Elementary School

Exploring COVID and the Effects on U.S. Education: Evidence from a National Survey of American Households

This study aims to understand parents' perspectives on the educational impacts of COVID-19 by leveraging a nationally representative, longitudinal study, the Understanding America Study (UAS). The study will track educational experiences during the summer of 2020 and into the 2020-21 school year and analyze outcomes overall and for key demographic groups of interest.

Award Number: 
2037179
Funding Period: 
Wed, 07/15/2020 to Wed, 06/30/2021
Full Description: 

The COVID-19 epidemic has been a tremendous disruption to the education of U.S. students and their families, and early evidence suggests that this disruption has been unequally felt across households by income and race/ethnicity. While other ongoing data collection efforts focus on understanding this disruption from the perspective of students or educators, less is known about the impact of COVID-19 on children's prek-12 educational experiences as reported by their parents, especially in STEM subjects. This study aims to understand parents' perspectives on the educational impacts of COVID-19 by leveraging a nationally representative, longitudinal study, the Understanding America Study (UAS). The study will track educational experiences during the summer of 2020 and into the 2020-21 school year and analyze outcomes overall and for key demographic groups of interest.

Since March of 2020, the UAS has been tracking the educational impacts of COVID-19 for a nationally representative sample of approximately 1,500 households with preK-12 children. Early results focused on quantifying the digital divide and documenting the receipt of important educational serviceslike free meals and special education servicesafter COVID-19 began. This project will support targeted administration of UAS questions to parents about students' learning experiences and engagement, overall and in STEM subjects, data analysis, and dissemination of results to key stakeholder groups. Findings will be reported overall and across key demographic groups including ethnicity, disability, urbanicity, and socioeconomic status. The grant will also support targeted research briefs addressing pressing policy questions aimed at supporting intervention strategies in states, districts, and schools moving forward. Widespread dissemination will take place through existing networks and in collaboration with other research projects focused on understanding the COVID-19 crisis. All cross-sectional and longitudinal UAS data files will be publicly available shortly after conclusion of administration so that other researchers can explore the correlates of, and outcomes associated with, COVID-19.

Storytelling for Mathematics Learning and Engagement

This project will collect and curate digital stories of diverse mathematicians sharing stories of their learning within and beyond schools. These short videos will become part of a more extensive digital database of mathematics stories that will be aligned with K-8 mathematics topics and then materials will be developed for teachers to use. The project team will explore the use of mathematics storytelling on K-8 teacher and student mathematics learning and engagement.

Award Number: 
2010276
Funding Period: 
Wed, 07/01/2020 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Full Description: 

Mathematics education in the United States has long been challenged by three key issues this project seeks to address: (a) narrow conceptions of mathematics as a discipline (b) the lack of racially/ethnically diverse role models for mathematics in terms of representation in the public imagination, media, and schools; and (c) a paucity of resources for instruction to harness students' early interest and engagement in mathematics across racial and gender groups. One promising way to expose teachers and students to a variety of images and diversity of models of mathematics is to include images of diverse people telling their stories about their doing and knowing of mathematics. Although storytelling is a natural part of human activity and is used extensively in other elementary school subjects like social studies and language arts, it is not usually found in elementary mathematics. As part of this three-year project, the project team will collect and curate digital stories of diverse mathematicians sharing stories of their learning within and beyond schools. These short videos will become part of a more extensive digital database of mathematics stories that will be aligned with K-8 mathematics topics and then materials will be developed for teachers to use. Throughout this work, the project team will explore the use of mathematics storytelling on K-8 teacher and student mathematics learning and engagement.

This project responds to calls for improved equity and access to rich, rigorous math: to contribute to understanding a more equitable K-12 pedagogy; to disrupt racial inequities in math (and STEM, more broadly) through culturally responsive and inclusive instructional practice; and to enhance teachers' instructional practice. The first phase of the work will involve collecting and curating a set of digital stories told by mathematicians. Then, through two cycles of design and piloting, the project team will work with participating teachers and students to finalize the design of the videos and associated instructional materials. A sample of pilot teachers will be purposefully selected to account for diversity in region, school population, and experience level of teachers. The research team will also design grade-level appropriate research instruments, collect surveys, and conduct interviews to investigate both teachers' and students' conceptions of mathematics, their conceptions of who "belongs" in mathematics, and teachers' instructional practice with the storytelling materials themselves. Their analysis will draw on quantitative and qualitative research methods. For example, they will use narrative inquiry to examine teachers' and students' experiences with the videos. Using the research findings, the project will make available samples of teachers' pedagogical repertoires related to these videos and demonstrate how storytelling can be used as an effective mechanism for mathematics teaching and learning. Products from this project will include a digital database and supporting instructional materials for teachers, school leaders, and professional developers to use. The dissemination of this research will contribute to building models for mathematics education that serve to deepen understanding of mathematics of teachers and students, as well as simultaneously empowering students of all backgrounds, but especially underserved students, to activate and pursue their interests in mathematics.

A Quantitative Synthesis of Research on Elementary Science Programs

The goal of this project is to conduct a meta-analysis to assist in establishing a solid base of evidence to inform further research, practice, and policy in the area of early science education. The project will bring up-to-date the meta-analysis literature in the area of early science education.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2006179
Funding Period: 
Wed, 07/01/2020 to Wed, 06/30/2021
Full Description: 

The success of all students in science has become a priority, as the economic future depends on a workforce that is capable in science, mathematics, technology, and engineering. One area of emphasis has been on elementary science, where children's early attitudes and orientations about science are formed. Given the growth of high-quality evaluations of elementary science programs in recent years and the need to know what works in science education, an up-to-date review identifying effective programs and malleable factors in elementary science is needed. The goal of this project is to conduct a meta-analysis to assist in establishing a solid base of evidence to inform further research, practice, and policy in the area of early science education. The previous meta-analysis completed by this team published findings from approximately ten years ago. This project will bring up-to-date the meta-analysis literature in the area of early science education.

The review methods in the proposed quantitative synthesis on elementary science programs will be similar to those used by the What Works Clearinghouse. The focus of the review procedures is on timeliness, comprehensiveness, transparency, and minimizing bias. The goal of the project is to obtain and synthesize the entire literature evaluating elementary science programs to discover what works, for whom, and under what conditions. The team will systematically review the literature available in English between 2010 and 2021 to locate every study that meets well-established and accepted standards. Second, studies are grouped by categories, to look for patterns among effect sizes across studies. The team will use meta-regression techniques to test statistical significance of the categories and will explore cross-cutting substantive and methodological factors, as well as key moderators and mediators. The team will communicate findings to many audiences, including scholarly journals, practitioner journals, and the public.

Supporting Students' Language, Knowledge, and Culture through Science

This project will test and refine a teaching model that brings together current research about the role of language in science learning, the role of cultural connections in students' science engagement, and how students' science knowledge builds over time. The outcome of this project will be to provide an integrated framework that can guide current and future science teachers in preparing all students with the conceptual and linguistic practices they will need to succeed in school and in the workplace.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2010633
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2020 to Sat, 08/31/2024
Full Description: 

The Language, Culture, and Knowledge-building through Science project seeks to explore and positively influence the work of science teachers at the intersection of three significant and ongoing challenges affecting U.S. STEM education. First, U.S. student demographics are rapidly changing, with an increasing number of students learning STEM subjects in their second language. This change means that all teachers need new skills for meeting students where they currently are, linguistically, culturally, and in terms of prior science knowledge. Second, the needs and opportunities of the national STEM workforce are changing rapidly within a shifting employment landscape. This shift means that teachers need to better understand future job opportunities and the knowledge and skills that will be necessary in those careers. Third, academic expectations in schools have changed, driven by changes in education standards. These new expectations mean that teachers need new skills to support all students to master a range of practices that are both conceptual and linguistic. To address these challenges, teachers require new models that bring together current research about the role of language in science learning, the role of cultural connections in students' science engagement, and how students' science knowledge builds over time. This project begins with such an initial model, developed collaboratively with science teachers in a prior project. The model will be rigorously tested and refined in a new geographic and demographic context. The outcome will be to provide an integrated framework that can guide current and future science teachers in preparing all students with the conceptual and linguistic practices they will need to succeed in school and in the workplace.

This project model starts with three theoretical constructs that have been integrated into an innovative framework of nine practices. These practices guide teachers in how to simultaneously support students' language development, cultural sustenance, and knowledge building through science with a focus on supporting and challenging multilingual learners. The project uses a functional view of language development, which highlights the need to support students in understanding both how and why to make shifts in language use. For example, students' attention will be drawn to differences in language use when they shift from language that is suited to peer negotiation in a lab group to written explanations suitable for a lab report. Moving beyond a funds of knowledge approach to culture, the team view of integrating students' cultural knowledge includes strengthening the role of home knowledge in school, but also guiding students to apply school knowledge to their out-of-school interests and passions. Finally, the project team's view of cumulative knowledge building, informed by work in the sociology of knowledge, highlights the need for teachers and students to understand the norms for meaning making within a given discipline. In the case of science, the three-dimensional learning model in the Next Generation Science Standards makes these disciplinary norms visible and serves as a launching point for the project's work. Teachers will be supported to structure learning opportunities that highlight what is unique about meaning making through science. Using a range of data collection and analysis methods, the project team will study changes in teachers' practices and beliefs related to language, culture and knowledge building, as teachers work with all students, and particularly with multilingual learners. The project work will take place in both classrooms and out of class science learning settings. By working closely over several years with a group of fifty science teachers spread across the state of Oregon, the project team will develop a typology of teachers (design personas) to increase the field's understanding of how to support different teachers, given their own backgrounds, in preparing all students for the broad range of academic and occupational pathways they will encounter.

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

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

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

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

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


 Project Videos

2021 STEM for All Video Showcase

Title: Teacher Learning for Citizen Science

Presenter(s): Patrick Smith, Sarah Carrier, Goforth Goforth, Meredith Hayes, Jill McGowan, & Lindsey Sachs


Exploring Early Childhood Teachers' Abilities to Identify Computational Thinking Precursors to Strengthen Computer Science in Classrooms

This project will explore PK-2 teachers' content knowledge by investigating their understanding of the design and implementation of culturally relevant computer science learning activities for young children. The project team will design a replicable model of PK-2 teacher professional development to address the lack of research in early computer science education.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2006595
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2020 to Thu, 08/31/2023
Full Description: 

Strengthening computer science education is a national priority with special attention to increasing the number of teachers who can deliver computer science education in schools. Yet computer science education lacks the evidence to determine how teachers come to think about computational thinking (a problem-solving process) and how it could be integrated within their day-to-day classroom activities. For teachers of pre-kindergarten to 2nd (PK-2) grades, very little research has specifically addressed teacher learning. This oversight challenges the achievement of an equitable, culturally diverse, computationally empowered society. The project team will design a replicable model of PK-2 teacher professional development in San Marcos, Texas, to address the lack of research in early computer science education. The model will emphasize three aspects of teacher learning: a) exploration of and reflection on computer science and computational thinking skills and practices, b) noticing and naming computer science precursor skills and practices in early childhood learning, and c) collaborative design, implementation and assessment of learning activities aligned with standards across content areas. The project will explore PK-2 teachers' content knowledge by investigating their understanding of the design and implementation of culturally relevant computer science learning activities for young children. The project includes a two-week computational making and inquiry institute focused on algorithms and data in the context of citizen science and historical storytelling. The project also includes monthly classroom coaching sessions, and teacher meetups.

The research will include two cohorts of 15 PK-2 teachers recruited from the San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District (SMCISD) in years one and two of the project. The project incorporates a 3-phase professional development program to be run in two cycles for each cohort of teachers. Phase one (summer) includes a 2-week Computational Making and Inquiry Institute, phase two (school year) includes classroom observations and teacher meetups and phase three (late spring) includes an advanced computational thinking institute and a community education conference. Research and data collection on impacts will follow a mixed-methods approach based on a grounded theory design to document teachers learning. The mixed-methods approach will enable researchers to triangulate participants' acquisition of new knowledge and skills with their developing abilities to implement learning activities in practice. Data analysis will be ongoing, interweaving qualitative and quantitative methods. Qualitative data, including field notes, observations, interviews, and artifact assessments, will be analyzed by identifying analytical categories and their relationships. Quantitative data includes pre to post surveys administered at three-time points for each cohort. Inter-item correlations and scale reliabilities will be examined, and a repeated measures ANOVA will be used to assess mean change across time for each of five measures. Project results will be communicated via peer-reviewed journals, education newsletters, annual conferences, family and teacher meetups, and community art and culture events, as well as on social media, blogs, and education databases.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paving the Way for Fractions: Identifying Foundational Concepts in First Grade (Collaborative Research: Jordan)

The goal of this project is to investigate the extent to which individual differences in informal fraction-related knowledge in first-grade children are associated with short- and longer-term fractions and math outcomes, and to see whether there is a causal link between level of informal fraction-related knowledge and the ability to profit from fractions instruction that directly builds on this knowledge.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2000495
Funding Period: 
Mon, 06/01/2020 to Fri, 05/31/2024
Full Description: 

Although fractions represent a crucial topic in early childhood education, many students develop only a tenuous grasp of fraction concepts, even after several years of fraction instruction that is aligned with current standards. The goal of this project, led by a team of researchers at the University of Delaware and Temple University, is to answer important questions about the informal understandings of fractions young children have before they come to school and what their relations are to fraction learning in more formal instructional settings. Proficiency with fractions dramatically increases the likelihood of students succeeding in math, which in turn increases participation in the STEM workforce. Importantly, large individual differences in fraction understandings are apparent at the start of fractions instruction in the intermediate grades. Early fraction misunderstandings cascade into more severe math weaknesses in later grades, especially when instruction may shift abruptly from whole numbers to fractions. There is a critical need to understand the roots of individual differences that arise before formal instruction takes place. Young children possess important informal fraction understandings before they come to school, but the range of these abilities and their role in formal fraction learning and development is not well understood. The goal of this project is: a) to investigate the extent to which individual differences in informal fraction-related knowledge in first-grade children are associated with short- and longer-term fractions and math outcomes; and b) to see whether there is a causal link between level of informal fraction-related knowledge and the ability to profit from fractions instruction that directly builds on this knowledge. The findings from the project hold promise for informing early childhood educators how fractions can be incorporated in the first-grade curriculum in new and meaningful ways. Though the findings should be beneficial to all students, the project will specifically target members of groups underrepresented in STEM fields, including ethnic and racial minority and low-income students.

The project design includes both an observational study and an experimental study. The observational study will: (1) document individual differences in informal fraction-related knowledge in first grade; (2) determine concurrent relations between this informal knowledge and general cognitive and whole number competencies; and (3) examine whether informal fraction-related knowledge at the beginning of first grade uniquely predicts math outcomes at the end. The experimental study will explore the extent to which first graders' informal and formal fraction concepts can be affected by training. The researchers will test whether training on the number line, which is continuous and closely aligned with the mental representation of the magnitude of all real numbers, will help students capitalize on their informal fraction understandings of proportionality, scaling, and equal sharing as well as their experience with integers to learn key fraction concepts. Together, the synergistic studies will pinpoint the role informal fraction knowledge in learning key fraction concepts. All data will be collected in Delaware schools serving socioeconomically and ethnically diverse populations of students. Primary measures include assessments of informal fraction knowledge (proportional reasoning, spatial scaling, equal sharing), executive functioning, vocabulary, whole number knowledge, whole number/fraction number line estimation, formal fraction knowledge, and broad mathematics achievement (calculation, fluency, applied problems).

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