Persons with Disabilities

Designing Assessments in Physical Science Across Three Dimensions (Collaborative Research: Harris)

This is a collaborative project to develop, test, and analyze sets of technology-supported diagnostic classroom assessments for middle school (grades 6-8) physical science. Assessments are aligned with the performance assessment and evidence-centered design methodologies suggested in the Framework for K-12 Science Education (NRC, 2012).

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1903103
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2013 to Sun, 06/30/2019
Full Description: 

This is a collaborative proposal among the University of Illinois at Chicago, Michigan State University, and SRI International to develop, test, and analyze sets of technology-supported diagnostic classroom assessments for middle school (grades 6-8) physical science. Assessments are aligned with the performance assessment and evidence-centered design methodologies suggested in the Framework for K-12 Science Education (NRC, 2012). The study focuses on the development of new measures of learning that take into account the interdependence of science content and practice. Two disciplinary core ideas--Matter and its Interactions, and Energy--and two scientific and engineering practices--Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, and Developing and Using Models--are used for this purpose.

The research questions are: (1) What are the characteristic features of science assessments based upon systematic application of the Evidence-Centered Design (ECD) assessment process?; (2) To what extent can assessment designs incorporate critical core idea, crosscutting concept and science/engineering practice dimensions in ways that both separate and integrate these dimensions as part of the design architecture?; (3) What is the evidence that the multiple dimensions of science learning (e.g., content, practices and crosscutting concepts) are separable and recoverable in the performance of students who respond to these assessments?; (4) How instructionally sensitive are these assessments? (i.e., Do they show differential and appropriate sensitivity to students' opportunity to learn science in ways consistent with the vision contained in the NRC Framework?); (5) What forms of evidence can be provided for the validity of these assessments using a multifaceted validity framework that takes into account both the interpretive and evidentiary components of a validity argument for these new assessments?; (6) What are the characteristics of assessments that best serve the needs of classroom teachers relative to a formative assessment process and in what ways do such assessments and scoring processes need to be designed to support effective teacher implementation?; and (7) What are the unique affordances and opportunities provided by technology in designing and implementing assessments focused on merging content & practices performance expectations?

Assessments are iteratively designed and administered in three school districts and a laboratory school in Florida and one school district in Wisconsin using the "Investigating and Questioning our World through Science and Technology" curriculum. The three school districts in Florida have classrooms that are using typical curriculum. The assessments will also be administered and tested with students in these classrooms. To address the research questions, the project conducts five major tasks: (1) development of assessment items using the ECD process to document and guide coherence of items; (2) an alignment study to review design patterns and task templates; (3) a cognitive analysis study to empirically investigate the extent to which the items elicit the intended guidelines; (4) three empirical studies, including (a) an early-stage testing with teachers (n=6) and students (n=180) in Year 1, (b) a pilot testing in Year 2 with teachers (n=12) and students (n=360), and (c) a main study in Year 3 with teachers (n=30) and students (n=900); and (5) a study to investigate the formative use of the assessment items using teacher focus groups' feedback and analysis of student performance data from previous studies.

Project outcomes are: (a) research-informed and field-tested assessment prototypes that measure students' thinking around the two physical science core ideas and the two scientific and engineering practices; (b) relevant data and procedures used in the studies; and (c) a framework for the formative use of the assessments, including guidelines, scoring rubrics, and criteria for assessment design decisions.

This project was previously funded under award #1316903.

QuEST: Quality Elementary Science Teaching

This project is examining an innovative model of situated Professional Development (PD) and the contribution of controlled teaching experiences to teacher learning and, as a result, to student learning. The project is carrying out intensive research about an existing special PD summer institute (QuEST) that has been in existence for more than five years through a state Improving Teacher Quality Grants program.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1316683
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/15/2013 to Mon, 07/31/2017
Full Description: 

The University of Missouri-Columbia is examining an innovative model of situated Professional Development (PD) and the contribution of controlled teaching experiences to teacher learning and, as a result, to student learning. The project is carrying out intensive research about an existing special PD summer institute (QuEST) that has been in existence for more than five years through a state Improving Teacher Quality Grants program. The project will do the following: (1) undertake more in-depth and targeted research to better understand the efficacy of the PD model and impacts on student learning; (2) develop and field test resources from the project that can produce broader impacts; and (3) explore potential scale-up of the model for diverse audiences. The overarching goals of the project are: (a) Implement a high-quality situated PD model for K-6 teachers in science; (b) Conduct a comprehensive and rigorous program of research to study the impacts of this model on teacher and student learning; and (c) Disseminate project outcomes to a variety of stakeholders to produce broader impacts. A comparison of two groups of teachers will be done. Both groups will experience a content (physics) and pedagogy learning experience during one week in the summer. During a second week, one group will experience "controlled teaching" of elementary students, while the other group will not. Teacher and student gains will be measured using a quantitative and qualitative, mixed-methods design.

Undergraduate Biology Education Research Program

The goals of this nine-week summer program are to develop undergraduates' knowledge and skills in biology education research, encourage undergraduates to pursue doctoral study of biology teaching and learning, expand the diversity of the talent pool in biology education research, strengthen and expand collaborations among faculty and students in education and life sciences, and contribute to the development of theory and knowledge about biology education in ways that can inform undergraduate biology instruction.

Award Number: 
1262715
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2013 to Wed, 08/31/2016
Full Description: 

The Undergraduate Biology Education Research (UBER) REU Site engages undergraduates in studying important issues specific to the teaching and learning of biology, with mentorship from faculty in the Division of Biological Sciences and the Mathematics and Science Education Department at the University of Georgia. The goals of this nine-week summer program are to develop undergraduates' knowledge and skills in biology education research, encourage undergraduates to pursue doctoral study of biology teaching and learning, expand the diversity of the talent pool in biology education research by strategically recruiting and mentoring underrepresented and disadvantaged students, strengthen and expand collaborations among faculty and students in education and life sciences, and contribute to the development of theory and knowledge about biology education in ways that can inform undergraduate biology instruction.

A programmatic effort to introduce undergraduates to the discipline of biology education research is unprecedented nationwide. Biology education research as a discipline is quite young, and systematic involvement of undergraduates has not been part of the culture or practice in biology or education. UBER aims to promote cultural change that expands the involvement of undergraduates in biology education research and raises awareness among undergraduates that biology teaching and learning are compelling foci for study that can be pursued at the graduate level and via various career paths. UBER utilizes a combined strategy of broad and strategic recruiting to attract underrepresented minority students as well as students who do not have access to biology education research opportunities at their own institutions. Evaluation plans involve tracking UBER participants over time to understand the trajectories of students who complete undergraduate training in biology education research.

Significant co-funding of this project is provided by the Division of Biological Infrastructure in the NSF Directorate for Biological Sciences in recognition of the importance of educational research in the discipline of biology. The Division of Undergraduate Education and the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings also provides co-funding.

CAREER: Fraction Activities and Assessments for Conceptual Teaching (FAACT) for Students with Learning Disabilities

This project is studying and supporting the development of conceptual understanding of fractions by students with learning disabilities (LD).  Rather than focusing on whether students can or cannot develop conceptual understanding, the project is focused on uncovering the complex understanding students DO have.

Award Number: 
1708327
Funding Period: 
Tue, 07/01/2014 to Sun, 06/30/2019
Project Evaluator: 
Dr. Mary Little
Full Description: 

Dr. Hunt, a former middle school and elementary school mathematics in inclusive settings in a state-demonstration STEM school, works with students deemed to be at risk for mathematics difficulties or labeled as having disabilities. Hunt contends that research and pedagogical practice for children with disabilities should begin from a respect for children's ways of knowing and learning. Rather than focusing on whether students can or cannot develop conceptual understanding, research should attempt to uncover the complex understanding students DO have. She argues that teaching based in learning theory that positions children's learning as adaptation advances reasoning, sense-making, and co-construction of meaning.

The goal of Hunt's project- "CAREER: Fraction Activities and Assessments for Conceptual Teaching (FAACT)"-  is to study and support the development of conceptual understanding of fractions by students with learning disabilities (LD).  Dr. Hunt is re-conceptualizing intensive intervention as children's knowing and learning in "Small Environments". This approach suggests a redirect of research and instructional practice in mathematics for an underserved population of students. The project has the potential to offer a transformative approach to mathematics instruction for students with LD, bringing together expertise on learning disabilities and mathematics education to address an area in which there is very little research. 

The main outcomes of the project include (a) a theory of knowing, learning, and teaching connected to students with LDs in the small environment of supplemental and intensive intervention, (b) selected research-based trajectories specific to the conceptual understandings of fractions evidenced by students with LD presented in case study format, and (c) a set of practices and tools for teaching in the small environment (e.g., explicated knowing and learning framework; a set of learning situations to be used for teaching and/or formative assessment in fraction concepts, and suggestions for instructional decision making to aid teachers in designing student-centered instruction both in small groups and individualized formats).

This project was previously funded under award #1253254 and 1446250.


Project Videos

2019 STEM for All Video Showcase

Title: Fractional Reasoning: Students with Learning Disabilities

Presenter(s): Jessica Hunt, Andy Khounmeuang, Kristi Martin, Blain Patterson, & Juanita Silva


SimScientists Assessments: Physical Science Links

The goal of this project is to develop and validate a middle school physical science assessment strand composed of four suites of simulation-based assessments for integrating into balanced (use of multiple measures), large-scale accountability science testing systems. It builds on the design templates, technical infrastructure, and evidence of the technical quality, feasibility, and instructional utility of the NSF-funded Calipers II project. The evaluation plan addresses both formative and summative aspects.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1221614
Funding Period: 
Mon, 10/01/2012 to Fri, 09/30/2016
Full Description: 

The goal of this project is to develop and validate a middle school physical science assessment strand composed of four suites of simulation-based assessments for integrating into balanced (use of multiple measures), large-scale accountability science testing systems. It builds on the design templates, technical infrastructure, and evidence of the technical quality, feasibility, and instructional utility of the NSF-funded Calipers II project. The assessment strand consists of multilevel (increased thinking levels) assessment designs grounded on evidence-centered principles that target practices and key disciplinary conceptual schemes, such as matter, motion, energy, and waves identified in the National Research Council report "A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Knowledge, and Core Ideas". The assessment model vertically links simulations (interactive with feedback to students, coaching, and reflection); curriculum-embedded assessments for formative use; unit benchmark assessment for interim summative purposes; and a set of "signature tasks" (short-term simulations on recurring problem types). Members of the Advisory Board and an Assessment Review Panel actively participate in the development and implementation of this effort. Heller Research Associates is the external evaluator. The evaluation plan addresses both formative and summative aspects.

The project's theory of action is based on model-based learning and evidence-centered design reflective of the notion that the construct of science is multidimensional, requiring (a) understanding how the components of a science conceptual system interact to produce behaviors of the system; and (b) the use of inquiry practices to investigate the dynamic behaviors and underlying components' interactions of the system. A total of eight research and development questions guide the scope of work. The questions focus on: (a) validity (substantive and technical quality) of the individual simulation assessments; and (b) classroom implementation (feasibility, fidelity, utility). The methodology for test construction and revision follows the testing standards of major professional organizations (i.e., American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, and National Council of Measurement in Education) through three development phases. Phase I (Assessment Development) focuses on the alignment, quality, and prototype testing, including leverage and modification of prior work, and design of new assessment suites and signature tasks. Phase II (Pilot and Validation Studies) deals with the testing of all assessments, research instruments, and study methods. Phase III (Cross-Validation Studies) substantiates the multilevel integration assessment model, cross-validates the assessments piloted in Phase II, and establishes a reliable argument that the assessments measure the intended content and inquiry practices suitable for use in district and state-level assessment systems.

Expected outcomes are: (1) a research-informed and field-tested physical science simulations-based assessment model with high potential for extended use in middle school grades; and (2) a policy brief that provides recommendations for integrating assessments into districts and state large-scale, multi-level, balanced science assessments.

Implementing the Mathematical Practice Standards: Enhancing Teachers' Ability to Support the Common Core State Standards

This is a four-year project that is producing materials designed to help teachers see how the mathematical practices described in the Common Core State Standards for mathematics can be implemented in mathematics instruction. The goal of the improved instruction is to help students adopt and value these critical mathematical practices.

Award Number: 
1119163
Funding Period: 
Mon, 08/01/2011 to Tue, 07/31/2012
Full Description: 

The Implementing Mathematical Practices Standards (IMPS) is a four-year project that is producing materials designed to help teachers see how the mathematical practices described in the Common Core State Standards for mathematics can be implemented in mathematics instruction. The goal of the improved instruction is to help students adopt and value these critical mathematical practices. Researchers at the Education Development Center are developing videos and print materials that exemplify the mathematical practices and are working with teachers in grades 5-10 to help them use the materials effectively. The research questions of the project are focused on what features of the materials are most helpful to teachers and what professional development characteristics facilitate implementation of the mathematics practices in classroom instruction. The external evaluation of the project is being conducted by evaluators at TERC who are looking the process of developing materials and how the materials are used.

The materials will include professionally-produced videos exemplifying a particular mathematical practice being implemented in a classroom as well as printed dialogues that are designed to help teachers understand the practice and why it is critical for students to acquire that mathematical practice. The exemplars of mathematical practices are being developed based on pilot work and systematic advice from mathematicians, mathematics educators and mathematics teachers in grades 5-10. The design process is iterative and materials are refined based on feedback that is received. Facilitators are being prepared to conduct professional development and materials are being tested by more than 150 teachers in a variety of school districts.

Professional groups such as NCTM and NCSM have called for materials that exemplify the CCSS mathematical practices. They have argued that teachers need to understand how these standards can be achieved in classrooms. IMPS systematic effort to design materials that exemplify the standards and to test not only the materials but also the professional development associated with the materials is responding to the national need. The videos and dialogues will be available through broad dissemination.

Math Pathways and Pitfalls: Capturing What Works for Anytime Anyplace Professional Development

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.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0918834
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/15/2009 to Fri, 08/31/2012
Full Description: 

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.

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