Middle School

An Interdisciplinary Approach to Supporting Computer Science in Rural Schools

This project will develop, test, and refine a "train-the-trainer" professional development model for rural teacher-leaders. The project goal is to design and develop a professional development model that supports teachers integrating culturally relevant computer science skills and practices into their middle school social studies classrooms, thereby broadening rural students' participation in computer science.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2010256
Funding Period: 
Wed, 07/01/2020 to Sun, 06/30/2024
Full Description: 

Strengthening computer science (CS) and computational thinking (CT) education is a national priority with particular attention to increasing the number of teachers prepared to deliver computer science courses. For rural schools, that collectively serve more than 10 million students, it is especially challenging. Rural schools find it difficult to recruit and retain STEM teachers that are prepared to teach computer science and computational thinking. This project will develop, test, and refine a "train-the-trainer" professional development model for rural teacher-leaders. The project will build teachers' self-efficacy to deliver computer science concepts and practices into middle school social studies classrooms. The project is led by CodeVA (a statewide non-profit in Virginia), in partnership with TERC (a STEM-focused national research institution) and the University of South Florida College of Education, and in collaboration with six rural school districts in Virginia. The project goal is to design and develop a professional development model that supports teachers integrating culturally relevant computer science skills and practices into their middle school social studies classrooms, thereby broadening rural students' participation in computer science. The professional development model will be designed and developed around meeting rural teachers, where they are, geographically, economically, and culturally. The model will also be sustainable and will work within the resource constraints of the rural school district. The model will also be built on strategies that will broadly spread CS education while building rural capacity.

The project will use a mixed-methods research approach to understand the model's potential to build capacity for teaching CS in rural schools. The research design is broken down into four distinct phases; planning/development prototyping, piloting and initial dissemination, an efficacy study, and analysis, and dissemination. The project will recruit 45 teacher-leaders and one district-level instructional coach, 6th and 7th-grade teachers, and serve over 1900 6th and 7th-grade students. Participants will be recruited from the rural Virginia school districts of Buchanan, Russell, Charlotte, Halifax, and Northampton. The research question for phase 1 is what is each district's existing practice around computer science education (if any) and social studies education? Phases 2, 3 and 4 research will examine the effectiveness of professional development on teacher leadership and the CS curricular integration. Phase 4 research will examine teacher efficacy to implement the professional development independently, enabling district teachers to integrate CS into their social studies classes. Teacher data sources for each phase include interviews with administrators and teachers, teacher readiness surveys, observations, an examination of artifacts, and CS/CT content interviews. Student data will consist of classroom observation and student attitude surveys. Quantitative and qualitative data will be triangulated to address each set of research questions and provide a reliability check on findings. Qualitative data, such as observations/video, and interview data will be analyzed through codes that represent expected themes and patterns related to teachers' and coaches' experiences. Project results will be communicated through presentations at conferences such as Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education, the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA), the National Council for Social Studies (NCSS), and the American Educational Research Association. Lesson plans will be made available on the project website, and links will be provided through publications and newsletters such as the NCSS Middle-Level Learner, NCSS Social Education, CSTA the Voice, the NSF-funded CADREK12 website and the NSF-funded STEM Video Showcase.

Professional Development for Science Teachers Using Electronic Portfolios to Document Student Understandings of Energy Concepts Across Grades K-8

This project would investigate a new model of professional development for teams of science teachers in grades K-8 who would create electronic portfolios documenting how they taught specific concepts about energy. In addition, teachers would also select evidence of student understanding of the concepts and add those materials to their portfolios. The study focuses on teaching and learning energy core ideas and science practices that are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Award Number: 
2010505
Funding Period: 
Thu, 10/01/2020 to Sat, 09/30/2023
Full Description: 

Professional development for science teachers is often restricted to content required for a single grade level or grade band. Consequently, teachers seldom have the opportunity to discuss evidence of how learning occurs as students pass from grade to grade. This project would investigate a new model of professional development for teams of science teachers in grades K-8 who would create electronic portfolios documenting how they taught specific concepts about energy. In addition, teachers would also select evidence of student understanding of the concepts and add those materials to their portfolios. The study focuses on teaching and learning energy core ideas and science practices that are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The core ideas are designed to spiral over grade levels, with each core idea being revisited with more complexity as students advance from grades K to 8. The electronic portfolio will include images of artifacts such as student work samples and videos that reflect students' evolving thinking and discourse about energy topics. As teachers organize, share, and discuss this progression of evidence in professional learning communities guided by the researchers, the goal is to have a vertical electronic display of artifacts that illustrates how learning can occur. The vertically aligned evidence will help other teachers in the school district to gain an increasingly complex understanding of student learning trajectories across grade levels to improve teaching and learning in science classrooms across the district. The project is innovative because its goal is to move beyond the grade-level collaborations typical of professional development practice and literature, toward multi-grade teams of teachers who engage in complex reflection about spiraling core ideas and scientific practices developed by students over time.

The research questions are: 1.) How does participation in a vertical professional learning community (PLC) influence teachers' knowledge and instruction for teaching disciplinary core ideas through engagement in science practices? 2.) In what ways does professional learning about science teaching and learning differ in a vertical PLC, compared to grade-level PLCs? And 3.) How does the use of an electronic portfolio and feedback system influence teachers' learning from a vertical PLC? The study will first work with K-8 teacher leaders in the Little River Unified School District in California where an electronic portfolio system is already in place due to a prior NSF grant. In the first year, the researchers will add new features to the electronic portfolio system to expand its capabilities. Each teacher would provide a 5-day portfolio of lessons in the fall semester of the first year as a baseline measure of instructional practices. The project will focus on NGSS competencies in developing models and constructing explanations for energy concepts. The researchers will measure progress through teacher interviews, surveys, and lesson plans. Teachers will also collect additional artifacts reflecting student-drawn conceptual models and written or oral causal explanations of anchoring phenomena throughout the assigned units. By the end of the study, teachers will collect new 5-day portfolios, to sum up what they have learned and how they are approaching teaching the energy concepts and science practices. Participating teacher leaders will work with the UCLA research team to design and facilitate a series of professional development modules for all science teachers across grades K-8. These modules will use the evidence in the vertical portfolios to illustrate teaching and learning trajectories across K-8 physical science energy concepts and science.

Learning Progressions in Science: Analyzing and Deconstructing the Multiple Dimensions in Assessment

Through this project, researchers will develop internet-based assessments designed to capture learning outcomes that (a) measure the higher order cognitive skills that are essential to current reform efforts, and (b) that report results in ways that are readily accessible and interpretable.

Award Number: 
2010322
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2020 to Sat, 08/31/2024
Full Description: 

Assessments are a crucial tool to enable the success of teaching and learning in science classrooms. Hence, to realize the vision of current reform efforts assessments must be developed that (a) measure the higher order cognitive skills that are essential to those reforms, and (b) that report results in ways that are readily accessible and interpretable. Through this project, researchers will develop internet-based assessments that capture such learning outcomes. These assessments can influence policy and practice by providing tangible products that exemplify the kind of learning outcomes and performances expected in today's science classrooms. The measures will also ensure that all students are assessed fairly. This project has the potential to enable students to express their knowledge and skills in a variety of ways which are less demanding and more creative than typical in traditional assessments.

Researchers will develop assessment materials aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards practice of scientific argumentation, the cross-cutting concept of patterns, and content in each of the following foundational middle school science domains - physical, life, and Earth sciences. Researchers will work closely with administrators and educators to ensure the relevance and alignment of materials to teachers' needs. Data will be gathered from middle and high school students from ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse school districts in California and Arizona. Key measures to be developed include embedding questions about patterns into the nine existing scenarios (tasks) and in new scenarios about natural resources. The team will develop assessments that can be used in both open-ended and selected response formats, to enhance their usefulness to teachers for diagnostic understanding, and their efficiency for summative classroom use. Data will also be gathered from teachers, to help develop interpretational materials. Teachers will have access, in real time, to their own students' responses, and estimates of students' performance on learning progressions within each of the science practices, crosscutting concepts and domains mentioned. The team will use the BEAR Assessment System to develop and refine assessment materials. This system is an integrated approach to developing assessments that seeks to provide meaningful interpretations of student work relative to cognitive and developmental goals. The researchers will gather empirical evidence to develop and improve the assessment materials, and then gather reliability and validity evidence to support their use. In total, item response data will be collected from several thousand students across the two districts. Student response data will be analyzed using multidimensional item response theory models.

Enhancing Energy Literacy through Place-based Learning: Using the School Building to Link Energy Use with Earth Systems

This exploratory project will design, pilot, and evaluate a 10-weeek, energy literacy curriculum unit for a program called Energy and Your Environment (EYE). In the EYE curriculum, students will study energy use and transfer in their own school buildings. They will explore how Earth systems supply renewable and nonrenewable energy, and how these energy sources are transformed and transferred from Earth systems to a school building to meet its daily energy requirements.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2009127
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2020 to Thu, 08/31/2023
Full Description: 

Student understanding of energy concepts about Earth systems and human-built systems require grappling with current societal issues related to resource use and management, energy sources, climate impacts, and sustainability. These relationships are challenging for students and underdeveloped in many science curriculum frameworks. This exploratory project will design, pilot, and evaluate a 10-weeek, energy literacy curriculum unit for a program called Energy and Your Environment (EYE). In the EYE curriculum, students will study energy use and transfer in their own school buildings. They will explore how Earth systems supply renewable and nonrenewable energy, and how these energy sources are transformed and transferred from Earth systems to a school building to meet its daily energy requirements. Learning about complex ideas in a place that is common to both students and teachers provides a means for deeper understanding and application of energy use and exchange. The research team includes researchers in biology and in architecture with an emphasis on natural resources and the environment. The researchers will work with four middle school science teachers to develop a curriculum unit that requires deep understanding of energy-systems models, but that will also be designed to apply to the school system and community. This is place-based learning aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards to foster energy literacy, modeling of energy use and flow, and systems thinking.

The research questions for this study will ask about students' ability to construct and explain models about energy use and exchange, as well as about teachers' use of the newly developed instructional materials. The research team will collaborate with 4 middle school teachers to design and test the unit in their classrooms. Data collection includes students' drawn models of the energy systems in use in their school building, student and teacher interviews, classroom observations, and teacher questionnaires. Student understanding of the learning goals will be assessed through a learning performance on energy modeling, and an accompanying rubric to score student models and explanations. After an initial implementation of the unit in classrooms, the following summer, researchers and teachers will meet to revise the curriculum materials. Then, teachers new to the curriculum unit will participate in the professional development required to teach the EYE unit. They will introduce the revised unit to their students in the next year, as researchers collect data and evaluate student learning for the revised curriculum materials. Overall, the project intends to include about 600 middle school students.

Preparing Teachers to Design Tasks to Support, Engage, and Assess Science Learning in Rural Schools

This study focuses on working with teachers to develop assessment practices that focuses on the three NGSS dimensions of science ideas, practices and cross-cutting concepts, and adds two more dimensions; teachers will develop assessment tasks interesting to students, and promote the development of their science identities. To advance equitable opportunities for all students to learn science, this project will design and provide an online course to support rural teachers who teach science in grades 6-12.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2010086
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2020 to Sat, 08/31/2024
Full Description: 

Nationally, a third of US students attend rural or remote schools, yet rural teachers receive fewer opportunities to work together and engage in professional learning than their suburban and urban counterparts. This, in turn, can reflect on the opportunities for rural students to learn the high quality, up-to-date science ideas, practices, and concepts that are required by state standards, especially those aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). To advance equitable opportunities for all students to learn science, the project team will design and provide an online course to support rural teachers who teach science in grades 6-12. The course will focus on improving classroom science assessment practices and instruction to meet the unique needs of rural educators and their students. Too often, science concepts are removed from the lives of rural students, although their homes, communities and natural environments are filled with ideas and experiences that can make science come alive. When teachers link assessment and instruction to students' everyday lives, students have enhanced interest in and identification with science. This, in turn, can lead more students to pursue science and applied science fields beyond high school, to broaden the STEM pipeline. In addition, students are better prepared to participate in science in their communities as empowered citizens. This study focuses on working with teachers to develop assessment practices that not only focus on the three NGSS dimensions of science ideas, practices and cross-cutting concepts, it also adds two more dimensions; teachers will develop assessment tasks interesting to students, and promote the development of their science identities. The researchers refer to this as 5D assessment.

Researchers at Colorado University Boulder and BSCS Science Learning will use design-based implementation research to collaboratively design an online course sequence that targets 5D assessment in science. The study will proceed in three phases: a rapid ethnographic study to assess the needs of teachers serving a variety of rural communities, a study of teachers' use of an online platform for their professional learning, and lastly an experimental study to research the effects of the online course on teacher and student outcomes. Researchers will recruit 10 teachers to take the on-line course for the professional development and collect data on participating teachers' implementation of the course ideas through classroom videotaping and surveys designed to capture their changing practices. In the third year of the project, researchers will conduct an impact study with 70 secondary science teachers taking the re-designed on-line course, and compare their outcomes with a "business-as-usual" condition. The impact of course will be measured by questionnaires that address their vision for teaching the NGSS and self-reported instructional practices; classroom observations; and, teacher-constructed student assessments. Student outcomes will be measured using science interest and identity surveys, and an examination of student work products that demonstrate students' ability to use the science and engineering practice of modeling, a practice likely to be encountered in all NGSS science classrooms. The project will identify conditions under which learning about 5D assessment task design can support instructional improvement, increase student interest in science and engineering, and enhance students' opportunities to learn. The researchers hypothesize that the online program will have a positive impact on teachers' vision, classroom practices, and their use of high-quality 5D tasks. They also hypothesize that teacher participation will result in significant increases in student interest in and identification with science, and that these effects will be mediated by teacher outcomes. Finally, the researchers hypothesize that effects will be equitable across demographic variables in rural communities.

Understanding the Role of Lesson Study in K-12 Mathematics and Science Teacher Education

This conference will shed light on how mathematics and science teacher educators are currently using lesson study to prepare pre-service teachers. The project will improve teacher educators' understanding of how lesson study can be optimized to teach pre-service teachers which will help bring this technique to the future teachers in their programs.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2010137
Funding Period: 
Mon, 06/15/2020 to Mon, 05/31/2021
Full Description: 

This conference will shed light on how mathematics and science teacher educators are currently using lesson study to prepare pre-service teachers. Lesson study is a structured process for teachers to study content and curriculum, carefully plan lessons to test a researchable question about student learning, teach the lesson in front of other professionals who help gather data, and use that data to evaluate the efficacy of the instruction for the students. With its focus on researching the connection between lesson enactment and student learning, lesson study contains structures for connecting practice-based teacher education to schools and classrooms. By evaluating the efficacy of the instruction, the outcomes, positive or negative, can be applied to other relevant instruction. The use of lesson study in college classes for pre-service teachers is relatively new in the United States, but it is becoming more popular. Because lesson study has been used primarily for in-service professional development of teachers, little is known about how it can be optimally employed for pre-service teacher education. This project will improve teacher educators' understanding of how lesson study can be optimized to teach pre-service teachers which will help bring this technique to the future teachers in their programs. When pre-service teachers are better prepared, high quality mathematics and science instruction may be expanded to more schools, giving more K-12 students improved opportunities to learn these subjects.

This project will support twenty-four mathematics and science teacher educators to collaborate in identifying their pedagogical goals for using lesson study and the enabling and constraining factors for its implementation that they perceive. Given that universities and schools have variance in their structures and focus, teacher educators will identify any modifications they have made to the lesson study process considering their context. By collaboratively identifying pedagogical goals, enabling and constraining implementation factors, and evidence-based adjustments to the lesson study process, this project will clarify the lesson study practices of the participants. The project will yield an edited book for other teacher educators to deploy lesson study in their teacher education programs, building from what is currently known and setting a trajectory for future pre-service teacher lesson study and research. Additionally, the project will establish a baseline network of teacher educators using lesson study within teacher education that can be built upon in the future.

Building Environmental and Educational Technology Competence and Leadership Among Educators: An Exploration in Virtual Reality Professional Development

This project will bring locally relevant virtual reality (VR) experiences to teachers and students in areas where there is historically low participation of women and underrepresented minorities in STEM. This exploratory project will support the professional growth and development of current middle and high school STEM teachers by providing multiyear summer training and school year support around environmental sciences themed content, implementing VR in the classroom, and development of a support community for the teachers.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2010563
Funding Period: 
Mon, 06/15/2020 to Wed, 05/31/2023
Full Description: 

Many of the nation's most vulnerable ecosystems exist near communities with scant training opportunities for teachers and students in K-12 schools. The Louisiana wetlands is one such example. Focusing on these threatened natural environments and their connection to flooding will put science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) concepts in a real-world context that is relatable to students living in these areas while integrating virtual reality technology. This technology will allow students in rural and urban schools lacking resources for field trips to be immersed into simulated field experiences. This exploratory project will support the professional growth and development of current middle and high school STEM teachers by providing multiyear summer training and school year support around three specific areas: (1) environmental sciences themed content; (2) implementing virtual reality (VR) in the classroom, and (3) development of a support community for the teachers. Findings from this project will advance the knowledge of the most effective components in professional development for teachers to incorporate new knowledge into their classrooms. This project will bring locally relevant VR experiences to teachers and students in areas where there is historically low participation of women and underrepresented minorities in STEM. Through new partnerships formed with collaborators, the results of this project will be shared broadly in informal and formal education environments including public outreach events for an increase in public scientific literacy and public engagement.

This project will expand the understanding of the impact that a multi-layered professional development program will have on improving the self-efficacy of teachers in STEM. This project will add to the field's knowledge tied to the overall research question: What are the experiences of secondary STEM teachers in rural and urban schools who participate in a multiyear professional development (PD) program? This project will provide instructional support and PD for two cohorts of ten teachers in southeastern Louisiana. Each summer, teachers will complete a two-week blended learning PD training, and during the academic year, teachers will participate in an action research community including PD meetings and monthly Critical Friends Group meetings. A longitudinal pre-post-post design will be employed to analyze whether the proposed method improves teacher's self-efficacy, instructional practices, integration of technology, and leadership as the teachers will deploy VR training locally to grow the base of teachers integrating this technology into their curriculum. The findings of this project will improve understanding of how innovative place-based technological experiences can be brought into classrooms and shared through public engagement.

Synchronous Online Video-Based Development for Rural Mathematics Coaches (Collaborative Research: Amador)

This project will create a fully online video-based model for mathematics teacher professional development focused on supporting mathematics coaches in rural contexts, building on the investigators' previous work focused on online professional learning opportunities for mathematics teachers in rural contexts.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2006353
Funding Period: 
Fri, 05/15/2020 to Tue, 04/30/2024
Full Description: 

Mathematics coaching is a research-based method to improve teacher quality, yet there is little research on teaching and coaching mathematics in rural contexts. In addition, mathematics coaches in rural contexts frequently work in isolation with little access to professional learning opportunities to support their coaching practice. This project will create a fully online video-based model for mathematics teacher professional development focused on supporting mathematics coaches in rural contexts, building on the investigators' previous work focused on online professional learning opportunities for mathematics teachers in rural contexts. Results from the previous project focused on rural teachers and their coaches show that the professional development model increased connections between what teachers notice about student thinking and broader principles of teaching and learning, that teachers were able to enact stronger levels of ambitious mathematics instruction, and that teachers who received coaching showed a stronger focus on math content and instructional practice. This extension of the model to coaches includes an online content-focused coaching course, cycles of one-on-one video-based coaching, and an online video club to analyze coaching practice. The video clubs will be structured as a graduated model that will begin with facilitation by mentor coaches and move into coach participants facilitating their own sessions.

Three cohorts of 12 coach participants will be recruited, with one cohort launching each year. In the first year, coaches will participate in four 2-hour synchronous content-focused course meetings, two coaching cycles with a mentor coach, and four video club meetings. In the second year, cohorts will conduct and facilitate four video club meetings. Research on impact follows a design-based model, with iterative cycles of design and revision of the online model. An ongoing analysis of 15-20% of the data collected each year will be used to inform revisions to the model from year to year, with fuller data analysis ongoing throughout the project. Participating coaches will be engaged in a noticing interview and surveys to assess changes in their perceptions and practices as coaches. Each coach participant will record one coaching interaction as data to assess changes in coaching practices. Patterns of participation and artifacts from the online course will be analyzed. Coaching cycle meetings and video club meetings will be recorded and transcribed. The Learning to Notice framework will be used as an analytical lens for describing changes in coaching practice.

The Discovery Research preK-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of innovative resources, models and tools. Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Synchronous Online Video-Based Development for Rural Mathematics Coaches (Collaborative Research: Choppin)

This project will create a fully online video-based model for mathematics teacher professional development focused on supporting mathematics coaches in rural contexts, building on the investigators' previous work focused on online professional learning opportunities for mathematics teachers in rural contexts.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2006263
Funding Period: 
Fri, 05/15/2020 to Tue, 04/30/2024
Full Description: 

Mathematics coaching is a research-based method to improve teacher quality, yet there is little research on teaching and coaching mathematics in rural contexts. In addition, mathematics coaches in rural contexts frequently work in isolation with little access to professional learning opportunities to support their coaching practice. This project will create a fully online video-based model for mathematics teacher professional development focused on supporting mathematics coaches in rural contexts, building on the investigators' previous work focused on online professional learning opportunities for mathematics teachers in rural contexts. Results from the previous project focused on rural teachers and their coaches show that the professional development model increased connections between what teachers notice about student thinking and broader principles of teaching and learning, that teachers were able to enact stronger levels of ambitious mathematics instruction, and that teachers who received coaching showed a stronger focus on math content and instructional practice. This extension of the model to coaches includes an online content-focused coaching course, cycles of one-on-one video-based coaching, and an online video club to analyze coaching practice. The video clubs will be structured as a graduated model that will begin with facilitation by mentor coaches and move into coach participants facilitating their own sessions.

Three cohorts of 12 coach participants will be recruited, with one cohort launching each year. In the first year, coaches will participate in four 2-hour synchronous content-focused course meetings, two coaching cycles with a mentor coach, and four video club meetings. In the second year, cohorts will conduct and facilitate four video club meetings. Research on impact follows a design-based model, with iterative cycles of design and revision of the online model. An ongoing analysis of 15-20% of the data collected each year will be used to inform revisions to the model from year to year, with fuller data analysis ongoing throughout the project. Participating coaches will be engaged in a noticing interview and surveys to assess changes in their perceptions and practices as coaches. Each coach participant will record one coaching interaction as data to assess changes in coaching practices. Patterns of participation and artifacts from the online course will be analyzed. Coaching cycle meetings and video club meetings will be recorded and transcribed. The Learning to Notice framework will be used as an analytical lens for describing changes in coaching practice.

The Discovery Research preK-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of innovative resources, models and tools. Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Fostering Equitable Groupwork to Promote Conceptual Mathematics Learning

This exploratory study involves a long-term partnership between the principal investigator (PI) and a middle school teacher and her students. Two major goals of the study are to describe how students learn to collaborate with one another over time to make sense of mathematics, and how students and their teacher negotiate what constitutes equitable collaboration, with African American students' perspectives being prioritized. In this way, it adds to this body of literature by: a) prioritizing African American students?

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2010172
Funding Period: 
Sat, 08/01/2020 to Mon, 07/31/2023
Full Description: 

When students work in small groups it can promote rich learning opportunities and teach them to collaborate in ways that are important for life and future work. Having students work in small groups, however, can also create opportunities for some students to be marginalized in implicit and explicit ways. Research on using equitable groupwork in which issues of status are consciously addressed by the teacher has shown that such work can have a positive impact on students? opportunities to learn (broadly defined as learning content but also students? developing positive mathematical identities and perspectives on what it means to know/do mathematics). Most of the work on equitable groupwork in mathematics education have had pre-determined definitions of what it means to collaborate. This exploratory study involves a long-term partnership between the principal investigator (PI) and a middle school teacher and her students. Two major goals of the study are to describe how students learn to collaborate with one another over time to make sense of mathematics, and how students and their teacher negotiate what constitutes equitable collaboration, with African American students' perspectives being prioritized. In this way, it adds to this body of literature by: a) prioritizing African American students? perspectives on collaboration from the outset; b) describing, longitudinally, how students learn to collaborate; c) documenting students' mathematics learning within the context of small groups; and d) developing a set of resources for teacher educators, teachers, and students that focus on equitable groupwork.

Using theories and methods from discursive psychology and discourse analysis, the PI of this project will collaborate with a middle grades mathematics teacher to examine equitable groupwork. The small private school enrolls mostly African American students from low income neighborhoods. The PI draws on research related to complex instruction and empirical studies on equitable groupwork and productive student interactions. The basis for the developing definition of equitable collaboration involves gathering information from students about the kinds of relationships and interactions they value, as well as drawing on asset-based and humanizing research related to African American students from mathematics education and education literatures. This information will be used to inform the partnership work as well as be used to analyze the data that will be collected. There are many novel aspects of the work, including, for example, a continual interaction between how students are interacting and the developing idea of ?equitable participation? and practices that might support that kind of participation.

The proposal includes three phases of work with the collaborating teacher to read, plan, reflect, and view videos and research cycles. In the three phases, groupworthy tasks will be developed, the teacher will use these tasks and other important aspects of complex instruction to enact the tasks, and data will be collected focused on these enactments. The work will begin with the 6th grade, then expand into additional years. The data sources will be gathered in the work with the practicing teacher (e.g., recordings of planning and reflection sessions), in the classroom enactments of the groupworthy tasks (e.g., video, audio, fieldnotes, written work), and outside of the classroom teaching time (e.g., interviews with students). The learning of mathematics involves understanding the changes that take place in how students talk about mathematics and how they collaborate over time. The PI will use particular discourse-analytic methods, including thematic analyses from systemic functional linguistics. Such strategies help to focus on the content of the discussions and how people put various ideas in relationship to one another over time. The PI will analyze the small group interactions to develop 12 vignettes that can be used to do focus group interviews with students and later be used in teacher education. These vignettes will include, for example, illustrations of equitable collaborations and variations of issues that come up (e.g, missed opportunities that might keep the interaction from being productive).

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Pages

Subscribe to Middle School