Middle School

Supporting Teachers to Teach Mathematics through Problem Posing

This project aims to support teachers to engage their students in mathematical problem posing (problem-posing-based learning, or P-PBL). P-PBL is a powerful approach to the teaching and learning of mathematics, and provides students with opportunities to engage in authentic mathematical practices.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101552
Funding Period: 
Sun, 08/01/2021 to Thu, 07/31/2025
Full Description: 

This project aims to support teachers to engage their students in mathematical problem posing (problem-posing-based learning, or P-PBL). P-PBL is a powerful approach to the teaching and learning of mathematics, and provides students with opportunities to engage in authentic mathematical practices. For example, conjecturing in mathematics, a form of problem posing, often plays an important role in solving complex problems, and problem posing is an important component of mathematical modeling. Yet despite its importance, widely used curriculum materials fail to incorporate P-PBL in substantial and consistent ways, leaving teachers with few resources to enact this process. This project will develop problem-posing lessons and illustrative cases of teachers implementing P-PBL that will not only support teachers to develop a vision of what P-PBL looks like and how to implement it in their own classrooms, but will also serve as rich resources for professional development (PD) providers. This project will generate valuable findings about teaching using problem posing for district administrators, mathematics teachers, educators, and researchers as well as curriculum developers and policy makers. The team will develop and pilot a set of 20−30 research-based P-PBL cases that provide critical details for the implementation of P-PBL and reveal “lessons learned” from the development process.

The project promises broader impact on the field of mathematics education as the first goal is to support teachers to teach mathematics through engaging their students in mathematical problem posing. By guiding students to construct and investigate their own problems, P-PBL both helps to create mathematical learning opportunities and develops students’ mathematical agency and positive mathematical identities. A networked improvement community of teachers and researchers will integrate problem posing into daily mathematics instruction and continuously improve the quality of P-PBL through iterative task and lesson design. The intellectual merit of this project is its contribution of new and important insights about teaching mathematics through problem posing. This will be realized through the second project goal which is to longitudinally investigate the promise of supporting teachers to teach with P-PBL for enhancing teachers’ instructional practice and students’ learning. A quasi-experimental design coupled with design-based research methodology and improvement science will be used to understand how, when, and why P-PBL works in practice. Specifically, we plan to follow a sample of 36 teachers and their approximately 3,600 students from six middle schools for multiple years to longitudinally explore the promise of P-PBL for developing teachers’ beliefs about problem posing, their beliefs about P-PBL, and their actual instructional practice. We will also investigate students’ learning as measured by problem-posing performance, problem-solving performance, and mathematics disposition. The findings of the project will add not only to the field’s understanding of the promise of supporting teachers to integrate P-PBL into their mathematics instruction, but also to its understanding of the challenges that teachers face when engaging in a networked improvement community that is focused on improving tasks and lessons by integrating P-PBL.

Practice-Driven Professional Development for Algebra Teachers

This project seeks to develop a personalized, scalable PD approach that centers on and builds from algebra teachers’ practices and individual strengths. The project will focus its PD efforts on instructional actions that are tailored to teachers' existing practice, can be readily adopted, and are easily accessible.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101508
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/01/2021 to Mon, 06/30/2025
Full Description: 

Professional development (PD) is a direct attempt to improve the quality of instruction for teachers already in the classroom. Traditional PD is typically costly in terms of time and money, and efforts tend to be delivered as a one-size-fits-all approach. Furthermore, for teachers who adopt novel techniques such as flipped instruction, there may be few resources to support their efforts. This project seeks to develop a personalized, scalable PD approach that centers on and builds from algebra teachers’ practices and individual strengths. The project will focus its PD efforts on instructional actions that are tailored to teachers' existing practice, can be readily adopted, and are easily accessible. The project team have termed such instructional actions high-uptake practices. The project will develop and field test PD materials to support algebra teachers at scale via these high-uptake practices.

In addition to developing the PD materials, the project team will research the efficacy of this PD model in terms of student learning outcomes and teacher instructional practices in approximately 60 algebra classrooms. The main data sources will include teacher observation data, teacher interviews and surveys, student pre/posttests, student surveys, and PD analytics. The research will characterize the immediate and longer term impacts of the PD on teachers’ instructional practices; and characterize the impact of teachers’ participation in the PD on students’ learning outcomes and engagement. The research questions include: 1) In what ways does teachers’ participation in the PD impact their instructional practices? 2) Do students of teachers who participate in the PD demonstrate differential growth in learning outcomes? 3) Do students of teachers who participate in the PD have increased rates of homework completion?; and 4) Do students of teachers who participate in the PD have increased engagement during individual work time? In meeting both our PD development and research aims, this project will contribute knowledge about the effectiveness of an incremental, practice-driven approach to PD and instructional change.

Improving Professional Development in Mathematics by Understanding the Mechanisms that Translate Teacher Learning into Student Learning

This project explores the mechanisms by which teachers translate what they learn from professional development into their teaching practice. The goal of this project is to study how the knowledge and skills teachers acquire during professional development (PD) translate into more conceptually oriented mathematics teaching and, in turn, into increased student learning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2100617
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2021 to Sun, 08/31/2025
Full Description: 

A great deal is known about the effects of mathematics teacher professional development on teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching. While some professional development programs show meaningful changes in teacher knowledge, these changes do not always translate into changes in teacher practice. This project explores the mechanisms by which teachers translate what they learn from professional development into their teaching practice. The goal of this project is to study how the knowledge and skills teachers acquire during professional development (PD) translate into more conceptually oriented mathematics teaching and, in turn, into increased student learning. The project builds on a promising video-based PD that engages teachers in analyzing videos of classroom mathematics teaching. Previous research indicates that teachers who can analyze teaching by focusing on the nature of the mathematical learning opportunities experienced by students often teach more effectively. The researchers aim to better understand the path teachers follow as they develop this professional competency and translate it into more ambitious teaching that supports richer student learning. The lack of understanding of how a PD program can reach students is a significant barrier to improving the effectiveness of PD. To build this understanding, the researchers aim to test and refine an implementation theory that specifies the obstacles teachers face as they apply their learning to their classroom teaching and the contextual supports that help teachers surmount these obstacles. Lessons learned from understanding the factors that impact the effects of PD will help educators design PD programs that maximize the translation of teacher learning into student learning.

The project will recruit and support a cohort of teachers, grades 4–5 (n=40) and grades 6–7 (n=40) for three years to trace growth in teacher learning, changes in teaching practices, and increases in student learning. The PD will be provided throughout the year for three consecutive years. The researchers will focus on two mathematics topics with a third topic assessed to measure transfer effects. Several cycles of lesson analysis will occur each year, with small grade-alike curriculum-alike groups assisted by trained coaches to help teachers translate their growing analysis skills into planning, implementing, and reflecting on their own lessons. Additional days will be allocated each year to assist the larger groups of teachers in developing pedagogical content knowledge for analyzing teaching. The research focuses on the following questions: 1) What are the relationships between teacher learning from PD, classroom teaching, and student learning, how do hypothesized mediating variables affect these relationships, and how do these relationships change as teachers become more competent at analyzing teaching?; and 2) How do teachers describe the obstacles and supports they believe affect their learning and teaching, and how do these obstacles and supports deepen and broaden the implementation theory? Multi-level modeling will be used to address the first question, taking into account for the nested nature of the data, in order to test a model that hypothesizes direct and indirect relationships between teacher learning and teaching practice and, in turn, teaching practice and student learning. Teachers will take assessments each year, for each mathematics topic, on the analysis of teaching skills, on the use of teaching practices, and on students’ learning. Cluster analysis will be used to explore the extent to which the relationship between learning to analyze the mathematics of a lesson, teaching quality, and student achievement may be different for different teachers based on measured characteristics. Longitudinal analysis will be used to examine the theoretical relationships among variables in the hypothesized path model. Teachers’ mathematical knowledge for teaching, lesson planning, and textbook curricular material use will be examined as possible mediating variables between teacher learning and teaching practice. To address the second research question, participants will engage in annual interviews about the factors they are obstacles to doing this work and about the supports within and outside of the PD that ameliorate these obstacles. Quantitative analyses will test the relationships between the obstacles and supports with teacher learning and classroom teaching. Through qualitative analyses, the obstacles and supports to translating professional learning into practice will be further articulated. These obstacles and supports, along with the professional development model, will be disseminated to the field.

Developing and Researching K-12 Teacher Leaders Enacting Anti-bias Mathematics Education (Collaborative Research: Heaton)

The goal of this project is to study the design and development of community-centered, job-embedded professional development for classroom teachers that supports bias reduction. The project team will partner with three school districts serving racially, ethnically, linguistically, and socio-economically diverse communities, for a two-year professional development program.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101668
Funding Period: 
Sun, 08/01/2021 to Thu, 07/31/2025
Full Description: 

There is increased recognition that engaging all students in learning mathematics requires an explicit focus on anti-bias mathematics teaching. Teachers, even with positive intentions, have biases, causing them to treat students differently and impacting how they distribute students’ opportunities to learn in K-12 mathematics classrooms. Research is needed to examine models of mathematics teacher professional development that explicitly addresses bias reduction. The goal of this project is to study the design and development of community-centered, job-embedded professional development for classroom teachers that supports bias reduction. The project team will partner with three school districts serving racially, ethnically, linguistically, and socio-economically diverse communities, for a two-year professional development program. The aim is to reduce bias through: analyzing and designing mathematics teaching with colleagues, students, and families to create classrooms and schools based on community-centered mathematics; engaging in anti-bias teaching routines; and building relationships with parents, caretakers, and community members. The project team will study teacher leader professional development, including the professional development model, framework, and tools, along with what teacher leaders across district contexts and grade-levels take up and use in their instructional practice.  This will potentially have wider implications for supporting more equitable mathematics teaching and leadership. Project activities, resources, and tools will be shared with the broader community of mathematics educators and researchers for use in other contexts.

The goal of this two-phase, design based research project is to iteratively design and research teacher leaders’ (TLs) participation in community-centered, job-embedded professional development and investigate their subsequent impact on classrooms, schools, and districts. The project builds on the existing Math Studio professional development model to create a Community Centered Math Studio, integrating the Anti-bias Mathematics Education Framework into the work. The project seeks to understand how the professional development model supports the development of teacher leaders' knowledge, dispositions, and practices for teaching and leading anti-bias mathematics education, and how teachers' subsequent classroom practice can cultivate students' mathematical engagement, discourse, and interests. The project will measure aspects of teacher knowledge and classroom practice by integrating existing classroom observation rubrics and STEM interest surveys to assess the impact on teacher classroom practice and student outcomes. The project will engage 12 TLs and approximately 60 additional teachers working with those TLs in two years of professional development using the Community Centered Math Studio Model to support anti-bias mathematics teaching. Data will be collected for all teachers related to their participation in the professional learning, with six teachers being followed for additional data collection and in-depth case studies. The project's outcomes will contribute to theories of how TLs build adaptive expertise for teaching and leading to reduce bias in classrooms, departments, schools, and districts. In addition, the project will contribute new and adapted research instruments on anti-bias teaching and leading. The research outcomes will add to the growing research base that describes the nature of equitable mathematics teaching in K-12 classrooms and increases access to meaningful mathematics for students, teachers, and communities.

Developing and Researching K-12 Teacher Leaders Enacting Anti-bias Mathematics Education (Collaborative Research: Elliott)

The goal of this project is to study the design and development of community-centered, job-embedded professional development for classroom teachers that supports bias reduction. The project team will partner with three school districts serving racially, ethnically, linguistically, and socio-economically diverse communities, for a two-year professional development program.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101667
Funding Period: 
Sun, 08/01/2021 to Thu, 07/31/2025
Full Description: 

There is increased recognition that engaging all students in learning mathematics requires an explicit focus on anti-bias mathematics teaching. Teachers, even with positive intentions, have biases, causing them to treat students differently and impacting how they distribute students’ opportunities to learn in K-12 mathematics classrooms. Research is needed to examine models of mathematics teacher professional development that explicitly addresses bias reduction. The goal of this project is to study the design and development of community-centered, job-embedded professional development for classroom teachers that supports bias reduction. The project team will partner with three school districts serving racially, ethnically, linguistically, and socio-economically diverse communities, for a two-year professional development program. The aim is to reduce bias through: analyzing and designing mathematics teaching with colleagues, students, and families to create classrooms and schools based on community-centered mathematics; engaging in anti-bias teaching routines; and building relationships with parents, caretakers, and community members. The project team will study teacher leader professional development, including the professional development model, framework, and tools, along with what teacher leaders across district contexts and grade-levels take up and use in their instructional practice.  This will potentially have wider implications for supporting more equitable mathematics teaching and leadership. Project activities, resources, and tools will be shared with the broader community of mathematics educators and researchers for use in other contexts.

The goal of this two-phase, design based research project is to iteratively design and research teacher leaders’ (TLs) participation in community-centered, job-embedded professional development and investigate their subsequent impact on classrooms, schools, and districts. The project builds on the existing Math Studio professional development model to create a Community Centered Math Studio, integrating the Anti-bias Mathematics Education Framework into the work. The project seeks to understand how the professional development model supports the development of teacher leaders' knowledge, dispositions, and practices for teaching and leading anti-bias mathematics education, and how teachers' subsequent classroom practice can cultivate students' mathematical engagement, discourse, and interests. The project will measure aspects of teacher knowledge and classroom practice by integrating existing classroom observation rubrics and STEM interest surveys to assess the impact on teacher classroom practice and student outcomes. The project will engage 12 TLs and approximately 60 additional teachers working with those TLs in two years of professional development using the Community Centered Math Studio Model to support anti-bias mathematics teaching. Data will be collected for all teachers related to their participation in the professional learning, with six teachers being followed for additional data collection and in-depth case studies. The project's outcomes will contribute to theories of how TLs build adaptive expertise for teaching and leading to reduce bias in classrooms, departments, schools, and districts. In addition, the project will contribute new and adapted research instruments on anti-bias teaching and leading. The research outcomes will add to the growing research base that describes the nature of equitable mathematics teaching in K-12 classrooms and increases access to meaningful mathematics for students, teachers, and communities.

Developing and Researching K-12 Teacher Leaders Enacting Anti-bias Mathematics Education (Collaborative Research: Thanheiser)

The goal of this project is to study the design and development of community-centered, job-embedded professional development for classroom teachers that supports bias reduction. The project team will partner with three school districts serving racially, ethnically, linguistically, and socio-economically diverse communities, for a two-year professional development program.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101665
Funding Period: 
Sun, 08/01/2021 to Thu, 07/31/2025
Full Description: 

There is increased recognition that engaging all students in learning mathematics requires an explicit focus on anti-bias mathematics teaching. Teachers, even with positive intentions, have biases, causing them to treat students differently and impacting how they distribute students’ opportunities to learn in K-12 mathematics classrooms. Research is needed to examine models of mathematics teacher professional development that explicitly addresses bias reduction. The goal of this project is to study the design and development of community-centered, job-embedded professional development for classroom teachers that supports bias reduction. The project team will partner with three school districts serving racially, ethnically, linguistically, and socio-economically diverse communities, for a two-year professional development program. The aim is to reduce bias through: analyzing and designing mathematics teaching with colleagues, students, and families to create classrooms and schools based on community-centered mathematics; engaging in anti-bias teaching routines; and building relationships with parents, caretakers, and community members. The project team will study teacher leader professional development, including the professional development model, framework, and tools, along with what teacher leaders across district contexts and grade-levels take up and use in their instructional practice.  This will potentially have wider implications for supporting more equitable mathematics teaching and leadership. Project activities, resources, and tools will be shared with the broader community of mathematics educators and researchers for use in other contexts.

The goal of this two-phase, design based research project is to iteratively design and research teacher leaders’ (TLs) participation in community-centered, job-embedded professional development and investigate their subsequent impact on classrooms, schools, and districts. The project builds on the existing Math Studio professional development model to create a Community Centered Math Studio, integrating the Anti-bias Mathematics Education Framework into the work. The project seeks to understand how the professional development model supports the development of teacher leaders' knowledge, dispositions, and practices for teaching and leading anti-bias mathematics education, and how teachers' subsequent classroom practice can cultivate students' mathematical engagement, discourse, and interests. The project will measure aspects of teacher knowledge and classroom practice by integrating existing classroom observation rubrics and STEM interest surveys to assess the impact on teacher classroom practice and student outcomes. The project will engage 12 TLs and approximately 60 additional teachers working with those TLs in two years of professional development using the Community Centered Math Studio Model to support anti-bias mathematics teaching. Data will be collected for all teachers related to their participation in the professional learning, with six teachers being followed for additional data collection and in-depth case studies. The project's outcomes will contribute to theories of how TLs build adaptive expertise for teaching and leading to reduce bias in classrooms, departments, schools, and districts. In addition, the project will contribute new and adapted research instruments on anti-bias teaching and leading. The research outcomes will add to the growing research base that describes the nature of equitable mathematics teaching in K-12 classrooms and increases access to meaningful mathematics for students, teachers, and communities.

Developing and Researching K-12 Teacher Leaders Enacting Anti-bias Mathematics Education (Collaborative Research: Yeh)

The goal of this project is to study the design and development of community-centered, job-embedded professional development for classroom teachers that supports bias reduction. The project team will partner with three school districts serving racially, ethnically, linguistically, and socio-economically diverse communities, for a two-year professional development program.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101666
Funding Period: 
Sun, 08/01/2021 to Thu, 07/31/2025
Full Description: 

There is increased recognition that engaging all students in learning mathematics requires an explicit focus on anti-bias mathematics teaching. Teachers, even with positive intentions, have biases, causing them to treat students differently and impacting how they distribute students’ opportunities to learn in K-12 mathematics classrooms. Research is needed to examine models of mathematics teacher professional development that explicitly addresses bias reduction. The goal of this project is to study the design and development of community-centered, job-embedded professional development for classroom teachers that supports bias reduction. The project team will partner with three school districts serving racially, ethnically, linguistically, and socio-economically diverse communities, for a two-year professional development program. The aim is to reduce bias through: analyzing and designing mathematics teaching with colleagues, students, and families to create classrooms and schools based on community-centered mathematics; engaging in anti-bias teaching routines; and building relationships with parents, caretakers, and community members. The project team will study teacher leader professional development, including the professional development model, framework, and tools, along with what teacher leaders across district contexts and grade-levels take up and use in their instructional practice.  This will potentially have wider implications for supporting more equitable mathematics teaching and leadership. Project activities, resources, and tools will be shared with the broader community of mathematics educators and researchers for use in other contexts.

The goal of this two-phase, design based research project is to iteratively design and research teacher leaders’ (TLs) participation in community-centered, job-embedded professional development and investigate their subsequent impact on classrooms, schools, and districts. The project builds on the existing Math Studio professional development model to create a Community Centered Math Studio, integrating the Anti-bias Mathematics Education Framework into the work. The project seeks to understand how the professional development model supports the development of teacher leaders' knowledge, dispositions, and practices for teaching and leading anti-bias mathematics education, and how teachers' subsequent classroom practice can cultivate students' mathematical engagement, discourse, and interests. The project will measure aspects of teacher knowledge and classroom practice by integrating existing classroom observation rubrics and STEM interest surveys to assess the impact on teacher classroom practice and student outcomes. The project will engage 12 TLs and approximately 60 additional teachers working with those TLs in two years of professional development using the Community Centered Math Studio Model to support anti-bias mathematics teaching. Data will be collected for all teachers related to their participation in the professional learning, with six teachers being followed for additional data collection and in-depth case studies. The project's outcomes will contribute to theories of how TLs build adaptive expertise for teaching and leading to reduce bias in classrooms, departments, schools, and districts. In addition, the project will contribute new and adapted research instruments on anti-bias teaching and leading. The research outcomes will add to the growing research base that describes the nature of equitable mathematics teaching in K-12 classrooms and increases access to meaningful mathematics for students, teachers, and communities.

The Impact of COVID on American Education in 2021: Continued Evidence from the Understanding America Study

This study will build upon the team's prior research from early in the pandemic. Researchers will continue to collect data from families and aims to understand parents’ perspectives on the educational impacts of COVID-19 by leveraging a nationally representative, longitudinal study, the Understanding America Study (UAS). The study will track educational experiences during the Spring and Summer of 2021 and into the 2021-22 school year.

Award Number: 
2120194
Funding Period: 
Mon, 03/01/2021 to Mon, 02/28/2022
Full Description: 

The COVID-19 epidemic has been a tremendous disruption to the education of U.S. students and their families, and evidence suggests that this disruption has been unequally felt across households by income and race/ethnicity. While other ongoing data collection efforts focus on understanding this disruption from the perspective of students or educators, less is known about the impact of COVID-19 on children’s prek-12 educational experiences as reported by their parents, especially in STEM subjects. This study will build upon the team's prior research from early in the pandemic. Researchers will continue to collect data from families and aims to understand parents’ perspectives on the educational impacts of COVID-19 by leveraging a nationally representative, longitudinal study, the Understanding America Study (UAS). The study will track educational experiences during the spring and summer of 2021 and into the 2021-22 school year. The team will analyze outcomes overall and for key demographic groups of interest as students and teachers return to in-person instruction during 2021. This RAPID project allows critically important data to continue to be collected and contribute to continued understanding of the impacts of and responses to the pandemic by American families.

Since March of 2020, the UAS has been tracking the educational impacts of COVID-19 for a nationally representative sample of approximately 1,400 households with preK-12 children. Early results focused on quantifying the digital divide and documenting the receipt of important educational services--like free meals and special education servicesafter COVID-19 began. This project will support the continued targeted administration of UAS questions to parents about students’ learning experiences and engagement, overall and in STEM subjects, data analysis, and dissemination of results to key stakeholder groups. Findings will be reported overall and across key demographic groups including ethnicity, disability, urbanicity, and socioeconomic status. This project will also produce targeted research briefs addressing pressing policy questions aimed at supporting intervention strategies in states, districts, and schools moving forward. Widespread dissemination will take place through existing networks and in collaboration with other research projects focused on understanding the COVID-19 crisis. All cross-sectional and longitudinal UAS data files will be publicly available shortly after conclusion of administration so that other researchers can explore the correlates of, and outcomes associated with, COVID-19.

Building Networks and Enhancing Diversity in the K-12 STEM Teaching Workforce

The goal of this planning grant is to explicitly focus on broadening participation in the K-12 STEM teaching workforce, with the theory of action that diversifying the K-12 STEM teaching workforce would in the long term help more students see STEM as accessible to them and then be more likely to choose a STEM degree or career.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2040784
Funding Period: 
Tue, 12/01/2020 to Tue, 11/30/2021
Full Description: 

The goal of this planning grant is to explicitly focus on broadening participation in the K-12 STEM teaching workforce, with the theory of action that diversifying the K-12 STEM teaching workforce would in the long term help more students see STEM as accessible to them and then be more likely to choose a STEM degree or career. Currently there is a large demographic discrepancy between students and teachers in K-12 schools. Studies have highlighted that the diverse teaching workforce benefits not only students of color but all students. Since 2017, the Smithsonian Science Education Center has conducted an annual STEM Diversity Summit, with the goal of building a coalition (built on collective impact) for attracting and retaining a diverse K-12 STEM teaching workforce, in which teams of teachers and administrators representing 83 school districts, schools, and states across the country shared their problems and developed a logic model to attract and retain a diverse K-12 STEM teaching workforce in their region with annual support from a matched mentor. This planning grant supports revisiting those former teams to better understand the dynamics of systems change through close examination of the successes and challenges outlined in their logic models with the perspective of the Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT). Under the collaborative infrastructure elements of shared vision and partnerships, this planning grant will inform and lay the foundation for a future alliance focused on diversifying the K-12 STEM teaching workforce.

In this planning grant, the Smithsonian in collaboration with Howard University, as well as in partnership with other experts in STEM teacher education, professional development, and diversityincluding from Harvard University, Rutgers University, 100kin10, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, MA Department of Higher Education, STEM Equity Alliance, National Science Teaching Association, and private industrywill work on four primary activities. First, a survey will be developed and conducted with faculty members of Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs), including approximately 100 Minority Serving Institutions, which serve diverse populations in K-12 teacher preparation programs and STEM education across the country. The goal of the survey is to understand what roles IHEs play in organizational change management and strategic planning to diversify the K-12 STEM teaching workforce. Second, a virtual workshop will be convened to bring former STEM Diversity Summit attendees and their extended networks to reflect on their progress and activities in past years and discuss strategic long-term plans. Third, a survey with the virtual workshop participants will be conducted to better understand their practices, attitudes, and perceptions about their roles to create culturally diverse ecosystems in K-12 STEM education. Finally, all the collected information from the above activities will be used to investigate strategies and evidence-based practices of enhancing diversity in the K-12 STEM teaching workforce, and an iterative source book will be developed based on those findings as an initial resource to ground future work. Over a 12 month period, this planning grant will build a network between the former teams and with the extended partners, including the NSF INCLUDES National Network, and help them to grow as regional hubs within a Future NSF INCLUDES Alliance focused on diversifying the K-12 STEM teacher workforce, with the Smithsonian as the backbone organization.

Improving Evaluations of STEM Programs: An Empirical Investigation of Key Design Parameters

This study seeks to further understanding of the STEM learning environment by 1) examining the extent to which mathematics and science achievement varies across students, teachers, schools, and districts, and 2) examining the extent to which student, teacher, school, and district characteristics that are found in state administrative databases can be used to explain this variation at each level.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2000388
Funding Period: 
Mon, 06/15/2020 to Wed, 05/31/2023
Full Description: 

To improve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) outcomes in K-12 classrooms, it is critical to understand the landscape of the STEM learning environment. However, the STEM learning environment is complex. Students are nested within teachers, and teachers are nested within schools (which in turn are nested within districts), which implies a multilevel structure. To date, most empirical research that uses multilevel modeling to examine the role of higher levels on variation in student outcomes does not examine the teacher level. The reason is that for many states, data linkages between students and teachers have been difficult to achieve. However, in the last five years, this situation has improved in many states, which makes this work now possible. This study seeks to further understanding of the STEM learning environment by 1) examining the extent to which mathematics and science achievement varies across students, teachers, schools, and districts and 2) examining the extent to which student, teacher, school, and district characteristics that are found in state administrative databases can be used to explain this variation at each level. This work will support advances in research and evaluation methodologies that will enable researchers to design more rigorous and comprehensive evaluations of STEM interventions and improve the accuracy of statistical power calculations. Broad dissemination of the resulting tools and techniques will provide access through freely available websites, and workshops and training opportunities to build capacity in the field for STEM researchers to design cluster randomized trials (CRTs) to answer questions beyond what works to for whom and under what conditions.

This project will contribute to 1) describing and explaining the landscape of the STEM learning environment, an environment which includes students, teachers, and schools, and 2) applying this empirical information in the design of STEM intervention studies to enable researchers to extend beyond the usual questions about if the intervention works and for which types of students or schools. By adding teacher level variables, this analysis would account for key teacher characteristics that may moderate the treatment effect. The research will also increase the efficiency in the design of CRTs of STEM interventions. Specifically, the findings from this study will improve the internal validity and cost-efficiency of evaluations of STEM interventions by increasing the accuracy of estimates for the full range of parameters needed to conduct power analyses, particularly when the teacher level is included. The high cost associated with CRTs makes it critical to plan accurate trials that do not overestimate the required sample size, and hence cost more than necessary, or underestimate the sample size and thereby reduce the potential to generate high-quality evidence of program effectiveness. Including the teacher level in intervention studies, a critical level in the delivery of any intervention, will allow for more testing of teacher characteristics that may moderate intervention effects.

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