This project investigates the potential of online role-playing games for scientific literacy through the iterative design and research of Saving Lake Wingra, an online role-playing game around a controversial development project in an urban area. Saving Lake Wingra positions players as ecologists, department of natural resources officials, or journalists investigating a rash of health problems at a local lake, and then creating and debating solutions.
This project will define and synthesize effective feedback strategies that can be linked to specific features of daily classroom assessment practices. It will develop a framework, including a conceptual strand (will conceptualize feedback practice considering intrinsic and contextual dimensions) and a methodological strand (used to describe and evaluate the feedback studies and findings to be synthesized). The framework will provide a shared language within and across multiple forms of research in various disciplines.
This project develops resources to facilitate the involvement of college and university physics departments in the professional development of K-12 teachers of physics and physical science. Research investigates how students and teachers learn content and reasoning skills for applying concepts to real world situations; how teachers can learn content in a way that helps them promote student learning; and how teachers can learn to assess student understanding in a way that promotes student learning.
The Texas Regional Collaboratives, headquartered in the Center for Science and Mathematics Education at the University of Texas in Austin seeks to integrate research and applied education to take important tools inside pre-kindergarten classrooms to assess young students' knowledge and skills and test strategies for teaching core science concepts to young learners. The project will involve teachers from multiple backgrounds and will be conducted in a variety of settings with an emphasis on including classrooms where students are culturally and economically diverse. The mixed methods research will include data collection via case studies and technology-based assessment techniques.
Utilizing a robust research community of science and early childhood educators, science content specialists, researchers, and classroom teachers, the project will conduct four years of intense classroom observation and data collection in 25 pre-kindergarten classrooms with the intent of probing for answers to the following questions: (a) What should children know and be able to do when they enter kindergarten? (b)What core STEM ideas should be stressed in pre-kindergarten/kindergarten science learning activities? (c)What professional development practices best support the teaching of complex STEM concepts and processes to young learners?
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.