Diversity

Supporting Teachers to Develop Equitable Mathematics Instruction Through Rubric-Based Coaching (Collaborative Research: Hill)

This project brings together a successful mathematics rubric-based coaching model (MQI Coaching) and an empirically developed observation tool focused on equity-focused instructional practices, the Equity and Access Rubrics for Mathematics Instruction (EAR-MI). The project measures the effects of the coaching model on teachers' beliefs and instructional practices and on students' mathematical achievement and sense of belonging in mathematics.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2100961
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2021 to Sun, 08/31/2025
Full Description: 

Creating supportive middle school mathematics learning spaces that foster students' self-efficacy and mathematics learning is a critical need in the United States. This need is particularly urgent for mathematics classrooms with students who have been historically marginalized in such spaces. While many instructional improvement efforts have focused on broadening access to mathematical ideas, fewer efforts have paid explicit attention to the ways instructional practices may serve to marginalize students. Supporting teachers in identifying and refining their equitable mathematics instructional practices is a persistent challenge. This project brings together a successful mathematics rubric-based coaching model (MQI Coaching) and an empirically developed observation tool focused on equity-focused instructional practices, the Equity and Access Rubrics for Mathematics Instruction (EAR-MI). The project's work integrates the EAR-MI rubrics into the MQI Coaching model with 24 middle grades mathematics coaches supporting 72 teachers at grades 5-8. The project measures the effects of the coaching model on teachers' beliefs and instructional practices and on students' mathematical achievement and sense of belonging in mathematics. The project also investigates how teachers' attitudes and beliefs impact their participation and what teachers take away from engagement with the coaching model.

The project makes use of a delayed-treatment experimental design to investigate effects on teacher beliefs and practices and student achievement and sense of belonging. A cohort of 14 coaches are randomly selected to participate in the coaching in Years 2 and 3, with the remaining 10 coaches assigned to a business-as-usual model in Year 2 and engaging in the training in Year 3. Coaches engage in a 4-day summer training to become acquainted with the model with coaching cycles and follow-up meetings during the school year. Each coach will engage teachers in 8-10 coaching cycles in treatment years. Data on the nature of the coaching includes logs and surveys from the coaches. Teachers submit surveys related to their beliefs and practices and two lessons each at the start and end of the academic year for analysis. Student assessment data, course grades, and administrative data, combined with survey data from students on classroom belonging and perceptions of ability and confidence in mathematics, are used to describe student outcomes. Teacher outcomes are captured through the analysis of classroom video, surveys about ethnic-racial identity and racial attitudes, beliefs about students and instruction, and beliefs about and efficacy for culturally responsive teaching. The project uses a set of survey measures with established reliability and validity, adapting some instruments to include specific indicators related to the equity and access rubrics. Analysis of the data uses a multi-level model accounting for the clustering of teachers within schools and students within classrooms and schools.

Supporting Teachers to Develop Equitable Mathematics Instruction Through Rubric-based Coaching (Collaborative Research: Litke)

This project brings together a successful mathematics rubric-based coaching model (MQI Coaching) and an empirically developed observation tool focused on equity-focused instructional practices, the Equity and Access Rubrics for Mathematics Instruction (EAR-MI). The project measures the effects of the coaching model on teachers' beliefs and instructional practices and on students' mathematical achievement and sense of belonging in mathematics.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2100793
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2021 to Sun, 08/31/2025
Full Description: 

Creating supportive middle school mathematics learning spaces that foster students' self-efficacy and mathematics learning is a critical need in the United States. This need is particularly urgent for mathematics classrooms with students who have been historically marginalized in such spaces. While many instructional improvement efforts have focused on broadening access to mathematical ideas, fewer efforts have paid explicit attention to the ways instructional practices may serve to marginalize students. Supporting teachers in identifying and refining their equitable mathematics instructional practices is a persistent challenge. This project brings together a successful mathematics rubric-based coaching model (MQI Coaching) and an empirically developed observation tool focused on equity-focused instructional practices, the Equity and Access Rubrics for Mathematics Instruction (EAR-MI). The project's work integrates the EAR-MI rubrics into the MQI Coaching model with 24 middle grades mathematics coaches supporting 72 teachers at grades 5-8. The project measures the effects of the coaching model on teachers' beliefs and instructional practices and on students' mathematical achievement and sense of belonging in mathematics. The project also investigates how teachers' attitudes and beliefs impact their participation and what teachers take away from engagement with the coaching model.

The project makes use of a delayed-treatment experimental design to investigate effects on teacher beliefs and practices and student achievement and sense of belonging. A cohort of 14 coaches are randomly selected to participate in the coaching in Years 2 and 3, with the remaining 10 coaches assigned to a business-as-usual model in Year 2 and engaging in the training in Year 3. Coaches engage in a 4-day summer training to become acquainted with the model with coaching cycles and follow-up meetings during the school year. Each coach will engage teachers in 8-10 coaching cycles in treatment years. Data on the nature of the coaching includes logs and surveys from the coaches. Teachers submit surveys related to their beliefs and practices and two lessons each at the start and end of the academic year for analysis. Student assessment data, course grades, and administrative data, combined with survey data from students on classroom belonging and perceptions of ability and confidence in mathematics, are used to describe student outcomes. Teacher outcomes are captured through the analysis of classroom video, surveys about ethnic-racial identity and racial attitudes, beliefs about students and instruction, and beliefs about and efficacy for culturally responsive teaching. The project uses a set of survey measures with established reliability and validity, adapting some instruments to include specific indicators related to the equity and access rubrics. Analysis of the data uses a multi-level model accounting for the clustering of teachers within schools and students within classrooms and schools.

Supporting Teachers to Develop Equitable Mathematics Instruction Through Rubric-based Coaching (Collaborative Research: Wilson)

This project brings together a successful mathematics rubric-based coaching model (MQI Coaching) and an empirically developed observation tool focused on equity-focused instructional practices, the Equity and Access Rubrics for Mathematics Instruction (EAR-MI). The project measures the effects of the coaching model on teachers' beliefs and instructional practices and on students' mathematical achievement and sense of belonging in mathematics.

Award Number: 
2100830
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2021 to Sun, 08/31/2025
Full Description: 

Creating supportive middle school mathematics learning spaces that foster students' self-efficacy and mathematics learning is a critical need in the United States. This need is particularly urgent for mathematics classrooms with students who have been historically marginalized in such spaces. While many instructional improvement efforts have focused on broadening access to mathematical ideas, fewer efforts have paid explicit attention to the ways instructional practices may serve to marginalize students. Supporting teachers in identifying and refining their equitable mathematics instructional practices is a persistent challenge. This project brings together a successful mathematics rubric-based coaching model (MQI Coaching) and an empirically developed observation tool focused on equity-focused instructional practices, the Equity and Access Rubrics for Mathematics Instruction (EAR-MI). The project's work integrates the EAR-MI rubrics into the MQI Coaching model with 24 middle grades mathematics coaches supporting 72 teachers at grades 5-8. The project measures the effects of the coaching model on teachers' beliefs and instructional practices and on students' mathematical achievement and sense of belonging in mathematics. The project also investigates how teachers' attitudes and beliefs impact their participation and what teachers take away from engagement with the coaching model.

The project makes use of a delayed-treatment experimental design to investigate effects on teacher beliefs and practices and student achievement and sense of belonging. A cohort of 14 coaches are randomly selected to participate in the coaching in Years 2 and 3, with the remaining 10 coaches assigned to a business-as-usual model in Year 2 and engaging in the training in Year 3. Coaches engage in a 4-day summer training to become acquainted with the model with coaching cycles and follow-up meetings during the school year. Each coach will engage teachers in 8-10 coaching cycles in treatment years. Data on the nature of the coaching includes logs and surveys from the coaches. Teachers submit surveys related to their beliefs and practices and two lessons each at the start and end of the academic year for analysis. Student assessment data, course grades, and administrative data, combined with survey data from students on classroom belonging and perceptions of ability and confidence in mathematics, are used to describe student outcomes. Teacher outcomes are captured through the analysis of classroom video, surveys about ethnic-racial identity and racial attitudes, beliefs about students and instruction, and beliefs about and efficacy for culturally responsive teaching. The project uses a set of survey measures with established reliability and validity, adapting some instruments to include specific indicators related to the equity and access rubrics. Analysis of the data uses a multi-level model accounting for the clustering of teachers within schools and students within classrooms and schools.

Supporting Teacher Understanding of Emergent Computational Thinking in Early Elementary Students

This project explores how to help teachers identify and support early elementary children’s emergent computational thinking. The project will engage researchers, professional development providers, and early elementary teachers (K-2) in a collaborative research and development process to design a scalable professional development experience for grade K-2 teachers.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101547
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2021 to Sat, 08/31/2024
Full Description: 

There is an increasing focus and interest in teaching computer science and computational thinking in early elementary school. The project will engage researchers, professional development providers, and early elementary teachers (K-2) in a collaborative research and development process to design a scalable professional development experience for grade K-2 teachers. The project will field test and conduct research on the artifacts, facilitation strategies, and modes of interaction that effectively prepare K-2 teachers to learn about their students’ emergent use of computational thinking strategies. The teachers will collaborate using an online platform for sharing resources, and the project will also study how the online platform can help to reach and support more teachers. The teachers’ learning will be supported by instructional coaches who will help the teachers to integrate computer science into their teaching, and to interpret evidence of their students’ understanding of computational thinking.

The project explores how to help teachers identify and support early elementary children’s emergent computational thinking. The professional learning model for teachers includes a community of practice supported by an online platform and a coach with expertise in computational thinking. The work leverages models for professional development in early grades mathematics. The project focuses on creating systems and conditions for scalable professional learning including coherence, coaching, teacher networks, and engagement with school and district leadership. The research questions are: (1) What kind of professional development and guidance do teachers need to identify and support emergent computational thinking development in young students’ language and work process? (2) What kind of professional development and guidance do teachers need to identify emergent computational thinking development in young students’ work products? (3) How can a scalable professional learning system help teachers understand the development of emergent computational thinking in K-2 students? The teachers will develop lessons, use them with students, and reflect about their work with the coach and the other teachers in their community of practice. The data collection and analysis include interviews, surveys, observations, and documentation from the online platform to understand teachers’ professional learning and development.

Investigating Barriers and Strategies to Increase HBCU Participation in STEM Education Research

This project will investigate the challenges, needs, and support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to succeed in applying for educational research support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), in particular the Division of Research on Learning in Informal and Formal Settings (DRL). The project will investigate what changes and/or supports would contribute to significantly increasing the number of applications and successful grant awards for STEM educational research project proposed by HBCUs.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2131762
Funding Period: 
Sun, 08/15/2021 to Mon, 07/31/2023
Full Description: 

HBCUs are critical to producing a diverse and inclusive workforce as they graduate a disproportionate number of African American future STEM workers and STEM leaders. Although the National Science Foundation is fully committed to diversity and inclusion, there has been little research to determine why Historically Black Colleges and Universities are not fully participating in the NSF STEM educational research opportunities. The project will investigate the challenges, needs and support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to succeed in applying for educational research support from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Participants will be recruited from 96 HBCUs that are eligible to apply for such funding and will include the wide range of college and university administration and faculty that are involved in the preparation of research projects and related applications for research funding. The investigation will focus primarily on the Division of Research on Learning in Informal and Formal Settings (DRL) within NSF. The investigation will: 1) determine the submission rate and funding success rate of HBCUs within the DRL funding mechanisms; 2) determine why a greater proportion of HBCUs are not successful in their applications of research or do not apply; and 3) determine what factors, such as institutional support, research expertise, and professional development, could lead to a larger number of research proposals from HBCUs and greater success in obtaining funding. The project has the potential to have significant influence on the national educational and research agenda by providing empirical findings on the best approach to support and encourage HBCU participation in DRL educational research funding programs.

This exploratory research project will investigate what changes and/or supports would contribute to significantly increasing the number of applications and successful grant awards for STEM educational research project proposed by HBCUs. The project has the following research questions: (1) What factors discourage participation of HBCUs in the DRL funding mechanisms and what are the best practices to encourage participation? (2) What approaches have been successful for HBCUs to obtain DRL funding? (3) What dynamic capabilities are necessary for HBCU researchers to successfully submit STEM proposals to NSF? (4) What changes would be helpful to reduce or eliminate any barriers for HBCU applications for DRL educational research funding and what supports, such as professional development, would contribute to greater success in obtaining funding? Participants will be recruited from the 96 eligible HBCUs and will include both individuals from within the administration (e.g., Office Sponsored Programs, Deans, VP, etc.) as well as from within the faculty. The research will collect variety of quantitative and qualitative data designed to support a comprehensive analysis of factors addressing the research questions. The project will develop research findings and recommendations that are relevant to faculty, administrators, and policymakers for improving HBCU participation in research funding opportunities. Results of project research will be widely disseminated to HBCUs and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) through a project website, peer reviewed journals, newsletters, and conference presentations.

Understanding STEM Teaching through Integrated Contexts in Everyday Life (Collaborative Research: Marco-Bujosa)

Increased focus on school accountability and teacher performance measures have resulted in STEM instruction that emphasizes content and procedural knowledge over critical thinking and real-world applications. Yet, critical thinking and application are essential in developing functional scientific literacy skills among students. This need is perhaps most pressing in economically depressed urban settings. One strategy to promote STEM engagement and learning is to make clear and meaningful connections between STEM concepts, principles, and STEM-related issues relevant to the learner.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101144
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/01/2021 to Mon, 06/30/2025
Full Description: 

Increased focus on school accountability and teacher performance measures have resulted in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) instruction that emphasizes content and procedural knowledge over critical thinking and real-world applications. Yet, critical thinking and application are essential in developing functional scientific literacy skills among students. This need is perhaps most pressing in economically depressed urban settings. One strategy to promote STEM engagement and learning is to make clear and meaningful connections between STEM concepts, principles, and STEM-related issues relevant to the learner. Socioscientific issues (SSI) can provide a powerful avenue for promoting the desired kinds of engagement. SSI are debatable and ill-defined problems that have a basis in science but necessarily include moral and ethical choices. SSI for economically disadvantaged, culturally diverse students in urban settings might include, for example, lead paint contamination, poor water or air quality, or the existence of “food deserts.” By integrating locally relevant SSI with the goals of social justice, the Social Justice STEM Pedagogies (SJSP) framework the project uses is intended to support students to use their scientific expertise to be agents of change. SJSP can be potentially transformative for teachers, students, schools, and the communities in which students live. For SJSP to effectively promote STEM learning, however, teachers must learn how to integrate STEM-concepts and practices into the various real-world SSI present in their students’ environment. This collaborative project is designed to implement and evaluate a comprehensive professional development plan for grades 7 –12 STEM teachers from economically disadvantaged school districts in Philadelphia and surrounding areas. Teachers will develop ways to incorporate SSI into their instruction that are grounded in standards to foster students’ STEM engagement. The instructional practices enacted by teachers will enhance students’ STEM literacy while utilizing their own knowledge and culture in solving complex and ethically challenging STEM issues, thus promoting students’ abilities to be change agents.

This collaborative research project involves Arcadia University, Mercyhurst University, LaSalle University, Villanova University, and St. Joseph’s University. It is designed to investigate the effectiveness of a professional development (PD) program for STEM teachers to develop their pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) in teaching SSI and SJSP. Over four years, three cohorts of 25 grades 7-12 teachers will participate in about 200 hours of PD. The SSI and SJSP encompass authentic, complex real-world, STEM-based issues that are directly related to the inequities experienced by students and their communities that students can engage with in the classroom through the use of inquiry-based learning strategies. By promoting students’ engagement in and awareness of the relevance of STEM in everyday life, teacher participants in this PD will foster STEM learning, especially among students who have been historically marginalized from STEM disciplines, and who are from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The research plan is designed to reveal elements of the PD program that are most effective in supporting teachers’ increased capacity to design and implement units of study that incorporate scientific, social, and discursive elements of SSI. Using predominantly qualitative methods, other outcomes include how teachers’ PCK change towards teaching with SSI/SJSP; what factors support and inhibit teacher’s abilities to promote SSI/SJSP; and how justice-centered STEM lessons help students to develop moral and ethical reasoning, scientific skepticism, STEM inquiry/modeling, and SSI discourse/argumentation.

Understanding STEM Teaching through Integrated Contexts in Everyday Life (Collaborative Research: Johnson)

Increased focus on school accountability and teacher performance measures have resulted in STEM instruction that emphasizes content and procedural knowledge over critical thinking and real-world applications. Yet, critical thinking and application are essential in developing functional scientific literacy skills among students. This need is perhaps most pressing in economically depressed urban settings. One strategy to promote STEM engagement and learning is to make clear and meaningful connections between STEM concepts, principles, and STEM-related issues relevant to the learner.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101287
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/01/2021 to Mon, 06/30/2025
Full Description: 

Increased focus on school accountability and teacher performance measures have resulted in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) instruction that emphasizes content and procedural knowledge over critical thinking and real-world applications. Yet, critical thinking and application are essential in developing functional scientific literacy skills among students. This need is perhaps most pressing in economically depressed urban settings. One strategy to promote STEM engagement and learning is to make clear and meaningful connections between STEM concepts, principles, and STEM-related issues relevant to the learner. Socioscientific issues (SSI) can provide a powerful avenue for promoting the desired kinds of engagement. SSI are debatable and ill-defined problems that have a basis in science but necessarily include moral and ethical choices. SSI for economically disadvantaged, culturally diverse students in urban settings might include, for example, lead paint contamination, poor water or air quality, or the existence of “food deserts.” By integrating locally relevant SSI with the goals of social justice, the Social Justice STEM Pedagogies (SJSP) framework the project uses is intended to support students to use their scientific expertise to be agents of change. SJSP can be potentially transformative for teachers, students, schools, and the communities in which students live. For SJSP to effectively promote STEM learning, however, teachers must learn how to integrate STEM-concepts and practices into the various real-world SSI present in their students’ environment. This collaborative project is designed to implement and evaluate a comprehensive professional development plan for grades 7 –12 STEM teachers from economically disadvantaged school districts in Philadelphia and surrounding areas. Teachers will develop ways to incorporate SSI into their instruction that are grounded in standards to foster students’ STEM engagement. The instructional practices enacted by teachers will enhance students’ STEM literacy while utilizing their own knowledge and culture in solving complex and ethically challenging STEM issues, thus promoting students’ abilities to be change agents.

This collaborative research project involves Arcadia University, Mercyhurst University, LaSalle University, Villanova University, and St. Joseph’s University. It is designed to investigate the effectiveness of a professional development (PD) program for STEM teachers to develop their pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) in teaching SSI and SJSP. Over four years, three cohorts of 25 grades 7-12 teachers will participate in about 200 hours of PD. The SSI and SJSP encompass authentic, complex real-world, STEM-based issues that are directly related to the inequities experienced by students and their communities that students can engage with in the classroom through the use of inquiry-based learning strategies. By promoting students’ engagement in and awareness of the relevance of STEM in everyday life, teacher participants in this PD will foster STEM learning, especially among students who have been historically marginalized from STEM disciplines, and who are from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The research plan is designed to reveal elements of the PD program that are most effective in supporting teachers’ increased capacity to design and implement units of study that incorporate scientific, social, and discursive elements of SSI. Using predominantly qualitative methods, other outcomes include how teachers’ PCK change towards teaching with SSI/SJSP; what factors support and inhibit teacher’s abilities to promote SSI/SJSP; and how justice-centered STEM lessons help students to develop moral and ethical reasoning, scientific skepticism, STEM inquiry/modeling, and SSI discourse/argumentation.

Understanding STEM Teaching through Integrated Contexts in Everyday Life (Collaborative Research: Richardson)

Increased focus on school accountability and teacher performance measures have resulted in STEM instruction that emphasizes content and procedural knowledge over critical thinking and real-world applications. Yet, critical thinking and application are essential in developing functional scientific literacy skills among students. This need is perhaps most pressing in economically depressed urban settings. One strategy to promote STEM engagement and learning is to make clear and meaningful connections between STEM concepts, principles, and STEM-related issues relevant to the learner.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101324
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/01/2021 to Mon, 06/30/2025
Full Description: 

Increased focus on school accountability and teacher performance measures have resulted in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) instruction that emphasizes content and procedural knowledge over critical thinking and real-world applications. Yet, critical thinking and application are essential in developing functional scientific literacy skills among students. This need is perhaps most pressing in economically depressed urban settings. One strategy to promote STEM engagement and learning is to make clear and meaningful connections between STEM concepts, principles, and STEM-related issues relevant to the learner. Socioscientific issues (SSI) can provide a powerful avenue for promoting the desired kinds of engagement. SSI are debatable and ill-defined problems that have a basis in science but necessarily include moral and ethical choices. SSI for economically disadvantaged, culturally diverse students in urban settings might include, for example, lead paint contamination, poor water or air quality, or the existence of “food deserts.” By integrating locally relevant SSI with the goals of social justice, the Social Justice STEM Pedagogies (SJSP) framework the project uses is intended to support students to use their scientific expertise to be agents of change. SJSP can be potentially transformative for teachers, students, schools, and the communities in which students live. For SJSP to effectively promote STEM learning, however, teachers must learn how to integrate STEM-concepts and practices into the various real-world SSI present in their students’ environment. This collaborative project is designed to implement and evaluate a comprehensive professional development plan for grades 7 –12 STEM teachers from economically disadvantaged school districts in Philadelphia and surrounding areas. Teachers will develop ways to incorporate SSI into their instruction that are grounded in standards to foster students’ STEM engagement. The instructional practices enacted by teachers will enhance students’ STEM literacy while utilizing their own knowledge and culture in solving complex and ethically challenging STEM issues, thus promoting students’ abilities to be change agents.

This collaborative research project involves Arcadia University, Mercyhurst University, LaSalle University, Villanova University, and St. Joseph’s University. It is designed to investigate the effectiveness of a professional development (PD) program for STEM teachers to develop their pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) in teaching SSI and SJSP. Over four years, three cohorts of 25 grades 7-12 teachers will participate in about 200 hours of PD. The SSI and SJSP encompass authentic, complex real-world, STEM-based issues that are directly related to the inequities experienced by students and their communities that students can engage with in the classroom through the use of inquiry-based learning strategies. By promoting students’ engagement in and awareness of the relevance of STEM in everyday life, teacher participants in this PD will foster STEM learning, especially among students who have been historically marginalized from STEM disciplines, and who are from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The research plan is designed to reveal elements of the PD program that are most effective in supporting teachers’ increased capacity to design and implement units of study that incorporate scientific, social, and discursive elements of SSI. Using predominantly qualitative methods, other outcomes include how teachers’ PCK change towards teaching with SSI/SJSP; what factors support and inhibit teacher’s abilities to promote SSI/SJSP; and how justice-centered STEM lessons help students to develop moral and ethical reasoning, scientific skepticism, STEM inquiry/modeling, and SSI discourse/argumentation.

Understanding STEM Teaching through Integrated Contexts in Everyday Life (Collaborative Research: Macalalag)

Increased focus on school accountability and teacher performance measures have resulted in STEM instruction that emphasizes content and procedural knowledge over critical thinking and real-world applications. Yet, critical thinking and application are essential in developing functional scientific literacy skills among students. This need is perhaps most pressing in economically depressed urban settings. One strategy to promote STEM engagement and learning is to make clear and meaningful connections between STEM concepts, principles, and STEM-related issues relevant to the learner.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101395
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/01/2021 to Mon, 06/30/2025
Full Description: 

Increased focus on school accountability and teacher performance measures have resulted in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) instruction that emphasizes content and procedural knowledge over critical thinking and real-world applications. Yet, critical thinking and application are essential in developing functional scientific literacy skills among students. This need is perhaps most pressing in economically depressed urban settings. One strategy to promote STEM engagement and learning is to make clear and meaningful connections between STEM concepts, principles, and STEM-related issues relevant to the learner. Socioscientific issues (SSI) can provide a powerful avenue for promoting the desired kinds of engagement. SSI are debatable and ill-defined problems that have a basis in science but necessarily include moral and ethical choices. SSI for economically disadvantaged, culturally diverse students in urban settings might include, for example, lead paint contamination, poor water or air quality, or the existence of “food deserts.” By integrating locally relevant SSI with the goals of social justice, the Social Justice STEM Pedagogies (SJSP) framework the project uses is intended to support students to use their scientific expertise to be agents of change. SJSP can be potentially transformative for teachers, students, schools, and the communities in which students live. For SJSP to effectively promote STEM learning, however, teachers must learn how to integrate STEM-concepts and practices into the various real-world SSI present in their students’ environment. This collaborative project is designed to implement and evaluate a comprehensive professional development plan for grades 7 –12 STEM teachers from economically disadvantaged school districts in Philadelphia and surrounding areas. Teachers will develop ways to incorporate SSI into their instruction that are grounded in standards to foster students’ STEM engagement. The instructional practices enacted by teachers will enhance students’ STEM literacy while utilizing their own knowledge and culture in solving complex and ethically challenging STEM issues, thus promoting students’ abilities to be change agents.

This collaborative research project involves Arcadia University, Mercyhurst University, LaSalle University, Villanova University, and St. Joseph’s University. It is designed to investigate the effectiveness of a professional development (PD) program for STEM teachers to develop their pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) in teaching SSI and SJSP. Over four years, three cohorts of 25 grades 7-12 teachers will participate in about 200 hours of PD. The SSI and SJSP encompass authentic, complex real-world, STEM-based issues that are directly related to the inequities experienced by students and their communities that students can engage with in the classroom through the use of inquiry-based learning strategies. By promoting students’ engagement in and awareness of the relevance of STEM in everyday life, teacher participants in this PD will foster STEM learning, especially among students who have been historically marginalized from STEM disciplines, and who are from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The research plan is designed to reveal elements of the PD program that are most effective in supporting teachers’ increased capacity to design and implement units of study that incorporate scientific, social, and discursive elements of SSI. Using predominantly qualitative methods, other outcomes include how teachers’ PCK change towards teaching with SSI/SJSP; what factors support and inhibit teacher’s abilities to promote SSI/SJSP; and how justice-centered STEM lessons help students to develop moral and ethical reasoning, scientific skepticism, STEM inquiry/modeling, and SSI discourse/argumentation.

Teacher Collaborative for Culturally Relevant Mathematics and Science Curricula

Culturally relevant pedagogy (CRP) is a framework that puts students and their experiences at the center of teaching. Culturally relevant math and science teaching (CRMST), more specifically, describes equitable science and math teaching practices that support student success in schools. This project involves elementary teachers in a 3-day conference focusing on CRP and CRMST. The conference is designed to form a teacher collaborative to share experiences and resources, learn from one another, and create their own culturally relevant science and math units for use in their classrooms.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101532
Funding Period: 
Tue, 06/15/2021 to Tue, 05/31/2022
Full Description: 

To be effective, teachers need a strong theoretical understanding of the frameworks that support success for all students, especially those students historically underserved by schools. Culturally relevant pedagogy (CRP) is a framework that puts students and their experiences at the center of teaching. Culturally relevant math and science teaching (CRMST), more specifically, describes equitable science and math teaching practices that support student success in schools. This project involves elementary teachers in a 3-day conference focusing on CRP and CRMST. The conference is designed to form a teacher collaborative to share experiences and resources, learn from one another, and create their own culturally relevant science and math units for use in their classrooms. To boost teacher learning, the conference includes a variety of workshops and activities led by local and national content area experts, teacher educators, and STEM teacher-leaders who use culturally relevant science/math curricula in their classrooms. In the year following the conference, teachers will be strategically supported to continue designing and implementing CRMST through monthly teacher collaborative meetings and in-classroom support. At the end of the project year, teachers will participate in a public curriculum fair that showcases their projects and allows them to share what they have learned.

The research component of this project will use culturally relevant pedagogy and a framework that describes trajectories of development for CRMST as theoretical and analytical frameworks. In particular, the latter framework describes levels of engagement with key ideas from CRP and attends to, for example, whether teachers engage with transformative decision making, grapple with issues from an individual or structural perspective, and recognize tensions and discomfort in their learnings about CRMST. The research will focus on learning more about how teachers benefit from collaborative opportunities and how they develop understandings about CRMST.  Data sources will include: culturally relevant mathematics and science curricula (CR-MASC) units, classroom observations, field notes, and surveys collected from the teacher participants. Findings about practices and structures that support teachers’ movement towards CRMST, as well as exemplary CR-MASC units, will contribute to research and practice in teacher education aimed at improving science and math learning experiences for marginalized learners.

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