Middle School

Toward a Scalable Model of Mathematics Professional Development: A Field Study of Preparing Facilitators to Implement the Problem-solving Cycle

The study includes two and a half years of preparation and support for all the mathematics instructional leaders (ILs) within a large urban school district with a substantial minority student enrollment. These ILs will implement the Problem-Solving Cycle model with the mathematics teachers in their schools. Researchers will analyze the preparation and support that ILs need, the quality of their implementation, and the impact of the PD process on ILs, teachers, and students.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0732212
Funding Period: 
Mon, 10/01/2007 to Thu, 09/30/2010
Full Description: 

The primary goal of the project is to investigate the scalability of the Problem-Solving Cycle (PSC) model of mathematics professional development (PD) and accompanying facilitation materials—that is, whether the PSC can be implemented with integrity by multiple facilitators in multiple settings. In the proposed study we will provide ongoing support to a group of middle school mathematics instructional leaders (ILs) so that they can develop the skills to successfully implement the PSC with the mathematics teachers in their schools. The specific nature of this support is expected to change over the duration of the project, and to gradually decrease as the ILs develop the ability to implement the PSC on their own. Our research will address the following questions:

  1. What preparation is provided to ILs prior to their implementation of the PSC? What support is provided during implementation? How does this support change with successive iterations of the PSC?
  2. How do ILs implement the PSC? How does implementation vary across ILs and over time? What factors account for the variation?
  3. What is the impact of preparation for, and implementation of, the PSC on ILs?
  4. What is the impact of participation in the PSC on middle school mathematics teachers?
  5. What is the impact on the mathematics achievement of students whose teachers participate in the PSC?

 


[1] In this proposal we refer to all school or district personnel who will be trained to facilitate the PSC as “instructional leaders” (ILs) although we recognize that they may have other titles.

A Longitudinal Comparison of the Effects of the Connected Mathematics Program and Other Curricula on Middle School Students' Learning of Algebra

This project compares the effects on algebraic learning when using the Connected Math Program to the effects of using other (non-NSF supported) middle school mathematics curriculum materials at the middle school level. The algebra focus skills/concepts to be assessed are: conceptual understanding and problem solving; algebraic manipulative skills; solution strategies, representations and mathematical justifications.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0454739
Funding Period: 
Tue, 03/01/2005 to Mon, 02/28/2011

Development of K-8 Teachers' Knowledge and the Transition from University Student to Professional

This study examines changes in preservice and inservice K-8 teachers' understandings of science and pedagogy across a reform-based Professional Development Continuum. It researches how teachers' knowledge develops across inquiry learning experiences and how undergraduate learning experiences and the contexts of classroom practice shape new teachers' understandings and practice. The study is expected to inform models of STEM teacher education that account for the interwoven intellectual and personal dimensions of the challenging transition to inquiry-based teaching.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0455781
Funding Period: 
Fri, 07/01/2005 to Wed, 06/30/2010

ASSISTments Meets Inquiry

This project addresses middle school students’ learning of science through the improvement of their inquiry science skills. The main goal is to develop a rigorous, technology-based assessment system for standards-aligned assessment of inquiry skills in six physical science content areas (i.e., Properties of Matter; Elements, Compounds, and Mixtures; Motion of Objects; Forms of Energy; and Heat Energy). Assessments are aligned with the Massachusetts Curricular Framework and National Science Education Standards.

Project Email: 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0733286
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2007 to Tue, 08/31/2010
Project Evaluator: 
Dr. Carlos Ayala
Full Description: 

PROJECT OVERVIEW: 

The goal of the AMI project (Assistments Meets Inquiry) is to develop a technology-based assessment system for Middle School Physical Science to be aligned with the Massachusetts Curricular Frameworks. We will do this by: 1) leveraging  from the existing  authoring  functionality in the ASSISTments project for Math (developed by Neil Heffernan & colleagues) in order to develop Science Assistments, 2) extending the logging functionality for this system in order to capture students’ fine grained actions with microworlds, 3) evaluating students’ interactions with models using a framework for aggregating students’ actions into domain-general inquiry skills, and 4) extending the existing reporting infrastructure to report students’ inquiry skills to teachers for formative assessment so s/he can determine which skills his/her students are performing poorly on. 

We are working in two urban schools and a small group of suburban/rural schools in the Central MA area. Worcester is the third largest city in Massachusetts, with high levels of children on free- or assisted-lunch programs. The area also is home to children of many different ethnicities, and as such, provides data that are likely to generalize well across the United State

This project has a longitudinal research design and will generate evidence that is causal [experimental, Educational Data Mining].  Original data are being collected using school records, assessments of learning [concept pre- and post-tests for content and inquiry skills], observation [logs], and survey research.  The project is evaluating the use of adaptive scaffolding of inquiry skills within an intelligent tutoring system for science inquiry. No adaptive scaffolding is being used as the comparison condition. The analysis plan for this project involves educational data mining applied to log files of students' log files.

Assessment for Learning Research Scholars: Capacity Building in Mathematics and Science Education

This project seeks to advance knowledge in K-12 STEM education and assessment practices by building capacity for Assessment for Learning, improving assessments and teacher preparation courses, and providing models for pre-service teacher preparation through enhanced teaching modules. Three goals are: (1) faculty from three centers form a learning community, (2) recruit 5 STEM research scholars to conduct research on measurement and evaluation, and (3) expose pre-service teachers to assessment models in their coursework.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0733590
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2007 to Tue, 08/31/2010

Learning and Teaching Geometry: VideoCases for Mathematics Professional Development

This project is creating five video-case modules for use in professional development of middle school mathematics teachers. The materials are designed to develop teachers' understanding of mathematics knowledge for teaching similarity. In total, 18-24 video cases will be produced, which, taken together, form the curriculum of a 45- to 60-hour professional development course.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0732757
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2007 to Fri, 08/31/2012
Project Evaluator: 
Horizon Research

CAESL2008: International Conference on Assessment for Learning in Mathematics and Science

The primary purpose of this international conference was for participants in the US to exchange views and discuss the latest research findings on (primary) science assessment. The conference focused on research around building assessment systems that help teachers diagnose student learning in the classroom but also link meaningfully to large-scale accountability systems (in districts or national levels). The project resulted in a report, proceedings, journal publications.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0711579
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2007 to Mon, 08/31/2009

Researching Mathematics Leader Learning

This project studies mathematics professional development leaders' understandings and practices associated with developing mathematically rich learning environments. It investigates this issue by considering: How can leaders cultivate professional development environments in which teachers have a greater opportunity to grapple with and deeply understand mathematics? The project studies how explicit attention to the cultivation of sociomathematical norms influences leaders' understanding of the process of creating mathematically rich environments and the impacts on their practices.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0554186
Funding Period: 
Mon, 05/01/2006 to Sat, 04/30/2011
Full Description: 

Our research and development work focuses on one aspect of mathematics professional development, when teachers are engaged in solving, discussing, and sharing mathematical work. Although mathematics professional development may include other activities, we specifically focus on how leaders learn to attend to doing mathematics with teachers because it is a primary time during PD that teachers may be developing deeper understandings of mathematics. To support their learning about cultivating rich teacher learning environments, leaders explored two frameworks: sociomathematical norms (norms for mathematical reasoning) and a set of practices for orchestrating productive mathematical discussions. The staff of RMLL created and facilitated seminars as learning opportunities for leaders, studied what and how leaders learned about facilitation, and investigated how leaders facilitated PD in their schools and districts.

As our research project has evolved, we have revised our frameworks for supporting leader development to include a focus on identifying the purposes for doing mathematics with teachers.  We have used Deborah Ball and her colleagues' work at the University of Michigan to draw a distinction between common content knowledge that teachers hold in common with other professional using mathematics and specialized content knowledge that teachers need to know because of their unique role in   We engage in mathematics with teachers in professional development to help them develop not just common content knowledge but specialized knowledge as well. To develop specialized mathematical knowledge, teachers need to engage in explanations that make taken-for-granted ideas in mathematics explicit. Norms for explanation and representational use are vital. These norms are fostered through the orchestration of discussions. In redesigning seminars according to these ideas, we aim to have leaders select and design tasks that engage teachers more comprehensively with the mathematical knowledge they need to teach. Leaders need to know how to specify purposes for doing mathematics in ways that develop teachers’ SCK and identify tasks and discussion prompts that immerse teachers in SCK. They need to know how to pursue this purpose when orchestrating discussions and support the development of sociomathematical norms in ways that unpack teachers’ highly symbolic or incomplete reasoning. In short, we augmented our initial emphasis on sociomathematical norms with this new emphasis on SCK. supporting learners in the classroom.

We are completing analyses of the experiences of leaders in our revised seminars to understand what they gained from our revised frameworks in planning for and enacting professional development.

Elicitory Test Design: A New Model for Understanding the Relationship Between Test Item Features and Student Performance on Large-scale Assessments

This project is conducting an empirical analysis of NAEP assessment items in science to determine whether evidence supports the hypothesis that standardized tests capture only a limited amount of student knowledge because of their cultural background. The investigator will create a model of test design more likely to extract student knowledge from students of varied cultures by expanding items’ content. The study will examine the experience of American Indian groups, Alaska Natives, and Pacific Islanders.

Award Number: 
0733329
Funding Period: 
Mon, 10/01/2007 to Thu, 09/30/2010

Calipers II: Using Simulations to Assess Complex Science Learning

This project has pioneered simulation-based assessments of model-based science learning and inquiry practices for middle school physical and life science systems. The assessment suites include curriculum-embedded, formative assessments that provide  immediate, individualized feedback and graduated coaching with supporting reflection activities as well as summative end-of-unit benchmark assessments. The project has documented the instructional benefits, feasibility, utility, and technical quality of the assessments with over 7,000 students and 80 teachers in four states.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0733345
Funding Period: 
Mon, 10/01/2007 to Thu, 09/30/2010
Project Evaluator: 
CRESST

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