Students

Measuring the Effectiveness of Middle School STEM Innovation and Engineering Design Curricula

Researchers from Georgia Tech have developed a three-year middle school Engineering and Technology course sequence that introduces students to advanced manufacturing tools such as computer aided design (CAD) and 3D printing, incorporates engineering concepts such as pneumatics, robotics and aeronautics, increases student awareness of career paths, and addresses the concerns of technical employers wanting workers with problem solving, teamwork, and communication skills.

Award Number: 
2101441
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2021 to Sun, 08/31/2025
Full Description: 

Inclusion of engineering in the Next Generation Science Standards has led to increased opportunities for K-12 students to learn engineering related concepts and skills, and learn about engineering career paths. However, a persistent challenge is the lack of high-quality, research-based engineering curricular resources that align with science and math education standards. Further, the opportunities for K-12 students to also learn about manufacturing and how manufacturing is related to engineering, math, and science are limited. Researchers from Georgia Tech have developed a three-year middle school Engineering and Technology course sequence that introduces students to advanced manufacturing tools such as computer aided design (CAD) and 3D printing, incorporates engineering concepts such as pneumatics, robotics and aeronautics, increases student awareness of career paths, and addresses the concerns of technical employers wanting workers with problem solving, teamwork, and communication skills. This DRK-12 impact study project will investigate the effectiveness of STEM-Innovation and Design (STEM-ID) curricula in approximately 29 middle schools, targeting 29 engineering teachers and approximately 5,000 students across middle grades in Georgia. This impact research study will determine whether STEM-ID courses are equally effective across different demographic groups and school environments under normal implementation conditions and whether the courses have the potential to positively impact a vast number of students around the country, particularly students who have struggled to stay engaged with their STEM education. It is a critical part of a larger effort to move the STEM-ID curricula, developed with NSF support, from the research lab to large-scale practice in schools.

To facilitate large-scale implementation, the project will transfer all curriculum and teacher support materials to an online dissemination site, develop just-in-time teacher support materials to embed within the curriculum, create an online professional development platform, and conduct professional learning in multiple areas of the state. The project team will then assess the transferability of the STEM-ID curricula and identify teacher outcomes that affect the implementation. They will also examine the generalizability of the curriculum by measuring student outcomes in STEM academic achievement and on social-emotional scales. The project’s research questions consider 1) contextual factors that influence scaling; 2) the fidelity of implementation, curriculum adaptations and sustainability; 3) the effects of professional development on teachers’ engineering self-efficacy and instructional practices; 4) the effect of participation on student academic performance in mathematics and science; 5) the effect of participation on student social-emotional outcomes; and 5) the relationship between the way STEM-ID is implemented and the student outcomes.  To examine the effects of STEM-ID on achievement and achievement growth, the investigators will use a multilevel growth model and mediation analysis to explore if the intervention’s effect on achievement was mediated by students’ engagement, academic self-efficacy, and/or interest in STEM. Additionally, drawing upon Century and Cassata’s Fidelity of Implementation framework (FOI), they will examine the array of factors that influence implementation of the STEM-ID curricula across diverse school settings.

Building Insights through Observation: Researching Arts-based Methods for Teaching and Learning with Data

This project will use visualizations from an easily accessible tool from NOAA, Science On a Sphere, to help students develop critical thinking skills and practices required to effectively make meaning from authentic scientific data. The project will use arts-based pedagogies for observing, analyzing, and critiquing visual features of data visualizations to build an understanding of what the data reveal. The project will work with middle school science teachers to develop tools for STEM educators to use these data visualizations effectively.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101310
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/01/2021 to Mon, 06/30/2025
Full Description: 

Innovations in data collection, infrastructure, and visualization play an important role in modern society. Large, complex datasets are accessible to and shared widely with the public. However, students need to learn how to interpret and reason about visualizations of scientific data. This project will use visualizations from an easily accessible tool from NOAA, Science On a Sphere, to help students develop critical thinking skills and practices required to effectively make meaning from authentic scientific data. The project will use arts-based pedagogies for observing, analyzing, and critiquing visual features of data visualizations to build an understanding of what the data reveal. The project will work with middle school science teachers to develop tools for STEM educators to use these data visualizations effectively. This project focuses on visual thinking skills that have been found to apply in both science and art: describing, wondering, recognizing uncertainty, and interpreting with evidence.

The project will conduct foundational research to understand the ways in which arts-based instructional methods and geospatial data visualization can be successfully applied by science teachers. The research will examine: (1) the ways in which arts-based instructional methods can be successfully applied by STEM teachers; (2) critical elements in the process of learning and applying these techniques to influence teachers’ content, pedagogical, and technological knowledge; and (3) for which transferable data literacy skills these approaches show most promise with children. This project will use a design-based research framework to develop data literacy teaching approaches in partnership with middle school teachers. The research process will include data about teachers’ development and students’ learning about data literacy. Data to be collected include qualitative and quantitative information from teachers and students.

Reducing Racially Biased Beliefs by Fostering a Complex Understanding of Human Genetics Research in High School Biology Students (Collaborative Research: Donovan)

The project will refine a genetics education curriculum, called Humane Genome Literacy (HGL), in order to reduce belief in genetic essentialism. This research will provide curriculum writers and educators with knowledge about how to design a humane genetics education to maximize reductions in students’ genetic essentialist beliefs. The research findings will demonstrate how to support teachers who wish to reduce beliefs in genetic essentialism by teaching students about the complexity of human genetics research using the HGL learning materials.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2100864
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2021 to Sun, 08/31/2025
Full Description: 

Genetic essentialism is the belief that people of the same race share genes that make them physically, cognitively, and behaviorally uniform, and thus different from other races. The project will refine a genetics education curriculum, called Humane Genome Literacy (HGL), in order to reduce belief in genetic essentialism. This research will provide curriculum writers and educators with knowledge about how to design a humane genetics education to maximize reductions in students’ genetic essentialist beliefs and minimize the threat of backfiring (unintentionally increasing belief in essentialism). The research findings will demonstrate how to support teachers who wish to reduce beliefs in genetic essentialism by teaching students about the complexity of human genetics research using the HGL learning materials.  Project research findings, learning materials, and professional development institutes will be made available to educators and researchers across the country who desire to teach genetics to reduce racial prejudice.

To prepare for the research, the project will revise and augment the project’s existing HGL curriculum and professional development institutes.  In year one, the project will develop new versions of the HGL interventions. Using these materials, the project will train teachers to implement new versions of the HGL interventions in their classrooms. Researchers will video and audio record a sample of teachers and students as they learn. These data will be analyzed qualitatively to: (1) examine how the conceptual change of genetic essentialism was promoted or impeded by interactions between teachers, students, and the materials; and (2) identify and corroborate general factors undergirding the backfiring effect.  Knowledge constructed through these studies will be used to revise the HGL interventions and PDIs.  In year three, using the revised versions of the HGL intervention, the project will conduct a cluster randomized trial (CRT). The CRT will compare the HGL interventions to a well-defined “business as usual” genetics curriculum, using a statistically powerful and geographically diverse sample (N = 135 teachers, N = 16,200 students, from 33 states). Using data from the CRT, the project will identify classrooms where the interventions reduced essentialism, had no effect on it, and where it backfired. Then, the project will use stimulated recall methods to interview the teachers and students in those classrooms to make sense of factors that contributed to these outcomes. The project will use this information to develop the final version of the HGL interventions and PDI materials. By the end of year four, the project will have trained an additional 90-100 teachers to use HGL interventions, reaching an additional 10,800-12,000 students, in at least 33 different states.

Reducing Racially Biased Beliefs by Fostering a Complex Understanding of Human Genetics Research in High School Biology Students (Collaborative Research: Duncan)

The project will refine a genetics education curriculum, called Humane Genome Literacy (HGL), in order to reduce belief in genetic essentialism. This research will provide curriculum writers and educators with knowledge about how to design a humane genetics education to maximize reductions in students’ genetic essentialist beliefs. The research findings will demonstrate how to support teachers who wish to reduce beliefs in genetic essentialism by teaching students about the complexity of human genetics research using the HGL learning materials.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2100876
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2021 to Sun, 08/31/2025
Full Description: 

Genetic essentialism is the belief that people of the same race share genes that make them physically, cognitively, and behaviorally uniform, and thus different from other races. The project will refine a genetics education curriculum, called Humane Genome Literacy (HGL), in order to reduce belief in genetic essentialism. This research will provide curriculum writers and educators with knowledge about how to design a humane genetics education to maximize reductions in students’ genetic essentialist beliefs and minimize the threat of backfiring (unintentionally increasing belief in essentialism). The research findings will demonstrate how to support teachers who wish to reduce beliefs in genetic essentialism by teaching students about the complexity of human genetics research using the HGL learning materials.  Project research findings, learning materials, and professional development institutes will be made available to educators and researchers across the country who desire to teach genetics to reduce racial prejudice.

To prepare for the research, the project will revise and augment the project’s existing HGL curriculum and professional development institutes.  In year one, the project will develop new versions of the HGL interventions. Using these materials, the project will train teachers to implement new versions of the HGL interventions in their classrooms. Researchers will video and audio record a sample of teachers and students as they learn. These data will be analyzed qualitatively to: (1) examine how the conceptual change of genetic essentialism was promoted or impeded by interactions between teachers, students, and the materials; and (2) identify and corroborate general factors undergirding the backfiring effect.  Knowledge constructed through these studies will be used to revise the HGL interventions and PDIs.  In year three, using the revised versions of the HGL intervention, the project will conduct a cluster randomized trial (CRT). The CRT will compare the HGL interventions to a well-defined “business as usual” genetics curriculum, using a statistically powerful and geographically diverse sample (N = 135 teachers, N = 16,200 students, from 33 states). Using data from the CRT, the project will identify classrooms where the interventions reduced essentialism, had no effect on it, and where it backfired. Then, the project will use stimulated recall methods to interview the teachers and students in those classrooms to make sense of factors that contributed to these outcomes. The project will use this information to develop the final version of the HGL interventions and PDI materials. By the end of year four, the project will have trained an additional 90-100 teachers to use HGL interventions, reaching an additional 10,800-12,000 students, in at least 33 different states.

Reducing Racially Biased Beliefs by Fostering a Complex Understanding of Human Genetics Research in High School Biology Students (Collaborative Research: Wedow)

The project will refine a genetics education curriculum, called Humane Genome Literacy (HGL), in order to reduce belief in genetic essentialism. This research will provide curriculum writers and educators with knowledge about how to design a humane genetics education to maximize reductions in students’ genetic essentialist beliefs. The research findings will demonstrate how to support teachers who wish to reduce beliefs in genetic essentialism by teaching students about the complexity of human genetics research using the HGL learning materials.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2100959
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2021 to Sun, 08/31/2025
Full Description: 

Genetic essentialism is the belief that people of the same race share genes that make them physically, cognitively, and behaviorally uniform, and thus different from other races. The project will refine a genetics education curriculum, called Humane Genome Literacy (HGL), in order to reduce belief in genetic essentialism. This research will provide curriculum writers and educators with knowledge about how to design a humane genetics education to maximize reductions in students’ genetic essentialist beliefs and minimize the threat of backfiring (unintentionally increasing belief in essentialism). The research findings will demonstrate how to support teachers who wish to reduce beliefs in genetic essentialism by teaching students about the complexity of human genetics research using the HGL learning materials.  Project research findings, learning materials, and professional development institutes will be made available to educators and researchers across the country who desire to teach genetics to reduce racial prejudice.

To prepare for the research, the project will revise and augment the project’s existing HGL curriculum and professional development institutes.  In year one, the project will develop new versions of the HGL interventions. Using these materials, the project will train teachers to implement new versions of the HGL interventions in their classrooms. Researchers will video and audio record a sample of teachers and students as they learn. These data will be analyzed qualitatively to: (1) examine how the conceptual change of genetic essentialism was promoted or impeded by interactions between teachers, students, and the materials; and (2) identify and corroborate general factors undergirding the backfiring effect.  Knowledge constructed through these studies will be used to revise the HGL interventions and PDIs.  In year three, using the revised versions of the HGL intervention, the project will conduct a cluster randomized trial (CRT). The CRT will compare the HGL interventions to a well-defined “business as usual” genetics curriculum, using a statistically powerful and geographically diverse sample (N = 135 teachers, N = 16,200 students, from 33 states). Using data from the CRT, the project will identify classrooms where the interventions reduced essentialism, had no effect on it, and where it backfired. Then, the project will use stimulated recall methods to interview the teachers and students in those classrooms to make sense of factors that contributed to these outcomes. The project will use this information to develop the final version of the HGL interventions and PDI materials. By the end of year four, the project will have trained an additional 90-100 teachers to use HGL interventions, reaching an additional 10,800-12,000 students, in at least 33 different states.

Precipitating Change in Alaskan and Hawaiian Schools: Modeling Mitigation of Coastal Erosion

This project will engage middle school students in place-based coastal erosion investigations that interweave Indigenous knowledge and Western STEM perspectives. Indigenous perspectives will emphasize learning from place and community; Western STEM perspectives will focus on systems and computational thinking.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101198
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/01/2021 to Sun, 06/30/2024
Full Description: 

Alaska and Hawaii face similar challenges with threats caused by coastal erosion. This project will engage middle school students in place-based coastal erosion investigations that interweave Indigenous knowledge and Western STEM perspectives. Indigenous perspectives will emphasize learning from place and community. Western STEM perspectives will focus on systems and computational thinking. The project will design and implement a series of classroom investigations using universal design for learning (UDL) principles, creating a glossary, translations for Indigenous languages, and ways to assist students in understanding of Indigenous and Western science terms. The coastal erosion content will be collaboratively piloted, refined, and implemented with middle school teachers and students in Alaska and Hawaii. Project research will build on and refine a learning progression framework that describes how students develop an understanding of coastal erosion that occurs over time. Research will also examine how students make sense of and develop increasingly complex and integrated knowledge and practice in Earth science and computational thinking. Areas of knowledge and practice will include explaining and predicting events and processes in systems and developing solutions to problems. The project’s curriculum and findings will be widely disseminated to researchers and the broader body of Alaskan and Hawaiian schools and teachers, as well as the Indigenous education and science education communities, to share understanding about the project’s model and lessons.

The project will position middle school students in a culturally congruent epistemological stance (student-as-anthropologist), allowing them to build Earth science learning from both Indigenous knowledge as well as Western-style inquiry and promote their ability to apply integrated Earth science, mathematics, and computational thinking skills in the context of coastal erosion. The project will recruit 20 teachers, and the intervention is expected to be integrated into approximately 24 classrooms. Project research and evaluation will investigate how the culturally congruent and scientifically and technologically ambitious instruction prepares students to bring multiple perspectives, including Indigenous and Western science, to study and address socioscientific issues. This project will adopt a design-based implementation research approach to answer three main research questions. The research questions are: 1) What are different ways students make sense of coastal erosion? How do students’ ways of making sense reflect personal and cultural (including Indigenous) funds of knowledge and Western STEM perspectives reflective of Next Generation Science Standards-aligned three-dimensional science knowledge and practice? 2) How do culturally congruent, multi-perspective learning experiences that value both students’ home culture and Western science perspectives relate to changes in students’ science knowledge and practices integrating coastal erosion and computational thinking? 3) How do multi-perspective learning experiences influence the approaches to learning students describe when they encounter a new socioscientific issue?   Data will be analyzed using a mixed methods approach.

MothEd - Authentic Science for Elementary and Middle School Students

Widely-adopted science education standards have expanded expectations for students to learn science research processes. To address these needs, the project will research and develop curricular materials and classroom practices that teachers can use to bring authentic science into their classes and engage students as active science researchers. The project, called MothEd, will focus on the study of moths, which are well-suited to the project’s goal of having students conduct authentic scientific investigations.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2100990
Funding Period: 
Sun, 08/15/2021 to Thu, 07/31/2025
Full Description: 

There are few opportunities and curriculum materials that support teachers in engaging elementary and middle-school students in scientific research processes and in conducting their own investigations. Widely-adopted science education standards have expanded expectations for students to learn science research processes. To address these needs, the project will research and develop curricular materials and classroom practices that teachers can use to bring authentic science into their classes and engage students as active science researchers. The project, called MothEd, will focus on the study of moths, which are well-suited to the project’s goal of having students conduct authentic scientific investigations. Moths are ecologically important, easy to capture, and there is a lack of research on moths compared to many other insect species. In the project activities, students will construct moth traps and collect data through research processes that they design and carry out. The project is building on an approach called community science (sometimes called citizen science), where non-scientists in local communities voluntarily contribute to scientific research. Students and teachers will work in partnership with entomologists and science educators to develop and answer questions about local ecological conditions and will become genuine producers of knowledge within science learning communities. Students will work collaboratively within an online platform to design experiments using a complete suite of research tools for collection, expression, and analysis of data, including sensors, photographs, sketches, and graphs. The project will develop curricular materials that will provide teaching and learning materials that are focused on giving students place-based opportunities to conduct age-appropriate scientific investigations.

MothEd’s educational research will investigate several questions: (1) what students understand about scientific research processes and how they see themselves in that process; (2) how students can work as partners with scientists in discovery and what do they learn about research methods and moth ecology; and (3) What supports teachers need in order to support students as active science researchers. Using a mixed methods approach, the project will collect a variety of data for the research: in-class observations of student work; pre- and post- activity surveys about their knowledge of moth ecology and their view and understanding of science research processes; teacher interviews; and analysis of data collected by project software on student work and collaboration. The project will be designed to ensure that the MothEd education materials can be adopted and used independently by teachers across the country. Project research findings and materials will be shared via conferences, journal publications, and the project’s collaborative learning environment.

Using Natural Language Processing to Inform Science Instruction (Collaborative Research: Linn)

This project takes advantage of language to help students form their own ideas and pursue deeper understanding in the science classroom. The project will conduct a comprehensive research program to develop and test technology that will empower students to use their ideas as a starting point for deepening science understanding. Researchers will use a technology that detects student ideas that go beyond a student's general knowledge level to adapt to a student's cultural and linguistic understandings of a science topic.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101669
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/01/2021 to Mon, 06/30/2025
Full Description: 

Often, middle school science classes do not benefit from participation of underrepresented students because of language and cultural barriers. This project takes advantage of language to help students form their own ideas and pursue deeper understanding in the science classroom. This work continues a partnership among the University of California, Berkeley, Educational Testing Service, and science teachers and paraprofessionals from six middle schools enrolling students from diverse racial, ethnic, and language groups whose cultural experiences may be neglected in science instruction. The partnership will conduct a comprehensive research program to develop and test technology that will empower students to use their ideas as a starting point for deepening science understanding. Researchers will use a technology that detects student ideas that go beyond a student's general knowledge level to adapt to a student's cultural and linguistic understandings of a science topic. The partnership leverages a web-based platform to implement adaptive guidance designed by teachers that feature dialog and peer interaction. Further, the platform features teacher tools that can detect when a student needs additional help and alert the teacher. Teachers using the technology will be able to track and respond to individual student ideas, especially from students who would not often participate because of language and cultural barriers.

This project develops AI-based technology to help science teachers increase their impact on student science learning. The technology is aimed to provide accurate analysis of students' initial ideas and adaptive guidance that gets each student started on reconsidering their ideas and pursuing deeper understanding. Current methods in automated scoring primarily focus on detecting incorrect responses on test questions and estimating the overall knowledge level in a student explanation. This project leverages advances in natural language processing (NLP) to identify the specific ideas in student explanations for open-ended science questions. The investigators will conduct a comprehensive research program that pairs new NLP-based AI methods for analyzing student ideas with adaptive guidance that, in combination, will empower students to use their ideas as starting points for improving science understanding. To evaluate the idea detection process, the researchers will conduct studies that investigate the accuracy and impact of idea detection in classrooms. To evaluate the guidance, the researchers will conduct comparison studies that randomly assign students to conditions to identify the most promising adaptive guidance designs for detected ideas. All materials are customizable using open platform authoring tools.

Using Natural Language Processing to Inform Science Instruction (Collaborative Research: Riordan)

This project takes advantage of language to help students form their own ideas and pursue deeper understanding in the science classroom. The project will conduct a comprehensive research program to develop and test technology that will empower students to use their ideas as a starting point for deepening science understanding. Researchers will use a technology that detects student ideas that go beyond a student's general knowledge level to adapt to a student's cultural and linguistic understandings of a science topic.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101670
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/01/2021 to Mon, 06/30/2025
Full Description: 

Often, middle school science classes do not benefit from participation of underrepresented students because of language and cultural barriers. This project takes advantage of language to help students form their own ideas and pursue deeper understanding in the science classroom. This work continues a partnership among the University of California, Berkeley, Educational Testing Service, and science teachers and paraprofessionals from six middle schools enrolling students from diverse racial, ethnic, and language groups whose cultural experiences may be neglected in science instruction. The partnership will conduct a comprehensive research program to develop and test technology that will empower students to use their ideas as a starting point for deepening science understanding. Researchers will use a technology that detects student ideas that go beyond a student's general knowledge level to adapt to a student's cultural and linguistic understandings of a science topic. The partnership leverages a web-based platform to implement adaptive guidance designed by teachers that feature dialog and peer interaction. Further, the platform features teacher tools that can detect when a student needs additional help and alert the teacher. Teachers using the technology will be able to track and respond to individual student ideas, especially from students who would not often participate because of language and cultural barriers.

This project develops AI-based technology to help science teachers increase their impact on student science learning. The technology is aimed to provide accurate analysis of students' initial ideas and adaptive guidance that gets each student started on reconsidering their ideas and pursuing deeper understanding. Current methods in automated scoring primarily focus on detecting incorrect responses on test questions and estimating the overall knowledge level in a student explanation. This project leverages advances in natural language processing (NLP) to identify the specific ideas in student explanations for open-ended science questions. The investigators will conduct a comprehensive research program that pairs new NLP-based AI methods for analyzing student ideas with adaptive guidance that, in combination, will empower students to use their ideas as starting points for improving science understanding. To evaluate the idea detection process, the researchers will conduct studies that investigate the accuracy and impact of idea detection in classrooms. To evaluate the guidance, the researchers will conduct comparison studies that randomly assign students to conditions to identify the most promising adaptive guidance designs for detected ideas. All materials are customizable using open platform authoring tools.

DataX: Exploring Justice-Oriented Data Science with Secondary School Students

This project will develop an integrated, justice-oriented curriculum and a digital platform for teaching secondary students about data science in science and social studies classrooms. The platform will help students learn about data science using real-world data sets and problems. This interdisciplinary project will also help students meaningfully analyze real-world data sets, interpret social phenomena, and engage in social change.

Award Number: 
2101413
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/01/2021 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Full Description: 

Understanding data is critical for informed citizens. Data science is a growing and emerging field that can incorporate statistics, mathematics, and computer science to develop disciplinary knowledge and address societal challenges. This project will develop an integrated, justice-oriented curriculum and a digital platform for teaching secondary students about data science in science and social studies classrooms. The platform will help students learn about data science using real-world data sets and problems. This project includes science and social studies teachers in the design of the resources and in testing them in secondary school classrooms. Research and development in data science education is needed to understand how students can learn more about the use of data in meaningful and authentic ways. This interdisciplinary project will also help students meaningfully analyze real-world data sets, interpret social phenomena, and engage in social change.

During a two-year project period, we aim to iteratively advance three design components of the DataX program: (a) a justice-oriented data science curriculum integrated in secondary science and social studies; (b) a web-based learning platform that extends the Common Online Data Analysis Platform (CODAP) to support collaboration and sophisticated data practices; and (c) pedagogical practices that involve learners to work collectively as community. The guiding research question is: What scaffolds and resources are necessary to support the co-development of data, disciplinary, and critical literacies in secondary classrooms? To address this, the project will use participatory design research with science and social studies teachers to develop and test the curriculum, the learning platform, and the pedagogical practices. The data collected will include qualitative sources gathered from participatory design workshops and classrooms, as well as quantitative data from questionnaires and system logs. Using the data, we examine students' data science skills, data dispositions, and social participation in collaborative data investigations.

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