Preservice Teachers

Changing Culture in Robotics Classroom (Collaborative Research: Shoop)

Computational and algorithmic thinking are new basic skills for the 21st century. Unfortunately few K-12 schools in the United States offer significant courses that address learning these skills. However many schools do offer robotics courses. These courses can incorporate computational thinking instruction but frequently do not. This research project aims to address this problem by developing a comprehensive set of resources designed to address teacher preparation, course content, and access to resources.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1418199
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/01/2014 to Thu, 08/31/2017
Full Description: 

Computational and algorithmic thinking are new basic skills for the 21st century. Unfortunately few K-12 schools in the United States offer significant courses that address learning these skills. However many schools do offer robotics courses. These courses can incorporate computational thinking instruction but frequently do not. This research project aims to address this problem by developing a comprehensive set of resources designed to address teacher preparation, course content, and access to resources. This project builds upon a ten year collaboration between Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Academy and the University of Pittsburgh's Learning Research and Development Center that studied how teachers implement robotics education in their classrooms and developed curricula that led to significant learning gains. This project will address the following three questions:

1.What kinds of resources are useful for motivating and preparing teachers to teach computational thinking and for students to learn computational thinking?

2.Where do teachers struggle most in teaching computational thinking principles and what kinds of supports are needed to address these weaknesses?

3.Can virtual environments be used to significantly increase access to computational thinking principles?

The project will augment traditional robotics classrooms and competitions with Robot Virtual World (RVW) that will scaffold student access to higher-order problems. These virtual robots look just like real-world robots and will be programmed using identical tools but have zero mechanical error. Because dealing with sensor, mechanical, and actuator error adds significant noise to the feedback students' receive when programming traditional robots (thus decreasing the learning of computational principles), the use of virtual robots will increase the learning of robot planning tasks which increases learning of computational thinking principles. The use of RVW will allow the development of new Model-Eliciting Activities using new virtual robotics challenges that reward creativity, abstraction, algorithms, and higher level programming concepts to solve them. New curriculum will be developed for the advanced concepts to be incorporated into existing curriculum materials. The curriculum and learning strategies will be implemented in the classroom following teacher professional development focusing on computational thinking principles. The opportunities for incorporating computationally thinking principles in the RVW challenges will be assessed using detailed task analyses. Additionally regression analyses of log-files will be done to determine where students have difficulties. Observations of classrooms, surveys of students and teachers, and think-alouds will be used to assess the effectiveness of the curricula in addition to pre-and post- tests to determine student learning outcomes.

QuEST: Quality Elementary Science Teaching

This project is examining an innovative model of situated Professional Development (PD) and the contribution of controlled teaching experiences to teacher learning and, as a result, to student learning. The project is carrying out intensive research about an existing special PD summer institute (QuEST) that has been in existence for more than five years through a state Improving Teacher Quality Grants program.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1316683
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/15/2013 to Mon, 07/31/2017
Full Description: 

The University of Missouri-Columbia is examining an innovative model of situated Professional Development (PD) and the contribution of controlled teaching experiences to teacher learning and, as a result, to student learning. The project is carrying out intensive research about an existing special PD summer institute (QuEST) that has been in existence for more than five years through a state Improving Teacher Quality Grants program. The project will do the following: (1) undertake more in-depth and targeted research to better understand the efficacy of the PD model and impacts on student learning; (2) develop and field test resources from the project that can produce broader impacts; and (3) explore potential scale-up of the model for diverse audiences. The overarching goals of the project are: (a) Implement a high-quality situated PD model for K-6 teachers in science; (b) Conduct a comprehensive and rigorous program of research to study the impacts of this model on teacher and student learning; and (c) Disseminate project outcomes to a variety of stakeholders to produce broader impacts. A comparison of two groups of teachers will be done. Both groups will experience a content (physics) and pedagogy learning experience during one week in the summer. During a second week, one group will experience "controlled teaching" of elementary students, while the other group will not. Teacher and student gains will be measured using a quantitative and qualitative, mixed-methods design.

Investigating Simulations of Teaching Practice: Assessing Readiness to Teach Elementary Mathematics

The PI of this project argues cogently that assessment of pre-service teacher preparedness to teach is based on a flawed model. The goal then is to use a simulation model from other professional arenas: the training of doctors, nurses, etc., to offer new insights and control for the many variables that come to play when conducting evaluations in practice.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1316571
Funding Period: 
Tue, 10/01/2013 to Wed, 09/30/2015
Full Description: 

The PI argues cogently that assessment of pre-service teacher preparedness to teach is based on a flawed model. The goal then is to use a simulation model from other professional arenas: the training of doctors, nurses, etc., to offer new insights and control for the many variables that come to play when conducting evaluations in practice. These might include classroom context, the difficulty of the mathematics being deployed, etc. To do this the PI will develop three assessments that vary in the simulation scenario. In the context of developing and validating these assessments, the PI will examine:

1. What do we learn about the nature of pre-service teachers skills at eliciting and interpreting students thinking and their mathematical knowledge for teaching (MKT) in use through assessments that simulate teaching practice? How does their performance correspond with eliciting and interpreting students mathematical thinking in classroom contexts?

2. How does the nature of pre-service teachers skills at eliciting and interpreting students thinking and mathematical knowledge vary in relation to different simulation scenarios? Are some simulation scenarios easier than other simulation scenarios?

3. What are the challenges of designing alternative versions of a particular simulation assessment?

Fostering Pedagogical Argumentation: Pedagogical Reasoning with and About Student Science Ideas

This project will use an iterative approach to design activities and supports that foster pedagogical argumentation for use in undergraduate teacher education courses. This project will examine: 1) whether and how PSTs engage in pedagogical argumentation and 2) whether and how this engagement impacts how they listen and respond to student ideas.

Award Number: 
1316232
Funding Period: 
Tue, 10/01/2013 to Sun, 09/30/2018
Full Description: 

Effective and ambitious teaching in science requires that teachers listen and respond to student ideas. But research shows that doing so in the classroom can be logistically, socially, and intellectually challenging for both expert and novice teachers. Listening to student ideas requires teachers to anticipate and interpret multiple lines of thinking that may be expressed ambiguously and simultaneously. Responding to student thinking, both in-the-moment and in future instruction, presents further challenges because teachers must balance their choices with other instructional priorities. Unfortunately, little work has been done to date in supporting these challenging practices in those who are learning to teach, pre-service teachers (PSTs). In order to address this gap, researchers in this Exploratory project will introduce a new approach to teacher education: pedagogical argumentation. Pedagogical argumentation creates a supportive environment in which the PSTs learn and refine these practices of listening and responding by using student ideas as evidence to construct and defend potential pedagogical decisions.

Over three years researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison will use an iterative approach to design activities and supports that foster pedagogical argumentation for use in undergraduate teacher education courses. This project will examine: 1) whether and how PSTs engage in pedagogical argumentation and 2) whether and how this engagement impacts how they listen and respond to student ideas. Working with both elementary and secondary PSTs, researchers will probe and explore their changing listening and responding practices by: collecting records of pedagogical argumentation (both video and written) as it occurs in the science teaching methods courses; conducting interviews about PSTs understanding of student ideas; and documenting PSTs teaching experiences in their school placements.

The science teacher education community writ large is in need of systematic approaches to teacher education that better support PSTs in learning ambitious teaching practices such as listening and responding to student ideas. The proposed study addresses this need and, in doing so, will support both immediate PSTs in engaging in this work as well as the broader teacher education community as it struggles with these same challenges. Moreover, the novel practice of pedagogical argumentation advances the fields theoretical understanding of the problem space for supporting these challenges by combining insight from two extensive programs of research in teaching and learning: 1) teacher reasoning about student ideas, and 2) argumentation about science content. As such, the practice of pedagogical argumentation has the potential to transform how teacher educators approach pre-service education.

CAREER: Scaffolding Engineering Design to Develop Integrated STEM Understanding with WISEngineering

The development of six curricular projects that integrate mathematics based on the Common Core Mathematics Standards with science concepts from the Next Generation Science Standards combined with an engineering design pedagogy is the focus of this CAREER project.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1253523
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2013 to Sat, 06/30/2018
Full Description: 

The development of six curricular projects that integrate mathematics based on the Common Core Mathematics Standards with science concepts from the Next Generation Science Standards combined with an engineering design pedagogy is the focus of this DRK-12 CAREER project from the University of Virginia. Research on the learning sciences with a focus on a knowledge integration perspective of helping students build and retain connections among normative and relevant ideas and existing knowledge structures the development of the WiseEngineering learning environment, an online learning management system that scaffolds engineering design projects. WiseEngineering provides support for students and teachers to conduct engineering design projects in middle and high school settings. Dynamic virtualizations that enable learners to observe and experiment with phenomena are combined with knowledge integration patterns to structure a technology rich learning environments for students. The research focuses on the ways in which metacognition, namely self-knowledge and self-regulation interact with learning in these technology-enhanced environments.Embedded assessments and student pre and post-testing of key science and mathematics constructs provide evidence of the development of student understanding.A rubric that examines knowledge integration is used to examine the extent wo which students understand how multiple concepts interact in a given context. A mixed-methods research design will examines how students and teachers in middle school mathematics and science courses develop understanding of the underlying principles in STEM. The PI of this award has integrated research and education in this proposal by connecting her research on engineering design and technology-enabled learning environments with the preservice secondary education methods course that she teachs. In addition, she has folded the research into the instructional technology graduate courses of which she is the instructor.

Engineering design is a key area of the Next Generation Science Standards that requires additional curricular materials development and research on how students integrate concepts across mathematics and science to engage in these engineering practices. The technology-rich learning environment, WISEngineering, provides the context to examine how student engineering design principles evolve over time. The opportunitiy for students to provide critiques of each others' work provides the context in which to examine crucial metacognitive principles. Classroom observations and teacher interviews provides the opportunity to examine how the technology-rich engineering design learning environment integrates STEM knowledge for teachers as well as students.

Developing Rich Media-Based Materials for Practice-Based Teacher Education

This research and development project is premised on the notion that recent technological developments have made it feasible to represent classroom work in new ways. In addition to watching recorded videos of classroom interactions or reading written cases, teacher educators and teachers can now watch animations and image sequences, realized with cartoon characters, and made to depict activities that happened, or could have happened, in a mathematics classroom.

Award Number: 
1316241
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/15/2013 to Tue, 07/31/2018
Full Description: 

The 4-year research and development project, Developing Rich Media-based Materials for Practice-based Teacher Education, is premised on the notion that recent technological developments have made it feasible to represent classroom work in new ways. In addition to watching recorded videos of classroom interactions or reading written cases, teacher educators and teachers can now watch animations and image sequences, realized with cartoon characters, and made to depict activities that happened, or could have happened, in a mathematics classroom. Furthermore, teacher educators and teachers can react to such animations or image sequences by making their own depictions of alternative moves by students or teachers in classroom interaction. And all of that can take place in an on-line, cloud-based environment that also supports discussion fora, questionnaires, and the kinds of capabilities associated with learning management systems. Such technologies offer important affordances to teacher educators seeking to provide candidates with course-based experiences that emphasize the development of practice-based skills. The focus of the project is on mathematics teacher education. This joint project of the University of Maryland Center for Mathematics Education and the University of Michigan will produce 6 to 8 field-tested modules for use in different courses that are a part of mathematics teacher preparation programs. The following two-pronged research question will be resolved: What are the affordances and constraints of the modules and the environment as supports for: (1) practice based teacher education and (2) a shift toward blended teacher education?

The project involves the following activities: (1) a teacher education materials development component; (2) a related evaluation component; and (3) two research components. The development phase seeks to develop both the LessonSketch.org platform and six to eight mathematics teacher education modules for use in preservice teacher education programs from around the country. The modules will be written with practice-based teacher education goals in mind and will use the capacities of the LessonSketch.org platform as a vehicle for using rich-media artifacts of teaching with preservice teacher candidates. LessonSketch Teacher Education Research and Development Fellows will be chosen through a competitive application process. They will develop their respective modules along with teams of colleagues that will be recruited to form their inquiry group and pilot the module activities. The evaluation activity will focus on the materials development aspect of the project. Data will be collected by the LessonSketch platform, which includes interviews with Fellows and their teams, perspectives of module writers, descriptive statistics of module use, and feedback from both teacher educator and preservice teacher end-users about the quality of their experiences. The first research activity of the project is design research on the kinds of technological infrastructure that are useful for practice-based teacher education. The PIs will identify tools that teacher educators need and want beyond the current capabilities for web-based support for use of rich media and will produce prototype tools inside the LessonSketch environment to meet these needs. The second research activity of the project will supplement the evaluation activity by examining the implementation of two of the modules in detail. This aspect of the research will examine the goals of the intended curriculum, the proposed modes of media use, the fidelity of the implemented curriculum, and learnings produced by preservice teachers. This research activity will help the field understand the degree to which practice-based teacher education that is mediated by an online access to rich media would be a kind of practice that could be easily incorporated into existing teacher education structures.

The project will produce 6 to 8 LessonSketch modules for use in teacher education classes. Each module will be implemented in at least eight teacher education classes across the country, which means that between 720 and 960 preservice teacher candidates will study the materials. The project aims to shift the field toward practice-based teacher education by supporting university programs to implement classroom-driven activities that will produce mathematics teachers with strong capabilities to teach mathematics effectively and meaningfully.

Secondary Science Teaching with English Language and Literacy Acquisition (SSTELLA)

This is a four-year project to develop, implement, and study an experimental model of secondary science pre-service teacher education designed to prepare novice school teachers to provide effective science instruction to English language learners (ELLs). The project incorporates the principles underlying the Next Generation Science Standards with a focus on promoting students' scientific sense-making, comprehension and communication of scientific discourse, and productive use of language.

Award Number: 
1316834
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2013 to Tue, 07/31/2018
Full Description: 

This is a four-year Discovery Research K-12 project to develop, implement, and study an experimental model of secondary science pre-service teacher education designed to prepare novice school teachers to provide effective science instruction to English language learners (ELLs). The project incorporates the principles underlying the Next Generation Science Standards with a focus on promoting students' scientific sense-making, comprehension and communication of scientific discourse, and productive use of language. It articulates theory and practice related to the teaching of science content and the development of English language and literacy, and provides teachers with models of integrated practice in video cases and curriculum units. To test the efficacy of the study, a longitudinal, mixed-methods, quasi-experimental study is conducted at four institutions: the University of California-Santa Cruz, Arizona State University, the University of Arizona, and the University of Texas at San Antonio.

The three research questions are: (1) What is the impact of the project's pre-service teacher education program on novice secondary science teachers' knowledge, beliefs, and practice from the pre-service program into the second year of teaching?; (2) What is the relationship between science method instructors' fidelity of implementation of the project's practices and novice teachers' outcomes (knowledge, beliefs, and practice)?; and (3) What is the relationship between novice teachers' implementation of project-promoted practices and their students' learning? To answer these questions, the project collects and analyzes quantitative and qualitative data on novice teachers (85 treatment group and 85 control group) over three years utilizing surveys, interviews, observations, and student assessment instruments. Teachers' beliefs and knowledge about teaching science to ELLs are measured using the project-developed Science Teaching Survey, which provides quantitative scores based on a Likert-type scale, and the science teacher interview protocol to provide qualitative data, including the contextual factors affecting implementation of project-promoted practices. Classroom observations are captured through qualitative field notes and the Classroom Observation Rubric--a systematic project-developed observation instrument that measures implementation of the practices. Student learning outcomes are measured using (a) the Woodcock-Muñoz Language Survey (students' proficiency at applying listening, reading, writing, and comprehension abilities); (b) the Literacy in Science Assessment (students' productive use of language in authentic science literacy tasks); (c) the Scientific Sense-Making Assessment (how students make sense of core science ideas through scientific and engineering practices); and (d) appropriate state standardized assessments. In addition, the Opportunity to Learn Survey gauges students' perceptions of implementation of literacy integration, motivation in class, and identity as readers.

Project outcomes are: (a) a research-based and field-tested model for pre-service secondary science teacher education, including resources for science methods courses instructors and pre-service teachers; and (b) valid and reliable instrumentation usable in similar research and development environments.


Project Videos

2019 STEM for All Video Showcase

Title: Preparing Science Teachers to Support English Learners

Presenter(s): Edward Lyon


From Undergraduate STEM Major to Enacting the NGSS

The Colorado Learning Assistant (LA) model, recognized nationally as a hallmark teacher recruitment and preparation program, has run a national workshop annually for four years to disseminate and scale the program. This project expands the existing annual workshop to address changing needs of participants and to prepare eight additional faculty members to lead new regional workshops.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1317059
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2013 to Fri, 07/31/2015
Full Description: 

The Colorado Learning Assistant (LA) model, recognized nationally as a hallmark teacher recruitment and preparation program, has run a national workshop annually for four years to disseminate and scale the program. This project expands the existing annual workshop to address changing needs of participants and to prepare eight additional faculty members to lead new regional workshops. Workshop sessions integrate crosscutting concepts, scientific practices, and engineering design as articulated in the Framework for K-12 Science Education (NRC, 2012). Infusing the Frameworks into the workshop helps STEM faculty better understand their role in preparing future K-12 teachers to implement the new standards, by transforming their own undergraduate courses in ways that actively engage students in modeling, argumentation, making claims from evidence, and engineering design. The National Science Foundation (NSF), the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), the American Physical Society's PhysTEC project, and University of Colorado-Boulder, provide resources for national workshops in 2013 and 2014 allowing 80 additional math, science, and engineering faculty from a range of institutions to directly experience the LA model and to learn ways to implement, adapt, grow, and sustain a program on their own campuses. Evaluation of the project focuses on long-term effects of workshop participation and contributes to efforts to strengthen networks within the international Learning Assistant Alliance. The launching of 10 - 12 new LA programs is anticipated, and many existing programs will expand into new STEM departments as a result of the national workshops.

Workshop participants are awarded travel grants and in return, provide data each year for two years so that long-term impacts of the workshop can be evaluated. Online surveys provide data about each institution's progress in setting up a program, departments in which the program runs, number of faculty involved, number of courses transformed, numbers of teachers recruited, and estimated number of students impacted. These data provide correlations between workshop attendance and new program development, and allow the computation of national cost per impacted student as well as the average cost per STEM teacher recruited. Anonymous data are made available to International Learning Assistant Alliance partners to promote collaborative research and materials development across sites.

The 2013 and 2014 national workshops train eight faculty members who have experience running LA programs to offer regional workshops for local university and community college faculty members. This provides even greater potential for teacher recruitment and preparation through the LA model and for data collection from diverse institutions. This two-year project has potential to support 320 math, science, and engineering faculty as they transform their undergraduate courses in ways consistent with the Frameworks, in turn affording tens of thousands of undergraduate students (and hundreds of future teachers) more and better opportunities to engage with each other and with STEM content through the use of scientific and engineering practices. STEM faculty who participate in what appears to be an easy to adopt process of course transformation through the LA model, become more aware of issues in educational diversity, equity, and access leading to fundamental transformations in the way education is done in a department and at an institution, ultimately leading to sustained policy changes and shared vision of equitable, quality education.

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