Period: 
Sun, 08/01/2021 to Thu, 07/31/2025
Full Description: 

Previous research has shown that play is an important vehicle for exploration, understanding, and learning because play involves many of the same features as sophisticated disciplinary engagement in mathematics. Despite work documenting the value of play broadly, little research has directly addressed how play could be supported or the value of doing so in mathematics classrooms. The purpose of this project is to investigate play in early elementary math education through a four-year longitudinal study that documents teacher learning and connects teacher practice with in-depth qualitative analyses of children over multiple years. The researchers will partner with kindergarten teachers for three consecutive years. Teachers will experience professional development where they will engage in play as learners and learn how to design tasks that incorporate play. Subsequently, the teachers will implement strategies in their kindergarten classrooms. The teachers will implement this model for three years, and each year the project will add new kindergarten teachers.

The longitudinal design will also support looking at play in relation to grade level. Teachers will participate in summer professional development as well as grade-specific video clubs where teachers will observe and annotate videos of their practice. Similarly, this project will explore children’s experiences over time by following a cohort of children in classrooms that integrate play for three consecutive years, and in relation to teachers’ experience by contrasting kindergarteners over consecutive years. In so doing, this project will develop three in-depth accounts using qualitative methods: 1) How kindergarten teachers learn to integrate play into their instruction and how their teaching changes over time; 2) How the task of integrating play changes with respect to different grades and different content; and 3) How the relationship that children develop with mathematics might be transformed by experiencing playful mathematics learning over their early elementary careers. In this exploratory analysis, the researchers will employ qualitative methods, including video, video club, and in-class observations and teacher interviews and analytic methods including emergent coding, and coding schemes from research on high-quality mathematics teaching.  The data collected through this project will offer insight into children’s trajectories of participation across the first three years of elementary school and shed light on how children’s relationship with the discipline of mathematics could be transformed.

A Researcher-Practitioner Partnership to Assess the Impact of COVID-19 Recession on NGSS Implementation

This project will investigate how NGSS has been implemented in California schools during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Through a state-wide survey, analysis of administrative data, interviews and case studies, this project will assess the impact of COVID-19 on NGSS implementation on a large scale, and more importantly, the extent to which high minority, high-poverty districts are disproportionately affected. It will also identify policy options available to state and school districts.

Award Number: 
2128789
Funding Period: 
Tue, 06/01/2021 to Tue, 05/31/2022
Full Description: 

Today 44 states serving 71 percent of U.S. students have education standards influenced by the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Local implementation is the key to the success of NGSS, yet little is known about the extent to which NGSS have been implemented in K-12 schools during COVID-19. Policymakers, educational leaders, and researchers urgently need data to know whether and how NGSS implementation is taking hold in their schools in light of changes due to COVID-19 so that they may design better supports for implementation in anticipation for school reopening for in-person learning in September 2021. This project will investigate how NGSS has been implemented in California schools during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Through a state-wide survey, analysis of administrative data, interviews and case studies, this project will assess the impact of COVID-19 on NGSS implementation on a large scale, and more importantly, the extent to which high minority, high-poverty districts are disproportionately affected. It will also identify policy options available to state and school districts. By collecting critical and timely data, this project will contribute new knowledge to understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on NGSS implementation. This knowledge is a necessary step towards policy and practice solutions that support schools and teachers in continuing implementation of NGSS and expanding educational opportunities to underrepresented minorities, English learners, and students with disabilities in post-COVID-19.

The goals of the project are to (1) assess the impacts of COVID-19 on NGSS implementation in California; (2) examine whether and how high-minority, high-poverty districts are impacted more acutely than other districts; and (3) identify policies and programs state and local districts could prioritize to mitigate the impacts. A mixed methods approach will be used to answer research questions related to the above goals. Specifically, a survey of all school districts in California will be conducted. Text mining of school district administrative data will also be performed. Qualitative methods will include interviews and case studies. Extensive outreach efforts, including one-on-one briefings with the members of the legislative and executive branches, will also take place throughout the year. A researcher-practitioner partnership will be formed through engaging the California State Department of Education in allocating resources for NGSS implementation and local school districts in developing guidelines to support teachers in NGSS-aligned instruction. Project findings will be widely disseminated through online resources and digital libraries to school districts, science teachers, and curriculum developers. Project findings will inform state policymaking and increase the partnerships between research institutions and state government.

Mapping, Clarifying, and Communicating Key Ideas about Collaborative Learning

This project will synthesize research on computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL). The science of CSCL achieved advances in the past decade, including producing a research handbook—however, practitioners do not have easy access to research journals, nor time to sift through the latest findings to guide their practice. Further, conventional forms of research synthesis, such as research handbooks or long synthesis papers, serve narrow audiences and are rarely read by practitioners.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101341
Funding Period: 
Tue, 06/01/2021 to Fri, 05/31/2024
Full Description: 

This project will synthesize research on computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL). Collaborative learning occurs often in preK-12 STEM teaching—yet most teachers are unaware of research findings on how to organize collaboration among students to increase learning. These research findings can support key STEM teaching practices such as argumentation, project-based learning, peer instruction, equitable participation, and inquiry-based learning. The science of CSCL achieved advances in the past decade, including producing a research handbook—however, practitioners do not have easy access to research journals, nor time to sift through the latest findings to guide their practice. Further, conventional forms of research synthesis, such as research handbooks or long synthesis papers, serve narrow audiences and are rarely read by practitioners. Digital Promise, a nonprofit organization that connects researchers, educators, and developers—with a team of external researcher and practitioner advisors and partner organizations—will investigate and develop a novel synthesis approach to provide educators and researchers with a novel form of synthesis organized around an interactive map of topics and subtopics. By working with national practitioner organizations, the project will achieve broad and deep dissemination.

To develop the synthesis, a multidisciplinary team of both researchers and educators will use a visual, interactive bibliometric approach to understand the research literature landscape. Key novel elements of the innovative synthesis approach are: (1) involving practitioners and researchers in each stage of the work—mapping, clarifying, and communicating; (2) using visual maps as a tool for organizing and navigating interconnected ideas; (3) involving both expert review and bibliometric techniques to identify topics and connections for the map; (4) using a qualitative process inspired by the Delphi method to iteratively develop a consensus map that both respects the scientific literature and addresses practitioners’ needs; (5) writing a short, concise primer for each topic within the map, to enable multiple entry points, accessibility, greater reader-navigability, and easier readability; and (6) during dissemination, involving multiple practitioner organizations and approaches for learning which dissemination channels and methods achieve broad and deep reach. The project will establish a new mode of synthesis that, if successful, could be applied to other high-interest topic areas, yielding additional research maps and concept primers to serve the needs of STEM researchers and practitioners. Finally, this process will also strengthen the large field of research that studies CSCL by increasing awareness of the gaps in knowledge between what researchers have established and what practitioners want to know.

Developing and Validating a Scalable, Classroom-focused Measure of Usable Knowledge for Teaching Mathematics: The Classroom Video Analysis Instrument

Principal Investigator: 
This project focuses on developing a scalable, classroom-focused measure of usable mathematics teaching knowledge in three content areas: (a) fractions (grades 4 and 5), (b) ratio and proportions (grades 6 and 7); and (c) variables, expressions, and equations (grades 6 and 7). The project examines a variety of validity evidence for the new items and the reliability of scores to evaluate the overall construct validity.
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Developing and Evaluating Assessments of Problem Solving (Collaborative Research: Bostic and Sondergeld)

Principal Investigator: 

Through DEAP, we have created three Problem-Solving Measures (PSMs) that address the Common Core State Math Content for grades 3, 4, 5, and 6 and built a robust validity argument for their use and score interpretations. We have also used vertical equating to link the PSMs with the already functioning middle-school PSMs (grades 6, 7, and 8). We are constructing a DEAP reporting system and investigating how the reporting system formatively informs teachers instructional decisions.

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Discipline / Topic: 

CAREER: Fraction Activities and Assessments for Conceptual Teaching (FAACT) for Students with Learning Disabilities

Principal Investigator: 

This poster describes the outcomes, dissemination, and scaling of project work from "Fraction Activities and Assessment for Conceptual Teaching (FAACT)." We describe the results of a pilot study for FAACT, free curriculum materials, and how the work has been translated to a new game based project, Model Mathematics Education (ModelME). A link to an intro video for ModelMe's game based curriculum will be shared.

Co-PI(s): Matthew Marino and Michelle Taub, University of Central Florida

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Advancing Coherent and Equitable Systems of Science Education

Principal Investigator: 

The Advancing Coherent and Equitable Systems of Science Education (ACESSE) project is a deep collaboration between the Council of State Science Supervisors, the University of Washington, and the University of Colorado Boulder. ACESSE brings together educators and researchers to collaboratively research, develop, and promote strategies to make science education more coherent and equitable. Our work focuses on: sensing and guiding improvement, the co-design of professional learning resources, and leadership capacity development for equity.

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Discipline / Topic: 

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.

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