Students

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

This project improves science learning by students who are not achieving their potential in high quality inquiry-based programs. The project aims to achieve its goal by developing a computer program, My Science Tutor, which students will use immediately following classroom science investigations to reinforce and extend concepts embedded in the investigations. The program uses a lifelike animated character to engage students in guided learning activities and conversational tutorial dialogs that stimulate scientific reasoning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0733323
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/15/2007 to Fri, 08/31/2012
Full Description: 

 The main goal of the project is to improve science learning by students who are not achieving their potential in high quality inquiry-based programs.  While programs like FOSS, STC and Insights have proven effective in improving science achievement within and across school districts, many children, especially underrepresented minorities and English language learners, fail to demonstrate proficiency on standardized tests of science achievement. The project aims to achieve its goal by developing a computer program, My Science Tutor, which students use following classroom science investigations to reinforce and extend concepts embedded in the investigations. The program uses a lifelike animated character to engage students in scaffolded guided learning activities and tutorial dialogs that stimulate scientific reasoning. Tutorial dialogs are based on a proven technique, Questioning the Author, that challenges students to learn and integrate new concepts with prior knowledge to construct enriched mental models that can be used to explain and predict scientific phenomena. The work aims to produce and demonstrate the effectiveness of tutorial dialogs produced by human experts trained to use the Questioning the Author method. To evaluate the intervention, we will compare learning gains on standardized tests of science achievement by fourth and fifth grade students randomly assigned to three groups: the computer treatment, human tutoring or business-as-usual classroom instruction. 

This study will contribute new knowledge about the influence and impact of well-designed learning tools that are designed to improve concept formation and critical thinking by elementary school students who are not achieving their potential in high quality inquiry-based science programs.  The assessments should provide detailed insights about how learning tools designed to teach concepts through scaffolded learning and narrated animations, and to teach scientific reasoning through tutorial dialogs, influence the learning and achievement of elementary students.  The program will also contribute new knowledge to science about the effectiveness of tutorial dialogs incorporating advanced language technologies to emulate the learning strategies of expert tutors and the learning gains of their students.

Successful outcomes of the project will include a program that is effective in improving science learning and achievement of elementary school students. The program will provide an effective supplement to FOSS, a high quality science program that is already used by over two million students and one hundred thousand teachers in the U.S. A potentially profound advantage of the project arises from providing viable and accessible resources to help teachers implement high quality curricula in a much more individualized manner.  In effect, curricula such as FOSS have fared well despite the difficulties that teachers have in helping to map its rigorous content to individual leaner cognition and in providing routine and high quantity feedback to each individual mastering a challenging domain.  This project seeks to address this difficult problem by making such curricula more accessible, engaging and effective for each individual learner.

Ecosystems and Evidence Project (Collaborative Research: Berkowitz)

This exploratory research and development project addresses the question, "Can students develop an understanding of the ecological nature of science (ENOS) in high school biology and environmental science classes that is useful and productive in environmental citizenship?" To address this question, the project will identify the essential elements of ENOS, investigate how these can be taught and learned, and explore how ENOS skills and understandings are used to enhance environmental citizenship.

Award Number: 
0918610
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2009 to Fri, 08/31/2012
Project Evaluator: 
Jackie DeLisi, Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC)

Universal Design of Inquiry-based Middle and High School Science Curricula (Collaborative Research: Rose)

CAST, the University of Michigan, and EDC are collaborating to create heuristics for universally designed middle and high school science materials; to build an open-source UDL Inquiry Science System (ISS) that enables science curricula to be transformed into digitally supported versions that incorporate UDL features, to use the ISS to produce four UDL exemplars from tested instructional materials, and to evaluate the benefits of these exemplars for grades-5–12 students with and without learning disabilities.

Award Number: 
0730260
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/15/2007 to Tue, 08/31/2010
Project Evaluator: 
Dan Zalles, SRI

Geniverse: A Student Collaboratory for Biology Cyberlearning

This project addresses biology teachers and students at the high school level, responding to the exponential increases occurring in biology knowledge today and the need for students to understand the experimental basis behind biology concepts. The project studies the feasibility of engaging students in an environment where they can learn firsthand how science knowledge develops in the fields of bioinformatics and DNA science by performing collaborative, simulated experiments to solve open-ended problems.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0918642
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/15/2009 to Tue, 08/31/2010
Full Description: 

A Technology Exemplar: Post-textbook UDL Materials

This project is developing technology-rich science curriculum exemplars for grades 3-6 based on Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles. The project is testing the effectiveness of the approach and providing an exemplar that can inspire additional content and further development. A set of professional development materials to support teacher implementation of UDL science curriculum in the classroom is planned. Probes are used for lab investigations and computational models are used for experimentation in virtual environments.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0628242
Funding Period: 
Sun, 10/01/2006 to Thu, 09/30/2010
Project Evaluator: 
Barbara Buckley
Full Description: 

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Elementary Science Materials use inquiry as the cornerstone for the development of elementary science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) activities. To give the degree of control over the learning environment that UDL requires, it is important that inquiry be brought under computer management. Students explore the real world using probes and simulated worlds using computational models. This gives students powerful tools in a software environment that allows the tools to be adapted to individuals.

Units were developed around four driving questions. Why are there clouds? What if there was no friction? What do plants eat? What is electricity? Each unit contains grade-appropriate (grades 3-4 and grades 5-6) hands-on, model-based, and probe-based activities with a wide range of alternatives for the way tools are used in the classroom, the materials are represented and communicated, and learning is assessed. These alternatives boil down to a series of software switches and sliders that teachers and students can control in order to individualize the learning experience.

Logging Opportunities in Online Programs for Science (LOOPS): Student and Teacher Learning

The project makes use of technology to create timely, valid, and actionable reports to teachers by analyzing assessments and logs of student actions generated in the course of using computer-based curriculum materials. The reports allow teachers to make data-based decisions about alternative teaching strategies. The technology supports student collaborations and the assignment of different learning activities to groups, an essential function needed for universal design for learning (UDL).

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0733299
Funding Period: 
Tue, 01/01/2008 to Fri, 12/31/2010
Project Evaluator: 
David Reider, Education Design Inc.

Enhancing Engineering Education with Computational Thinking

This project investigates the educational value of computer technologies for learning engineering. The project engages high school students to design, build, and evaluate an energy-efficient model house with the aid of computer simulation and design tools. 

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0918449
Funding Period: 
Thu, 10/01/2009 to Sun, 09/30/2012
Project Evaluator: 
Sun Associates
Full Description: 

This project investigates the educational value of computer technologies for learning engineering. The project engages high school students to design, build, and evaluate an energy-efficient model house with the aid of computer simulation and design tools. The project will test the assertion that simulations and hands-on projects are mutually beneficial. The project has developed a computational fluid dynamics simulation tool called Energy2D that teaches heat transfer concepts, as well as a computer-aided design and fabrication tool called Energy3D that supports the full cycle of engineering practices. A comprehensive curriculum book "Engineering Energy Efficiency" has been developed to challenge students to use the tools to improve the energy performances of their model houses step by step, allowing students to learn and apply science to solving engineering problems.

Two rounds of pilot tests have been conducted to test our materials and research instruments. A large-scale research study involving about 250 students is currently underway to investigate the effects of Energy2D and Energy3D in fostering learning. Our study focuses primarily on two areas: a) Do the computer tools increase learning of science concepts and engineering design? b) How well can students apply science to engineering? The data we are collecting includes a wide range of sources such as pre/post tests, embedded assessments, student artifacts, reports, presentations, and teacher opinions. We are in the process of synthesizing and analyzing these data to provide a high-definition lens for viewing into student learning processes.

Evolution Readiness: A Modeling Approach

This project uses computer-based models of interacting organisms and their environments to support a learning progression leading to an appreciation of the theory of evolution and evidence that supports it. The project has created a research-based curriculum centered on progressively complex models that exhibit emergent behavior. The project will help improve the teaching of complex scientific topics and provide a reliable means of directly assessing students' conceptual understanding and inquiry skills.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0822213
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/01/2008 to Wed, 08/31/2011
Project Evaluator: 
Philip Benincasa

High Adventure Science

The High Adventure Science project is bringing some of the big unanswered questions in Earth and space science to middle and high school science classrooms. Students will explore the mechanisms of climate change, consider the possibility of life on other planets, and devise solutions to the impending shortage of fresh water. Each curriculum module features interviews with scientists currently working on the same unanswered question.
Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0929774
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/15/2009 to Tue, 08/31/2010

Developing, Researching, and Scaling Up SmartGraphs

SmartGraphs activities run in a web browser; there is no software to download or install. SmartGraphs allows students to interact with on-screen graphs to learn about linear equations, the motion of objects, population dynamics, global warming, or other STEM topics that use scatter plots or line graphs. Teachers and students may also use and share existing activities, which are released under a Creative Commons license (see http://www.concord.org/projects/smartgraphs#curriculum).

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0918522
Funding Period: 
Sat, 08/15/2009 to Tue, 07/31/2012
Project Evaluator: 
Sigmund Abeles
Full Description: 

SmartGraphs is a project that studies the educational value of digital objects embedded in graphs that “know” about themselves and that provide scaffolding to students to help them learn about graphs and the concepts conveyed in graphs. As planned, digital Smart Graphs can be authored or customized by teachers and accept inputs from students’ responses, sketches, functions, models, and probes. The software analyzes the graphs for the kinds of features that experts recognize and then engages students in conversations that instruct and assess student knowledge.

The project is guided by collaboration between the Concord Consortium and the Pennsylvania State Department of Education Classrooms for the Future program, through which 140,000 laptop computers are deployed to serve 500,000 students. The development of Smart Graphs is based on extensive prior research about students’ use and understanding of graphs (TEEMSS II and Science Universal Design for Learning projects) at the Concord Consortium.

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