Students

How Deep Structural Modeling Supports Learning with Big Ideas in Biology (Collaborative Research: Capps)

This project addresses the pressing need to more effectively organize STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) teaching and learning around "big ideas" that run through science disciplines. Unfortunately, finding ways to teach big ideas effectively so they become useful as knowledge frameworks is a significant challenge. Deep structure modeling (DSM), the innovation advanced in this project, is designed to meet this challenge in the context of high school biology.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2010223
Funding Period: 
Sat, 08/01/2020 to Wed, 07/31/2024
Full Description: 

This project addresses the pressing need to more effectively organize STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) teaching and learning around "big ideas" that run through science disciplines. This need is forcefully advanced by policy leaders including the National Research Council and the College Board. They point out that learning is more effective when students organize and link information within a consistent knowledge framework, which is what big ideas should provide. Unfortunately, finding ways to teach big ideas effectively so they become useful as knowledge frameworks is a significant challenge. Deep structure modeling (DSM), the innovation advanced in this project, is designed to meet this challenge in the context of high school biology. In DSM, students learn a big idea as the underlying, or "deep" structure of a set of examples that contain the structure, but with varying outward details. As learners begin to apprehend the deep structure (i.e., the big idea) within the examples, they use the tools and procedures of scientific modeling to express and develop it. According to theories of learning that undergird DSM, the result of this process should be a big idea that is flexible, meaningful, and easy to express, thus providing an ideal framework for making sense of new information learners encounter (i.e., learning with the big idea). To the extent that this explanation is born out in rigorous research tests and within authentic curriculum materials, it contributes important knowledge about how teaching and learning can be organized around big ideas, and not only for deep structural modeling but for other instructional approaches as well.

This project has twin research and prototype development components. Both are taking place in the context of high school biology, in nine classrooms across three districts, supporting up to 610 students. The work focuses on three design features of DSM: (1) embedding model source materials with intuitive, mechanistic ideas; (2) supporting learners to abstract those ideas as a deep structure shared by a set of sources; and (3) representing this deep structure efficiently within the model. In combination, these features support students to understand an abstract, intuitively rich, and efficient knowledge structure that they subsequently use as a framework to interpret, organize, and link disciplinary content. A series of five research studies build on one another to develop knowledge about whether and how the design features bring about these anticipated effects. Earlier studies in the sequence are small-scale classroom experiments randomly assigning students to either deep structural modeling or to parallel, non modeling controls. Measures discriminate for the anticipated effects during learning and on posttests. Later studies use qualitative methods to carefully trace the anticipated effects over time and across topics. As a group, these studies are contributing generalized knowledge of how learners can effectively abstract and represent big ideas and how these ideas can be leveraged as frameworks for learning content with understanding. Two research-tested biology curriculum prototypes are being developed as the studies evolve: a quarter-year DSM biology curriculum centered on energy; and an eighth-year DSM unit centered on natural selection.

How Deep Structural Modeling Supports Learning with Big Ideas in Biology (Collaborative Research: Shemwell)

This project addresses the pressing need to more effectively organize STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) teaching and learning around "big ideas" that run through science disciplines. Unfortunately, finding ways to teach big ideas effectively so they become useful as knowledge frameworks is a significant challenge. Deep structure modeling (DSM), the innovation advanced in this project, is designed to meet this challenge in the context of high school biology.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2010334
Funding Period: 
Sat, 08/01/2020 to Wed, 07/31/2024
Full Description: 

This project addresses the pressing need to more effectively organize STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) teaching and learning around "big ideas" that run through science disciplines. This need is forcefully advanced by policy leaders including the National Research Council and the College Board. They point out that learning is more effective when students organize and link information within a consistent knowledge framework, which is what big ideas should provide. Unfortunately, finding ways to teach big ideas effectively so they become useful as knowledge frameworks is a significant challenge. Deep structure modeling (DSM), the innovation advanced in this project, is designed to meet this challenge in the context of high school biology. In DSM, students learn a big idea as the underlying, or "deep" structure of a set of examples that contain the structure, but with varying outward details. As learners begin to apprehend the deep structure (i.e., the big idea) within the examples, they use the tools and procedures of scientific modeling to express and develop it. According to theories of learning that undergird DSM, the result of this process should be a big idea that is flexible, meaningful, and easy to express, thus providing an ideal framework for making sense of new information learners encounter (i.e., learning with the big idea). To the extent that this explanation is born out in rigorous research tests and within authentic curriculum materials, it contributes important knowledge about how teaching and learning can be organized around big ideas, and not only for deep structural modeling but for other instructional approaches as well.

This project has twin research and prototype development components. Both are taking place in the context of high school biology, in nine classrooms across three districts, supporting up to 610 students. The work focuses on three design features of DSM: (1) embedding model source materials with intuitive, mechanistic ideas; (2) supporting learners to abstract those ideas as a deep structure shared by a set of sources; and (3) representing this deep structure efficiently within the model. In combination, these features support students to understand an abstract, intuitively rich, and efficient knowledge structure that they subsequently use as a framework to interpret, organize, and link disciplinary content. A series of five research studies build on one another to develop knowledge about whether and how the design features bring about these anticipated effects. Earlier studies in the sequence are small-scale classroom experiments randomly assigning students to either deep structural modeling or to parallel, non modeling controls. Measures discriminate for the anticipated effects during learning and on posttests. Later studies use qualitative methods to carefully trace the anticipated effects over time and across topics. As a group, these studies are contributing generalized knowledge of how learners can effectively abstract and represent big ideas and how these ideas can be leveraged as frameworks for learning content with understanding. Two research-tested biology curriculum prototypes are being developed as the studies evolve: a quarter-year DSM biology curriculum centered on energy; and an eighth-year DSM unit centered on natural selection.

Responsive Instruction for Emergent Bilingual Learners in Biology Classrooms

This project seeks to support emergent bilingual students in high school biology classrooms. The project team will study how teachers make sense of and use an instructional model that builds on students' cultural and linguistic strengths to teach biology in ways that are responsive. The team will also study how such a model impacts emergent bilingual students' learning of biology and scientific language practices, as well as how it supports students' identities as knowers/doers of science.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2010153
Funding Period: 
Wed, 07/01/2020 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Full Description: 

The population of students who are emergent bilinguals in the US is not only growing in number but also, historically, has been underrepresented in STEM fields. Emergent bilingual students have not had access to the same high-quality science education as their peers, despite bringing rich academic, linguistic and cultural strengths to their learning. Building on smaller pilot studies and ideas that have shown to be successful in supporting emergent bilingual students' learning of elementary science, this project seeks to support emergent bilingual students in high school biology classrooms. The project team will study how teachers make sense of and use an instructional model that builds on students' cultural and linguistic strengths to teach biology in ways that are responsive. The team will also study how such a model impacts emergent bilingual students' learning of biology and scientific language practices, as well as how it supports students' identities as knowers/doers of science. The collaboration will include two partner districts that will allow the project work to impact about 11,000 high school students and 30 biology teachers in Florida. Over time, the project team plans to enact and study three cohorts of teachers and students; use the information learned to improve the instructional model; and develop lessons, a website, and other materials that can be applied to other contexts to support emergent bilingual students' learning of biology. This project will increase emergent bilingual students' participation in biology classes, improve their achievement and engagement in science and engineering practices, extend current research-based practices, and document how to build on emergent bilingual students' strengths and prior experiences.

In two previous pilot studies through the collaboration of an interdisciplinary team, the project team developed an instructional model that they found supported emergent bilingual students to have high-quality opportunities for science learning. The model builds on research related to culturally responsive instruction; funds of knowledge (including work on identity affirmation and collaboration); and linguistically responsive instruction (including using students' home languages and multiple modalities, and explicit attention to academic language). Using design-based research, the project team will gather data from two primary settings: their professional development program and biology teachers' classrooms. They will use these data both to improve the instructional model and professional development for biology teachers. Additionally, the project team will study how teachers use the model to support emergent bilingual students' biology engagement and achievement, as well as study how biology teachers enact the instructional model in two school districts. The project will work toward three main outcomes: a) to develop new knowledge related to how diverse learners develop language and content knowledge in biology through engaging in science and engineering practices; b) to generate new knowledge about how biology teachers can adapt responsive instruction to local contexts and student populations; and c) to articulate an instructional model for biology teachers of emergent bilingual students that is rigorous, yet practical. The dissemination and sustainability include publishing and presenting findings at a range of conferences and journals; making available the refined instructional framework and professional development materials on a website; communication with district leaders and policymakers; and white papers that can be more widely distributed.

Parents, Teachers, and Multilingual Children Collaborating on Mathematics Together (Collaborative Research: Quintos)

The goal of this project is to develop and study a mathematics partnership that engages multilingual children, their teachers, and their parents in mathematical experiences together. The project will design professional learning opportunities for parents, teachers, and students, and study the ways in which the professional learning opportunities influence teacher beliefs, quality of instruction, parent beliefs, and teacher and parent understanding of positioning.

Award Number: 
2010417
Funding Period: 
Mon, 06/01/2020 to Fri, 05/31/2024
Full Description: 

The connections between students' home and family contexts and the activities of formal schooling are critical to support meaningful learning and family engagement in formal schooling. The need to better understand and make use of those connections is particularly important for multilingual learners whose family and cultural contexts may differ significantly from school contexts and their teachers' own experiences. The goal of this project is to develop and study a mathematics partnership that engages multilingual children, their teachers, and their parents in mathematical experiences together. These mathematical experiences are designed to advance equity in mathematics education for multilingual students. The project will design professional learning opportunities for parents, teachers, and students, and study the ways in which the professional learning opportunities influence teacher beliefs, quality of instruction, parent beliefs, and teacher and parent understanding of positioning.

This project uses a design-based implementation research (DBIR) approach, along with principles of Social Design Experiments to engage in iterative cycles of inquiry to develop, implement, and refine the model. Parents, teachers, and students in three states (Arizona, Maryland, and Missouri) will be recruited that represent diverse populations both with respect to demographics and with respect to the policy contexts surrounding multilingual learners. Two cohorts of parents will be invited to participate in the parent-teacher study group, one consisting of 6 parents and teachers per site and one consisting of 20 parents and their children's teachers per site. In each iteration, data will be collected at multiple time points related to teachers' beliefs about effective math instruction for multilingual students; quality of mathematics instruction for linguistically diverse students; focus group interviews with parents and students, and video records of teachers and parents working with their students doing mathematics during study group convenings. Data analysis will blend quantitative and qualitative methods. Quantitative methods will include t-tests, multivariate, and correlational analyses to examine changes in teacher beliefs, instructional quality, and the relationships between the two. Qualitative analyses using thematic coding and discourse analysis will be used to analyze study group meetings and outcomes related to parent and teacher positioning of multilingual learners.

Parents, Teachers, and Multilingual Children Collaborating on Mathematics Together (Collaborative Research: Pinnow)

The goal of this project is to develop and study a mathematics partnership that engages multilingual children, their teachers, and their parents in mathematical experiences together. The project will design professional learning opportunities for parents, teachers, and students, and study the ways in which the professional learning opportunities influence teacher beliefs, quality of instruction, parent beliefs, and teacher and parent understanding of positioning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2010260
Funding Period: 
Mon, 06/01/2020 to Fri, 05/31/2024
Full Description: 

The connections between students' home and family contexts and the activities of formal schooling are critical to support meaningful learning and family engagement in formal schooling. The need to better understand and make use of those connections is particularly important for multilingual learners whose family and cultural contexts may differ significantly from school contexts and their teachers' own experiences. The goal of this project is to develop and study a mathematics partnership that engages multilingual children, their teachers, and their parents in mathematical experiences together. These mathematical experiences are designed to advance equity in mathematics education for multilingual students. The project will design professional learning opportunities for parents, teachers, and students, and study the ways in which the professional learning opportunities influence teacher beliefs, quality of instruction, parent beliefs, and teacher and parent understanding of positioning.

This project uses a design-based implementation research (DBIR) approach, along with principles of Social Design Experiments to engage in iterative cycles of inquiry to develop, implement, and refine the model. Parents, teachers, and students in three states (Arizona, Maryland, and Missouri) will be recruited that represent diverse populations both with respect to demographics and with respect to the policy contexts surrounding multilingual learners. Two cohorts of parents will be invited to participate in the parent-teacher study group, one consisting of 6 parents and teachers per site and one consisting of 20 parents and their children's teachers per site. In each iteration, data will be collected at multiple time points related to teachers' beliefs about effective math instruction for multilingual students; quality of mathematics instruction for linguistically diverse students; focus group interviews with parents and students, and video records of teachers and parents working with their students doing mathematics during study group convenings. Data analysis will blend quantitative and qualitative methods. Quantitative methods will include t-tests, multivariate, and correlational analyses to examine changes in teacher beliefs, instructional quality, and the relationships between the two. Qualitative analyses using thematic coding and discourse analysis will be used to analyze study group meetings and outcomes related to parent and teacher positioning of multilingual learners.

Parents, Teachers, and Multilingual Children Collaborating on Mathematics Together (Collaborative Research: Civil)

The goal of this project is to develop and study a mathematics partnership that engages multilingual children, their teachers, and their parents in mathematical experiences together. The project will design professional learning opportunities for parents, teachers, and students, and study the ways in which the professional learning opportunities influence teacher beliefs, quality of instruction, parent beliefs, and teacher and parent understanding of positioning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2010230
Funding Period: 
Mon, 06/01/2020 to Fri, 05/31/2024
Full Description: 

The connections between students' home and family contexts and the activities of formal schooling are critical to support meaningful learning and family engagement in formal schooling. The need to better understand and make use of those connections is particularly important for multilingual learners whose family and cultural contexts may differ significantly from school contexts and their teachers' own experiences. The goal of this project is to develop and study a mathematics partnership that engages multilingual children, their teachers, and their parents in mathematical experiences together. These mathematical experiences are designed to advance equity in mathematics education for multilingual students. The project will design professional learning opportunities for parents, teachers, and students, and study the ways in which the professional learning opportunities influence teacher beliefs, quality of instruction, parent beliefs, and teacher and parent understanding of positioning.

This project uses a design-based implementation research (DBIR) approach, along with principles of Social Design Experiments to engage in iterative cycles of inquiry to develop, implement, and refine the model. Parents, teachers, and students in three states (Arizona, Maryland, and Missouri) will be recruited that represent diverse populations both with respect to demographics and with respect to the policy contexts surrounding multilingual learners. Two cohorts of parents will be invited to participate in the parent-teacher study group, one consisting of 6 parents and teachers per site and one consisting of 20 parents and their children's teachers per site. In each iteration, data will be collected at multiple time points related to teachers' beliefs about effective math instruction for multilingual students; quality of mathematics instruction for linguistically diverse students; focus group interviews with parents and students, and video records of teachers and parents working with their students doing mathematics during study group convenings. Data analysis will blend quantitative and qualitative methods. Quantitative methods will include t-tests, multivariate, and correlational analyses to examine changes in teacher beliefs, instructional quality, and the relationships between the two. Qualitative analyses using thematic coding and discourse analysis will be used to analyze study group meetings and outcomes related to parent and teacher positioning of multilingual learners.

Pandemic Learning Loss in U.S. High Schools: A National Examination of Student Experiences

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools across much of the U.S. have been closed since mid-March of 2020 and many students have been attempting to continue their education away from schools. Student experiences across the country are likely to be highly variable depending on a variety of factors at the individual, home, school, district, and state levels. This project will use two, nationally representative, existing databases of high school students to study their experiences in STEM education during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2030436
Funding Period: 
Fri, 05/15/2020 to Fri, 04/30/2021
Full Description: 

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools across much of the U.S. have been closed since mid-March of 2020 and many students have been attempting to continue their education away from schools. Student experiences across the country are likely to be highly variable depending on a variety of factors at the individual, home, school, district, and state levels. This project will use two, nationally representative, existing databases of high school students to study their experiences in STEM education during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study intends to ascertain whether students are taking STEM courses in high school, the nature of the changes made to the courses, and their plans for the fall. The researchers will identify the electronic learning platforms in use, and other modifications made to STEM experiences in formal and informal settings. The study is particularly interested in finding patterns of inequities for students in various demographic groups underserved in STEM and who may be most likely to be affected by a hiatus in formal education.

This study will collect data using the AmeriSpeak Teen Panel of approximately 2,000 students aged 13 to 17 and the Infinite Campus Student Information System with a sample of approximately 2.5 million high school students. The data sets allow for relevant comparisons of student experiences prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic and offer unique perspectives with nationally representative samples of U.S. high school students. New data collection will focus on formal and informal STEM learning opportunities, engagement, STEM course taking, the nature and frequency of instruction, interactions with teachers, interest in STEM, and career aspirations. Weighted data will be analyzed using descriptive statistics and within and between district analysis will be conducted to assess group differences. Estimates of between group pandemic learning loss will be provided with attention to demographic factors.

This RAPID award is made by the DRK-12 program in the Division of Research on Learning. The Discovery Research PreK-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics by preK-12 students and teachers, through the research and development of new innovations and approaches. Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for the projects.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

 

 

 

 

Place-Based Learning for Elementary Science at Scale (PeBLES2)

To support equitable access to place-based science learning opportunities, Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance in collaboration with BSCS Science Learning, will develop and test a model to support 3rd-5th grade teachers in incorporating locally or culturally relevant place-based phenomena into rigorously tested curricular units that meet the expectations of the NGSS. The project team will develop two units that could be used in any region across the country with built-in opportunities and embedded supports for teachers to purposefully adapt curriculum to include local phenomena.

Award Number: 
2009613
Funding Period: 
Fri, 05/15/2020 to Tue, 04/30/2024
Full Description: 

This project investigates how to design instructional resources and supporting professional learning that value rigor and standardization while at the same time creating experiences that help students understand their worlds by connecting to local phenomena, communities, and cultures. Currently, many instructional materials designed for widespread use do not connect to local phenomena, while units that do incorporate local phenomena are often developed from the ground up by community members, requiring extensive time and resources.  To support equitable access to place-based science learning opportunities, the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance in collaboration with BSCS Science Learning, will develop and test a model to support 3rd-5th grade teachers in incorporating locally or culturally relevant place-based phenomena into rigorously tested units that meet the expectations of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The project team will develop two units and associated professional learning that could be used in any region across the country with built-in opportunities for teachers to purposefully adapt curriculum to include local phenomena.

A design based research approach will be used to: 1) iteratively design, test, and revise, two locally adaptable instructional resource packages for Grades 3-5 science; 2) examine how teachers apply unit resources and professional learning experiences to incorporate local phenomena into the curriculum and their teaching; and 3) examine how the process of curriculum adaptation can support teacher understanding of the science ideas and phenomena within the units, teacher agency and self-efficacy beliefs in science teaching, and student perceptions of relevance and interest in science learning. Participating teachers will range from rural and urban settings in California, Colorado, and Maine. Data sources will include instructional logs, teacher surveys, and student electronic exit tickets from 50 classrooms per unit as well as teacher interviews, classroom observations, and student focus groups from six exemplar case study teachers per unit. Evaluation of the project will focus on monitoring the (1) quality of the research and development components, (2) quality of program implementation to inform program improvement and future implementation, and (3) potential of scaling up the program to other sites and organizations. The design and research from this project will advance the field’s knowledge about how to design instructional materials and professional learning experiences that meet the expectations of the NGSS while also empowering teachers to adapt materials in productive ways, drawing on locally or culturally relevant phenomena.

 

The Discovery Research K-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of innovative resources, models, and tools. Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Fostering Equitable Groupwork to Promote Conceptual Mathematics Learning

This exploratory study involves a long-term partnership between the principal investigator (PI) and a middle school teacher and her students. Two major goals of the study are to describe how students learn to collaborate with one another over time to make sense of mathematics, and how students and their teacher negotiate what constitutes equitable collaboration, with African American students' perspectives being prioritized. In this way, it adds to this body of literature by: a) prioritizing African American students?

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2010172
Funding Period: 
Sat, 08/01/2020 to Mon, 07/31/2023
Full Description: 

When students work in small groups it can promote rich learning opportunities and teach them to collaborate in ways that are important for life and future work. Having students work in small groups, however, can also create opportunities for some students to be marginalized in implicit and explicit ways. Research on using equitable groupwork in which issues of status are consciously addressed by the teacher has shown that such work can have a positive impact on students? opportunities to learn (broadly defined as learning content but also students? developing positive mathematical identities and perspectives on what it means to know/do mathematics). Most of the work on equitable groupwork in mathematics education have had pre-determined definitions of what it means to collaborate. This exploratory study involves a long-term partnership between the principal investigator (PI) and a middle school teacher and her students. Two major goals of the study are to describe how students learn to collaborate with one another over time to make sense of mathematics, and how students and their teacher negotiate what constitutes equitable collaboration, with African American students' perspectives being prioritized. In this way, it adds to this body of literature by: a) prioritizing African American students? perspectives on collaboration from the outset; b) describing, longitudinally, how students learn to collaborate; c) documenting students' mathematics learning within the context of small groups; and d) developing a set of resources for teacher educators, teachers, and students that focus on equitable groupwork.

Using theories and methods from discursive psychology and discourse analysis, the PI of this project will collaborate with a middle grades mathematics teacher to examine equitable groupwork. The small private school enrolls mostly African American students from low income neighborhoods. The PI draws on research related to complex instruction and empirical studies on equitable groupwork and productive student interactions. The basis for the developing definition of equitable collaboration involves gathering information from students about the kinds of relationships and interactions they value, as well as drawing on asset-based and humanizing research related to African American students from mathematics education and education literatures. This information will be used to inform the partnership work as well as be used to analyze the data that will be collected. There are many novel aspects of the work, including, for example, a continual interaction between how students are interacting and the developing idea of ?equitable participation? and practices that might support that kind of participation.

The proposal includes three phases of work with the collaborating teacher to read, plan, reflect, and view videos and research cycles. In the three phases, groupworthy tasks will be developed, the teacher will use these tasks and other important aspects of complex instruction to enact the tasks, and data will be collected focused on these enactments. The work will begin with the 6th grade, then expand into additional years. The data sources will be gathered in the work with the practicing teacher (e.g., recordings of planning and reflection sessions), in the classroom enactments of the groupworthy tasks (e.g., video, audio, fieldnotes, written work), and outside of the classroom teaching time (e.g., interviews with students). The learning of mathematics involves understanding the changes that take place in how students talk about mathematics and how they collaborate over time. The PI will use particular discourse-analytic methods, including thematic analyses from systemic functional linguistics. Such strategies help to focus on the content of the discussions and how people put various ideas in relationship to one another over time. The PI will analyze the small group interactions to develop 12 vignettes that can be used to do focus group interviews with students and later be used in teacher education. These vignettes will include, for example, illustrations of equitable collaborations and variations of issues that come up (e.g, missed opportunities that might keep the interaction from being productive).

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Comparing the Efficacy of Collaborative Professional Development Formats for Improving Student Outcomes of a Student-Teacher-Scientist Partnership Program

The goal of this project is to study how the integration of an online curriculum, scientist mentoring of students, and professional development for both teachers and scientist mentors can improve student outcomes. In this project, teachers and scientist mentors will engage collaboratively in a professional development module which focuses on photosynthesis and cellular respiration and is an example of a student-teacher-scientist partnership.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2010556
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2020 to Sun, 08/31/2025
Full Description: 

Science classrooms in the U.S. today increasingly expect students to engage in the practices of science in a way that help them form a deeper understanding of disciplinary core ideas and the practices by which science is done. To do this, students should learn how scientists work and communicate. It also calls for changes in how teachers teach science, which in turn creates a need for high-quality professional development so they can be more effective in the classroom. Professional scientists can also benefit from training preparing them to support teachers, motivate students, and model for students how scientists think and work. Preparing teachers and scientists through collaborative professional development can help maximize the impact they can have on student outcomes. To have the broadest impact, such professional development should be cost-effective and available to teachers in rural or underserved areas. This project focuses on high school life science (biology) teachers and their students. It will make use of an online mentoring platform, a student-teacher-scientist partnership program established in 2005. That study found that implementing in combination with high-quality, in-person collaborative teacher/scientist professional development resulted in positive and statistically significant effects on student achievement and attitudes versus business-as-usual methods of teaching the same science content. This project has two main components: 1) a replication study to determine if findings of the previous successful study hold true; and 2) adding an online format for delivering collaborative professional development to teachers and scientists enabling one to compare the effectiveness of online professional development and in-person professional development delivery formats for improving student outcomes.

The goal of this project is to study how the integration of an online curriculum, scientist mentoring of students, and professional development for both teachers and scientist mentors can improve student outcomes. In this project, teachers and scientist mentors will engage collaboratively in a professional development module which focuses on photosynthesis and cellular respiration and is an example of a student-teacher-scientist partnership. Teachers will use their training to teach the curriculum to their students with students receiving mentoring from the scientists through an online platform. Evaluation will examine whether this curriculum, professional development, and mentoring by scientists will improve student achievement on science content and attitudes toward scientists. The project will use mixed-methods approaches to explore potential factors underlying efficacy differences between in-person and online professional development. An important component of this project is comparing in-person professional development to an online delivery of professional development, which can be more cost-effective and accessible by teachers, especially those in rural and underserved areas.

The Discovery Research K-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of innovative resources, models, and tools. Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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