Middle School

Strengthening STEM Teaching in Native American Serving Schools through Long-Term, Culturally Responsive Professional Development

This project will explore how a nationally implemented professional development model is applied in two distinct Indigenous communities, the impact the model has on teacher practice in Native-serving classrooms, and the model's capacity to promote the integration of culturally responsive approaches to STEM teaching.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1908464
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2019 to Thu, 08/31/2023
Full Description: 

Although there is a long-established body of knowledge about effective professional development for STEM teachers, very little of it has been applied and studied with teachers in Native American-serving school districts. This project will explore how a nationally implemented professional development model is applied in two distinct Indigenous communities, the impact the model has on teacher practice in Native-serving classrooms, and the model's capacity to promote the integration of culturally responsive approaches to STEM teaching. This project will substantially grow the data and knowledge available within this unique context, which is critical given the persistent gaps in educational achievement and STEM career participation among Indigenous people in the U.S. K-12 teachers will participate in an 8-month cohort designed to increase their STEM content knowledge and facilitate their efforts to develop academically rigorous, culturally responsive STEM instructional units for use in their classrooms. The project will add to our knowledge about the transferability of a nationally-implemented professional development model within two specific Indigenous contexts, and it will grow our knowledge about how STEM professional development impacts teacher practice. Finally, the project will provide concrete examples and knowledge about the ways culturally responsive approaches to STEM professional development, curriculum development, and teacher practice are taken up in two distinct Native-student-serving contexts.

This project includes the development and implementation of professional development that is long-term, teacher-driven, collaborative across grade levels and content areas, and facilitated by university faculty with STEM expertise. The research will follow a collective case study methodology in order to establish a robust and nuanced understanding of (1) how a national professional development model operates within two specific and distinct Indigenous contexts; (2) how a professional development model impacts teachers' STEM instructional practice in Native-serving schools; and (3) how teachers in Native-serving schools engage culturally responsive approaches to STEM curriculum development and STEM instructional practice. Data will include interviews and focus groups with participating teachers, university faculty, and other stakeholders, classroom observations and "Scoop Notebook" artifacts of teacher practice, and the teacher-developed STEM instructional units. Data will be iteratively coded with a combination of open and focused coding using a constant comparative method with a specific emphasis on identifying the culturally responsive elements present across the data sources. Individual and cross-case comparisons will be conducted to reveal broader themes that address the research questions. Results and products will be disseminated to researchers, practitioners, and community members through peer-reviewed publications, conference presentations, annual partnership meetings, and posting of the teacher developed instructional units to a web-based, freely accessible clearing house.

Validation of the Equity and Access Rubrics for Mathematics Instruction (VEAR-MI)

The main goal of this project is to validate a set of rubrics that attend to the existence and the quality of instructional practices that support equity and access in mathematics classes. The project team will clarify the relationships between the practices outlined in the rubrics and aspects of teachers' perspectives and knowledge as well as student learning outcomes.

Award Number: 
1908481
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/15/2019 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Full Description: 

High-quality mathematics instruction remains uncommon and opportunities for students to develop the mathematical understanding are not distributed equally. This is particularly true for students of color and students for whom English is not their first language. While educational research has made progress in identifying practices that are considered high-quality, little attention has been given to specific instructional practices that support historically marginalized groups of students particularly as they participate in more rigorous mathematics. The main goal is to validate a set of rubrics that attend to the existence and the quality of instructional practices that support equity and access in mathematics classes. In addition, the project team will clarify the relationships between the practices outlined in the rubrics and aspects of teachers' perspectives and knowledge as well as student learning outcomes.

This project will make use of two existing large-scale datasets focusing on mathematics teachers to develop rubrics on mathematics instructional quality. The datasets include nearly 3,000 video-recorded mathematics lessons and student achievement records from students in Grades 3 through 8. The four phases of this research and development project include training material development, an observation and rubric generalizability study, a coder reliability study, and structural analysis. Data analysis plans involve case studies, exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses, and cognitive interviews. 

Validity Evidence for Measurement in Mathematics Education (V-M2ED) (Collaborative Research: Bostic)

The purpose of this project is to fully explore the mathematics education literature to synthesize what validity evidence is available for quantitative assessments in mathematics education.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1920621
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2019 to Wed, 07/31/2024
Full Description: 

As education has shifted more towards data-driven policy and research initiatives in the last several decades, data for policy-related aspects are often expected to be more quantitative in nature.  This has led to the increase in use of more quantitative measures in STEM education, including mathematics education. Unfortunately, evidence regarding the validity and reliability of mathematics education measures is lacking. Furthermore, the evidence for validity for quantitative tools and measures is not conceptualized or defined consistently by researchers in the field. The purpose of this project is to fully explore the mathematics education literature to synthesize what validity evidence is available for quantitative assessments in mathematics education. Drawing on the results of the synthesis study, the researchers will design, curate, and disseminate a repository of quantitative assessments used in mathematics education teaching and research. The researchers will also create materials and online training for a variety of scholars and practitioners to use the repository.

The team will address two main research questions: 1) How might validity evidence related to quantitative assessments used in mathematics education research be categorized and described? and 2) What validity evidence exists for quantitative instruments used in mathematics education scholarship since 2000? Researchers will use a cross-comparative methodology which involves conducting a literature search and then analyzing and categorizing features of instruments. The research team will examine cases (i.e., assessments described in manuscripts) in which quantitative instruments have been used, alongside specific features such as the construct measured, evidence related to sources of validity, and study sample. The team will then design, develop, and deploy a free online digital repository for the categorization of instruments and describe their associated validity evidence.

Validity Evidence for Measurement in Mathematics Education (V-M2ED) (Collaborative Research: Krupa)

The purpose of this project is to fully explore the mathematics education literature to synthesize what validity evidence is available for quantitative assessments in mathematics education.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1920619
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2019 to Wed, 07/31/2024
Full Description: 

As education has shifted more towards data-driven policy and research initiatives in the last several decades, data for policy-related aspects are often expected to be more quantitative in nature.  This has led to the increase in use of more quantitative measures in STEM education, including mathematics education. Unfortunately, evidence regarding the validity and reliability of mathematics education measures is lacking. Furthermore, the evidence for validity for quantitative tools and measures is not conceptualized or defined consistently by researchers in the field. The purpose of this project is to fully explore the mathematics education literature to synthesize what validity evidence is available for quantitative assessments in mathematics education. Drawing on the results of the synthesis study, the researchers will design, curate, and disseminate a repository of quantitative assessments used in mathematics education teaching and research. The researchers will also create materials and online training for a variety of scholars and practitioners to use the repository.

The team will address two main research questions: 1) How might validity evidence related to quantitative assessments used in mathematics education research be categorized and described? and 2) What validity evidence exists for quantitative instruments used in mathematics education scholarship since 2000? Researchers will use a cross-comparative methodology which involves conducting a literature search and then analyzing and categorizing features of instruments. The research team will examine cases (i.e., assessments described in manuscripts) in which quantitative instruments have been used, alongside specific features such as the construct measured, evidence related to sources of validity, and study sample. The team will then design, develop, and deploy a free online digital repository for the categorization of instruments and describe their associated validity evidence.

Strengthening Middle School Mathematical Argumentation through Teacher Coaching: Bridging from Professional Development to Classroom Practice

This project is a professional learning experience for middle school teachers to support them in developing five mathematical practices in their teaching focused on mathematical argumentation - creating mathematical arguments, using appropriate tools strategically, looking for and make use of structure, attending to precision, and looking for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1907561
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Full Description: 

The Bridging Professional Development project is a professional learning experience for middle school teachers to support them in developing five mathematical practices in their teaching focused on mathematical argumentation. These practices are: create mathematical arguments, use appropriate tools strategically, look for and make use of structure, attend to precision, and look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning. Mathematics argumentation is an important component of complex problem solving and supporting students in understanding the why, not just the how, of mathematics. The professional development intervention consists of summer workshop focused on approximations of teaching practice, and coaching during the school year. The coaching component includes face-to-face coaching and a video-based tool that allows teachers and coaches to engage with records of classroom interactions. The project expands the successful Bridging professional development work by adding four additional mathematical practices that relate to argumentation, adding the coaching component, collecting data on students' equitable participation in classroom discussions, and piloting an impact study to determine whether the professional development that includes coaching leads to improved mathematics teaching and learning, and the mechanisms by which that hypothesized improvement occurs.

The Bridging series of professional development projects are built on a theoretical framework that begins with providing teachers with opportunities to engage in meaningful mathematics teaching practices, identify teaching moves that would support students in learning those practices, and to try out those moves with other teachers in approximations of teaching practice. The outcomes of such activity are increased teacher knowledge that can be mobilized in the planning and enactment of lessons, and improved pedagogical moves in the classroom. This in turn is likely to lead to increased student engagement and mathematics achievement. In this award, Bridging adds cycles of coaching to support teachers in translating lessons learned from approximations of practice to the work in their classrooms with students, and to provide ongoing school-year support for implementation. The research components of the project focus on understanding the practice of the coaches, including the design and deployment of coaching training and coaching sessions, as it relates to teachers' abilities to foster stronger student engagement in mathematical practices. The project will recruit 25 teachers at middle schools with experienced mathematics coaches to participate, with teachers directed to select a single focus class for data collection. Case studies will be pursued with six teachers and three coaches that represent diverse backgrounds, experiences, and levels of prior knowledge. Video records of coaching training and sessions will be collected and analyzed, along with lessons plans and teacher-enacted lessons, to determine the influence of the coaching on practice. The study will also investigate the ways in which teacher engagement in the professional developments leads to changes in teacher practice and student outcomes. Video records of practice, written lesson plans, student work, and interviews will be collected and analyzed to determine the impact on teaching practice. Teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching will also be assessed at key points in the project to assess teacher learning, and student standardized assessment scores and performance assessment outcomes will be collected to assess student learning.

Teaching Students to Reason about Variation and Covariation in Data: What Do We Know and What Do We Need to Find Out?

The purpose of this project is to gather, analyze, and synthesize mathematics and science education research studies published from 1988 to the present that have investigated different approaches to supporting students in grades 6-14 in learning to analyze, interpret, and reason about data.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1920119
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Wed, 06/30/2021
Full Description: 

Because data are so much a part of modern life, making sense of data is a skill that benefits all members of society. Reasoning about data has been described as one of the most important cognitive activities and making sense of data is essential for a public's informed civic participation. But the public's ability to make sense of data is not what it should be. There is an important role for educators to play in supporting students' ability (and ultimately the public's ability) to be savvy consumers of data. But education researchers lack a coherent vision of the current best practices for supporting students in analyzing, interpreting, and reasoning about data. Existing research focused on supporting students in learning to analyze, interpret, and reason about data tends to reside in silos by grade band and by math or science domain. The purpose of this project is to gather, analyze, and synthesize mathematics and science education research studies published from 1988 to the present that have investigated different approaches to supporting students in grades 6-14 in learning to analyze, interpret, and reason about data. The researchers will carefully examine the nature of each education intervention and what the researchers found in each case, looking for patterns across studies. The findings of this study can inform mathematics and science education developers in the production of instructional programs for teachers and students.

The researchers will gather, analyze, and synthesize studies in mathematics and science education from 1988 to the present that examine instruction related to variation and covariation in data. The team will first conduct a descriptive synthesis including a wide array of studies (qualitative, single group pre/post, and experimental/quasi-experimental) and examine the nature of interventions in the field. Next, researchers will conduct a statistical meta-regression of experiments and quasi-experiments using Robust Variance Estimation (RVE) to examine how effect size estimates from primary studies depend on intervention characteristics, study design, outcomes of interest, and demographic characteristics of participants in the studies. The project will help researchers across math and science education build on each other's work and ultimately develop and refine highly effective approaches for supporting students in the life-long skill of making sense of data in a complex world.

Developing the Science Comprehensive Online Learning Platform for Rural School Science Teacher Development

This project will develop, evaluate, and compare the effectiveness of newly-designed online learning platform with traditional face-to-face PD in supporting rural high school science teachers' implementation of an existing biology curriculum aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1908937
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2019 to Wed, 08/31/2022
Full Description: 

Rural school districts in the US face unique challenges: isolation in small farm communities, significant distances between communities, minimal funding, and low teacher salaries. They also serve high numbers of diverse and low-income students, who deserve equitable access to high quality science learning opportunities. Effective online professional development (PD) is needed for teachers working in isolated rural communities where high quality face-to-face PD may be economically impractical for districts to offer. This project will develop, evaluate, and compare the effectiveness of newly-designed online learning platform with traditional face-to-face PD in supporting rural high school science teachers' implementation of an existing biology curriculum aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The online learning platform will be modeled after successful face-to-face PD features: (1) job-embedded - learning occurs within the context of teachers' classroom instruction, (2) collaborative - teachers share experiences in implementing new practices, and (3) content-specific - teachers develop disciplinary content and instructional practices that support students' understanding of science. Once developed and refined, the online PD platform can be used broadly across other contexts and content areas.

Over a three year period, this project will develop, evaluate, and then compare an online PD platform for supporting rural science teachers in implementing the Towards High School Biology (THSB) curriculum with a traditional face-to-face PD. In year one, the research team will iteratively develop the online platform and adapt the already developed face-to-face PD for implementing THSB to an online format. Utilizing Curator, a social learning platform developed by HT2Labs, project researchers will embed teacher learning that is situated with their own classroom contexts, is asynchronously and synchronously collaborative, and is focused on the THSB curriculum content. In years two and three, forty eight rural middle-school science educators will be recruited from southwest Kansas and randomly assigned to online PD (treatment) or face-to-face PD (comparison). Using mixed methodology, the project will examine if differences exist between the conditions in regards to teacher content knowledge, teacher self-efficacy in using new practices, teacher classroom practices, and student learning outcomes. It is hypothesized that there should be no differences between conditions in fostering successful implementation of evidence-based science practices and student outcomes, demonstrating the success of an online modality to support deep conceptual change in teachers' instructional practices. Furthermore, lessons learned in developing and investigating a science comprehensive online learning platform can inform application to other disciplinary content (e.g., physics, chemistry, Earth and space sciences) and across other grade level and school contexts.

 

Invigorating Statistics Teacher Education Through Professional Online Learning (InSTEP)

This project seeks to strengthen the teaching of statistics and data science in grades 6-12 through the design and implementation of an online professional learning environment for teachers. The professional learning environment aims to support in-service teachers in developing stronger content knowledge related to statistics, and knowledge of how to effectively teach statistics in their classrooms.

Project Email: 
Award Number: 
1908760
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2019 to Mon, 07/31/2023
Project Evaluator: 
Full Description: 

Implementing meaningful statistics education in middle and high schools has been a persistent challenge in the United States. Statistics and data science are critical domains for STEM careers and the general data literacy of the citizenry. This project seeks to strengthen the teaching of statistics and data science in grades 6-12 through the design and implementation of an online professional learning environment for teachers. The professional learning environment aims to support in-service teachers in developing stronger content knowledge related to statistics, and knowledge of how to effectively teach statistics in their classrooms. The project will also evaluate a model of professional development that integrates personalized online learning and microcredentialing (earning small-scale certifications) to better understand its effectiveness in supporting teacher learning. The project will draw from previous work to assemble online modules that engage teachers in doing high-quality statistics and data science tasks, the analysis of video of teachers' and students' work with those tasks, learning a pedagogical framework for teachers to implement the tasks, and exploring guidelines for identifying and developing high-quality statistics and data science tasks. The project will study teacher learning through the use of these modules, and the pathways that teachers choose through them to understand the effectiveness of the model.

The project builds on previous work by the investigators to develop research-based teacher professional development modules that support learning about statistics and statistics education in grades 6-12. Materials currently developed include a series of microcredentials with design features consistent with research on effective teacher professional development. They include opportunities for teachers to engage with statistics content appropriate to the target grade levels they teach, active learning opportunities that engage them with teachers in similar contexts, and a coherent focus that builds on the knowledge and experience teachers bring to the table. The project will take place in iterative phases, beginning with focus groups of middle and high school teachers and district leaders based on first drafts of the materials. This will be followed by cognitive interviews with teachers who engage in the microcredential ecosystem which will inform modifications to the system. Following this phase, cohorts of teachers (25 in the first cohort, 75 in the second) will participate in scaffolded professional development engagement with the materials, and will be assessed with respect to changes in their knowledge and practice. The project will assess changes in teacher knowledge using reliable and valid measures of statistics knowledge and practice. Data will be collected from the online platform regarding teacher engagement and usage to better understand usage and pathways through the materials. The professional learning platform will be made available as a free and open online source at the close of the project.

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Science Learning through Embodied Performances in Elementary and Middle School

This project's approach uses two types of embodied performances: experiential performances that engage learners in using their bodies to physically experience scientific phenomena (e.g., the increase of heart rate during exercise), and dramatic performances where learners act out science ideas (e.g., the sources and impact of air pollution) with gestures, body movement, dances, role-plays, or theater productions.

Project Email: 
Award Number: 
1908272
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2019 to Sun, 07/31/2022
Project Evaluator: 
Full Description: 

There is a need to develop ways of making scientific ideas and practices more accessible to students, in particular students in elementary grades and from populations underrepresented in STEM disciplines. Learning science involves the construction of scientific knowledge and science identities, both of which can be supported by science instruction that integrates scientific practices with theater and literacy practices. This project's approach uses two types of embodied performances: experiential performances that engage learners in using their bodies to physically experience scientific phenomena (e.g., the increase of heart rate during exercise), and dramatic performances where learners act out science ideas (e.g., the sources and impact of air pollution) with gestures, body movement, dances, role-plays, or theater productions. Body movements, positions, and actions along with language and other modes of representation are employed as critical constituents of meaning making, which offer learners opportunities to understand science core ideas, crosscutting concepts, and scientific practices by dramatizing them for and with others. This project is adding to the limited science education literature on the use, value, and impact of embodied performances in science classrooms, and on the brilliance, ingenuity, and science knowledge that all youth, and particularly historically marginalized young people, have and can further develop in urban school classrooms.

This project's research focuses on understanding how embodied performances of science concepts and processes can shape classroom science learning, and how their impact is similar and/or different across science topics, elementary and middle school grade levels, and as the school year progresses. It explores the kinds of science ideas students learn, the multimodal literacy practices in which they engage, and the science identities they construct. The research attends to learning for all young people with a specific focus on children from historically marginalized groups in STEM. Using design-based research, the project team (students and teachers in Chicago Public Schools, teaching artists, and researchers) designs embodied performances that are implemented, studied, and revised throughout the project's duration. Ten teachers participate in professional development to learn relevant theater practices (including adaptation, workshopping, and inter- and intra-personal embodiment practices), to strengthen their science understandings, and to learn ways of intertwining both in their teaching. They are subsequently supported by teaching artists through the implementation of various activities in their classrooms, eventually implementing them without any scaffolding. Data sources include fieldnotes during classwork related to embodied performances; written materials, images, sound files, and other digital productions created to enhance, share, expand, and/or support performances; ongoing written student reflections on learning science and the role of embodied performances; regular assessments found in the science curriculum; reflective conversations with student teams about their embodied performances; one-on-one semi-structured interviews with 6 focal students per classroom about science identity development twice in a school year; video of classwork related to embodied performances; and video of science ideas performed by students to school and community audiences. Analyses include structured and focused coding of qualitative data, multimodal discourse analysis, and content analysis. The findings of this research are providing empirical evidence of the value and impact of integrating performing-arts practices into science teaching and learning and the potential of this approach to transform urban science classrooms into spaces where young people from marginalized groups find access to science to engage with it creatively and deeply.

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Case Studies of a Suite of Next Generation Science Instructional, Assessment, and Professional Development Materials in Diverse Middle School Settings

This project addresses a gap between vision and implementation of state science standards by designing a coordinated suite of instructional, assessment and teacher professional learning materials that attempt to enact the vision behind the Next Generation Science Standards. The study focuses on using state-of-the-art technology to create an 8-week long, immersive, life science field experience organized around three investigations.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1907944
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Full Description: 

New state science standards are ambitious and require important changes to instructional practices, accompanied by a coordinated system of curriculum, assessment, and professional development materials. This project addresses a gap between vision and implementation of such standards by designing a coordinated suite of instructional, assessment and teacher professional learning materials that attempt to enact the vision behind the Next Generation Science Standards. The study focuses on the design of such materials using state-of-the-art technology to create an 8-week long, immersive, life science field experience organized around three investigations. Classes of urban students in two states will collect data on local insect species with the goal of understanding, sharing, and critiquing environmental management solutions. An integrated learning technology system, the Learning Navigator, draws on big data to organize student-gathered data, dialogue, lessons, an assessment information. The Learning Navigator will also amplify the teacher's role in guiding and fostering next generation science learning. This project advances the field through an in-depth exploration of the goals for the standards documents. The study begins to address questions about what works when, where, and for whom in the context of the Next Generation Science Standards.

The project uses a series of case studies to create, test, evaluate and refine the system of instructional, assessment and professional development materials as they are enacted in two distinct urban school settings. It is designed with 330 students and 22 teachers in culturally, racially and linguistically diverse, under-resourced schools in Pennsylvania and California. These schools are located in neighborhoods that are economically challenged and have students who demonstrate patterns of underperformance on state standardized tests. It will document the process of team co-construction of Next Generation Science-fostering instructional materials; develop assessment tasks for an instructional unit that are valid and reliable; and, track the patterns of use of the instructional and assessment materials by teachers. The study will also record if new misconceptions are revealed as students develop Next Generation Science knowledge,  comparing findings across two diverse school locations in two states. Data collection will include: (a) multiple types of data to establish validity and reliability of educational assessments, (b) the design, evaluation and use of a classroom observation protocol to gather information on both frequency and categorical degree of classroom practices that support the vision, and (c) consecutive years of ten individual classroom enactments through case studies analyzed through cross-case analyses. This should lead to stronger and better developed understandings about what constitutes strong Next Generation Science learning and the classroom conditions, instructional materials, assessments and teacher development that foster it.

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