English Language Learners

TRUmath and Lesson Study: Supporting Fundamental and Sustainable Improvement in High School Mathematics Teaching (Collaborative Research: Donovan)

Given the changes in instructional practices needed to support high quality mathematics teaching and learning based on college and career readiness standards, school districts need to provide professional learning opportunities for teachers that support those changes. The project is based on the TRUmath framework and will build a coherent and scalable plan for providing these opportunities in high school mathematics departments, a traditionally difficult unit of organizational change.

Award Number: 
1503342
Funding Period: 
Wed, 07/01/2015 to Sun, 06/30/2019
Full Description: 

Given the changes in instructional practices needed to support high quality mathematics teaching and learning based on college and career readiness standards, school districts need to provide professional learning opportunities for teachers that support those changes. The project will build a coherent and scalable plan for providing these opportunities in high school mathematics departments, a traditionally difficult unit of organizational change. Based on the TRUmath framework, characterizing the five essential dimensions of powerful mathematics classrooms, the project brings together a focus on curricular materials that support teaching, Lesson Study protocols and materials, and a professional learning community-based professional development model. The project will design and revise professional development and coaching guides and lesson study mathematical resources built around the curricular materials. The project will study changes in instructional practice and impact on student learning. By documenting the supports used in the Oakland Unified School District where the research and development will be conducted, the resources can be used by other districts and in similar work by other research-practice partnerships.

This project hypothesizes that the quality of classroom instruction can be defined by five dimensions - quality of the mathematics; cognitive demand of the tasks; access to mathematics content in the classroom; student agency, authority, and identity; and uses of assessment. The project will use an iterative design process to develop and refine a suite of tool, including a conversation guide to support productive dialogue between teachers and coaches, support materials for building site-based professional learning materials, and formative assessment lessons using Lesson Study as a mechanism to enact reforms of these dimensions. The study will use a pre-post design and natural variation to student the relationships between these dimensions, changes in teachers' instructional practice, and student learning using hierarchical linear modeling with random intercept models with covariates. Qualitative of the changes in teachers' instructional practices will be based on coding of observations based on the TRUmath framework. The study will also use qualitative analysis techniques to identify themes from surveys and interviews on factors that promote or hinder the effectiveness of the intervention.

Student-Adaptive Pedagogy for Elementary Teachers: Promoting Multiplicative and Fractional Reasoning to Improve Students' Preparedness for Middle School Mathematics

The project develops a teacher professional development intervention to support student-adaptive pedagogy for multiplicative and fractional reasoning. The idea is that classroom instruction should build on students' current conceptions and experiences. It focuses on students from urban, underserved and low-socioeconomic status populations who often fall behind in the elementary grades and are left underprepared for middle grades mathematics.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1503206
Funding Period: 
Wed, 07/15/2015 to Sun, 06/30/2019
Full Description: 

The project develops a teacher professional development intervention to support student-adaptive pedagogy for multiplicative and fractional reasoning. The idea is that classroom instruction should build on students' current conceptions and experiences. The context for the study is grades 3-5 teachers in Aurora Public Schools. It focuses on students from urban, underserved and low-socioeconomic status populations who often fall behind in the elementary grades and are left underprepared for middle grades mathematics. It includes a summer workshop and academic year follow-up including teacher collaboration. The project provides tools for capitalizing on successful, school-based research for promoting teachers' buy-in, adoption, and sustaining of student-adaptive pedagogy. The project also includes measurement of student understanding of the concepts. An extensive plan to share tools and resources for teachers and instructional coaches (scalable to district/state levels) and of research instruments and findings, will promote sharing project outcomes with a wide community of stakeholders (teachers, administrators, researchers, parents, policy makers) responsible for students' growth. This is a Full Design & Development project within the DRK-12 Program's Learning Strand. The Discovery Research K-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of innovative resources, models and tools (RMTs). Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects.

The project aims to implement and study a professional development intervention designed to shift upper-elementary teachers' mathematics teaching toward a constructivist approach, called student-adaptive pedagogy (AdPed), which adapts teaching goals and activities based on students' conceptions and experiences. The project focuses on multiplicative and fractional reasoning--critical for students' success in key areas of middle school mathematics (e.g., ratio, proportion, and function). The project seeks to design an instrument for measuring teachers' implementation of AdPed, a clinical interview rubric for students' multiplicative reasoning and then an analysis of teachers' content knowledge and the implementation of AdPed following the professional development. The research design is rooted in an innovative, cohesive framework that integrates four research-based components: (i) a model of mathematics learning and knowing, (ii) models of progressions in students' multiplicative and fractional reasoning, (iii) a model of teaching (AdPed) to promote such learning, and (iv) a mathematics teacher development continuum. Capitalizing on successful preliminary efforts in the Denver Metro area to refine a PD intervention and student-adaptive tools that challenge and transform current practices, the project will first validate and test instruments to measure (a) teacher growth toward adaptive pedagogy and (b) students' growth in multiplicative reasoning. Using these new instruments, along with available measures, the project will then promote school-wide teacher professional development (grades 3-5) in multiple schools in an urban district with large underserved student populations and study the professional development benefits for teacher practices and student outcomes. The mixed methods study includes classroom-based data (e.g., video analysis, lesson observations, teacher interviews) and measures of students' multiplicative reasoning specifically and mathematical understanding generally.

Visual Access to Mathematics: Professional Development for Teachers of English Learners

This project addresses a critical need, developing professional development materials to address the teachers of ELLs. The project will create resources to help teachers build ELLs' mathematical proficiency through the design and development of professional development materials building on visual representations (VRs) for mathematical reasoning across a range of mathematical topics.

Award Number: 
1503057
Funding Period: 
Sat, 08/01/2015 to Wed, 07/31/2019
Full Description: 

The demands placed on mathematics teachers of all students have increased with the introduction of college and career readiness standards. At the same time, the mathematics achievement of English Language Learners (ELLs) lags behind that of their peers. This project addresses a critical need, developing professional development materials to address the teachers of ELLs. The project will create resources to help teachers build ELLs' mathematical proficiency through the design and development of professional development materials building on visual representations (VRs) for mathematical reasoning across a range of mathematical topics. The project will study how to enhance teachers' pedagogical content knowledge that is critical to fostering ELLs' mathematical problem solving and communication to help support fluency in using VRs among teachers and students. To broaden the participation of students who have traditionally not demonstrated high levels of achievement in mathematics, a critical underpinning to further success in the sciences and engineering, there will need to be greater support for teachers of these students using techniques that have been demonstrated to improve student learning. 

The project will use an iterative design and development process to develop a blended learning model of professional development on using VRs with a 30-hour face-to-face summer institute and sixteen 2-hour online learning sessions. Teachers and teacher-leaders will help support the development of the professional development materials. A cluster randomized control trial will study the piloting of the materials and their impact on teacher outcomes. Thirty middle schools from Massachusetts and Maine serving high numbers of ELLs, with approximately 120 teachers, will be randomly assigned to receive the treatment or control conditions. Using a two-level random intercepts hierarchical linear model, the study will explore the impact of participation in the professional development on teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching and instructional practice. The pilot study will also explore the feasibility of delivering the professional development model more broadly. It builds on prior work that has shown efficacy in geometry, but expands the work beyond a single area in mathematics. At the same time, they will test the model for feasibility of broad implementation.

The Discovery Research K-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of innovative resources, models and tools (RMTs). Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects.


Project Videos

2019 STEM for All Video Showcase

Title: Designing PD for Math Educators of Students Who are ELs

Presenter(s): Peter Tierney-Fife, Pamela Buffington, Josephine Louie, Jill Neumayer Depiper, & Johannah Nikula

2016 STEM for All Video Showcase

Title: Visual Access to Mathematics: Supporting Teachers of ELs

Presenter(s): Johannah Nikula, Pam Buffington, Mark Driscoll & Peter Tierney-Fife


SimScientists Games: Development of Simulation-Based Game Designs to Enhance Formative Assessment and Deep Science Learning in Middle School

This project will focus on understanding how educational games, designed according to research-based learning and assessment design principles, can better assess and promote students' science knowledge, application of science process skills, and motivation and engagement in learning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1503481
Funding Period: 
Sat, 08/01/2015 to Wed, 07/31/2019
Full Description: 

The Discovery Research K-12 (DRK-12) program seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers through research and development of innovative resources, models, and tools. Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects. This project is a four-year design and development study submitted to the assessment strand of the program. It will focus on understanding how educational games, designed according to research-based learning and assessment design principles, can better assess and promote students' science knowledge, application of science process skills, and motivation and engagement in learning. The project will develop a new genre of games to serve as formative assessment resources designed to collect evidence of science learning during gameplay, provide feedback and coaching in the form of hints, and reinforce middle grade (6th-8th) students' life science concepts and investigation practices about ecosystems described in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) (Achieve, 2013). The games will build on the designs of the simulation-based, curriculum-embedded assessments developed in previous NSF-funded efforts, which include student progress reports and reflection activities that allow teachers to provide feedback to students and adjust instruction. The design of the games will draw from multiple lines of research, such as cognition, particularly model-based learning; principled assessment design; and motivation. Intended to provide engaging activities for understanding and investigating the system components, roles, interactions, and population dynamics of ecosystems, the project will produce two sets of comprehensive games: (1) Organisms and Interactions, and (2) Emergent Population Levels: Managing an Ecosystem. Each game will consist of progressively advanced mini-games. Twenty-four California Bay Area middle school teachers will participate in the study. Teacher professional development (PD) will include face-to-face sessions and an online platform that permits a wide range of interactions among participants and the facilitators. The PD will emphasize the alignment of the ecosystem simulation-based curriculum modules with their state standards, instructional materials, and the new games. 

The project will address six research questions: (1) How well do the games align with the ecosystem crosscutting concepts, core ideas, and inquiry practices in the NGSS?; (2) How well do game components meet quality standards?; (3) How well do the games integrate with the existing simulation-based curriculum modules and the teachers' existing instructional sequence?; (4) What effect does the use of the games have on students' understanding of the science concepts, scientific practices, and collaboration skills?; (5) How does success in gameplay relate to improved performance on the external outcome measures comprised of the simulation-based benchmark and the pre/posttest?; and (6) How does the use of the games affect students' engagement in science learning? In a Year 1 usability study, the project will test, analyze, and revise alpha versions of the games. In Year 2, a classroom feasibility study of beta versions will inform further revisions. In Year 3, six teachers will pilot-test the games. A second pilot test in Year 4 will examine the effectiveness of the games by comparing student performance in classes using the existing simulation-based curriculum-embedded assessments and reflection activities with classes using the curriculum-embedded assessments plus the new games. Data collection and analysis strategies include: (a) alignment reviews; (b) focus groups and usability testing; (c) cognitive labs for construct validity and usability; (d) game reports (badges); (e) pre/posttest of American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) items; (f) benchmark assessment data; (g) student interest in the games and science; (h) teacher surveys; (i) case studies; (j) game quality analysis; (k) differential item functioning; (l) analysis of covariance; and (m) analysis of variance on posttest scores (outcome variable) to compare the means across student groups (by intervention mode) and their prior science achievement levels.

Developing Teachers' Capacity to Promote Argumentation in Secondary Science

This project will produce insights into the challenges teachers face in modifying their teaching in the substantial and complex ways demanded by the Next Generation Science Standards. This project will develop and study a program of professional development to help middle and high school science teachers support their students to learn to argue scientifically. 

Award Number: 
1503511
Funding Period: 
Wed, 07/01/2015 to Sun, 06/30/2019
Full Description: 

This project will produce insights into the challenges teachers face in modifying their teaching in the substantial and complex ways demanded by the Next Generation Science Standards. This project will develop and study a program of professional development to help middle and high school science teachers support their students to learn to argue scientifically. The program includes strategies for organizing science activities to create contexts where students have something to argue about and teaching practices that promote sustained, productive argumentation among students. Results will document what aspects of these new practices teachers find easier and more difficult to implement, and how challenges are influenced by the urban schooling contexts in which project teachers work. The project will also further our understanding of how site-based professional development can be structured to support teacher learning and improvement.

The project is a longitudinal study of a cohort of 30 secondary science teachers from an urban school district in California. The professional development (PD) program will be organized around intensive summer institutes followed by 2 school-based lesson study cycles each year, facilitated by trained coaches. The PD work will be carried out over three years. All PD sessions will be recorded for interaction analysis to identify variations in coaching and teacher participation and the influences of such variation on teacher learning. Repeated measures of teachers' conceptions of argumentation will be given over 3 years as a measure of teacher learning. An observation protocol will be developed and used to measure teacher talk and its change over time. A sub-sample of teachers' classrooms will be video recorded to produce a longitudinal record for interaction analyses to link teacher talk to patterns of student argumentation. The third year of the project will add measures of student learning and link them to variations in teacher practice. The final year of the project will produce retrospective analyses that link pathways in teacher learning to features of the PD program and teachers' participation. The Discovery Research K-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of innovative resources, models and tools (RMTs). Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects.

Thinking Spatially about the Universe: A Physical and Virtual Laboratory for Middle School Science (Collaborative Research: Goodman)

This project will develop and study three week-long middle school lab units designed to teach spatial abilities using a blend of physical and virtual (computer-based) models. "ThinkSpace" labs will help students explore 3-dimensional astronomical phenomena in ways that will support both understanding of these topics and a more general spatial ability. Students will learn both through direct work with the lab unit interface and through succeeding discussions with their peers.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1503395
Funding Period: 
Wed, 07/01/2015 to Sat, 06/30/2018
Full Description: 

Critical breakthroughs in science (e.g., Einstein's Theory of General Relativity, and Watson & Crick's discovery of the structure of DNA), originated with those scientists' ability to think spatially, and research has shown that spatial ability correlates strongly with likelihood of entering a career in STEM. This project will develop and study three week-long middle school lab units designed to teach spatial abilities using a blend of physical and virtual (computer-based) models. "ThinkSpace" labs will help students explore 3-dimensional astronomical phenomena (moon phases and eclipses; planetary systems around stars other than the Sun; and celestial motions within the broader universe) in ways that will support both understanding of these topics and a more general spatial ability. Students will learn both through direct work with the lab unit interface and through succeeding discussions with their peers. The research program will determine which elements in the labs best promote both spatial skills and understanding of core ideas in astronomy; and how then to optimize interactive dynamic visualizations toward these ends. Virtual models of the sky and universe will be created using WorldWide Telescope, a free visualization tool that runs on desktop computers, tablets, and mobile devices. The ThinkSpace lab materials will be available at no cost on popular curriculum-sharing sites, including PBS Learning Media and BetterLesson.

The ThinkSpace team will address two main research questions: 1) How can spatial tasks that blend physical and virtual models be embedded into a STEM curriculum in ways that lead to significant improvements in spatial thinking? and 2) How can practitioners optimize design of interactive, dynamic visualizations for teaching spatially complex concepts? The first year of the study will examine two of the lab units with four teachers and about 320 students. The second year of the study will be similar. The third year of the study will test all three lab units in 10 classrooms. Over this study, each week-long ThinkSpace Lab will be formatively tested, using pre/post written assessments of astronomy content and spatial thinking; pre/post interviews with students; and in-class video of students using the lab activities. Scaffolded learning designs will support students in making connections between different spatial views of the phenomena, and will guide them to construct explanations and argue from evidence about how various phenomena (e.g. moon phases) arise in the real Universe, as Next Generation Science Standards demand. The impact of the ThinkSpace labs will be felt far beyond astronomy because the learning models being tested can transfer to other fields where spatial models are critical, and findings on optimization of dynamic visualizations can help to inform instructional design in the age of online learning. The Discovery Research K-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of innovative resources, models and tools (RMTs). Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects.

Precision Math: Using Interactive Gaming Technology to Build Student Proficiency in the Foundational Concepts and Problem Solving Skills of Measurement and Data Analysis

The purpose of this 4-year project is to improve student mathematics achievement by developing a mathematics intervention focused on key measurement and data analysis skills. The PM intervention will be designed for first and second grade students who are experiencing mathematics difficulties. To increase student mathematics achievement, the intervention will include: (a) a technology-based component and (b) hands-on activities.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1503161
Funding Period: 
Wed, 07/01/2015 to Sun, 06/30/2019
Full Description: 

The Discovery Research K-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of innovative resources, models and tools. Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects.

Strong knowledge of measurement and data analysis is essential to ensure competiveness of the nation as a whole and full access to educational and work opportunities for all students. Despite this importance, a considerable number of U.S. students, particularly students from poor and minority backgrounds, struggle with these two areas of mathematics. The purpose of this 4-year Research and Development project, Precision Mathematics (PM): Building Student Proficiency in the Foundational Concepts and Problem Solving Skills of Measurement and Data Analysis, is to improve student mathematics achievement by developing a mathematics intervention focused on key measurement and data analysis skills. The PM intervention will be designed for first and second grade students who are experiencing mathematics difficulties. To increase student mathematics achievement, the intervention will include: (a) a technology-based component that will provide students with individualized instruction and (b) hands-on activities that will offer opportunities for students to interact with their teacher and peers around critical measurement and data analysis concepts. Primary activities of the project will include intervention development, pilot testing, data analysis, and intervention revision. One primary benefit of PM is that it will provide struggling learners with meaningful access to critical concepts and skills identified in the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Another benefit is that will be designed to serve as a foundation for students to understand more advanced mathematical concepts introduced in the later grades. PM has the potential to address a concerning gap in U.S. education. To date, intervention research focused on measurement and data analysis is scant.

Proficiency with measurement and data analysis is essential for obtaining occupations in the STEM fields. A primary aim of this project is to develop PM, a mathematics intervention designed to teach key concepts of measurement and data analysis to at-risk 1st and 2nd grade students. Comprising the intervention will be technology-based and collaborative problem-solving activities. At each grade, the intervention will provide 20 hours of instruction focused on topics identified in the Common Core State Standards. A primary aim of the project is to develop the intervention using a design science approach, including a mix of qualitative and quantitative research methods that will guide iterative testing and revision cycles. A second primary aim is to test the promise of the intervention to improve student mathematics achievement. Rigorous pilot studies (i.e., randomized controlled trials) will be conducted in 1st and 2nd grade classrooms involving over 700 at-risk students. Within classrooms, students will be randomly assigned to treatment (PM) or control conditions (business as usual). Two research questions will be addressed: (a) What is the potential promise of the intervention when delivered in authentic education settings? (b) Based on empirical evidence, are revisions to the intervention's theory of change necessary? Tests of main effects of intervention effects will be conducted using analysis of covariance models, adjusting for pretest scores. Generated findings are anticipated to contribute to the knowledge base on early STEM learning for at-risk learners.

Development of Language-Focused Three-Dimensional Science Instructional Materials to Support English Language Learners in Fifth Grade (Collaborative Research: Lee)

The main purpose of this project is to develop instructional materials for a year-long, fifth grade curriculum for all students, including ELLs. The planned curriculum will promote language-focused and three-dimensional science learning (through blending of science and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas), aligned with the Framework for K-12 Science Education, the Next Generation Science Standards, and the Conceptual Framework for Language use in the Science Classroom.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1503330
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2015 to Sat, 08/31/2019
Full Description: 

This project was submitted to the Discovery Research K-12 (DRK-12) program that seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of innovative resources, models, and tools. Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects. The project is responsive to the societal challenges emerging from the nation's diverse and rapidly changing student demographics, including the rise of English language learners (ELLs), the fastest growing student population (see, for example, "U.S. school enrollment hits majority-minority milestone", Education Week, February 1, 2015). ELLs have grown exponentially: 1 in 5 students (21%) in the nation spoke a language other than English at home in 2011. The project's main purpose is to develop instructional materials for a year-long, fifth grade curriculum for all students, including ELLs. The planned curriculum will promote language-focused and three-dimensional science learning (through blending of science and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas), aligned with the Framework for K-12 Science Education (National Research Council, 2012), the Next Generation Science Standards (Achieve, 2013), and the Conceptual Framework for Language use in the Science Classroom (Lee, Quinn & Valdés, 2013). The grade-level science content will target topics, such as structure and properties of matter, matter and energy in organisms and ecosystems, and Earth's and space systems, with engineering design embedded in each topic. The language approach will emphasize analytical science tasks aimed at making sense of and constructing scientific knowledge; and receptive (listening and reading) and productive (speaking and writing) language functions. Products and research results from this project will help to reduce the science achievement gaps between ELLs and non-ELLs, and enable all students to attain higher levels of proficiency in subsequent grade levels.

After the curriculum has been developed and field-tested during Years 1-3, a pilot study will be conducted in Year 4 to investigate promise of effectiveness. Using a randomized controlled trial design, the pilot study will address three research questions: (1) What is the impact of the intervention on science learning and language development for all students, including ELLs and former ELLs?; (2) What is the impact of the intervention on teachers' instructional practices?; and (3) To what extent are teachers able to implement the instructional materials with fidelity? To address research question 1, a sequence of multi-level models (MLMs) in which the posttest score for each student measure (the state/district science test score, and the science score and the language score on the researcher-developed assessment) will be regressed on a dummy variable representing condition (treatment or control) and pretest covariates. To examine whether the intervention is beneficial for students of varying levels of English proficiency, subgroup analyses will be conducted comparing ELLs in the treatment group against ELLs in the control group; former ELLs in the treatment group against former ELLs in the control group; and non-ELLs in the treatment group against non-ELLs in the control group, using the same MLMs. Exploratory analyses will be employed to examine the extent to which the level of English proficiency moderates the impact of the intervention on ELLs. To address research question 2, a 2-level model (teachers as level-1, and schools as level-2) in which the post-questionnaire scale score will be regressed on a dummy variable representing condition (treatment or control) will be conducted. To address research question 3, plans are to analyze ratings on coverage, adherence, and quality of instruction from classroom observations, along with ratings on program differentiation and participant responsiveness from the implementation and feedback form.

Development of Language-Focused Three-Dimensional Science Instructional Materials to Support English Language Learners in Fifth Grade (Collaborative Research: Valdes)

The main purpose of this project is to develop instructional materials for a year-long, fifth grade curriculum for all students, including ELLs. The planned curriculum will promote language-focused and three-dimensional science learning (through blending of science and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas), aligned with the Framework for K-12 Science Education, the Next Generation Science Standards, and the Conceptual Framework for Language use in the Science Classroom.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1502507
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2015 to Sat, 08/31/2019
Full Description: 

This project is responsive to the societal challenges emerging from the nation's diverse and rapidly changing student demographics, including the rise of English language learners (ELLs), the fastest growing student population (see, for example, "U.S. school enrollment hits majority-minority milestone", Education Week, February 1, 2015). ELLs have grown exponentially: 1 in 5 students (21%) in the nation spoke a language other than English at home in 2011. The project's main purpose is to develop instructional materials for a year-long, fifth grade curriculum for all students, including ELLs. The planned curriculum will promote language-focused and three-dimensional science learning (through blending of science and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas), aligned with the Framework for K-12 Science Education (National Research Council, 2012), the Next Generation Science Standards (Achieve, 2013), and the Conceptual Framework for Language use in the Science Classroom (Lee, Quinn & Valdés, 2013). The grade-level science content will target topics, such as structure and properties of matter, matter and energy in organisms and ecosystems, and Earth's and space systems, with engineering design embedded in each topic. The language approach will emphasize analytical science tasks aimed at making sense of and constructing scientific knowledge; and receptive (listening and reading) and productive (speaking and writing) language functions. Products and research results from this project will help to reduce the science achievement gaps between ELLs and non-ELLs, and enable all students to attain higher levels of proficiency in subsequent grade levels.

After the curriculum has been developed and field-tested during Years 1-3, a pilot study will be conducted in Year 4 to investigate promise of effectiveness. Using a randomized controlled trial design, the pilot study will address three research questions: (1) What is the impact of the intervention on science learning and language development for all students, including ELLs and former ELLs?; (2) What is the impact of the intervention on teachers' instructional practices?; and (3) To what extent are teachers able to implement the instructional materials with fidelity? To address research question 1, a sequence of multi-level models (MLMs) in which the posttest score for each student measure (the state/district science test score, and the science score and the language score on the researcher-developed assessment) will be regressed on a dummy variable representing condition (treatment or control) and pretest covariates. To examine whether the intervention is beneficial for students of varying levels of English proficiency, subgroup analyses will be conducted comparing ELLs in the treatment group against ELLs in the control group; former ELLs in the treatment group against former ELLs in the control group; and non-ELLs in the treatment group against non-ELLs in the control group, using the same MLMs. Exploratory analyses will be employed to examine the extent to which the level of English proficiency moderates the impact of the intervention on ELLs. To address research question 2, a 2-level model (teachers as level-1, and schools as level-2) in which the post-questionnaire scale score will be regressed on a dummy variable representing condition (treatment or control) will be conducted. To address research question 3, plans are to analyze ratings on coverage, adherence, and quality of instruction from classroom observations, along with ratings on program differentiation and participant responsiveness from the implementation and feedback form.

Design Technology and Engineering Education for English Learner Students: Project DTEEL

One significant challenge facing elementary STEM education is the varied preparation of English-language learners. The project addresses this with an innovative use of engineering curriculum to build on the English-language learners' prior experiences. The project will support teachers' learning about strategies for teaching English-language learners and using engineering design tasks as learning opportunities for mathematics, science and communication skills. 

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1503428
Funding Period: 
Mon, 06/01/2015 to Thu, 05/31/2018
Full Description: 

The Discovery Research K-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of innovative resources, models and tools (RMTs). Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects. One significant challenge facing elementary STEM education is the varied preparation of English-language learners. The project addresses this with an innovative use of engineering curriculum to build on the English-language learners' prior experiences. The project will support teachers' learning about strategies for teaching English-language learners and using engineering design tasks as learning opportunities for mathematics, science and communication skills. 

The project's cross-disciplinary approach is grounded in both inquiry-based science education research and bilingual cognition research. These complementary foci bridge research areas to highlight how engineering experiences for students can capitalize on bilingual students' experiences as problem solvers. The project will develop teachers' ability and instructional efficacy for both STEM and bilingual student instruction. The project adapts a previously developed curriculum for engineering education by adding resources and tools to support bilingual students. The research design primarily measures teacher-level phenomenon such as implementation of instructional strategies, STEM self-efficacy and ability to address the academic development of bilingual students through engineering design activities. Data collected include classroom observations, teacher surveys, focus groups, and teacher interviews. Student assessments will be piloted in the final year of the project.

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