Middle School

Developing and Evaluating Assessments of Problem Solving (Collaborative Research: Bostic and Sondergeld)

Principal Investigator: 

Through DEAP, we have created three Problem-Solving Measures (PSMs) that address the Common Core State Math Content for grades 3, 4, 5, and 6 and built a robust validity argument for their use and score interpretations. We have also used vertical equating to link the PSMs with the already functioning middle-school PSMs (grades 6, 7, and 8). We are constructing a DEAP reporting system and investigating how the reporting system formatively informs teachers instructional decisions.

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Developing an Online Game to Teach Middle School Students Science Research Practices in the Life Sciences (Collaborative Research: Gagnon, Baker, and Metcalf)

Principal Investigator: 

Aqualab is an online video game to teach scientific practices in the context of life sciences for middle school. Students use science practices of experimentation, modeling, and argumentation to investigate questions related to aquatic ecosystems. The project is developing and scaffolding layers of science practices within the gameplay, and exploring how learning progressions can be empirically derived from game data. The findings will be used to create personalized interventions to improve student learning outcomes.

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CAREER: Fraction Activities and Assessments for Conceptual Teaching (FAACT) for Students with Learning Disabilities

Principal Investigator: 

This poster describes the outcomes, dissemination, and scaling of project work from "Fraction Activities and Assessment for Conceptual Teaching (FAACT)." We describe the results of a pilot study for FAACT, free curriculum materials, and how the work has been translated to a new game based project, Model Mathematics Education (ModelME). A link to an intro video for ModelMe's game based curriculum will be shared.

Co-PI(s): Matthew Marino and Michelle Taub, University of Central Florida

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Anchoring High School Students in Real-Life Issues that Integrate STEM Content and Literacy

Principal Investigator: 

Through the integration of STEM content and literacy, this project studies the ways teachers implement literacy practices in the STEM classroom. Teachers will facilitate instruction using scenarios that present students with STEM-related issues, presented as scenarios. After reading and engaging with math and science content, students write a source-based argument in which they state a claim, support the claim with evidence from the texts, and explain the multiple perspectives on the issue.

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An Efficacy Study of a Comprehensive Middle School Science Curriculum that Integrates Disciplinary Core Ideas, Science and Engineering Practices, and Crosscutting Concepts

Principal Investigator: 

This poster presents results from a randomized controlled trial that examined the efficacy of the Amplify Science Middle School curriculum for improving seventh grade students learning in relation to NGSS performance expectations in physical science. Though the analysis is ongoing, initial findings from the 2019-20 school year demonstrate evidence of promise of the NGSS-designed curriculum materials for supporting three-dimensional teaching and learning. This poster showcases the results and considers implications for research, policy, and practice.

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Advancing Coherent and Equitable Systems of Science Education

Principal Investigator: 

The Advancing Coherent and Equitable Systems of Science Education (ACESSE) project is a deep collaboration between the Council of State Science Supervisors, the University of Washington, and the University of Colorado Boulder. ACESSE brings together educators and researchers to collaboratively research, develop, and promote strategies to make science education more coherent and equitable. Our work focuses on: sensing and guiding improvement, the co-design of professional learning resources, and leadership capacity development for equity.

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Teaching Amidst Uncertainty: Developing Mathematics Teachers' Groupwork Monitoring Practices

This study addresses two open questions in mathematics education and teacher learning research related to groupwork monitoring. Using contemporary information visualization techniques and open-source tools, alongside a video-based coaching activity, teachers will a) analyze classroom video records featuring group math discussions and b) uncover and investigate their specific interactions with student groups as well as their overall approach to this important phase of their lessons.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2100784
Funding Period: 
Sun, 08/01/2021 to Thu, 07/31/2025
Full Description: 

Decades of research shows that students learn best and instruction is more inclusive when students have opportunities to talk about mathematics. For this reason, many conceptually-oriented mathematics instructional approaches emphasize peer-to-peer discussion. Yet research diverges around questions of how teachers should manage such discussions, an instructional practice referred to as groupwork monitoring. There is contradictory guidance on issues of teacher involvement: should teachers stand back to support student autonomy or involve themselves frequently to support productive sensemaking? This study addresses two open questions in mathematics education and teacher learning research related to groupwork monitoring. The first question centers on groupwork monitoring itself: How can teachers foster productive mathematical talk among students? The second question touches on an underdeveloped topic in teacher education: in what ways can teacher preparation and professional development support teachers in learning effective group work monitoring. Many teacher education strategies–such as rehearsing routines or learning curriculum–aim for teachers to learn well-structured, predictable aspects of instruction, yet there are not clear approaches in helping teachers learn to support more interactive and emergent aspects of mathematics teaching. This Design and Development project addresses these challenges by studying experienced and accomplished secondary mathematics teachers’ learning about groupwork monitoring in a large urban school district. Using contemporary information visualization techniques and open-source tools, alongside a video-based coaching activity, teachers will a) analyze classroom video records featuring group math discussions and b) uncover and investigate their specific interactions with student groups as well as their overall approach to this important phase of their lessons. Through these tools, teachers will develop strategic and integrated understandings of effective groupwork monitoring strategies. As a result of this work, teachers and researchers will be able to better connect teachers’ monitoring choices to students’ peer-to-peer math talk.

To investigate how experienced secondary mathematics teachers learn about groupwork monitoring, the project will develop rich visualization tools to analyze classroom discussions, engage teachers in analytical activities, and study resultant teacher and student learning. In Phase 1, the project team will build on existing visualization tools to develop efficient processes for producing interactive visualizations of monitoring that provide new ways to link classroom video to teachers’ overall interactional patterns. In Phase 2, 12-16 experienced secondary mathematics teachers in six school-based teams will engage over a two-year period with teacher professional development designed to enhance their sensemaking about monitoring, both individually and in teams. The enhanced video feedback system will allow teachers to guide, document, and investigate their evolving sensemaking. In Phase 3, individual and team learning portraits of productive math talk will be developed from the rich corpus of classroom and teacher sensemaking data. At the same time, the corpus will be analyzed using quantitative methods to investigate the conditions under which different teacher monitoring moves support or impede students’ productive math talk. The primary research products will be: 1) novel, open-source tools that dynamically visualize teachers’ monitoring work over a lesson, coordinated with specific teacher-group interaction; 2) a framework for mathematics teachers’ monitoring; 3) a theory about teachers’ learning of responsive and situated practices, of which monitoring is an example; and 4) stronger empirical evidence to guide mathematics teachers’ monitoring practices.

Developing and Evaluating Assessments of Problem-Solving in Computer Adaptive Testing Environments (Collaborative Research: Bostic)

The Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM) problem-solving measures assess students’ problem-solving performance within the context of CCSSM math content and practices. This project expands the scope of the problem-solving measures use and score interpretation. The project work advances mathematical problem-solving assessments into computer adaptive testing. Computer adaptive testing allows for more precise and efficient targeting of student ability compared to static tests.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2100988
Funding Period: 
Sun, 08/01/2021 to Fri, 07/31/2026
Full Description: 

Problem solving has been a priority within K-12 mathematics education for over four decades and is reflected throughout the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM) initiative, which have been adopted in some form by 41 states. Broadly defined, problem solving involves the mathematical practices in which students engage as they solve intellectually-challenging mathematical tasks. In prior research, problem-solving measures aligned to CCSSM for grades 3-5 were developed and validated to supplement previously established problem-solving measures in grades 6-8. The problem-solving measures assess students’ problem-solving performance within the context of CCSSM math content and practices. This project expands the scope of the problem-solving measures use and score interpretation. The project work advances mathematical problem-solving assessments into computer adaptive testing. Computer adaptive testing allows for more precise and efficient targeting of student ability compared to static tests. Few measures designed to assess students’ mathematical problem-solving ability use this technology. Shorter tests require less in-class time for assessment than current paper-pencil problem-solving measures and increase classroom instruction time. The computer-adaptive problem-solving measures have sufficient reliability and strong validity evidence, and may limit test-taker fatigue. Finally, the project will benchmark current grades 6-8 instruments using an objective standard-setting method, which allows for improved score interpretations with content-related feedback. Immediate results of student- and class-level reports will be produced through the computer adaptive testing system allowing for teachers to modify instruction to improve students’ learning.

This five-year project aims to advance the use of computer adaptive testing and assessment development for use in mathematics instruction. The project applies an iterative and stakeholder-informed design science-based methodology as well as employs the use of Rasch modeling for the psychometric analysis during item development and validation. The project aims to: (a) benchmark the previously established grades 6-8 problem-solving measures; (b) develop, calibrate, and validate criterion-referenced computer adaptive testing for each measure; (c) construct student- and class-level score reports for integration into the computer adaptive testing system; and (d) investigate teachers’ capacity for implementing, interpreting, and using the assessments and results in STEM learning settings. The project addresses the following set of research questions: (RQ1) What benchmark performance standards define different proficiency levels on problem-solving measures for each grade level? (RQ2) What are the psychometric properties of new problem-solving measures items developed for the computer adaptive testing item bank? (RQ3) Is there significant item drift across student populations on the new problem-solving measure items? (RQ4) To what extent are problem-solving measures item calibrations stable within the computer adaptive testing system? (RQ5) What recommendations for improvements do teachers and students have for the new problem-solving measures items, computer adaptive testing platform and reporting system, if any? (RQ6) To what extent do teachers interact with, perceive, and make sense of the assessment information generated for use in practice? and (RQ7) Does an online learning module build teacher capacity for problem solving measures, computer adaptive testing implementation, interpretation, and use of student assessment outcomes in STEM learning settings? An experimental design will be utilized to investigate teachers’ capacity for implementing, interpreting, and using problem solving measures in a computer adaptive testing system. The project has the potential to impact the field by providing school districts and researchers a means to assess students’ mathematical problem-solving performance at one time or growth over time efficiently and effectively; address future online learning needs; and improve classroom teaching through more precise information about students’ strengths with less class time focused on assessment.

Developing and Evaluating Assessments of Problem-Solving in Computer Adaptive Testing Environments (Collaborative Research: Sondergeld)

The Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM) problem-solving measures assess students’ problem-solving performance within the context of CCSSM math content and practices. This project expands the scope of the problem-solving measures use and score interpretation. The project work advances mathematical problem-solving assessments into computer adaptive testing. Computer adaptive testing allows for more precise and efficient targeting of student ability compared to static tests.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101026
Funding Period: 
Sun, 08/01/2021 to Fri, 07/31/2026
Full Description: 

Problem solving has been a priority within K-12 mathematics education for over four decades and is reflected throughout the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM) initiative, which have been adopted in some form by 41 states. Broadly defined, problem solving involves the mathematical practices in which students engage as they solve intellectually-challenging mathematical tasks. In prior research, problem-solving measures aligned to CCSSM for grades 3-5 were developed and validated to supplement previously established problem-solving measures in grades 6-8. The problem-solving measures assess students’ problem-solving performance within the context of CCSSM math content and practices. This project expands the scope of the problem-solving measures use and score interpretation. The project work advances mathematical problem-solving assessments into computer adaptive testing. Computer adaptive testing allows for more precise and efficient targeting of student ability compared to static tests. Few measures designed to assess students’ mathematical problem-solving ability use this technology. Shorter tests require less in-class time for assessment than current paper-pencil problem-solving measures and increase classroom instruction time. The computer-adaptive problem-solving measures have sufficient reliability and strong validity evidence, and may limit test-taker fatigue. Finally, the project will benchmark current grades 6-8 instruments using an objective standard-setting method, which allows for improved score interpretations with content-related feedback. Immediate results of student- and class-level reports will be produced through the computer adaptive testing system allowing for teachers to modify instruction to improve students’ learning.

This five-year project aims to advance the use of computer adaptive testing and assessment development for use in mathematics instruction. The project applies an iterative and stakeholder-informed design science-based methodology as well as employs the use of Rasch modeling for the psychometric analysis during item development and validation. The project aims to: (a) benchmark the previously established grades 6-8 problem-solving measures; (b) develop, calibrate, and validate criterion-referenced computer adaptive testing for each measure; (c) construct student- and class-level score reports for integration into the computer adaptive testing system; and (d) investigate teachers’ capacity for implementing, interpreting, and using the assessments and results in STEM learning settings. The project addresses the following set of research questions: (RQ1) What benchmark performance standards define different proficiency levels on problem-solving measures for each grade level? (RQ2) What are the psychometric properties of new problem-solving measures items developed for the computer adaptive testing item bank? (RQ3) Is there significant item drift across student populations on the new problem-solving measure items? (RQ4) To what extent are problem-solving measures item calibrations stable within the computer adaptive testing system? (RQ5) What recommendations for improvements do teachers and students have for the new problem-solving measures items, computer adaptive testing platform and reporting system, if any? (RQ6) To what extent do teachers interact with, perceive, and make sense of the assessment information generated for use in practice? and (RQ7) Does an online learning module build teacher capacity for problem solving measures, computer adaptive testing implementation, interpretation, and use of student assessment outcomes in STEM learning settings? An experimental design will be utilized to investigate teachers’ capacity for implementing, interpreting, and using problem solving measures in a computer adaptive testing system. The project has the potential to impact the field by providing school districts and researchers a means to assess students’ mathematical problem-solving performance at one time or growth over time efficiently and effectively; address future online learning needs; and improve classroom teaching through more precise information about students’ strengths with less class time focused on assessment.

Supporting Teacher Customizations of Curriculum Materials for Equitable Student Sensemaking in Secondary Science (Collaborative Researcher: Reiser)

This project is developing and researching customization tools to support teachers’ instructional shifts to achieve equitable sensemaking in middle school science classrooms. These tools will help teachers to better notice and leverage the ideas and experiences of non-dominant students to support all students in equitable sensemaking.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101377
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/01/2021 to Mon, 06/30/2025
Full Description: 

This project is developing and researching tools to support teachers’ instructional shifts to achieve equitable sensemaking in middle school science classrooms. Sensemaking involves students building and using science ideas to address questions and problems they identify, rather than solely learning about the science others have done. Despite it being a central goal of recent national policy documents, such meaningful engagement with science knowledge building remains elusive in many classrooms. Students from non-dominant communities frequently do not see themselves as “science people” because their ways of knowing and experiences are often not valued in science classrooms. Professional learning grounded in teachers’ use of innovative high quality curriculum materials can help teachers learn to teach in new ways. Yet teachers need guidance to customize curriculum materials to fit their own local contexts and leverage students’ ideas and experiences while maintaining the goals of recent policy documents. This project is researching and developing customization tools to support teachers in their principled use and adaptation of materials for their classrooms. These customization tools will help teachers to better notice and leverage the ideas and experiences of non-dominant students to support all students in equitable sensemaking. During the project, 74 teachers from diverse schools will participate in professional learning using these customization tools. After testing, the customization tools and illustrative cases will be disseminated broadly to support teachers enacting any science curriculum in leveraging the ideas and experiences that students bring into the classroom. In addition, the research results in the form of design principles will inform future design of curriculum materials and professional learning resources for science.

A key element in science education reform efforts includes shifting the epistemic and power structures in the classroom so that teachers and students work together to build knowledge. Research shows that shifts in science teaching are challenging for teachers. Researchers and practitioners have collaborated to develop curriculum materials that begin to support teachers in this work. But teachers need to interpret these materials and customize the tasks and strategies for their own context as they work with their own students. Curriculum enactment is not prescriptive, but rather a “participatory relationship” between the teacher, curriculum materials, students and context, where teachers interpret the materials and the goals of the reform, and customize them to adapt the tasks and activity structures to meet the needs and leverage the resources of their students. The field needs to better understand how teachers learn from and navigate this participatory relationship and what supports can aid in this work. This project will include design-based research examining teachers’ customization processes and the development of tools to support teachers in adapting curriculum materials for their specific school context to facilitate equitable science sensemaking for all students, where all students engage in ambitious science knowledge building. The major components of the research program will include: (1) Empirical study of teachers’ customization processes; (2) Theoretical model of teacher thinking and learning that underlies customization of curriculum materials; (3) Tools to support principled customization consistent with the goals of the reform; and (4) Empirical study of how tools influence teachers’ customization processes. The project is addressing the urgent need for scalable support for teacher learning for recent shifts in science education in relation to both a vision of figuring out and equity.

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