Middle School

Co-Designing for Statewide Alignment of a Vision for High-Quality Mathematics Instruction (Collaborative Research: McCulloch)

This project will develop a process for creating a shared, state-wide vision of high-quality mathematics instruction. It will also develop and study the resources to implement that vision at the state, district, and school levels. In addition, the project will investigate a collaborative process of designing and implementing high-quality mathematics instruction at a state level.

Award Number: 
2100947
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/15/2021 to Mon, 06/30/2025
Full Description: 

Mathematics teaching and learning is influenced by policy and practice at the state, district, and school levels. To support large-scale change, it is important for high-quality mathematics instruction to be aligned and cohesive across each level of the education system. This can be supported through regional partnerships among state, district, and school-based leaders, mathematics teachers, education researchers, and mathematicians. Such partnerships create instructional tools and resources to document the vision for instruction. For example, teams can work together to create instructional frameworks for each grade band that describe standards, mathematics teaching, and units for teaching. This project will develop a process for creating a shared, state-wide vision of high-quality mathematics instruction. It will also develop and study the resources to implement that vision at the state, district, and school levels. In addition, the project will investigate a collaborative process of designing and implementing high-quality mathematics instruction at a state level.

This project will develop a shared vision of high-quality mathematics instruction intended to improve systemic coherence during the implementation of education innovations. The project uses a research-practice partnership with a design-based implementation research design. To examine and support implementation of the vision, partners will continue a process of developing instructional frameworks, research and practice briefs, as well as additional resources as needed by stakeholders in the system. Engaging partners at all levels of the system is a central component of developing the shared vision of instruction. This project includes three major research questions. First, what are visions of high-quality mathematics instruction held by educators at different levels of a state educational system? Second, in what ways do educators' visions of high-quality mathematics instruction mediate their use of implementation resources in practice? Finally, in what ways do educators’ visions of high-quality mathematics instruction mediate their participation in the co-design of implementation resources? An activity theory framework is used to understand the interactions between partners at different levels in the system and the creation of artifacts during the design process. The research methods for the study are situated in design-based research to capture the conjectures, instructional resources, design processes, and outcomes of the process. The project will use case studies of partner districts, data gathering from interactions with partners, artifacts of the design process, and other documentation to understand how the vision is created and enacted in different settings and to develop an empirically supported design framework and methodology for implementing STEM innovations at scale that centralizes a shared instructional vision.

Measuring the Effectiveness of Middle School STEM Innovation and Engineering Design Curricula

Researchers from Georgia Tech have developed a three-year middle school Engineering and Technology course sequence that introduces students to advanced manufacturing tools such as computer aided design (CAD) and 3D printing, incorporates engineering concepts such as pneumatics, robotics and aeronautics, increases student awareness of career paths, and addresses the concerns of technical employers wanting workers with problem solving, teamwork, and communication skills.

Award Number: 
2101441
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2021 to Sun, 08/31/2025
Full Description: 

Inclusion of engineering in the Next Generation Science Standards has led to increased opportunities for K-12 students to learn engineering related concepts and skills, and learn about engineering career paths. However, a persistent challenge is the lack of high-quality, research-based engineering curricular resources that align with science and math education standards. Further, the opportunities for K-12 students to also learn about manufacturing and how manufacturing is related to engineering, math, and science are limited. Researchers from Georgia Tech have developed a three-year middle school Engineering and Technology course sequence that introduces students to advanced manufacturing tools such as computer aided design (CAD) and 3D printing, incorporates engineering concepts such as pneumatics, robotics and aeronautics, increases student awareness of career paths, and addresses the concerns of technical employers wanting workers with problem solving, teamwork, and communication skills. This DRK-12 impact study project will investigate the effectiveness of STEM-Innovation and Design (STEM-ID) curricula in approximately 29 middle schools, targeting 29 engineering teachers and approximately 5,000 students across middle grades in Georgia. This impact research study will determine whether STEM-ID courses are equally effective across different demographic groups and school environments under normal implementation conditions and whether the courses have the potential to positively impact a vast number of students around the country, particularly students who have struggled to stay engaged with their STEM education. It is a critical part of a larger effort to move the STEM-ID curricula, developed with NSF support, from the research lab to large-scale practice in schools.

To facilitate large-scale implementation, the project will transfer all curriculum and teacher support materials to an online dissemination site, develop just-in-time teacher support materials to embed within the curriculum, create an online professional development platform, and conduct professional learning in multiple areas of the state. The project team will then assess the transferability of the STEM-ID curricula and identify teacher outcomes that affect the implementation. They will also examine the generalizability of the curriculum by measuring student outcomes in STEM academic achievement and on social-emotional scales. The project’s research questions consider 1) contextual factors that influence scaling; 2) the fidelity of implementation, curriculum adaptations and sustainability; 3) the effects of professional development on teachers’ engineering self-efficacy and instructional practices; 4) the effect of participation on student academic performance in mathematics and science; 5) the effect of participation on student social-emotional outcomes; and 5) the relationship between the way STEM-ID is implemented and the student outcomes.  To examine the effects of STEM-ID on achievement and achievement growth, the investigators will use a multilevel growth model and mediation analysis to explore if the intervention’s effect on achievement was mediated by students’ engagement, academic self-efficacy, and/or interest in STEM. Additionally, drawing upon Century and Cassata’s Fidelity of Implementation framework (FOI), they will examine the array of factors that influence implementation of the STEM-ID curricula across diverse school settings.

Building Insights through Observation: Researching Arts-based Methods for Teaching and Learning with Data

This project will use visualizations from an easily accessible tool from NOAA, Science On a Sphere, to help students develop critical thinking skills and practices required to effectively make meaning from authentic scientific data. The project will use arts-based pedagogies for observing, analyzing, and critiquing visual features of data visualizations to build an understanding of what the data reveal. The project will work with middle school science teachers to develop tools for STEM educators to use these data visualizations effectively.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101310
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/01/2021 to Mon, 06/30/2025
Full Description: 

Innovations in data collection, infrastructure, and visualization play an important role in modern society. Large, complex datasets are accessible to and shared widely with the public. However, students need to learn how to interpret and reason about visualizations of scientific data. This project will use visualizations from an easily accessible tool from NOAA, Science On a Sphere, to help students develop critical thinking skills and practices required to effectively make meaning from authentic scientific data. The project will use arts-based pedagogies for observing, analyzing, and critiquing visual features of data visualizations to build an understanding of what the data reveal. The project will work with middle school science teachers to develop tools for STEM educators to use these data visualizations effectively. This project focuses on visual thinking skills that have been found to apply in both science and art: describing, wondering, recognizing uncertainty, and interpreting with evidence.

The project will conduct foundational research to understand the ways in which arts-based instructional methods and geospatial data visualization can be successfully applied by science teachers. The research will examine: (1) the ways in which arts-based instructional methods can be successfully applied by STEM teachers; (2) critical elements in the process of learning and applying these techniques to influence teachers’ content, pedagogical, and technological knowledge; and (3) for which transferable data literacy skills these approaches show most promise with children. This project will use a design-based research framework to develop data literacy teaching approaches in partnership with middle school teachers. The research process will include data about teachers’ development and students’ learning about data literacy. Data to be collected include qualitative and quantitative information from teachers and students.

Boosting Data Science Teaching and Learning in STEM

This project addresses a critical need to help middle school teachers learn to incorporate data science in their teaching. It uses an open-source platform called the Common Online Data Analysis Platform (CODAP) as a tool for teachers to learn about data science and develop resources for students’ learning. The project team will develop a framework for teachers’ knowledge of data science teaching and learning. Insights from the project will help develop effective practices for teaching data science and understanding how students learn data science.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101049
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/01/2021 to Mon, 06/30/2025
Full Description: 

Data fluency is the ability to navigate the world of data. This includes understanding the sources of data, structuring data for analysis, interpreting representations of data, inferring meaning from data, and explaining data and findings to diverse audiences. Data science is becoming more important as a career opportunity and a mechanism for addressing complex phenomena in STEM disciplines. This project addresses a critical need to help middle school teachers learn to incorporate data science in their teaching. It uses an open-source platform called the Common Online Data Analysis Platform (CODAP) as a tool for teachers to learn about data science and develop resources for students’ learning. We will develop a framework for teachers’ knowledge of data science teaching and learning. Insights from the project will help develop effective practices for teaching data science and understanding how students learn data science.

This project will result in two key products: a framework for teacher data fluency and a set of resources for teacher professional learning in data science, including cases of classroom practice that illustrate teaching and learning progressions in data science and surface common student roadblocks, materials for site-based Professional Learning Communities, and professional learning modules that engage teachers in the kind of data-rich learning called for by science education standards and STEM education more broadly. The project will include two stages. During stage one, the project will use a design-based research approach to develop a model of pedagogical content knowledge for data fluency in middle school. Stage one will answer the following questions: (1a) What do teachers need to know and be able to do to support students in becoming data fluent? (1b) What are common student misconceptions and roadblocks in students’ progress to data fluency? (1c) What are the core components of professional learning that boost teachers’ data fluency and their ability to support students becoming data fluent? During stage two, the project will use a mixed methods approach to study the model’s implementation. Stage two will address the following questions: (2a) What impact does professional learning with the core components identified in stage one have on the opportunities to learn teachers provide to their students and on their students’ data fluency? (2b) Are the professional learning innovations usable and feasible for the end users? (2c) In what ways do teachers’ and students’ classroom interactions reflect the model of pedagogical content knowledge developed in stage one? What evidence supports or refutes the hypothesis about the knowledge and skills teachers need to support students’ movement to data fluency?

Precipitating Change in Alaskan and Hawaiian Schools: Modeling Mitigation of Coastal Erosion

This project will engage middle school students in place-based coastal erosion investigations that interweave Indigenous knowledge and Western STEM perspectives. Indigenous perspectives will emphasize learning from place and community; Western STEM perspectives will focus on systems and computational thinking.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101198
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/01/2021 to Sun, 06/30/2024
Full Description: 

Alaska and Hawaii face similar challenges with threats caused by coastal erosion. This project will engage middle school students in place-based coastal erosion investigations that interweave Indigenous knowledge and Western STEM perspectives. Indigenous perspectives will emphasize learning from place and community. Western STEM perspectives will focus on systems and computational thinking. The project will design and implement a series of classroom investigations using universal design for learning (UDL) principles, creating a glossary, translations for Indigenous languages, and ways to assist students in understanding of Indigenous and Western science terms. The coastal erosion content will be collaboratively piloted, refined, and implemented with middle school teachers and students in Alaska and Hawaii. Project research will build on and refine a learning progression framework that describes how students develop an understanding of coastal erosion that occurs over time. Research will also examine how students make sense of and develop increasingly complex and integrated knowledge and practice in Earth science and computational thinking. Areas of knowledge and practice will include explaining and predicting events and processes in systems and developing solutions to problems. The project’s curriculum and findings will be widely disseminated to researchers and the broader body of Alaskan and Hawaiian schools and teachers, as well as the Indigenous education and science education communities, to share understanding about the project’s model and lessons.

The project will position middle school students in a culturally congruent epistemological stance (student-as-anthropologist), allowing them to build Earth science learning from both Indigenous knowledge as well as Western-style inquiry and promote their ability to apply integrated Earth science, mathematics, and computational thinking skills in the context of coastal erosion. The project will recruit 20 teachers, and the intervention is expected to be integrated into approximately 24 classrooms. Project research and evaluation will investigate how the culturally congruent and scientifically and technologically ambitious instruction prepares students to bring multiple perspectives, including Indigenous and Western science, to study and address socioscientific issues. This project will adopt a design-based implementation research approach to answer three main research questions. The research questions are: 1) What are different ways students make sense of coastal erosion? How do students’ ways of making sense reflect personal and cultural (including Indigenous) funds of knowledge and Western STEM perspectives reflective of Next Generation Science Standards-aligned three-dimensional science knowledge and practice? 2) How do culturally congruent, multi-perspective learning experiences that value both students’ home culture and Western science perspectives relate to changes in students’ science knowledge and practices integrating coastal erosion and computational thinking? 3) How do multi-perspective learning experiences influence the approaches to learning students describe when they encounter a new socioscientific issue?   Data will be analyzed using a mixed methods approach.

Managing Uncertainty for Productive Struggle: Exploring Teacher Development for Managing Students' Epistemic Uncertainty as a Pedagogical Resource in Project-based Learning

This project is exploring teachers' capacity to manage student epistemic uncertainty as a pedagogical resource that supports student’s productive struggle and the development of conceptual knowledge during project-based learning instruction in middle school science classrooms.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2100879
Funding Period: 
Sun, 08/01/2021 to Wed, 07/31/2024
Full Description: 

The research team is exploring teachers' capacity to manage student epistemic uncertainty as a pedagogical resource that supports student’s productive struggle and the development of conceptual knowledge during project-based learning (PBL) instruction in middle school science classrooms. Although scientists consider uncertainty to be a primary driver of the progression of scientific knowledge and making sense of the world, the way science is typically taught in middle school obscures the productive role of uncertainty in science. Indeed, science is typically taught to emphasize its assuredness and authority instead. If teachers are going to shift their teaching practice to engage students with uncertainty in scientifically productive ways, the educational community needs this area to be researched. It is known that managing uncertainty in the classroom is a challenge for teachers and students. Many are not familiar with how scientists and engineers manage uncertainty to make sense of the real world, and few studies explore learning science as an enterprise of uncertainty management nor how student uncertainty is identified by teachers and students, advances discussion, contributes to knowledge development, gets resolved, and appropriately raises new uncertainties, and what strategies are available to teachers to manage students’ desirable uncertainty for productive struggle. This project is exploring how teachers' instructional practices change over time with repeated use of epistemic uncertainty as a pedagogical resource to support students’ engagement in PBL, and what effect those changes have on student perceptions, practice, management of epistemic uncertainty and learning outcomes. The project will result in the following outcomes: (1) an evidence-based model and learning materials for sustained PD that focuses on developing teacher capacity and practice while using targeted materials and approaches; (2) a productive teaching model for managing uncertainty that will promote a culture of scientific inquiry and engineering design as well as a set of strategies to foster student agency; and (3) evidence of increased student learning outcomes when teachers adapt students' epistemic uncertainty as a pedagogical resource to support students' productive struggle in STEM PBL.

Using a longitudinal, design-based research, mixed-methods study structure, the research team is investigating middle school science teachers' capacity to recognize, utilize, and manage students' epistemic uncertainty as a pedagogical resource for productive struggle. The study follows the same cohort of 24 sixth-grade teachers in Phoenix, Arizona, for three years beginning in fall 2021. Program activities are impacting approximately 1080 students’ learning outcomes over the life of the project. The following research questions guide the study: (1) How does sustained engagement with professional development in uncertainty management affect teachers' capacity to recognize and utilize students' epistemic uncertainty as a pedagogical resource for engaging students in productive struggle to develop scientific knowledge? (2) How do teachers' instructional practice in managing epistemic uncertainty change over time when they utilize epistemic uncertainty as a pedagogical resource for engaging students in productive struggle? (3) How do teachers' approach to managing uncertainty influence students' perceptions, practice, and management of epistemic uncertainty? Quantitatively, existing measures are being employed an two new instruments are being developed. Qualitatively, interviews and surveys round out the exploration of these questions. The results of this study are informing widely-adopted learning standards, and dissemination will help science teachers to recognize and use students’ epistemic uncertainty as a pedagogical resource to support their learning in science and engineering classrooms.

MothEd - Authentic Science for Elementary and Middle School Students

Widely-adopted science education standards have expanded expectations for students to learn science research processes. To address these needs, the project will research and develop curricular materials and classroom practices that teachers can use to bring authentic science into their classes and engage students as active science researchers. The project, called MothEd, will focus on the study of moths, which are well-suited to the project’s goal of having students conduct authentic scientific investigations.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2100990
Funding Period: 
Sun, 08/15/2021 to Thu, 07/31/2025
Full Description: 

There are few opportunities and curriculum materials that support teachers in engaging elementary and middle-school students in scientific research processes and in conducting their own investigations. Widely-adopted science education standards have expanded expectations for students to learn science research processes. To address these needs, the project will research and develop curricular materials and classroom practices that teachers can use to bring authentic science into their classes and engage students as active science researchers. The project, called MothEd, will focus on the study of moths, which are well-suited to the project’s goal of having students conduct authentic scientific investigations. Moths are ecologically important, easy to capture, and there is a lack of research on moths compared to many other insect species. In the project activities, students will construct moth traps and collect data through research processes that they design and carry out. The project is building on an approach called community science (sometimes called citizen science), where non-scientists in local communities voluntarily contribute to scientific research. Students and teachers will work in partnership with entomologists and science educators to develop and answer questions about local ecological conditions and will become genuine producers of knowledge within science learning communities. Students will work collaboratively within an online platform to design experiments using a complete suite of research tools for collection, expression, and analysis of data, including sensors, photographs, sketches, and graphs. The project will develop curricular materials that will provide teaching and learning materials that are focused on giving students place-based opportunities to conduct age-appropriate scientific investigations.

MothEd’s educational research will investigate several questions: (1) what students understand about scientific research processes and how they see themselves in that process; (2) how students can work as partners with scientists in discovery and what do they learn about research methods and moth ecology; and (3) What supports teachers need in order to support students as active science researchers. Using a mixed methods approach, the project will collect a variety of data for the research: in-class observations of student work; pre- and post- activity surveys about their knowledge of moth ecology and their view and understanding of science research processes; teacher interviews; and analysis of data collected by project software on student work and collaboration. The project will be designed to ensure that the MothEd education materials can be adopted and used independently by teachers across the country. Project research findings and materials will be shared via conferences, journal publications, and the project’s collaborative learning environment.

Using Natural Language Processing to Inform Science Instruction (Collaborative Research: Linn)

This project takes advantage of language to help students form their own ideas and pursue deeper understanding in the science classroom. The project will conduct a comprehensive research program to develop and test technology that will empower students to use their ideas as a starting point for deepening science understanding. Researchers will use a technology that detects student ideas that go beyond a student's general knowledge level to adapt to a student's cultural and linguistic understandings of a science topic.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101669
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/01/2021 to Mon, 06/30/2025
Full Description: 

Often, middle school science classes do not benefit from participation of underrepresented students because of language and cultural barriers. This project takes advantage of language to help students form their own ideas and pursue deeper understanding in the science classroom. This work continues a partnership among the University of California, Berkeley, Educational Testing Service, and science teachers and paraprofessionals from six middle schools enrolling students from diverse racial, ethnic, and language groups whose cultural experiences may be neglected in science instruction. The partnership will conduct a comprehensive research program to develop and test technology that will empower students to use their ideas as a starting point for deepening science understanding. Researchers will use a technology that detects student ideas that go beyond a student's general knowledge level to adapt to a student's cultural and linguistic understandings of a science topic. The partnership leverages a web-based platform to implement adaptive guidance designed by teachers that feature dialog and peer interaction. Further, the platform features teacher tools that can detect when a student needs additional help and alert the teacher. Teachers using the technology will be able to track and respond to individual student ideas, especially from students who would not often participate because of language and cultural barriers.

This project develops AI-based technology to help science teachers increase their impact on student science learning. The technology is aimed to provide accurate analysis of students' initial ideas and adaptive guidance that gets each student started on reconsidering their ideas and pursuing deeper understanding. Current methods in automated scoring primarily focus on detecting incorrect responses on test questions and estimating the overall knowledge level in a student explanation. This project leverages advances in natural language processing (NLP) to identify the specific ideas in student explanations for open-ended science questions. The investigators will conduct a comprehensive research program that pairs new NLP-based AI methods for analyzing student ideas with adaptive guidance that, in combination, will empower students to use their ideas as starting points for improving science understanding. To evaluate the idea detection process, the researchers will conduct studies that investigate the accuracy and impact of idea detection in classrooms. To evaluate the guidance, the researchers will conduct comparison studies that randomly assign students to conditions to identify the most promising adaptive guidance designs for detected ideas. All materials are customizable using open platform authoring tools.

Using Natural Language Processing to Inform Science Instruction (Collaborative Research: Riordan)

This project takes advantage of language to help students form their own ideas and pursue deeper understanding in the science classroom. The project will conduct a comprehensive research program to develop and test technology that will empower students to use their ideas as a starting point for deepening science understanding. Researchers will use a technology that detects student ideas that go beyond a student's general knowledge level to adapt to a student's cultural and linguistic understandings of a science topic.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101670
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/01/2021 to Mon, 06/30/2025
Full Description: 

Often, middle school science classes do not benefit from participation of underrepresented students because of language and cultural barriers. This project takes advantage of language to help students form their own ideas and pursue deeper understanding in the science classroom. This work continues a partnership among the University of California, Berkeley, Educational Testing Service, and science teachers and paraprofessionals from six middle schools enrolling students from diverse racial, ethnic, and language groups whose cultural experiences may be neglected in science instruction. The partnership will conduct a comprehensive research program to develop and test technology that will empower students to use their ideas as a starting point for deepening science understanding. Researchers will use a technology that detects student ideas that go beyond a student's general knowledge level to adapt to a student's cultural and linguistic understandings of a science topic. The partnership leverages a web-based platform to implement adaptive guidance designed by teachers that feature dialog and peer interaction. Further, the platform features teacher tools that can detect when a student needs additional help and alert the teacher. Teachers using the technology will be able to track and respond to individual student ideas, especially from students who would not often participate because of language and cultural barriers.

This project develops AI-based technology to help science teachers increase their impact on student science learning. The technology is aimed to provide accurate analysis of students' initial ideas and adaptive guidance that gets each student started on reconsidering their ideas and pursuing deeper understanding. Current methods in automated scoring primarily focus on detecting incorrect responses on test questions and estimating the overall knowledge level in a student explanation. This project leverages advances in natural language processing (NLP) to identify the specific ideas in student explanations for open-ended science questions. The investigators will conduct a comprehensive research program that pairs new NLP-based AI methods for analyzing student ideas with adaptive guidance that, in combination, will empower students to use their ideas as starting points for improving science understanding. To evaluate the idea detection process, the researchers will conduct studies that investigate the accuracy and impact of idea detection in classrooms. To evaluate the guidance, the researchers will conduct comparison studies that randomly assign students to conditions to identify the most promising adaptive guidance designs for detected ideas. All materials are customizable using open platform authoring tools.

DataX: Exploring Justice-Oriented Data Science with Secondary School Students

This project will develop an integrated, justice-oriented curriculum and a digital platform for teaching secondary students about data science in science and social studies classrooms. The platform will help students learn about data science using real-world data sets and problems. This interdisciplinary project will also help students meaningfully analyze real-world data sets, interpret social phenomena, and engage in social change.

Award Number: 
2101413
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/01/2021 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Full Description: 

Understanding data is critical for informed citizens. Data science is a growing and emerging field that can incorporate statistics, mathematics, and computer science to develop disciplinary knowledge and address societal challenges. This project will develop an integrated, justice-oriented curriculum and a digital platform for teaching secondary students about data science in science and social studies classrooms. The platform will help students learn about data science using real-world data sets and problems. This project includes science and social studies teachers in the design of the resources and in testing them in secondary school classrooms. Research and development in data science education is needed to understand how students can learn more about the use of data in meaningful and authentic ways. This interdisciplinary project will also help students meaningfully analyze real-world data sets, interpret social phenomena, and engage in social change.

During a two-year project period, we aim to iteratively advance three design components of the DataX program: (a) a justice-oriented data science curriculum integrated in secondary science and social studies; (b) a web-based learning platform that extends the Common Online Data Analysis Platform (CODAP) to support collaboration and sophisticated data practices; and (c) pedagogical practices that involve learners to work collectively as community. The guiding research question is: What scaffolds and resources are necessary to support the co-development of data, disciplinary, and critical literacies in secondary classrooms? To address this, the project will use participatory design research with science and social studies teachers to develop and test the curriculum, the learning platform, and the pedagogical practices. The data collected will include qualitative sources gathered from participatory design workshops and classrooms, as well as quantitative data from questionnaires and system logs. Using the data, we examine students' data science skills, data dispositions, and social participation in collaborative data investigations.

Pages

Subscribe to Middle School