The project addresses the relatively poor mathematics achievement of students who are not proficient in English. It includes research on how English language learners in beginning algebra classes solve math word problems with different text characteristics. The results of this research inform the development of technology-based resources to support ELLs’ ability to learn mathematics through instruction in English, including tutorials in math vocabulary, integrated glossaries, and interactive assistance with forming equations from word problem text.
This Discovery Research K-12 Conference project brought together 30 key scholars and practitioners in the areas of discourse and equity to synthesize and disseminate research findings concerning the implementation of culturally relevant teaching approaches that promote equitable discourse practices in mathematics classroom. The conference convened in Rochester, NY, in June 2008. Conference outcomes include publications that synthesize and disseminate best practices in relation to equitable discourses and a research agenda that further supports teachers' efforts.
This project partners high school science teachers and students with particle physicists working in experiments at the scientific frontier. These experiments are searching for answers to fundamental questions about the origin of mass, the dimensionality of spacetime and the nature of symmetries that govern physical processes. Among the experimental projects at the energy frontier with which the project is affiliated is the Large Hadron Collider, which is poised at the horizon of discovery.
This project creates materials for grades 5-8 that address and assess STEM concepts through a robotics curriculum. The curriculum addresses STEM standards through such documents as the NCTM Focal Points and the Atlas of Science Literacy. Students can use the TekBot robotics platform in three problem-based ways: building, moving, and programming. The intent is to scale up to a cyber-infrastructure that supports the national distribution and implementation of the curriculum.
This project aims to develop, pilot, and evaluate a model of instruction that advances the scientific literacy of high school students by involving them in science journalism, and to develop research tools for assessing scientific literacy and engagement. We view scientific literacy as public understanding of and engagement with science and technology, better enabling people to make informed science-related decisions in their personal lives, and participate in science-related democratic debates in public life.
For a more in-depth look at Scijourn, visit the project spotlight.
This project provides visionary leadership to the education community by (a) identifying and analyzing the needs and opportunities for future STEM curriculum development and (b) recommending policy positions and actions by funding agencies and STEM educators regarding the development and implementation of STEM school curricula.
The rapid growth in features and use of educational media (from e-books to applets) makes it possible to envision dramatic changes in the kinds of instructional materials provided to students of the future. It is certainly conceivable that a totally interactive, continually up-datable e-book (linked to numerous external sources of data, images, and research tools) might be a more inviting and effective learning resource than the conventional printed tomes that students currently tote from class to class and home and back. It is also conceivable that a science, technology, or mathematics classroom that engages students in regular communication with teachers, students, scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and data from around the world could be more engaging and effective than one bound by the walls of conventional classrooms. Old boundaries may become less relevant, even as new knowledge generated by the learning sciences open the paths for personalized learning. Effective use of such new instructional resources will require rethinking the ways that education is delivered and managed. Most important, those new ideas and their embodiments in experimental instructional resources must be developed and carefully tested before it makes sense to implement broad transformation of STEM learning both in and out of schools.
In addition to the challenges and opportunities inherent in existing and emerging technologies for learning and working in STEM fields, our STEM learning system faces the additional challenge of providing enhanced STEM education to a very diverse population of students. Traditional conceptions of education offered sophisticated science and mathematics coursework for future scientists, engineers, and mathematicians and very modest content for all other students. But meaningful participation in contemporary life requires strong grounding in relevant STEM disciplines for all students. Vigorous discussion about this issue is taking place in the 21st Century Skills, Quantitative Literacy, Computational Thinking, and Career and Technical Education arenas.
The demands for broad STEM education of all students are accompanied by an expectation that today’s learning institutions will provide this enhanced STEM education to students from very diverse cultural, linguistic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. These demands are a significant challenge for developers of curricula and instructional materials. New instructional designs must be developed in ways that broaden access and increase opportunities to learn for all students. They must also connect with and take advantage of the interests and extracurricular experiences of students growing up as cyber-savvy digital natives.
Careful development and effective dissemination of innovative STEM instructional resources and experiences require a kind of sustained effort and support that is quite different from the typical 3 – 5 year time frames of standard research projects. Comprehensive curriculum products take longer to create, test, disseminate, and implement. Materials that make innovative use of contemporary technologies need almost continuous revision to assure that they remain au courant. Furthermore, effective dissemination of any innovative instructional resource requires building community and business models that can overcome the adoption barriers of schools and districts and insure continual improvement of the materials, or move around them. So support for major instructional design and development projects needs to reflect a special kind of funding commitment.
All of these concerns raise four fundamental questions:
- What kinds of instructional resource research and development work should be encouraged and sponsored in order to assure that educational experiences and practices reflects the best of current knowledge about the STEM disciplines, STEM learning, and STEM teaching?
- What advances in the practice of curriculum and instructional design research, development, and evaluation will be required to assure that investments in that work produce dependable and useful results?
- How can funding agencies and professional organizations best stimulate, respond to, and develop the community of STEM educators to assure that important innovative curriculum and instructional material development and research work is conducted in a timely manner?
- What kinds of projects can both develop new instructional design ideas and materials and successfully facilitate implementation of those innovations so that students will be well prepared for the demands and opportunities of future study, work, and personal life?
To address these important questions, a series of workshops is being convened to identify and analyze the needs and opportunities for innovative work and to recommend policy positions or actions by funding agencies and STEM educators. The goal is to identify strategies, directions and recommendations about the future of STEM instructional materials and their development.
This CAREER proposal has four objectives: 1) examine the nature of mathematics teachers' learning opportunities for instructional improvement, 2) examine how work contexts influence the quality of teacher learning opportunities, 3) examine the impact of teacher learning opportunities on changes in student mathematics achievement over four years, and 4) work with district and school administrators to promote instructional improvement and student achievement by effectively providing learning opportunities to mathematics teachers.
This CAREER proposal has four objectives: 1) examine the nature of mathematics teachers' learning opportunities for instructional improvement, 2) examine how work contexts influence the quality of teacher learning opportunities, 3) examine the impact of teacher learning opportunities on changes in student mathematics achievement over four years, and 4) work with district and school administrators to promote instructional improvement and student achievement by effectively providing learning opportunities to mathematics teachers. The PI will conduct a statewide survey of 1,047 mathematics teachers in 201 middle schools and their 35,304 students in grades 6-8 throughout the state of Missouri.
This project was originally funded under award # 0746936.
This project targets first- and second-grade children who struggle to develop a deeper understanding of the mathematical strand of number and operation. The research team will (a) identify the various specific cognitive obstacles of first- and second-grade students who are struggling in number and operation, and (b) explore how instructional tasks designed to address specific cognitive obstacles affect the learning trajectory of struggling learners in number and operation.
This project draws from the expertise of a fully collaborative educator-scientist team to create learning progressions, curricular units and assessment instruments towards large scale research on the teaching and learning of climate change and impacts by 7-12th graders in primarily under-resourced schools. Products include eight week curricular units, IPCC-compliant simplified future scenarios, an online interface with guided predictive distribution modeling, and research results.
It is increasingly important for all American students to become sophisticated thinkers of science. The Center for Essential Science at the University of Michigan is conducting educational research to engage and support complex thinkers of science and to improve science learning in high-poverty, urban, elementary and middle school classrooms, with particular focus on the Detroit Public Schools. Our previous work focused on fourth through sixth grades, a period when the performance of American science students falls significantly behind that of students in other countries. In this grant, we extend our learning progressions and associated curricular materials, visualization technologies and educational research from fourth to the tenth grade. In particular, this grant is focused in two areas:
- the development and empirical evaluation of eight to twelve-week curricular units and associated technologies to promote students' deep understandings of the impact of climate change on ecosystems dynamics and animal interactions, and
- the exploration of new ideas in educational assessment leading to tests that evaluate students' complex reasoning with science.
A Sense of Urgency on Learning Ecological Impacts of Global Climate Change
The modern world is experiencing substantial and rapid changes that are reshaping not only human societies but natural ecosystems worldwide. During the lifetimes of our current middle and high school students, it is likely that our planet will undergo more anthropogenic change than it has during all of human history to date. While scientists from many disciplines are modeling, monitoring, predicting, and analyzing climate change, understanding the impacts and consequences of climate change cannot be left to scientists alone.
While scientists are aware of the sense of urgency to develop scientific understanding of the impacts of global climate changes, science education resources and sound research on students’ development of complex reasoning about ecological impacts of global climate change are scarce, despite recognition from scientists and policy makers of the importance of this topic. Several factors contribute to this absence. First, global climate change is an extremely multi-disciplinary domain that does not easily fit into existing K-12 disciplinary boundaries of earth science, life science, and physical science. The American Institute for Global Change Research defines global change as “the interactions of biological, chemical and physical processes that regulate changes in the function on the Earth system, including the particular ways in which these changes are influenced by human activities” (American Institute for Global Change Research, 2008). Second, scientific information associated with global climate change is relatively new and emergent, disallowing strong representation in science standards, high stakes tests, textbooks or curricular units utilized in classrooms. Our previous research suggests that the complexity of content coupled with almost no representation on high stakes tests leads to a low priority for many classroom teachers and consequently little to no classroom time. (S. Blum, personal communication 11.6.08). Third, global climate change is a dynamic topic that might be best addressed with resources that couple curricular activities which guide the development of complex inquiry reasoning and modeling/simulation resources to represent the dynamic nature of the science. While modeling and simulation resources exist for professional scientists (e.g., Lifemapper designed by proposal co-PI), neither the guided curricular activities nor the modeling and simulation resources are widely available for middle and high school audiences.
Together, a sense of urgency exists to build a solid, research-based foundation about a new and essential focus area within pre-college science education: students’ complex inquiry reasoning about the impact of global changes on ecosystem dynamics. This sense of urgency can be addressed through the combination of three research-based activities addressed in this proposal: (1) the extension of existing 4-6th grade curricular units towards the development and empirical evaluation of a 4-10th grade curricular progression focused on complex reasoning about biodiversity and the impact of global changes on populations of animals and ecosystem dynamics; (2) the development and evaluation of ecological simulation and modeling resources to accompany the middle and high school units; and (3) sound educational research to provide strong empirical evidence of both growth spurts and plateaus, as well as documentation of how and when complex inquiry reasoning occurs among middle and early high school students in these focus areas.
The program outlined will serve as the major research vehicle for research questions in several interrelated areas. We propose a research design with a series of quasi-experimental studies that will complement each other and provide multiple lenses for understanding complex questions such as these. Our research questions are:
1. Which scientific content and reasoning skills are essential for 7-10th graders’ complex reasoning and modeling of the ecological impacts of climate change? How are these manifested in content and inquiry reasoning progressions?
2. What dynamic visualization and modeling resources support the development of deep thinking about the ecological impacts of climate change?
3. What scaffolding and instructional activities support the development of deep thinking about the ecological impacts of climate change, including both content (ecological impacts) and complex reasoning components (science practices) of this knowledge, within cohorts of 7-10th graders in two new curricular units?
4. Utilizing quantitative (growth curve models, cross sectional studies) and qualitative (think aloud interviews) analyses, what learning outcomes and growth trajectories are realized by 7-10th intervention and control students as measured by both traditional standardized items and assessments focusing on complex thinking about ecological impacts of climate change?
We believe the greatest contribution of our work will be clear empirical information (growth spurts, growth plateaus and achievement information) associated with middle and high school students’ learning of complex and dynamic science associated with the ecological impacts of global climate change. We see the empirically driven development of learning progressions, curricular units, assessment instruments and professional development resources as important secondary contributions. The hypotheses we wish to test are the following: Do Detroit, rural and small city students who work with coordinated scaffold-rich inquiry programs and visualization resources focusing on impacts of global climate change develop deep conceptual understandings as compared to matched cohorts students? As determined by growth curve analyses, what do their learning trajectories look like? What new insights about the design of scaffold-rich curricular units and visualization technologies can be gleaned from an analysis of students’ growth trajectories and summative achievement results? What kinds of assessment instruments are needed to provide reliable and valid measurement of learning progressions in these focus areas? What can we learn about the design of a series of multi-year, coordinated learning resources from the empirically driven development of learning progressions associated with an important emerging science, the ecological impacts of climate change?
This project is developing and testing a curricular learning progression of early algebra objectives and activities for students in grades 3 - 5. The goal of the work is to provide teachers with curricular guidance and instructional resources that are useful in preparing students for success in study of algebra at the middle grade level. The project is also developing and validating assessment tools for evaluating student progress toward essential pre-algebra mathematical understandings.