Students

Building an Understanding of Science

Understanding Science provides an accurate portrayal of the nature of science and tools for teaching associated concepts. This project has at its heart a public re-engagement with science that begins with teacher preparation. To this end, its immediate goals are (1) improve teacher understanding of the nature of the scientific enterprise and (2) provide resources and strategies that encourage and enable K-16 teachers to incorporate and reinforce the nature of science throughout their science teaching.

Award Number: 
0624436
Funding Period: 
Mon, 03/12/2007 to Wed, 05/11/2011
Project Evaluator: 
BSCS

CAREER: Collaborative Learning with Classroom Networks: Integrating Technological and Pedagogical Innovations

This project studies teaching practices in a year-long high school algebra course that integrates hand-held and other electronic devices. Of particular interest is how these technologies can support learners' capacity to efficiently and effectively draw on the distributed intelligences that technical and social networks make available. The investigation focuses on collaborative learning tasks centered on collective mathematical objects, such as functions, expressions, and coordinates that participants in a group must jointly manipulate through networked computers.

Award Number: 
0747536
Funding Period: 
Tue, 07/01/2008 to Sun, 06/30/2013

Design and Use of Illustrations in Test Items as a Form of Accommodation for English Language Learners in Science and Mathematics Assessment

This project investigates how vignette illustrations minimize the impact of limited English proficiency on student performance in science tests. Different analyses will determine whether and how ELL and non-ELL students differ significantly on the ways they use vignettes to make sense of items; whether the use of vignettes reduces test-score differences due to language factors between ELL and non-ELL students; and whether the level of distance of the items moderates the effectiveness of vignette-illustrated items.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0822362
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/01/2008 to Sun, 08/12/2012
Full Description: 

This exploratory project within the Contextual Strand (Challenge a) addresses validity in the assessment of science and mathematics for English language learners (ELLs), and the urgent need for effective testing accommodations for ELLs. Motivation for this investigation originated from a previous, NSF-funded project on the testing of ELLs. We observed that items which were accompanied by illustrations tended to be responded correctly by a higher percentage of students than items without illustrations. We will investigate the factors that are relevant to designing and using a new form of accommodation in the assessment of science and mathematics for ELLs—vignette illustrations.

This three-year project will be guided by four research questions: What principles underlie the effective design of science and mathematics test items with illustrations in ways that minimize limited English proficiency as a factor that prevents ELLs from understanding the items? Is the presence of an illustration a moderator in students’ understanding test items? If so, Is the effect due to the simple presence of a graphical component or due to characteristics of the illustrations that are created based on principled design? Does the presence of an illustration have a different effect on the performance of ELLs and the performance of non-ELL students?

We expect to be able to: 1) identify the role of illustrations in the cognitive activities elicited by vignette-illustrated items; 2) determine whether any differences between performance on vignette-illustrated items and other kinds of items are due to the this form of accommodation’s capacity to address language as a construct-irrelevant factor; 3) identify the set of practical and methodological issues that are critical to properly developing and using vignette-illustrated items; and 4) propose a set of documents and procedures for the systematic and cost-effective design and development of vignette-illustrated items. 

We will test ELL and non-ELL students with items of three types (vignette-illustrated items whose illustrations are designed systematically, vignette-illustrated items whose illustrations are created arbitrarily, and items without illustrations) at two levels of distance to the enacted curriculum (close and distal). Diverse forms of analysis will allow us to determine whether and how ELL and non-ELL students differ on the ways in which they use vignettes to make sense of items, whether the use of vignettes reduces test score differences due to language factors between ELL and non-ELL students, and whether the level of distance of the items moderates the effectiveness of vignette-illustrated items.

Intellectual merit. This project will provide information that will help to advance our understanding in two assessment arenas: effective accommodations for ELLs, and item development practices. While illustrations are frequently used in test items, there is not guidance in the assessment development literature on how to approach illustrations. Furthermore, the value of illustrations as a resource for ensuring that ELL students understand what a given item is about and what the item asks them to do has not been systematically investigated. Semiotics, cognitive psychology, and linguistics and socio-cultural theory are brought together to develop systematic procedures for developing illustrations as visual supports in tests. Understanding the role that images play in test taking is relevant to devising more effective ways of testing students. While this project aims to improve testing accommodations practices for ELLs, knowledge gained from it will inform test development practices relevant to all student populations.

Broader impact. We expect outcomes of this project to contribute to enhanced practice in both classroom and large-scale assessment. The push for including ELLs in large-scale testing programs with accountability purposes is not corresponded by effective testing accommodation practices. Many testing accommodations used by national and state assessment programs are not defensible, are not effective, or are improperly implemented. Vignette illustrations have the potential to become a low-cost, easy-to-implement form of testing accommodation for ELLs. Results form this investigation will allow us to identify a set of principles for the proper design and use of vignette illustrations as a form of testing accommodation for ELLs. The project is important not only because it explores the potential of an innovative form of accommodation but because it uses a systematic procedure for designing that form of accommodation.

Improving Science Learning in Inquiry-based Programs (Collaborative Research: Van Vuuren)

This project develops mixed-initiative dialog and speech recognition technologies to encourage students to speak and reason about science concepts. It is part of a larger collaboration to help fourth and fifth grade students who are not achieving their potential in high quality inquiry-based programs. The larger collaboration develops and evaluates a computer program, MyST, to interactively engage students in spoken tutorial dialogs of four science investigations to reinforce and extend their understanding of science concepts.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0733322
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/15/2007 to Wed, 08/31/2011
Full Description: 

Effective Science Teaching for English Language Learners (ESTELL): A Preservice Teacher Professional Development Research Project Across Three Universities in California

Effective Science Teaching for English Language Learners (ESTELL): A Pre-Service Teacher Professional Development Research Project project is funded by the National Science Foundation DR-K-12 Discovery Research Program. The ESTELL project focuses on improving the science teaching and learning of K-6 linguistic minority students who are currently underserved in K-6 education through improving the pre-service education of elementary school teachers.

Project Email: 
Award Number: 
0822402
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/01/2008 to Fri, 08/31/2012
Project Evaluator: 
Michael Oliver
Full Description: 

The Discovery Research K-12 (DR-K12) proposal Effective Science Teaching for English Language Learners (ESTELL): A Pre-Service Teacher Professional Development Research Project Across Three Universities in California is submitted for consideration for a full research and development project in the Frontier Challenge Strand a ? assuring all students the opportunity to learn STEM content. Project investigators will conduct an experimental design study on the impact of an ESTELL elementary teacher education designed to prepare novice teachers to teach science to English Language Learner (ELL) and a qualitative study on program implementation. The ESTELL project builds on prior research in two areas: the integration of inquiry science, language and literacy practices; and the CREDE Five Standards for Effective Pedagogy which have identified a common set of teaching practices associated with increased achievement of ELL. This project will adapt this approach to pre-service teacher preparation. The ESTELL model of pre-service teacher education will be integrated into every stage of teacher preparation and induction from the science teaching methods courses in the post-baccalaureate credential programs, to the clinical setting of student teaching and the first two years of teaching. Researchers will focus on three research questions: (1) What is the impact of the ESTELL teacher education program on novice teachers beliefs and practice? (2) What is the relationship between the use of ESTELL by program graduates and the science achievement of 4th-5th grade students? and (3) What is the impact of the ESTELL program on the beliefs and practice of the participating science methods faculty, teacher supervisors and cooperating teachers?

Project M2: Maturing Mathematicians -- Advanced Curriculum for Primary Level Students

Project M2 is producing and disseminating curriculum materials in geometry and measurement for students in grades K-2. This builds on success of the M3 U.S. Department of Education curriculum grant for students in Grades 3-5. (www.projectm3.org). Project M2 units are advanced units for all students designed using research-based practices in mathematics, early childhood, and gifted education. Curricular materials focus on promising discourse and hands-on inquiry of rich problem-situations.  

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0733189
Funding Period: 
Wed, 08/15/2007 to Sun, 07/31/2011
Full Description: 

Project Publications and Presentations:

Gavin, M. K.; Casa, Tuita, M.; Chapin, S. & Sheffield, L. (2010). Designing a Shape Gallery: Geometry with Meerkats.

Gavin, M. K.; Casa, Tuita, M.; Chapin, S. & Sheffield, L. (2010). Designing a Shape Gallery: Geometry with the Meerkats Student Mathematician's Journal. Student Mathematician's Journal.

Casa, T.; Firmender, J. & Gavin, M. K. (2010, April). Designing a Shape Gallery: Making Geometry Connections for Primary Students. Presented at National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA.

Casa, T. & Gavin, M. K. (2010, March). Exploring Shapes in Space: Geometry with the Frogonauts. Presented at Keefe Bruyette Symposium, Saint Joseph College, West Hartford, CT.

Gavin, M. K. (2009, November). Mentoring Young Mathematicians: New Advanced Curriculum for Primary-level Students. Presented at the National Association for Gifted Children Annual Meeting, St. Louis, MO.

Gavin, K. M. (2010, April). Nurturing Mathematically Promising and Creative Students, Project M2: Mentoring Young Mathematicians. Presented at National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics Annual Conference, San Diego, CA.

Gavin, M. K.; Firmender, J. M. & Casa, Tuita, M. (2010, April). Project M2's Approach: Connecting Math and Language Arts through Communication. Presented at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA.

Gavin, M. K.; Casa, T. M., Chapin, S. & Sheffield, L. (2011). Using Everyday Measures: Measuring with the Meerkats.

A Longitudinal Examination of Children's Developing Knowledge of Measurement: Mathematical and Scientific Concept and Strategy Growth from Pre-K through Grade 5

The project proposes a longitudinal study that investigates the development of an understanding of measurement across seven grades-from pre-K through Grade 5. Specifically, the project will establish clear cognitive accounts of the development of students' strategic and conceptual knowledge of measurement on increasingly demanding sets of length, perimeter, and area measurement tasks.

Project Email: 
Award Number: 
0732217
Funding Period: 
Wed, 08/15/2007 to Tue, 07/31/2012
Project Evaluator: 
Richard Lesh
Full Description: 

The Children's Measurement Project examines children's developing knowledge from PreKindergarten through Grade 5 as they develop the capacity and strategies they need to measure geometric space (length, area and volume), investigating number concepts, early algebra, or variability. We investigate ways children learn to use measures as evidence for scientific or mathematical claims. We began by examining the literature on learning trajectories and progressions to interpret existing research on children's understanding of length, area and volume. Our work engages both Rasch modeling and learning/teaching experiments within clinical and classroom contexts to collect data for longitudinal accounts of children's development of measurement concepts and strategies. The work is being conducted as a collaboration of Illinois State University and the University at Buffalo (State University of New York). We are beginning the fourth year of our project (2010).

Project Publications and Presentations:

Barret, J.; Clements, D.; Sarama, J.; Cullen, C.; Witkowski, C. & Klanderman, D. (2010, May). Addressing the Challenge of Learning and Teaching Measurement: Curricular, Learning, and Teaching Analyses (Barrett et al.). Presented at 2010 AERA Annual Meeting, Denver, CO.

Smith, J.P.; Dietiker, L.; Chang, K.; Mosier, A.; Gonulates, F.; Clements, D.; Battista, M.; Barret, J.; Cullen, C. & Zhou, W. (2010, May). Assessing the Alignment of Written Curricula and State Standards for Length Measurement (Smith et al.). Presented at 2010 AERA Annual Meeting, Denver, CO.

Barret, J.; Confrey, J.; Maloney, A.; Knuth, E.; Clements, D.; Sarama, J.& Daro, P. (April 2010) Defining and Implementing Learning Trajectories as Research Tools (Barrett et al.). Presented at 2010 NCTM Research Precession.

Barrett, J. E. (2009). Length Measurement Learning Trajectory: Validation of Learning Trajectories with Longitudinal Research. Presented at Consortium for Policy Research in Education and Friday Institute for Educational Innovation. Raleigh, NC.

McCool, J. K. & Barrett, J. E. , 2010-10-28 "Incorporating a Measurement Learning Trajectory into a Teacher's Toolbox for Facilitating Student Understanding of Measurement" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH Online <PDF>. 2012-06-19 from http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p428027_index.html

Cullen, C.J.&  Barret, J.E. (2010). Strategy use indicative of an understanding of units and length. Unpublished.

Cullen, C. , Witkowski, C. , Miller, A. L., Barrett, J. E., Clements, D. H. and Sarama, J. , 2010-10-28 "The Key Components for Measurement Tasks" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH Online <APPLICATION/PDF>. 2012-06-19 from http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p422400_index.html

Learning and Teaching Geometry: VideoCases for Mathematics Professional Development

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

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

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

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

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

Calipers II: Using Simulations to Assess Complex Science Learning

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

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

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