Middle School

Integration of Engineering Design and Life Science: Investigating the influence of an Intervention on Student Interest and Motivation in STEM Fields

This project will investigate the integration of engineering design, practices, and thinking into middle school life science curriculum while providing opportunities for students to foster knowledge of and increase interest in life and biosciences. The project will specifically respond to the need to create, implement, and evaluate a model intervention that will advance the knowledge base for establishing and retaining underrepresented minorities in STEM fields.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1721141
Funding Period: 
Fri, 09/01/2017 to Tue, 08/31/2021
Full Description: 

This project will investigate the integration of engineering design, practices, and thinking into middle school life science curriculum while providing opportunities for students to foster knowledge of and increase interest in life and biosciences. The project will specifically respond to the need to create, implement, and evaluate a model intervention that will advance the knowledge base for establishing and retaining underrepresented minorities in STEM fields. Specifically, the project will partner with middle school science teachers from two local school corporations, STEM university faculty members and undergraduate engineering students, and university-based outreach coordinators from a minorities engineering program, the office of future engineers, and women in engineering program. Through this combined effort, both school corporations that serve underserved, culturally diverse, and socioeconomically disadvantaged students in rural communities; will have broad-based support for engaging 36 teachers and 3000 students in integrated life science with engineering design.

The project will employ a mixed methods research design incorporating both qualitative and quantitative approaches for data collection and analyses. The research team will conduct quantitative analyses by using Hierarchical Linear Modeling to determine the extent to which integrating life science with engineering design and thinking impact student learning of life science concepts and interest in life and biosciences. Qualitative approaches, including discourse analysis, will be used to delve deeper into student learning of the targeted life science concepts. Through this research, the project will advance evidence-based understanding of learning, enhance the theoretical models of student life science learning, and merge and extend the successes of previous studies by using the faculty expertise in effective approaches in engineering integration in K-12 science classrooms. Specifically, concept assessments, interest surveys, recordings of classroom discourse, student artifacts (e.g., design reports), interviews, and classroom observations will be used as data sources. Outcomes from the project will advance the knowledge base for establishing and retaining underrepresented minorities in STEM fields. The life STEM focused design tasks will be disseminated through an online peer-reviewed digital library available for use across the U.S. and beyond. Along with the design-based tasks on this website; results from the intervention model will be disseminated through electronic and print media to inform researchers, educators, administrators, and policy makers who play critical roles in enhancing student learning of and interest in STEM, about pathways to broadening participation in STEM.

Science and Engineering Education for Infrastructure Transformation

This project focuses on the research and develop an engineering education technology and pedagogy that will support project-based learning of science, engineering, and computation concepts and skills underlying the strategically important "smart" and "green" aspects of the infrastructure. The project will develop transformative technologies and curriculum materials to turn the campus of a high school or a geographical information system such as Google Maps into an engineering laboratory with virtually unlimited opportunities for learning and exploration.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1721054
Funding Period: 
Sun, 10/01/2017 to Thu, 09/30/2021
Full Description: 

The Concord Consortium in collaboration with Purdue University will research and develop an engineering education technology and pedagogy that will support project-based learning of science, engineering, and computation concepts and skills underlying the strategically important "smart" and "green" aspects of the infrastructure. This project will develop transformative technologies and curriculum materials to turn the campus of a high school or a geographical information system such as Google Maps into an engineering laboratory with virtually unlimited opportunities for learning and exploration. The project will deliver two innovations: 1) The Smart High School is an engineering platform for designing Internet of Things systems for managing the resources, space, and processes of a school based on real-time analysis of data collected by various sensors deployed by students on campus; and 2) the Virtual Solar World is a computational modeling platform for students to design, deploy, and connect virtual solar power solutions for their homes, schools, and regions. Six standards-aligned curriculum units based on these technologies will be developed to guide student learning and support educational research. Approximately 2,000 students from rural, suburban, and urban high schools in Indiana, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Ohio will participate in this research. project products and findings through the Internet, conferences, publications, and partner networks.

The research is designed to identify technology-enhanced instructional strategies that can simultaneously foster the growth of skills and self-efficacy in scientific reasoning, design thinking, and computational thinking, all of which are needed to build the future infrastructure. The focus on infrastructure transformation is aligned with NSF's vision of smart and connected communities. Although this project will use the context of smart and green infrastructure to engage students to solve real-world problems, the skills of scientific reasoning, design thinking, and computational thinking that they will acquire through meeting the challenges of this project can be transferrable to other topics and fields. Using a design-based research approach, a rich set of formative and summative data will be collected from these students for probing into three research questions: 1) To what extent does the integrated learning model help students develop and connect scientific reasoning, design thinking, and computational thinking skills?; 2) To what extent is students' interest in cognate careers affected by the authenticity of engineering design challenges?; and 3) How do the variations in the solutions to overcome the cognitive and practical difficulties of real-world problems impact learning outcomes and career interest? The data sources include pre/post-tests, process data, self-reports, observations, surveys, interviews, and participant information.

Examining Relationships Between Flipped Instruction and Students' Learning of Mathematics

This study can provide a basis for design research focused on developing effective materials and programs for flipped instruction in secondary mathematics, which is already occurring at an increasing rate, but it is not yet informed by empirical evidence. This project will result in a framework for flipped instruction robust enough to be useful at a variety of grade levels and contexts. The framework will provide a better understanding of the relationships among various implementations of flipped instruction and student learning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1721025
Funding Period: 
Tue, 08/01/2017 to Fri, 07/31/2020
Full Description: 

Instead of presenting new material in class and then assigning problems to be completed outside of class, flipped instruction involves students watching videos or reading new material outside of class and then completing their "homework" in class. Teachers' implementation of flipped instruction has increased dramatically in recent years, with more than two-thirds of teachers now reporting flipping a lesson, if not an entire course. Although popular media and philanthropic organizations have given a great deal of attention and financial support to flipped instruction, little is known about how teachers implement it and what benefits and drawbacks flipped instruction has in contrast with non-flipped instruction. This study can provide a basis for design research focused on developing effective materials and programs for flipped instruction in secondary mathematics. This design and development is already occurring at an increasing rate, but it is not yet informed by empirical evidence. This project will result in a framework for flipped instruction robust enough to be useful at a variety of grade levels and contexts. The framework will provide a better understanding of the relationships among various implementations of flipped instruction and student learning. These findings can inform teacher educators in better aligning their instruction to instructional formats that correlate with increased student learning outcomes.

Using mixed-methods techniques, the study will look at the nature of the activities and interactions occurring in mathematics classrooms and assess their quality so that the researchers may distinguish high-quality from low-quality univocal discourse, high-quality from low-quality dialogic discourse, and high cognitive demand from low cognitive demand tasks. Working in 40 algebra classrooms -- 20 implementing some form of flipped instruction and 20 serving as a non-flipped basis for comparison -- the project will address the following research questions using a correlational design and multilevel modeling techniques: RQ1. What are salient factors entailed in flipped instruction in secondary algebra? RQ2. What associations, if any, exist among factors entailed in teachers' implementation of flipped algebra instruction and students' learning of algebra as measured on a state-mandated end-of-course assessment and on a concept-of-variable inventory?

Culturally Responsive Indigenous Science: Connecting Land, Language, and Culture

This Culturally Responsive Indigenous Science project seeks to advance this knowledge base through research and by catalyzing new approaches to Indigenous science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (ISTEM) learning. Using an ISTEM focused model, the project will develop, test, and implement a culturally responsive land-based curriculum that integrates Western science, multimodal technologies and digital tools, and Native American tribal knowledge, cultures and languages to investigate and address local environmental science and sustainability concerns.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1720931
Funding Period: 
Fri, 09/01/2017 to Tue, 08/31/2021
Full Description: 

The intersection between Indigenous and Western science continues to be of great importance to K-12 science education, particularly with regards to broadening participation in STEM. With over five hundred federally recognized Native American tribes in the United States, there is much to learn and understand. This Culturally Responsive Indigenous Science project seeks to advance this knowledge base through research and by catalyzing new approaches to Indigenous science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (ISTEM) learning. Using an ISTEM focused model, the project will develop, test, and implement a culturally responsive land-based curriculum that integrates Western science, multimodal technologies and digital tools, and Native American tribal knowledge, cultures and languages to investigate and address local environmental science and sustainability concerns. While Indigenous STEM teaching and learning as constructs have existed for many years, the rigorous research design and extensive integration of multimodal technologies as platforms for scientific inquiry, data management, knowledge dissemination and curation are innovative and timely. Few, if any, Design and Development projects in the current DRK-12 portfolio explore similar work. Therefore, the broader impacts of this project are poised to not only contribute to the DRK-12 portfolio but also advance knowledge in Indigenous STEM education and science education, more broadly.

Over a three year period, hundreds of Native American students (grades 4-9) in tribal schools located in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho will engage in the project. Each year, approximately 60-80 students (grades 7-9), with some returning students, will also participate in enrichment activities and in years 1-3, in the residential summer experience at Washington State University. A qualitative, quasi-experimental design-based study will be conducted to address three salient research questions: (a) What are the impacts of culturally responsive and land education-based ISTEM curriculum and technology on Native American student engagement, efficacy and achievement in school? (b) What types of professional development activities foster teacher efficacy and improve teacher learning and teaching of ISTEM in classrooms? and (c) How can ISTEM foster greater family and community engagement in schools and in Tribal Communities? Data will be collected through interviews, surveys, and or questionnaires from participating students, teachers, and Tribal members. Consistent with Indigenous methodologies, focus group interviews (talking circles) will also be facilitated after ISTEM community expositions and engagement activities to capture community impacts. Formative and summative evaluations will be conducted by the Learning and Performance Research Center (LPRC) at Washington State University, an independent entity of the University with extensive expertise in project evaluation. A broad range of dissemination activities will be employed to achieve maximum impacts, including the use of the Plateau People's Web Portal, a digital tool designed to help Native communities to manage, circulate, and curate their digital materials using their own cultural protocols, language and social systems. This regional collaboration includes partnerships with the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs (Oregon), Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation (Washington), and the Coeur D'Alene Tribe (Idaho).

Designing a Middle Grades Spatial Skills Curriculum

This project will create a portable training system that can be easily deployed in middle grades (5th-7th grade) as a prototype for increasing students' spatial reasoning skills. The project will study gender differences in spatial reasoning and examine how learning experiences can be designed to develop spatial skills using Minecraft as a platform.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1720801
Funding Period: 
Sat, 07/01/2017 to Tue, 06/30/2020
Full Description: 

The ability to make spatial judgements and visualize has been shown to be a strong indicator of students' future success in STEM-related courses. The project is innovative because it uses a widely available gaming environment, Minecraft, to examine spatial reasoning. Finding learning experiences which support students' spatial reasoning in an authentic and engaging way is a challenge in the field. This project will create a portable training system that can be easily deployed in middle grades (5th-7th grade) as a prototype for increasing students' spatial reasoning skills. The project will study gender differences in spatial reasoning and examine how learning experiences can be designed to develop spatial skills using Minecraft as a platform. The resources will incorporate hands-on learning and engage students in building virtual structures using spatial reasoning. The curriculum materials are being designed to be useful in other middle grades contexts.

The study is a design and development study that will design four training modules intended to improve spatial reasoning in the following areas: rotation, mental slicing, 2D to 3D transformation and perspective taking. The research questions are: (1) Does a Minecraft-based intervention that targets specific spatial reasoning tasks improve middle grade learners' spatial ability? (2) Does spatial skills growth differ by gender? The experimental design will compare the influence of the virtual spatial learning environment alone vs. the use of design challenges designed specifically for the spatial skills. The data collected will include assessments of spatial reasoning and feedback from teachers' who use the materials. The spatial skills measures will be administered as a pre-test, post-test, and six-month follow-up assessment to measure long term effects.

Schoolyard Scientists: An Investigation of Impacts Associated with Urban Youth Engagement in Participatory Scientific Research Activities

This project is significant because it uses the community for learning science of the environment, in an approach called Citizen Science or Participatory Science Research (PSR). The project will target learning outcomes for underrepresented middle and high school students in the urban and diverse East San Francisco Bay Area, and will refine a theory of learning that makes more explicit the connections between science practices, identity, and value and relevance.

Project Email: 
Award Number: 
1720585
Funding Period: 
Mon, 05/01/2017 to Fri, 04/30/2021
Project Evaluator: 
Full Description: 

This project is significant because it uses the community for learning science of the environment, in an approach called Citizen Science or Participatory Science Research (PSR). The project will target learning outcomes for underrepresented middle and high school students in the urban and diverse East San Francisco Bay Area. The fundamental issues that will be studied deal with particulate matter (PM) in the local area. The project will generate information that contributes to better understanding the impact of a science curriculum with PSR activities on science learning. The project will provide opportunities for students at a total of 10 different middle and high school sites to engage in a broad range of activities where the students will collect, analyze, and disseminate data generated in local urban communities. An accompanying curriculum that includes new and previously tested skills development activities also will be produced and used to aid students in connecting PSR activities to inter-related topics such as: energy generation and use, global climate, environmental degradation, and community health (asthma, in particular).

The project will refine a theory of learning that makes more explicit the connections between science practices, identity, and value and relevance. The project will yield information useful in the future development of effective learning environments in urban areas, providing positive science education experiences to challenge students' previous notions and ways of relating to science. The students will learn how to identify with science by gaining a deeper understanding of science practices. They will learn how to analyze and interpret data; construct explanations; engage in argument from evidence; and obtain, evaluate and communicate information. The students will be collecting air samples which will be analyzed using an electron microscope. In conducting their research, students will use low cost, highly accurate AirBeam particle monitors and tablet devices to measure and georeference PM concentration levels as they travel within their schools and surrounding communities. These measurements will then be used to assess ventilation conditions within school buildings, and correlated with different transit routes and transportation systems in an attempt to assess exposure patterns associated with different modes of transit in a given area. The result will be an increase in the understanding of the relevance and the value of science in everyday life. The project will also yield high quality particulate matter data that will be useful for local environmental efforts as well as to public health and atmospheric scientists.

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Investigating Productive Use of High-Leverage Student Mathematical Thinking Collaborative Research: Stockero)

This project focuses on the teaching practice of building on student thinking, a practice in which teachers engage students in making sense of their peers' mathematical ideas in ways that help the whole class move forward in their mathematical understanding. The study examines how teachers incorporate this practice into mathematics discussions in secondary classrooms by designing tasks that generate opportunities for teachers to build on students' thinking and by studying teachers' orchestration of whole class discussions around student responses to these tasks.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1720566
Funding Period: 
Thu, 06/01/2017 to Mon, 05/31/2021
Full Description: 

The project will examine how secondary mathematics teachers respond to and use students' thinking during whole class discussion. An ongoing challenge for teachers is making the best use of students' emerging mathematical ideas during whole class discussion. Teachers need to draw on the ideas students have developed in order to create opportunities for learning about significant mathematical concepts. This study will create tasks specifically designed to generate opportunities for teachers to build on students' thinking and then use classroom observation and analysis of classroom video to develop tools to support teachers in leading whole class discussion.

The project focuses on the teaching practice of building on student thinking, a practice in which teachers engage students in making sense of their peers' mathematical ideas in ways that help the whole class move forward in their mathematical understanding. This study examines how teachers incorporate this practice into mathematics discussions in secondary classrooms by designing tasks that generate opportunities for teachers to build on students' thinking and by studying teachers' orchestration of whole class discussions around student responses to these tasks. The project engages teacher-researchers in exploring the building practice. The teacher-researchers will use the project-designed tasks in their classrooms and then engage in a cycle of analysis of their own teaching with the research team. Data collection and analysis will rely on video analysis of classrooms, teachers' reflections on task enactment, and data collected during research team meetings convened with teacher-researchers to analyze practice.

Video in the Middle: Flexible Digital Experiences for Mathematics Teacher Education

This work focuses on a practical problem in mathematics education; supporting teacher professional development for algebra teaching. The project will design and develop a web-based form of professional development and teacher education for learning and teaching algebra in middle school.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1720507
Funding Period: 
Sat, 07/01/2017 to Wed, 06/30/2021
Full Description: 

This work focuses on a practical problem in mathematics education; supporting teacher professional development for algebra teaching. The project will design and develop a web-based form of professional development and teacher education for learning and teaching algebra in middle school. The project is a 4-year Design and Development project within the Teaching Strand. Forty modules are planned that will provide focus and structure to an online professional development experience. These modules follow an explicit learning trajectory in which a video clip is used in the middle of an online teacher learning experience composed of mathematical problem solving, video analysis of classroom practice, and pedagogical reflection. Within each module activity, a teacher experiences a consistent set of activities. Before and after teachers watch each video clip, they engage in activities designed to immerse them deeply in both the mathematics content and the focal instructional components. The study has the potential to advance the knowledge of the use of educational data mining into the research and development of teacher education materials. In researching both the design and impact of the materials this project may offer implications for others interested in designing online professional development and teacher education materials.

The professional development is rooted in refining and consistently examining best practices in developing the teacher materials. The study investigates the design and impact of the materials which can support others who are interested in designing digital professional development. The project will employ the use of data analytics to discover what video-based modules users choose to use first, the sequence in which they use the modules, and the modules they don't choose. The modules will include three delivery formats to meet the variety of teacher learning needs (individual self-paced, group-paced, facilitated/structured course) and offer flexible pathways and sequences of multiple modules for professional development providers and teacher educators to use in their own contexts. Moreover, the project includes a plan to make the modules available through open access for professional developers and educators. The project contains a robust plan for evaluating the effectiveness of the professional development. In Year 3, a randomized controlled trial pilot efficacy study is planned to address the impact of teachers' participation in the group-paced delivery and facilitated course form format on their mathematics knowledge for teaching and teaching practice as well as the overall impact on their students' performance. The project has a strong focus on the practical problem of supporting teachers' knowledge of linear functions, expressions, and equations as well as how various representations are connected and linked.


Project Videos

2019 STEM for All Video Showcase

Title: Video in the Middle Online Mathematics PD

Presenter(s): Nanette Seago, Cathy Carroll, Elizabeth Dyer, & Angela Knotts


Investigating Productive Use of High-Leverage Student Mathematical Thinking (Collaborative Research: Peterson)

This project focuses on the teaching practice of building on student thinking, a practice in which teachers engage students in making sense of their peers' mathematical ideas in ways that help the whole class move forward in their mathematical understanding. The study examines how teachers incorporate this practice into mathematics discussions in secondary classrooms by designing tasks that generate opportunities for teachers to build on students' thinking and by studying teachers' orchestration of whole class discussions around student responses to these tasks.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1720410
Funding Period: 
Sat, 07/01/2017 to Mon, 05/31/2021
Full Description: 

The project will examine how secondary mathematics teachers respond to and use students' thinking during whole class discussion. An ongoing challenge for teachers is making the best use of students' emerging mathematical ideas during whole class discussion. Teachers need to draw on the ideas students have developed in order to create opportunities for learning about significant mathematical concepts. This study will create tasks specifically designed to generate opportunities for teachers to build on students' thinking and then use classroom observation and analysis of classroom video to develop tools to support teachers in leading whole class discussion.

The project focuses on the teaching practice of building on student thinking, a practice in which teachers engage students in making sense of their peers' mathematical ideas in ways that help the whole class move forward in their mathematical understanding. This study examines how teachers incorporate this practice into mathematics discussions in secondary classrooms by designing tasks that generate opportunities for teachers to build on students' thinking and by studying teachers' orchestration of whole class discussions around student responses to these tasks. The project engages teacher-researchers in exploring the building practice. The teacher-researchers will use the project-designed tasks in their classrooms and then engage in a cycle of analysis of their own teaching with the research team. Data collection and analysis will rely on video analysis of classrooms, teachers' reflections on task enactment, and data collected during research team meetings convened with teacher-researchers to analyze practice.

Mathematics Immersion for Secondary Teachers at Scale (Collaborative Research: Cuoco)

The goal of this project will be to provide the field with a cost-effective model for intense content-based professional development in ways that have not been possible before, except through costly face-to-face models, by creating and testing design principles for blended online courses. Team members will design, implement, and research the effects of a professional development immersion experience in mathematics for practicing secondary teachers (grades 7-12).

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1719555
Funding Period: 
Sat, 07/01/2017 to Thu, 12/31/2020
Full Description: 

Current reforms in mathematics place new demands on teachers, changing the focus of the mathematics they teach focusing on what it means to do mathematics, not just learn facts and methods that are the results of the work of others. Teachers need strong professional development to meet these new demands. The goal of this project will be to provide the field with a cost-effective model for intense content-based professional development in ways that have not been possible before, except through costly face-to-face models, by creating and testing design principles for blended online courses. Team members will design, implement, and research the effects of a professional development immersion experience in mathematics for practicing secondary teachers (grades 7-12). The project will provide mathematics immersion experience to over 300 teachers at 56 sites across the country. Over the course of two years, each of 14 instructors will work with four geographically separated groups of 4-7 teachers, engaging them in mathematics as learners and facilitating conversations that connect the experience to their teaching and professional work. The project will provide the field a concrete model for modern practice-based mathematics immersion, conducted at scale. The model has the potential to broaden participation in immersive professional development experiences, offering opportunities to greater numbers of teachers and expanding the diversity of school contexts affected. The Discovery Research K-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of innovative resources, models and tools (RMTs). Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects.

The research questions will investigate fidelity of course implementation and differences in enactment. RQ1. How well can instructors enact the blended course design with fidelity and create immersion experiences in mathematics for participating teachers? RQ2.What variations exist among instructors' enactment of the courses? What explains differences in enactment, and how do they relate to teachers' experiences in the courses? RQ3. What is the impact of the professional development on teachers' (a) mathematical habits of mind, (b) beliefs about the nature of mathematics and mathematics teaching, and (c) engagement in their professional mathematics community? RQ4. What is the impact of the professional development on teachers' instructional practices, particularly on the types of investigative mathematics learning experiences that teachers provide for students? The project will use established measures to research the effects of these experiences on teachers' content knowledge, mathematical habits of mind, beliefs about mathematics, involvement in a professional community, and teaching practices. The first two research questions will be answered through qualitative data analysis of session enactment logs, video-recorded course sessions, and interviews. The second two research questions will be addressed through repeated measures analysis, with all teachers assessed three times over the course of the project. For research question 3, the outcome measures will be total and scale scores of the measures of teachers' knowledge, preparedness to teach mathematics, and beliefs. Additionally, qualitative analysis of interview data will explore trends in the frequency and nature of teachers' engagement over time. For research question 4, the outcome measures will be teaching practices with qualitative analysis of observations and interviews.


Project Videos

2019 STEM for All Video Showcase

Title: Mathematics Immersion for Secondary Teachers (MIST)

Presenter(s): Matt McLeod, Miriam Gates, Daniel Heck, & Pippa Hoover

2018 STEM for All Video Showcase

Title: Building a Virtual Mathematics Immersion Experience

Presenter(s): Matt McLeod, Eden Badertscher, Al Cuoco, Miriam Gates, Daniel Heck, & Bowen Kerins


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