Middle School

Science Coordinators Advancing a Framework for Outstanding Leadership Development

This project will develop and test a professional development program designed for school district science coordinators by examining impacts of participating coordinators on science teachers and their students.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1908431
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2019 to Mon, 07/31/2023
Full Description: 

Current priorities in formal science education include building strong professional learning communities that foster ongoing professional growth among teachers, teacher leaders, and school administrators. This project responds to these priorities by developing and testing a professional development program designed for school district science coordinators. Though these science coordinators typically have some degree of responsibility for supporting science teachers in their school districts, most individuals appointed to these leadership positions have little or no formal preparation for the role. The range of duties assigned to science coordinators varies greatly from district to district, but duties typically include mentoring teachers, selecting curriculum materials, overseeing science supplies and classroom safety, and advocating for science program improvements. The professional development model being designed and developed by this project will be tested by examining impacts of participating science coordinators on science teachers and their students.

The goal of this four-year exploratory study is to determine if a specialized professional development program for district science coordinators can facilitate their growth as instructional leaders and the instructional practices of science teachers of their school districts. More specifically, the project will pursue answers to two research questions: 1) How, if at all, does the professional development model impact the knowledge, practices, and work of the science coordinators? and 2) How, if at all, do participating science coordinators impact the practices of science teachers who are implementing the Next Generation Science Standards? A design-based research approach will be employed to develop a two-year professional development model having 80 hours of programming during the first year, and 30 hours during the second year. Programming will include a blend of face-to-face and online meetings and modules. The mixed-methods research plan will compare teaching and learning outcomes within three groups: 1) The treatment groups consisting of science coordinators who participated in the professional development program, and the science teachers with whom they work, 2) A comparison group of science coordinators who did not participate in the professional development program and the teachers with whom they work, and 3) A comparison group consisting of science teachers who do not have direct access to a science coordinator. Quantitative data will be gathered through use of instruments that measure how science coordinators develop their knowledge and practices, and how they modify their perspectives as leaders. Observations of the classroom practices of teachers will also be documented. The qualitative research component will include interviews, examination of artifacts, and focus groups.

Generalized Embodied Modeling to Support Science through Technology Enhanced Play (Collaborative Research: Danish)

The project will develop and research a new Mixed Reality environment (MR), called GEM-STEP, that leverages play and embodiment as resources for integrating computational modeling into the modeling cycle as part of science instruction for elementary students.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1908632
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2019 to Sun, 07/31/2022
Full Description: 

The project will develop and research a new Mixed Reality environment (MR), called GEM-STEP, that leverages play and embodiment as resources for integrating computational modeling into the modeling cycle as part of science instruction for elementary students. GEM stands for Generalized Embodied Modeling. Through these embodied, play-as-modeling activities, students will learn the core concepts of science, and the conceptual skills of modeling and systematic measurement. MR environments use new sensing technologies to help transform young children's physical actions during pretend play into a set of symbolic representations and parameters in a science simulation. As students physically move around the classroom, the computer will track their motion and interactions with selected objects and translate their physical activity into a shared display. For example, students pretend they are water particles and work together to model different states of matter. The children see their activity projected onto a computer simulation where a model of a water particle is displayed over the video of themselves. As students collectively reflect upon the nature of a water molecule, they refine their understanding of water as ice, a liquid or a gas. The proposed innovation allows the students to program and revise their own mixed reality simulations as part of their modeling cycle. Embodied and computational modeling will help students to reflect on their models in a unique way that will make their models more computationally accurate and enhance their understanding of the underlying concepts.

The project will research how using the body as a component of the modeling cycle differs from and interacts with the articulation of a scientific model through more structured computational means. The project will investigate the benefits of combining embodiment with computational elements in GEM:STEP by studying the range of concepts that students can learn in this manner. Lessons will be developed to address different disciplinary core ideas, such as states of matter, pollination as a complex system, or decomposition, as well as cross-cutting concepts of systems thinking, and energy/matter flow, all of which link directly to upper elementary science curriculum. Project research will gather data to understand what kinds of models students develop, what learning processes are supported using GEM:STEP, and what learning results. The data will include: (1) documenting and analyzing what students modeled and how accurate the models are; (2) recording student activity using audio and voice to code their activity to document learning processes and to look at how different forms of modeling interact with one another to promote learning; and (3) pre-post content measures to assess learning. All of the software that is developed for GEM:STEP will be made available as Open Source projects, allowing other researchers to build upon and extend this work. The results of the research will be disseminated in academic conferences and peer reviewed journals. The motion tracking software is already available on Github, a popular open-source repository. Once developed, the aim is to implement GEM:STEP in a wide range of classroom contexts, supported by a user-friendly interface, teacher guides, and professional development.

Generalized Embodied Modeling to Support Science through Technology Enhanced Play (Collaborative Research: Enyedy)

The project will develop and research a new Mixed Reality environment (MR), called GEM-STEP, that leverages play and embodiment as resources for integrating computational modeling into the modeling cycle as part of science instruction for elementary students.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1908791
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2019 to Sun, 07/31/2022
Full Description: 

The project will develop and research a new Mixed Reality environment (MR), called GEM-STEP, that leverages play and embodiment as resources for integrating computational modeling into the modeling cycle as part of science instruction for elementary students. GEM stands for Generalized Embodied Modeling. Through these embodied, play-as-modeling activities, students will learn the core concepts of science, and the conceptual skills of modeling and systematic measurement. MR environments use new sensing technologies to help transform young children's physical actions during pretend play into a set of symbolic representations and parameters in a science simulation. As students physically move around the classroom, the computer will track their motion and interactions with selected objects and translate their physical activity into a shared display. For example, students pretend they are water particles and work together to model different states of matter. The children see their activity projected onto a computer simulation where a model of a water particle is displayed over the video of themselves. As students collectively reflect upon the nature of a water molecule, they refine their understanding of water as ice, a liquid or a gas. The proposed innovation allows the students to program and revise their own mixed reality simulations as part of their modeling cycle. Embodied and computational modeling will help students to reflect on their models in a unique way that will make their models more computationally accurate and enhance their understanding of the underlying concepts.

The project will research how using the body as a component of the modeling cycle differs from and interacts with the articulation of a scientific model through more structured computational means. The project will investigate the benefits of combining embodiment with computational elements in GEM:STEP by studying the range of concepts that students can learn in this manner. Lessons will be developed to address different disciplinary core ideas, such as states of matter, pollination as a complex system, or decomposition, as well as cross-cutting concepts of systems thinking, and energy/matter flow, all of which link directly to upper elementary science curriculum. Project research will gather data to understand what kinds of models students develop, what learning processes are supported using GEM:STEP, and what learning results. The data will include: (1) documenting and analyzing what students modeled and how accurate the models are; (2) recording student activity using audio and voice to code their activity to document learning processes and to look at how different forms of modeling interact with one another to promote learning; and (3) pre-post content measures to assess learning. All of the software that is developed for GEM:STEP will be made available as Open Source projects, allowing other researchers to build upon and extend this work. The results of the research will be disseminated in academic conferences and peer reviewed journals. The motion tracking software is already available on Github, a popular open-source repository. Once developed, the aim is to implement GEM:STEP in a wide range of classroom contexts, supported by a user-friendly interface, teacher guides, and professional development.

STEM for All Collaboratory: Accelerating Dissemination and Fostering Collaborations for STEM Educational Research and Development

This project will capitalize on the STEM for All Video Showcase and extend its impact by creating a STEM for All Multiplex. The Multiplex will draw on past and future Video Showcase videos to create a multimedia environment for professional and public exchange, as well as to provide a way for anyone to search the growing database of videos, create thematic playlists, and re-use the content in new educational and research contexts.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1922641
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2019 to Wed, 08/31/2022
Full Description: 

The STEM for All Collaboratory will advance educational research and development through the creation and facilitation of two related and interactive platforms: the STEM for All Video Showcase, and the STEM for All Multiplex. The Video Showcase provides an annual, online, week-long, interactive event where hundreds of educational researchers and developers create, share, and discuss 3-minute videos of their federally funded work to improve Science, Mathematics, Engineering, Technology and Computer Science education. Several years of successful Video Showcases have contributed to a rich database of videos showcasing innovative approaches to STEM education. To capitalize on the growing resource and extend its impact, this project will create a STEM for All Multiplex, a unique contribution to STEM education. The Multiplex will draw on past and future Video Showcase videos to create a multimedia environment for professional and public exchange, as well as to provide a way for anyone to search the growing database of videos, create thematic playlists, and re-use the content in new educational and research contexts. The Multiplex will host interactive, monthly, thematic online events related to emerging research and practices to improve STEM and Computer Science education in formal and informal environments. Each thematic event will include selected video presentations, expert panels, resources, interactive discussions and a synthesis of lessons learned. All events will be accessible and open to the public. The project will continue to host and facilitate the annual Video Showcase event which has attracted over 70,000 people from over 180 countries over the course of a year. This effort will be guided by a collaboration with NSF resource centers, learning networks, and STEM professional organizations, and will advance the STEM research and education missions of the 11 collaborating organizations.

The Video Showcase and the Multiplex will foster increased dissemination of federally funded work and will effectively share NSF's investments aimed at improving STEM education. It will enable presenters to learn with and from each other, offering and receiving feedback, critique, and queries that will improve work in progress and to facilitate new collaborations for educational research. It will connect researchers with practitioners, enabling both groups to benefit from each other's knowledge and perspective. Further, it will connect seasoned investigators with aspiring investigators from diverse backgrounds, including those from Minority Serving Institutions. It will thereby enable new researchers to broaden their knowledge of currently funded efforts while also providing them with the opportunity to discuss resources, methodology and impact measures with the investigators. Hence, the project has the potential to broaden the future pool of investigators in STEM educational research. This work will further contribute to the STEM education field through its research on the ways that this multimedia environment can improve currently funded projects, catalyze new efforts and collaborations, build the capacity of emerging diverse leadership, and connect research and practice.

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: 
2000545
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.

This project was previously funded under award #1907561.

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.

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