Middle School

Evaluation of Disaster-Related Science Lesson Plans to Promote Learning Continuity After Hurricane Maria

The purpose of this project is to leverage ongoing efforts related to science education and the current emergency and disaster recovery landscape in Puerto Rico. It will develop culturally relevant project-based science lesson plans that incorporate the disaster context that can be implemented both inside and outside of the traditional classroom. The project will allow displaced students to continue learning under the guidance of teachers, parents or social workers.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1823085
Funding Period: 
Thu, 02/15/2018 to Thu, 01/31/2019
Full Description: 

Although natural disasters have been used in the past to develop project-based learning (PBL) lessons, there is a lack of research that examines their use in the aftermath of a natural disaster. The purpose of this project is to leverage ongoing efforts related to science education and the current emergency and disaster recovery landscape in Puerto Rico. The Yale Ciencia Initiative, in collaboration with Ciencia Puerto Rico, working with the Department of Education of Puerto Rico will develop culturally relevant project-based science lesson plans that incorporate the disaster context that can be implemented both inside and outside of the traditional classroom. The project will allow displaced students to continue learning under the guidance of teachers, parents or social workers. The project will train educators in the use of disaster-related problem-based lessons and assess project implementation and the impact of the lessons. The final outcome of this aim will be a lesson plan template and implementation guidelines for other jurisdictions faced by natural disasters. The project will result in enhanced infrastructure for education by developing tools and implementation guidelines that other jurisdictions may use to develop their own lesson plans in advance of natural disasters, so as to assure continuity of learning.

The project will assess implementation through observations and rubrics, surveys for parents, educators and students, and focus groups with each of these populations. To assess the impact of contextualized PBL lessons, the project will collect survey data, before and after the educational intervention, to measure changes in students' content knowledge, as well as in attitudes that are predictive of engagement in science learning. Results will be compared to matched control groups that receive either the standard curriculum, which are not contextualized to the disaster and that does not include PBL, or a PBL lesson plan that does not incorporate the disaster or the cultural context. At least 30 educators and 200 7th grade students will be exposed during the project period to the contextualized PBL lesson plan. The resulting feasibility analysis will inform other jurisdictions preparing their educational systems for natural disasters and provide evidence for the use of contextualized lesson plans that incorporate PBL in disaster recovery settings. In addition, the project design will advance the field of PBL by allowing investigators to examine the impact of integrating current social/historical contexts to PBL lessons and by examining the relationship between changes in science attitudes and engagement, with changes in learning.

Master of Arts in Teaching Program at the American Museum of Natural History

Principal Investigator: 

Wallace, J. (2014, March). Master of Arts in Teaching Program at the American Museum of Natural History. Poster presented at the Noyce Northeast Regional Conference, Philadelphia, PA.

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Discipline / Topic: 

Investigating science teaching core practices in high-needs urban settings

Principal Investigator: 

Howes, E., & Wallace, J. (2017, July). Investigating science teaching core practices in high-needs urban settings. Poster presented at the 2017 NOYCE Summit, Washington, DC.

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Discipline / Topic: 

Developing and Validating a Scalable, Classroom-Focused Measure of Usable Knowledge for Teaching Mathematics: The Classroom Video Analysis Instrument

This project will develop a scalable, classroom-focused measure of usable mathematics teaching knowledge that is aligned with the state standards through a classroom video analysis measure (CVA-M) in three content areas: (a) fractions for grades 4 and 5, (b) ratio and proportions for grades 6 and 7; and (c) variables, expressions, and equations for grades 6 and 7.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1720866
Funding Period: 
Fri, 09/01/2017 to Tue, 08/31/2021
Full Description: 

There is widespread agreement that for teachers to effectively teach their students having lots of knowledge is important, but not enough. To benefit instruction and student learning, teachers need to be able to access and flexibly use their knowledge in the classroom in actual teaching situations and teaching tasks. Yet, measures to assess teachers' usable knowledge have remained scarce. We still know little about how the knowledge teachers acquire as part of teacher preparation courses and professional development becomes usable, how it develops over time, and how teachers use it in the process of teaching. To address both assessment needs in this project, the project will develop a set of scalable, classroom-focused measures of usable mathematics teaching knowledge that are aligned with state standards. The new measures will extend the classroom video analysis approach, which is based on teachers' ability to analyze and respond to teaching episodes shown in short video clips of authentic classroom instruction, by aligning video clips and assessment tasks to standards. The new measures, which will be made available online, will be a valuable tool for researchers, policy makers, and school districts to monitor teacher knowledge over time and to gauge teacher preparedness for implementing state standards in mathematics. The measures will also provide new insights into usable knowledge and knowledge use and advance a much-needed theory of teacher knowledge. Finally, the project extends and refines a promising assessment methodology that can be adapted to any future content frameworks or standards and that can also be used for instrument development in other practice-based knowledge domains.

The project will develop a scalable, classroom-focused measure of usable mathematics teaching knowledge that is aligned with the state standards through a classroom video analysis measure (CVA-M) in three content areas: (a) fractions for grades 4 and 5, (b) ratio and proportions for grades 6 and 7; and (c) variables, expressions, and equations for grades 6 and 7. The project will examine the psychometric properties of the new items and scales, including the reliability of scores, and collect evidence on content, substantive, structural, and external aspects of validity to evaluate the overall construct validity of the CVA-M. The project builds on an innovative and promising assessment methodology that uses video clips of authentic classroom instruction that teachers are asked to view and analyze to elicit their usable knowledge. Teachers analyze the teaching episodes shown in the video clips from different assessment tasks that reflect authentic teaching tasks, such as diagnosing student thinking, generating mathematically targeted teacher question, or relating specific content and mathematical practices to teaching episodes shown in the clips. To develop each of the three scales, video clips will be mapped to state level content and mathematical practice standards. Assessment tasks and rubrics will also be aligned with these standards. To create items, video clips will be combined with analysis prompts that ask for a written answer, multiple-choice or rating scales. To make the constructed response items, which need to be scored by trained raters, easier to use at scale, computational approaches will be employed to develop classifiers to automate scoring. Using responses from large samples of teachers, the psychometric properties of the new CVA-M items and scales will be analyzed using factor analysis, classical test theory and item response theory. A series of validity investigations will be conducted. Teachers' scores on the new CVA-M scales will be compared to their scores on another measure of teacher knowledge, the Mathematics Knowledge for Teaching (MKT) instrument, and each scale's predictive validity will be explored vis-a-vis student learning by relating teachers' CVA-M scores to their students' learning as measured by a pre-post quiz and by students' standardized test scores.

Project MAPLE: Makerspaces Promoting Learning and Engagement

The project plans to develop and study a series of metacognitive strategies that support learning and engagement for struggling middle school students during makerspace experiences. The study will focus narrowly on establishing a foundational understanding of how to ameliorate barriers to engaging in design learning through the use of metacognitive strategies.

Award Number: 
1721236
Funding Period: 
Fri, 09/01/2017 to Sat, 08/31/2019
Full Description: 

The project plans to develop and study a series of metacognitive strategies that support learning and engagement for struggling middle school students during makerspace experiences. The makerspace movement has gained recognition and momentum, which has resulted in many schools integrating makerspace technologies and related curricular practices into the classroom. The study will focus narrowly on establishing a foundational understanding of how to ameliorate barriers to engaging in design learning through the use of metacognitive strategies. The project plans to translate and apply research on the use of metacognitive strategies in supporting struggling learners to develop approaches that teachers can implement to increase opportunities for students who are the most difficult to reach academically. Project strategies, curricula, and other resources will be disseminated through existing outreach websites, research briefs, peer-reviewed publications for researchers and practitioners, and a webinar for those interested in middle-school makerspaces for diverse learners.

The research will address the paucity of studies to inform practitioners about what pedagogical supports help struggling learners engage in these makerspace experiences. The project will focus on two populations of struggling learners in middle schools, students with learning disabilities, and students at risk for academic failure. The rationale for focusing on metacognition within makerspace activities comes from the literature on students with learning disabilities and other struggling learners that suggests that they have difficulty with metacognitive thinking. Multiple instruments will be used to measure metacognitive processes found to be pertinent within the research process. The project will tentatively focus on persistence (attitudes about making), iteration (productive struggle) and intentionality (plan with incremental steps). The work will result in an evidence base around new instructional practices for middle school students who are struggling learners so that they can experience more success during maker learning experiences.

Mathematical Learning via Architectural Design and Modeling Using E-Rebuild

This project will explore the learning of mathematics through architectural tasks in an online simulation game, E-Rebuild. In the game-based architectural simulation, students will be able to complete tasks such as building and constructing structures while using mathematics and problem solving. The project will examine how to collect data about students' learning from data generated as they play the game, how students learn mathematics using the simulation, and how the simulation can be included in middle school mathematics learning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1720533
Funding Period: 
Tue, 08/01/2017 to Sat, 07/31/2021
Full Description: 

This project will explore the learning of mathematics through architectural tasks in an online simulation game, E-Rebuild. There is a need to connect mathematics to real world contexts and problems. In the game-based architectural simulation, students will be able to complete tasks such as building and constructing structures while using mathematics and problem solving. The learning platform will be flexible so teachers can customize tasks for their students. The project will examine how to collect data about students' learning from data generated as they play the game. The project will explore how students learn mathematics using the simulation and how the simulation can be included in middle school mathematics learning.

The project includes two major research questions. First, how will the design of a scalable game-based, design-centered learning platform promote coordination and application of math representation for problem solving? Second, how and under what implementation circumstances will using a scalable architectural game-based learning platform improve students multi-stranded mathematical proficiency (i.e., understanding, problem solving and positive disposition)? A key feature of the project is stealth-assessment or data collected and logged as students use the architectural simulation activities that can be used to understand their mathematics learning. The project uses a design-based research approach to gather data from students and teachers that will inform the design of the learning environment. The qualitative and quantitative data will also be used to understand what students are learning as they play the game and how teachers are interacting with their students. The project will include a mixed methods study to compare classrooms using the architectural activities to classrooms that are using typical activities.

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