Broadening Participation

The Developmental Emergence and Consequences of Spatial and Math Gender Stereotypes

This project will investigate the development and emergence of spatial gender stereotypes (and their relation to math gender stereotypes) in elementary school-aged children and their impact on parent-child interactions in the pre-school period.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1920732
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2019 to Sun, 07/31/2022
Project Evaluator: 
Full Description: 

There is currently a gender gap in STEM fields, such that females participate at lower rates and have lower career attainment than their male counterparts. While much research has focused on gender differences in math attitudes, little work has explored how attitudes in a closely related STEM domain, spatial reasoning, may also contribute to the observed gender gap. The proposed research will characterize the acquisition of gender stereotypes in childhood in two key domains critical to success and participation in STEM fields: math and spatial skills. Recent evidence suggests that children acquire math gender stereotypes (i.e., the belief that "math is for boys") as early as 1st - 2nd grades, but less is known about children's attitudes about spatial abilities. This project will be one of the first to investigate the development and emergence of spatial gender stereotypes (and their relation to math gender stereotypes) in elementary school-aged children, and their impact on parent-child interactions in the pre-school period.

Eight behavioral studies involving 1290 children (Pre-K - 4th graders), 240 caregivers, and 180 adults will participate in studies that evaluate an integrated theoretical model of the relations between gender, gender stereotypes, attitudes, and abilities in the domains of math and space. In Series 1, studies will characterize the emergence of and assumptions behind spatial- and math- gender stereotypes in 1st - 4th graders, while determining how they may be acquired. In Series 2, studies will explore the real-world impacts of spatial-gender stereotypes on STEM participation and achievement in childhood. Lastly, Series 3 studies will explore the malleability of these stereotypes in the hopes of identifying ways to ameliorate their impact early in development. The project will provide training for doctoral graduate and undergraduate students. Moreover, this project will support new and ongoing collaborations with local children's museums, which facilitate interactions and communication with families, educators, and the public about the research findings. By being some of the first work to uncover the developmental origins and consequences of math and spatial stereotypes, this work may inform possible future interventions to reduce and/or eliminate the perpetuation of these stereotypes in children, long before they can have greater lifelong impacts.

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Early Emergence of Socioeconomic Disparities in Mathematical Understanding

This study will provide foundational knowledge about the activities and interactions in the home environment that drive the early emergence of math skills disparities related to SES.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1920545
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2019 to Wed, 08/31/2022
Project Evaluator: 
Full Description: 

The math skills of children from high income families have grown faster than those of children from middle- or low-income families resulting in a significant and persistent gap. These disparities emerge in preschool and are larger by the start of kindergarten. As children progress through school, the gap in math skills persists or even widens. Importantly, SES-related disparities in math skills have implications for long-term academic achievement and educational attainment, as well as access to STEM education and professions in adulthood. As such, there is an urgent need to identify the factors shaping early math development before children start formal schooling. This investigation will provide foundational knowledge about the activities and interactions in the home environment that drive the early emergence of math skills disparities related to SES. In the long term, findings from this work could inform home visitation programs and early care and education curricula aimed at strengthening the early math skills of children living in low resourced communities. The knowledge generated by this study has the potential to enhance equity in access to STEM education and professions for all children.

Using a longitudinal sequential study of two cohorts of socioeconomically diverse 30-month-olds (N = 320) and their parents, the proposed study will strengthen knowledge of the etiology of SES disparities in math skills by addressing three aims. First, it will examine associations between the home learning environment (HLE) and early math skills. Second, it will describe SES disparities in HLE and their implications for math learning. Third, it will test family stress and family culture as pathways through which SES shapes HLE and early math skills. Children will complete assessments of early math skills and other general cognitive abilities at age 30 months and again around 42-47 months. In addition to the child assessments at 30 months, in-home structured observations with a parent, parent surveys, and time diaries will measure the quantity and quality of children's opportunities for math learning at home. To measure family stress, parents will complete questionnaires assessing general stress as well as stress specifically related to performing and teaching math. To measure family culture, parents will complete questionnaires assessing their general and math-specific parenting beliefs and observations of family interactions will be conducted. This study will test whether domain-general and math-specific family stress and culture mediate the relation between HLE and SES. In sum, this study will make contributions to understanding the early emergence of economic disparities in early math skills. Theoretically, it will delineate whether domain-general or math-specific differences in HLE explain disparities in early math skills related to socioeconomic status. It will advance research by concurrently considering the roles of stress and culture in shaping disparities in children's opportunity to learn math in their early home environments. This project is funded by the EHR Core Research program, which emphasizes STEM education research that will generate foundational knowledge in the field.

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Teaching Science Outdoors: A Next Generation Approach for Advancing Elementary Science Teaching in Urban Communities

This project project is designed to enhance the capacity of elementary teachers in high-poverty urban communities for enacting Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)-aligned science approaches using the outdoors as part of their classroom. The goal of the project is to advance elementary teachers' pedagogical practices and determine how this affects cognitive and non-cognitive learning outcomes of their students, particularly those who are traditionally marginalized in science classrooms.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1907506
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Project Evaluator: 
Full Description: 

This project addresses a long-standing challenge in science education centered on providing meaningful science education opportunities to students living in communities of high poverty and attending under-resourced elementary schools. These students are significantly less likely to receive high-quality science learning opportunities and to be encouraged to engage in (rather than simply learn about) science. This Michigan State University research project is designed to enhance the capacity of elementary teachers in high-poverty urban communities for enacting Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)-aligned science approaches using the outdoors as part of their classroom. It builds on and advances prior outdoor education work for the current context of science education that requires elementary teachers to engage students in making sense of phenomena using next generation science and engineering practices. The goal of this project is to advance elementary teachers' pedagogical practices and determine how this affects cognitive and non-cognitive learning outcomes of their students, particularly those who are traditionally marginalized in science classrooms. It also will advance knowledge on ways to bridge informal and formal learning environments. To achieve these goals, the project will develop, enact and study a program that involves a scaffolded series of summer professional development sessions focused on outdoor learning and school year follow-up meetings and classroom-based coaching for elementary teachers and informal educators from two high-need districts.

Design-based research will be utilized to: 1) foster teacher practices and study how these develop over time, 2) work with teachers to measure student outcomes, and 3) determine what aspects of this formal/informal approach are productive, measures of student engagement and student learning artifacts--will be analyzed. The project will serve as a model for developing partnerships between informal science organizations, educators, and K-12 programs. Revised measures and outcomes of teacher practices and student learning; outdoor-focused lesson plans; cases illustrating how elementary teachers develop and enact NGSS-aligned outdoor lessons; a revised informal-formal theoretical model; and information about dissemination of products including facilitation guidelines and coaching approaches will be developed and disseminated.

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The School Gardeners' Southwest Desert Almanac: A Conference for Supporting, Sustaining, and Spreading Garden-Based Science Teaching

Focusing on the Southwest Desert ecoregion, this conference addresses the need for research on effective instructional methods that can be used to support students' science learning in school gardens. The conference will lead to the development of an ecoregional model for garden-based science teaching (GBST) that builds on regional ecological and cultural resources to engage teachers and students in richer and more relevant science learning experiences.

Award Number: 
1908886
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/15/2019 to Fri, 07/31/2020
Full Description: 

Garden-based science teaching (GBST) integrates formal and informal learning, provides teaching opportunities in a wide range of science topics (e.g., soil science, ecology, botany), and creates a place for those topics to be locally and culturally relevant. A proliferation of school gardens nationwide reveals a significant increase (42%) in the creation of school gardens between 2013-2015 (USDA, 2015). As students increasingly engage in science learning in school gardens, the demand for high-quality instruction also grows. However, much of the available research on school gardens emphasizes health and nutrition interventions, without also characterizing the instructional practices of science. This conference addresses the need for research on effective instructional methods that can be used to support students' science learning in school gardens. The conference will focus on the Southwest Desert ecoregion. The ecoregion focus is driven by the longstanding challenges of coordinating a national model of GBST across ecoregion differences, by concentrating on states and sites whose problems and opportunities reflect common ecoregion conditions. This conference will lead to development of an ecoregional model for GBST that builds on regional ecological and cultural resources to engage teachers and students in richer and more relevant science learning experiences.

This conference will organize and implement collaborative activities during and after a 2-1/2 day meeting in Arizona. It will involve 35 participants comprised of teachers (grades K-5), teacher educators, educational researchers, and science content specialists who collectively bring experience with science teaching in school gardens, culturally relevant pedagogy, traditional agricultural practices, and science practices. Conference activities will draw upon participatory design research methods to understand how, when, and why educational innovations work in practice. A key product of the conference and post-conference activities will be an ecoregion model of GBST as instantiated by The School Gardeners' Southwest Desert Almanac. The Almanac will be an online resource for information on GBST, collaboratively produced by practitioners and researchers during- and post-conference activity. This website will feature curated resources such as a multi-media set of case studies illustrating GBST instructional practices.

Fusing Equity and Whole-School STEM Models: A Conference Proposal

This project will plan, implement, and evaluate the outcomes of an invitational conference on the role of equity in whole-school STEM education models, particularly Inclusive STEM Schools (ISS), at the high school level.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1907751
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2019 to Fri, 07/31/2020
Project Evaluator: 
Full Description: 

Interest in whole-school STEM education models is rapidly expanding in the United States, but there is limited agreement on the essential features of effective STEM schools and a limited research base on effective practices. There are also concerns regarding equity issues associated with whole-school STEM models. This project will address these issues by planning, implementing, and evaluating the outcomes of an invitational conference on the role of equity in whole-school STEM education models, particularly Inclusive STEM Schools (ISS), at the high school level. The conference will include 25 invited participants who have expertise as researchers or practitioners in equity issues or whole-school STEM reform efforts. These participants will discuss how to: 1) Create a collective understanding among a community of stakeholders regarding the role of equity in whole-school STEM models, 2) Map, synthesize, and report the terrain of existing research around the role of equity in whole-school STEM and non-STEM models including both strengths and gaps in the research base, and 3) Identify central issues and questions that can guide future research in order to prioritize these topics and initiate productive collaborations among participants to pursue answers to critical questions. These discussions will result in two key outcomes: 1) A practitioner centered logic model that integrates equity into the design and implementation of STEM at the whole-school level, and 2) A research model that supports building an empirical understanding of the intersection between equity and whole-school STEM programs.

There are various models of STEM-centered schools, with the most significant difference across models being the enrollment criteria. This project will focus on Inclusive STEM Schools which have open enrollment and provide paths for all students to advanced learning or careers in STEM fields. Federal initiatives have promoted and supported expansion of these schools, but there is little research on the impacts of these schools, and even less research on the role of equity considerations on the design and implementation of these schools. This project will address the limited research base by focusing specifically on culturally relevant and culturally responsive programing for inclusive STEM schools and initiating a research agenda on the role of equity in designing inclusive STEM programs. The project will seek to identify effective practices, and document outcomes on diverse populations.

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Human Variance and Assessment for Learning Implications for Diverse Learners of STEM: A National Conference

The conference will attract thought leaders, policy makers, supervisors of practice and scholars of measurement science to be informed of emerging thought and developments and to discuss selected models for the implementation of new ways of generating and utilizing data from education tests.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1939192
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2019 to Mon, 08/31/2020
Full Description: 

The conference purpose is to stimulate a national conversation concerning the relationships between assessment, teaching and learning that include scholarly research and development of tests; members of city and state boards of education; officials from states and major school systems; policymakers; and representatives of teachers' associations and parents' associations. This conference aims to attract these important professionals has important co-sponsors like the Urban Institute. This national conference flows from the work of the Gordon Commission on the Future of Assessment for Education that addressed the advancement of achievement in STEM disciplines (PreK-12) for students who are underrepresented among high achieving students. This issue of advancement of underrepresented high achieving students has received little concentrated effort and a conference would help in providing greater understanding of this special concern, which includes a student in poverty in complexed family structures.

The conference will attract thought leaders, policy makers, supervisors of practice and scholars of measurement science to be informed of emerging thought and developments and to discuss selected models for the implementation of new ways of generating and utilizing data from education tests. The conference will stimulate national conversation and ultimately a market that demands educational assessments that inform and improve teaching and learning transactions. The conference will be organized around four conceptual and theoretical papers that focus on the knowledge base upon which six concurrent workshops will be based. The four papers are: (1) Human Diversity and Assessment; (2) The Limits of Test Bias and Its Corrections; (3) Towards an Assessment Science Capable of Informing and Improving Learning; and  (4) Assessment in the Service of Learning. The workshops will focus on models of pedagogical practice that show promise for informing and improving teaching and learning processes and their outcomes. These issues will be discussed by 11-15 expert presenters who understand student learning and the types of information gleaned from different types of assessments. The attention to URMs and their needs and contexts are prioritized in discussions surrounding measurement science and the integration of assessment. Several important issues that address understanding of student learning, and the relationship between the varieties of information concerning students that can be accessed through assessments are: (1) The importance of the broader and more productive use of educational testing to improve the learning of STEM subject matter and values; (2) Curriculum embedded assessment and the reduction in disparities in achievement by STEM learners from diverse social divisions; (3) Innovative procedures and programs for the use of data concerning learners and teaching and learning transactions in the teaching and learning of STEM with learners who are underrepresented among high achieving STEM learners.

Advancing Coherent and Equitable Systems of Science Education

This project will examine how partnerships among state science leaders, education researchers and education practitioners cultivate vertical coherence and equity in state science education.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1920249
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2019 to Mon, 07/31/2023
Full Description: 

This project will examine how partnerships among state science leaders, education researchers and education practitioners cultivate vertical coherence and equity in state science education. This is an important study because in most states, the student population is becoming more diverse, and states need help in finding ways to better serve schools and districts within their jurisdictions. Through this effort, state science leaders will participate in a networked improvement community model organized to develop and test state-level strategies. Specifically, the focus will be on the adaptation of instructional materials and formative assessment as linked policy strategies for aligning curriculum, instruction, and assessment and for relating instruction to the interests and histories of local communities. State science leaders and researchers will investigate how and under what conditions certain strategies support the emergence of coherent and equitable state systems of science education in which all students have opportunities to meet challenging new science standards. The project will build knowledge and theory about the conditions under which a network of state teams can promote coherent guidance for culturally-based instruction in local districts and schools. Together the partners will collaborate to diagnose current challenges to promoting coherence and equity and then develop knowledge and resources about conditions that promote coherence and equity by testing and studying strategies for cultivating it.

An iterative design-based research approach will be used to build foundational knowledge for the equitable implementation of the vision of science and engineering learning that integrates disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts working from a cultural perspective on learning. A multiple-case study will be used to collect data about the impact of the networked improvement community model on leadership development to effectively improve state efforts. Surveys and interviews will be used to gather information on co-designing efforts, use and adaptation of resources, and knowledge gained by state science leaders. Data will also be collected on political conditions and infrastructures of teamwork as potential facilitators and barriers to the development of strategic knowledge leadership. Analyses of data will identify patterns or configurations of conditions associated with growth in science leaders' strategic knowledge leadership related to equity. This technique will generate evidence-based claims for how and when supports and barriers matter for growth in strategic knowledge leadership for equity.

Ed+gineering: An Interdisciplinary Partnership Integrating Engineering into Elementary Teacher Preparation Programs

In this project, over 500 elementary education majors will team with engineering majors to teach engineering design to over 1,600 students from underrepresented groups. These standards-based lessons will emphasize student questioning, constructive student-to-student interactions, and engineering design processes, and they will be tailored to build from students' interests and strengths.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1908743
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2019 to Thu, 08/31/2023
Full Description: 

Engineering education, with its emphasis on developing creative solutions to relevant problems, is a promising approach to increasing elementary students' interest in scientific fields. Despite its potential, engineering education is often absent from elementary classes because many teachers feel underprepared to integrate it into their instruction. This project addresses this issue through an innovative approach to undergraduate elementary education programs. In this approach, called Ed+gineering, undergraduate elementary education majors team with undergraduate engineering majors to develop and teach engineering lessons to elementary students in out-of-school settings. In this project, over 500 elementary education majors will team with engineering majors to teach engineering design to over 1,600 students from underrepresented groups. These standards-based lessons will emphasize student questioning, constructive student-to-student interactions, and engineering design processes, and they will be tailored to build from students' interests and strengths. The research team will study whether Ed+gineering is correlated with positive outcomes for the elementary education majors. They will also study whether and how the elementary education majors subsequently provide engineering instruction during their first year of licensed teaching. This project will advance knowledge by resulting in a model for teacher education that has the potential to improve future elementary teachers' confidence and ability to teach engineering. In turn, more elementary students may have opportunities to experience engineering as they discover how innovative applications of science can be used to solve problems in the world around them.

Researchers at Old Dominion University will study whether a teacher preparation model is associated with positive outcomes for pre-service teachers while they are undergraduates and in their first year as professional teachers. Undergraduate elementary education majors and undergraduate engineering majors will work in interdisciplinary teams, comprised of four to six people, in up to three mandatory collegiate courses in their respective disciplinary programs. Each semester, these interdisciplinary teams will develop and teach a culturally responsive, engineering-based lesson with accompanying student materials during a field trip or after-school program attended by underrepresented students in fourth, fifth, or sixth grade. Using a quasi-experimental design with treatment and matched comparison groups, researchers will identify whether the teacher preparation model is associated with increased knowledge of engineering, beliefs about engineering integration, self-efficacy for engineering integration, and intention to integrate engineering, as determined by existing validated instruments as well as by new instruments that will be adapted and validated by the research team. Additionally, the researchers will follow program participants using surveys, interviews, and classroom observations to determine whether and how they provide engineering instruction during their first year as licensed teachers. Constant comparative analyses of these data will indicate barriers and enablers to engineering instruction among beginning teachers who participated in the Ed+gineering program. This project will result in an empirically-based model of teacher preparation, a predictive statistical model of engineering integration, field-tested engineering lesson plans, and validated instruments that will be disseminated widely to stakeholders.

Strengthening STEM Teaching in Native American Serving Schools through Long-Term, Culturally Responsive Professional Development

This project will explore how a nationally implemented professional development model is applied in two distinct Indigenous communities, the impact the model has on teacher practice in Native-serving classrooms, and the model's capacity to promote the integration of culturally responsive approaches to STEM teaching.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1908464
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2019 to Thu, 08/31/2023
Project Evaluator: 
Full Description: 

Although there is a long-established body of knowledge about effective professional development for STEM teachers, very little of it has been applied and studied with teachers in Native American-serving school districts. This project will explore how a nationally implemented professional development model is applied in two distinct Indigenous communities, the impact the model has on teacher practice in Native-serving classrooms, and the model's capacity to promote the integration of culturally responsive approaches to STEM teaching. This project will substantially grow the data and knowledge available within this unique context, which is critical given the persistent gaps in educational achievement and STEM career participation among Indigenous people in the U.S. K-12 teachers will participate in an 8-month cohort designed to increase their STEM content knowledge and facilitate their efforts to develop academically rigorous, culturally responsive STEM instructional units for use in their classrooms. The project will add to our knowledge about the transferability of a nationally-implemented professional development model within two specific Indigenous contexts, and it will grow our knowledge about how STEM professional development impacts teacher practice. Finally, the project will provide concrete examples and knowledge about the ways culturally responsive approaches to STEM professional development, curriculum development, and teacher practice are taken up in two distinct Native-student-serving contexts.

This project includes the development and implementation of professional development that is long-term, teacher-driven, collaborative across grade levels and content areas, and facilitated by university faculty with STEM expertise. The research will follow a collective case study methodology in order to establish a robust and nuanced understanding of (1) how a national professional development model operates within two specific and distinct Indigenous contexts; (2) how a professional development model impacts teachers' STEM instructional practice in Native-serving schools; and (3) how teachers in Native-serving schools engage culturally responsive approaches to STEM curriculum development and STEM instructional practice. Data will include interviews and focus groups with participating teachers, university faculty, and other stakeholders, classroom observations and "Scoop Notebook" artifacts of teacher practice, and the teacher-developed STEM instructional units. Data will be iteratively coded with a combination of open and focused coding using a constant comparative method with a specific emphasis on identifying the culturally responsive elements present across the data sources. Individual and cross-case comparisons will be conducted to reveal broader themes that address the research questions. Results and products will be disseminated to researchers, practitioners, and community members through peer-reviewed publications, conference presentations, annual partnership meetings, and posting of the teacher developed instructional units to a web-based, freely accessible clearing house.

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Supporting Students' Science Content Knowledge through Project-based Inquiry

This project will address STEM learning through classroom implementation at two project partner schools in North Carolina, one urban and the other rural, with culturally diverse student populations. The project offers high school students the opportunity to be immersed in science content through engaging in globally-relevant learner-centered activities.

Project Email: 
Award Number: 
1907895
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2019 to Sat, 07/31/2021
Project Evaluator: 
Full Description: 

The Project-Based Inquiry (PBI) Global initiative will address STEM learning through classroom implementation at two project partner schools in North Carolina, one urban and the other rural, with culturally diverse student populations. Both are innovative public high schools implementing the Early College High School model, preparing diverse students from populations underrepresented in STEM fields for college success. Because of the synergistic interaction of theory and practice, the project will produce substantial advances in the development of improved inquiry-based learning materials and research on the impact of these materials on students and teachers. The project offers high school students the opportunity to be immersed in science content through engaging in globally-relevant learner-centered activities. The following three research questions will be addressed: 1) How does inquiry through the PBI Global process support student science content knowledge? 2) How can students' motivation and engagement be characterized after participating in the PBI Global process? 3) To what degree do teachers' attitudes toward inquiry-based pedagogies change as a result of PBI Global professional development?

Project-Based Inquiry (PBI) Global responds to the need for research-informed and field-tested products with iterative development and implementation of a globally relevant, inquiry-based STEM curriculum. The project focuses on developing 9th grade student physical, biological, and environmental science content knowledge and science and engineering practices through the topics of global water and sanitation issues. Factors influencing student motivation and engagement, as well as teacher attitudes toward inquiry-based pedagogies will be investigated. The project will use a Design-Based Research (DBR) approach to develop and refine instructional materials and teacher professional development for the existing interdisciplinary PBI Global initiative. A mixed-methods research convergent parallel design will be used to explore the effects of the classroom implementation on student and teacher outcomes.

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