This project contributes to the emerging knowledge base for reform-minded middle school STEM instructional materials development through the development, field-testing, and evaluation of a prototype instructional materials module specifically designed to stimulate and sustain urban-based students’ interest in STEM. The module includes guided inquiry-oriented activities thematically linked by the standards-aligned concept of energy transfer, which highlight the fundamental processes and integrative nature of 21st century scientific investigation.
The study includes two and a half years of preparation and support for all the mathematics instructional leaders (ILs) within a large urban school district with a substantial minority student enrollment. These ILs will implement the Problem-Solving Cycle model with the mathematics teachers in their schools. Researchers will analyze the preparation and support that ILs need, the quality of their implementation, and the impact of the PD process on ILs, teachers, and students.
The primary goal of the project is to investigate the scalability of the Problem-Solving Cycle (PSC) model of mathematics professional development (PD) and accompanying facilitation materials—that is, whether the PSC can be implemented with integrity by multiple facilitators in multiple settings. In the proposed study we will provide ongoing support to a group of middle school mathematics instructional leaders (ILs) so that they can develop the skills to successfully implement the PSC with the mathematics teachers in their schools. The specific nature of this support is expected to change over the duration of the project, and to gradually decrease as the ILs develop the ability to implement the PSC on their own. Our research will address the following questions:
- What preparation is provided to ILs prior to their implementation of the PSC? What support is provided during implementation? How does this support change with successive iterations of the PSC?
- How do ILs implement the PSC? How does implementation vary across ILs and over time? What factors account for the variation?
- What is the impact of preparation for, and implementation of, the PSC on ILs?
- What is the impact of participation in the PSC on middle school mathematics teachers?
- What is the impact on the mathematics achievement of students whose teachers participate in the PSC?
 In this proposal we refer to all school or district personnel who will be trained to facilitate the PSC as “instructional leaders” (ILs) although we recognize that they may have other titles.
Math Pathways & Pitfalls lessons for students boost mathematics achievement for diverse students, including English Learners, English Proficient students, and Latino students. This project develops modules that increase teachers’ capacity to employ the effective and equitable principles of practice embodied by Math Pathways & Pitfalls and apply these practices to any mathematics lesson. This four-year project develops, field tests, and evaluates 10 online professional development modules.
Researchers and developers at WestEd are developing, field-testing, and evaluating ten online professional development modules anchored in research-based teaching principles and achievement-boosting mathematics materials. The modules provide interactive learning opportunities featuring real classroom video demonstrations, simulations, and scaffolded implementation. The professional development module development builds on the Math Pathways and Pitfalls instructional modules for elementary and middle school students developed with NSF support. The professional development provided through the use of these modules is web-based (rather than face-to-face), is provided in chunks during the school year and immediately applied in the classroom (rather than summer professional development and school year application), and explicitly models ways to apply key teaching principles to regular mathematics lessons (rather than expecting teachers to extract and apply principles spontaneously).
The project studies the impact of the modules on teaching practice with an experimental design that involves 20 treatment teachers and 20 control teachers. Data are gathered from teacher questionnaires, classroom observations, and post-observation interviews.
MIST is a five-year study of four large, urban districts implementing ambitious mathematics reform initiatives in the middle grades. The study uses a mixed-methods research design to investigate how changes in the school and district settings in which mathematics teachers work influence their instructional practices, students' learning opportunities, and student achievement.
The research base on supporting mathematics teachers' development of ambitious instructional practices at scale is thin in both mathematics education and in policy and leadership.
Funding agencies including NSF have invested heavily in ambitious agendas for teacher professional development in mathematics. Prior large-scale improvement efforts that have attempted to penetrate the instructional core of the classroom have rarely produced lasting changes in teachers’ instructional practices (Elmore, 2004; Gamoran et al., 2003).
This project is designed to examine the institutional settings in which the classroom is situated (i.e. the district and school environment) with the goal of supporting teacher professional development and causing lasting change in instruction at the classroom level.
Prior NSF-funded initiatives made an important contribution by focusing on a singleaspect of the institutional settings in which mathematics teachers develop and revise their instructional practices: either 1) Principals’ knowledge of mathematics and their beliefs about mathematics teaching and learning; 2) The content, pedagogical, and diagnostic knowledge necessary for leaders to assist mathematics teachers effectively; or 3) Districts’ use of instructional guidance tools such as pacing guidelines and alignment charts.
Our primary goal in this project is to investigate, test, and refine a set of conjectures regarding the support structures needed to enhance the impact of professional development on mathematics teachers’ instructional practices and thus student achievement. In addressing this goal, we will take a comprehensive view of the institutional setting of mathematics teaching rather than focusing on a single aspect.
The support structures on which we will focus include 1) Teacher learning communities and informal networks, 2) Shared vision for mathematics instruction (as indicated by use of a common language for talking about mathematics instruction, presence of brokers who can bridge perspectives, and compatible interpretations of key boundary objects such as instructional materials and state standards and assessments), 3) Distribution of instructional leadership across formal and informal leaders, 4) Reciprocal accountability between teachers and instructional leaders (as indicated by alignment of assistance and accountability and access to key resources such as coherent instructional guidance instruments), and 5) Depth of instructional leaders’ understanding of mathematics, the instructional program, and the challenges of using it effectively.
We will investigate our conjectures by employing a mixed methods design that involves both a formal hypothesis-testing component and design research component. We will work in four urban school districts over four years. The data we will collect or document includes: 1) The institutional setting of teaching (i.e., the above support structures), 2) Teachers’ instructional practices and content knowledge for teaching, 3) The professional development activities in which teachers participate, 4) Formal and informal leaders’ instructional leadership practices, and 5) Student achievement.
The overall product of the two components will be a framework for guiding, monitoring, and assessing school and district-wide institutional improvement in mathematics. This Institutional Improvement Framework will identify the support structures that our findings document are important, explain why they are important and under what conditions, clarify how they are interdependent, and illustrate how their development can be accomplished.
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 focuses on practicing and preservice secondary mathematics teachers and mathematics teacher educators. The project is researching, designing, and developing materials for preservice secondary mathematics teachers that enable them to acquire the mathematical knowledge and situated rationality central to teaching, in particular as it regards the leading of mathematical discussions in classrooms.
Researchers at the Universities of Michigan and Maryland are developing materials to survey the rationality behind secondary mathematics teaching practice and to support the development by secondary mathematics preservice teachers of specialized knowledge and skills for teaching. The project focuses on the leading of classroom discussions for the learning of algebra and geometry.
Using animations of instructional scenarios, the project is developing online, multimedia questionnaires and using them to assess practicing teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching and their evaluations of teacher decision making. Reports and forum entries from the questionnaires are integrated into a learning environment for prospective teachers and their instructors built around these animated scenarios. This environment allows pre-service teachers to navigate, annotate, and communicate about the scenarios; and it allows their instructors to plan using those scenarios and share experiences with their counterparts.
The research on teachers' rationality uses an experimental design with embedded one-way ANOVA, while the development of the learning environment uses a process of iterative design, implementation, and evaluation. The project evaluation by researchers at Northwestern University uses qualitative methods to examine the content provided in the environment as well as the usefulness perceived by teacher educators of a state network and their students.
This project is carrying out a research and development initiative to increase the success rates of our most at-risk high school students—ninth-grade students enrolled in algebra classes but significantly underprepared for high school mathematics. It will also result in new understandings about effective approaches for teaching mathematics to struggling students and about effective ways for implementing these approaches at scale, particularly in urban school districts.
Intensified Algebra I, a comprehensive program used in an extended-time algebra class, helps students who are one to two years behind in mathematics become successful in algebra. It is a research and development initiative of the Charles A. Dana Center at The University of Texas at Austin, the Learning Sciences Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Agile Mind, that transforms the teaching of algebra to students who struggle in mathematics. Central to the program is the idea that struggling students need a powerful combination of a challenging curriculum, cohesive, targeted supports, and additional well-structured classroom time. Intensified Algebra I seeks to addresses the need for a robust Algebra I curriculum with embedded, efficient review and repair of foundational mathematical skills and concepts. It aims to address multiple dimensions of learning mathematics, including social, affective, linguistic, and cognitive. Intensified Algebra I uses an asset-based approach that builds on students’ strengths and helps students to develop academic skills and identities by engaging them in the learning experience. The program is designed to help struggling students succeed in catching up to their peers, equipping them to be successful in Algebra I and their future mathematics and science courses.
This project hypothesizes that learners must have access to the real work of scientists if they are to learn both about the nature of science and to do inquiry themselves. It explores the question "How can informal science education institutions best design resources to support teachers, school administrators, and families in the teaching and learning of students to conduct scientific investigations and better understand the nature of science?"
The American Museum of Natural History and Michigan State University propose a research and development project focused on DR-K12 challenge #2 and the hypothesis that learners must have access to the real work of scientists if they are to learn both about the nature of science and to do inquiry themselves. The overarching questions that drive this project are: How can informal science education institutions best design resources to support teachers, school administrators, and families in the teaching and learning of students to conduct scientific investigations and better understand the nature of science? How are these resources then used, and to what extent and in what ways do they contribute to participants’ learning? How are those resources then used for student learning? Answering these questions will involve the use of existing and new resources, enhancement of existing relationships, and a commitment to systematically collect evidence. Urban Advantage (UA) is a middle school science initiative involving informal science education institutions that provides professional development for teachers and hands-on learning for students to learn how to conduct scientific investigations. This project will (1) refine the UA model by including opportunities to engage in field studies and the use of authentic data sets to investigate the zebra mussel invasion of the Hudson River ecosystem; (2) extend the resources available to help parents, administrators, and teachers understand the nature of scientific work; and (3) integrate a research agenda into UA. Teaching cases will serve as resources to help teachers, students, administrators, and families understand scientific inquiry through research on freshwater ecosystems, and—with that increased understanding—support student learning. Surveys, observations, and assessments will be used to document and understand the effects of professional development on teachers, students, administrators, and parents. The study will analyze longitudinal, multivariate data in order to identify associations between professional development opportunities for teachers, administrators, and parents, their use of resources to support their own learning and that of students, middle school teachers’ instructional practices, and measures of student learning.
This project integrates the informal and formal science education sectors, bringing their combined resources to bear on the critical need for well-prepared and diverse urban science teachers. The study is designed to examine and document the effect of this integrated program on the production of urban science teachers. This study will also research the impact of internships in science centers on improving classroom science teaching in urban high schools.
CLUSTER (Collaboration for Leadership in Urban Science Teaching, Evaluation and Research) is an NSF-funded TPC project. Its partners are The City College of New York (CCNY), New York Hall of Science (NYHS), and City University of New York’s Center for Advanced Study in Education (CASE). It aims to develop and research a model designed to increase and improve the pool of secondary science teachers who reflect the ethnic distribution of city students and who are prepared to implement inquiry-based science instruction.
CLUSTER Fellows are undergraduate science majors in New York City. They are recruited, trained, and certified to teach science in New York City middle and high schools. They participate both as students in the CCNY Teacher Education Program and as Explainers in the NYHS Science Career Ladder. Their experiences in class and at the NYHS are integrated and guided by a conceptual framework, which emphasizes science as an active process of discovery where ideas are developed and constructed through meaningful experience.
CLUSTER aims to produce generalizable knowledge of interest to the field regarding the growth and development of perspective teachers in an experiential training program and to assess the impact and value of the CLUSTER model.