English Language Learners

Math Snacks: Addressing Gaps in Conceptual Mathematics Understanding with Innovative Media

This project is developing and evaluating effectiveness of 15 - 20 short computer mediated animations and games that are designed to: (1) increase students' conceptual understanding in especially problematic topics of middle grades mathematics; and (2) increase students' mathematics process skills with a focus on capabilities to think and talk mathematically.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0918794
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2009 to Fri, 08/31/2012
Project Evaluator: 
Sheila Cassidy WEXFORD INC.
Full Description: 

View a project spotlight on Math Snacks.

This project Math Snacks: Addressing Gaps in Conceptual Mathematics Understanding with Innovative Media, led by mathematics and education faculty at New Mexico State University, is developing and evaluating effectiveness of 15 - 20 short computer mediated animations and games that are designed to: (1) increase students' conceptual understanding in especially problematic topics of middle grades mathematics; and (2) increase students' mathematics process skills with a focus on problem-solviing and communicating mathematically. The basic research question for this project is whether the planned collection of computer-mediated animations and games can provide an effective strategy for helping students learn core middle grades mathematics concepts in conceptual areas that research suggests are difficult for these students.  A second question relates to types of delivery that are effective for mathematics learning using these tools including in classrooms during extended learning time at home or in informal educational settings. The project is developing and testing the effectiveness of a set of such learning tools and companion print materials, including student and teacher guides, and short video clips documenting best practices by  teachers using the developed materials with students. A pilot study in year 3 and a substantial randomized control trial in year 4 will test the effects of using the Math Snacks web-based and mobile technologies on student learning and retention of identified core middle school mathematics concepts, as measured by performance on disaggregated strands of the New Mexico state standardized mathematics assessments. Thus the project will produce animations and games using the web and new mobile technologies, and useful empirical evidence about the efficacy of their use. One of the key features of the Math Snacks project is development of the mediated games and simulations in a form that can be used by students outside of normal classroom settings on media and game players that are ubiquitous and popular among today's young people. Thus the project holds the promise of exploiting learning in informal settings to enhance traditional school experiences.

International Workshop on Mathematics and Science Education: Common Priorities that Promote Collaborative Research

The goal of this workshop is to advance the construction of new knowledge through international cooperation with Chinese counterparts in the teaching and learning of math and science at the elementary level in four areas: curriculum design and assessment; teacher preparation and professional development; effective use of the former; and reaching gifted and underserved populations. Approximately 120 people will attend, including 50 senior U.S. researchers, 25 early career researchers, 15 graduate students and 5 undergraduates.

Award Number: 
0751664
Funding Period: 
Sat, 03/15/2008 to Mon, 02/28/2011

Scaling Up Mathematics Achievement (SUMA)

This project aims to (1) investigate whether or not it is possible to successfully scale-up and adapt the Capacity Building Systems Model used in the Gadsden Mathematics Initiative and improve mathematics achievement for all students in a larger school district, and (2) replicate success in broadening the participation of underrepresented groups in entering STEM field by closing the achievement gap and raising the achievement level of underrepresented students in mathematics.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0733690
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2007 to Tue, 08/31/2010
Project Evaluator: 
Cori Groth and Cheryl Harris

A Longitudinal Randomized Trial Study of Middle School Science for English Language Learners (Project MSSELL) (Collaborative Research: Irby)

Project MSSELL will conduct a two-year randomized trial longitudinal evaluation of an enhanced standards-based science curriculum model. In Year 1, the project will refine and pilot the model based on learnings from its previous developmental phase and implementation with K-3 grade students. In Years 2 and 3, the enhanced model will be implemented and studied with fifth- and sixth-grade students.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0822153
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/01/2008 to Fri, 08/31/2012
Project Evaluator: 
Dr. David Frances

A Longitudinal Randomized Trial Study of Middle School Science for English Language Learners (Project MSSELL) (Collaborative Research: Lara-Alecio)

This project seeks to improve the science achievement and the academic English language proficiency of middle school Spanish-speaking English language learners (ELLs). This project will conduct a randomized trial longitudinal evaluation of an enhanced standards-based science curriculum model, consisting of five major components: (a) English language acquisition strategies integrated into the science curriculum, (b) technology-assisted instruction, (c) bi-weekly teacher professional development, (d) family involvement, and (e) paraprofessionals in working with individual ELLs.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0822343
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/01/2008 to Fri, 08/31/2012
Project Evaluator: 
Dr. David Frances

The Role of Educative Curriculum Materials in Supporting Science Teaching Practices with English Language Learners

This project aims to determine whether curricula designed to support teacher and student learning have positive impacts on teacher knowledge, attitudes, and instructional practices; to what degree educative curricula help teachers with more and less experience teaching ELLs and how level of teaching experience relates to teacher knowledge, attitudes, and instructional practices; and the effects of the educative curricula in high implementation settings on ELLs knowledge and attitudes in science, and developing English proficiency.

Project Email: 
Award Number: 
0822119
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/01/2008 to Fri, 08/31/2012
Project Evaluator: 
Jonna Kulikowich

Design and Use of Illustrations in Test Items as a Form of Accommodation for English Language Learners in Science and Mathematics Assessment

This project investigates how vignette illustrations minimize the impact of limited English proficiency on student performance in science tests. Different analyses will determine whether and how ELL and non-ELL students differ significantly on the ways they use vignettes to make sense of items; whether the use of vignettes reduces test-score differences due to language factors between ELL and non-ELL students; and whether the level of distance of the items moderates the effectiveness of vignette-illustrated items.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0822362
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/01/2008 to Sun, 08/12/2012
Full Description: 

This exploratory project within the Contextual Strand (Challenge a) addresses validity in the assessment of science and mathematics for English language learners (ELLs), and the urgent need for effective testing accommodations for ELLs. Motivation for this investigation originated from a previous, NSF-funded project on the testing of ELLs. We observed that items which were accompanied by illustrations tended to be responded correctly by a higher percentage of students than items without illustrations. We will investigate the factors that are relevant to designing and using a new form of accommodation in the assessment of science and mathematics for ELLs—vignette illustrations.

This three-year project will be guided by four research questions: What principles underlie the effective design of science and mathematics test items with illustrations in ways that minimize limited English proficiency as a factor that prevents ELLs from understanding the items? Is the presence of an illustration a moderator in students’ understanding test items? If so, Is the effect due to the simple presence of a graphical component or due to characteristics of the illustrations that are created based on principled design? Does the presence of an illustration have a different effect on the performance of ELLs and the performance of non-ELL students?

We expect to be able to: 1) identify the role of illustrations in the cognitive activities elicited by vignette-illustrated items; 2) determine whether any differences between performance on vignette-illustrated items and other kinds of items are due to the this form of accommodation’s capacity to address language as a construct-irrelevant factor; 3) identify the set of practical and methodological issues that are critical to properly developing and using vignette-illustrated items; and 4) propose a set of documents and procedures for the systematic and cost-effective design and development of vignette-illustrated items. 

We will test ELL and non-ELL students with items of three types (vignette-illustrated items whose illustrations are designed systematically, vignette-illustrated items whose illustrations are created arbitrarily, and items without illustrations) at two levels of distance to the enacted curriculum (close and distal). Diverse forms of analysis will allow us to determine whether and how ELL and non-ELL students differ on the ways in which they use vignettes to make sense of items, whether the use of vignettes reduces test score differences due to language factors between ELL and non-ELL students, and whether the level of distance of the items moderates the effectiveness of vignette-illustrated items.

Intellectual merit. This project will provide information that will help to advance our understanding in two assessment arenas: effective accommodations for ELLs, and item development practices. While illustrations are frequently used in test items, there is not guidance in the assessment development literature on how to approach illustrations. Furthermore, the value of illustrations as a resource for ensuring that ELL students understand what a given item is about and what the item asks them to do has not been systematically investigated. Semiotics, cognitive psychology, and linguistics and socio-cultural theory are brought together to develop systematic procedures for developing illustrations as visual supports in tests. Understanding the role that images play in test taking is relevant to devising more effective ways of testing students. While this project aims to improve testing accommodations practices for ELLs, knowledge gained from it will inform test development practices relevant to all student populations.

Broader impact. We expect outcomes of this project to contribute to enhanced practice in both classroom and large-scale assessment. The push for including ELLs in large-scale testing programs with accountability purposes is not corresponded by effective testing accommodation practices. Many testing accommodations used by national and state assessment programs are not defensible, are not effective, or are improperly implemented. Vignette illustrations have the potential to become a low-cost, easy-to-implement form of testing accommodation for ELLs. Results form this investigation will allow us to identify a set of principles for the proper design and use of vignette illustrations as a form of testing accommodation for ELLs. The project is important not only because it explores the potential of an innovative form of accommodation but because it uses a systematic procedure for designing that form of accommodation.

Effective Science Teaching for English Language Learners (ESTELL): A Preservice Teacher Professional Development Research Project Across Three Universities in California

Effective Science Teaching for English Language Learners (ESTELL): A Pre-Service Teacher Professional Development Research Project project is funded by the National Science Foundation DR-K-12 Discovery Research Program. The ESTELL project focuses on improving the science teaching and learning of K-6 linguistic minority students who are currently underserved in K-6 education through improving the pre-service education of elementary school teachers.

Project Email: 
Award Number: 
0822402
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/01/2008 to Fri, 08/31/2012
Project Evaluator: 
Michael Oliver
Full Description: 

The Discovery Research K-12 (DR-K12) proposal Effective Science Teaching for English Language Learners (ESTELL): A Pre-Service Teacher Professional Development Research Project Across Three Universities in California is submitted for consideration for a full research and development project in the Frontier Challenge Strand a ? assuring all students the opportunity to learn STEM content. Project investigators will conduct an experimental design study on the impact of an ESTELL elementary teacher education designed to prepare novice teachers to teach science to English Language Learner (ELL) and a qualitative study on program implementation. The ESTELL project builds on prior research in two areas: the integration of inquiry science, language and literacy practices; and the CREDE Five Standards for Effective Pedagogy which have identified a common set of teaching practices associated with increased achievement of ELL. This project will adapt this approach to pre-service teacher preparation. The ESTELL model of pre-service teacher education will be integrated into every stage of teacher preparation and induction from the science teaching methods courses in the post-baccalaureate credential programs, to the clinical setting of student teaching and the first two years of teaching. Researchers will focus on three research questions: (1) What is the impact of the ESTELL teacher education program on novice teachers beliefs and practice? (2) What is the relationship between the use of ESTELL by program graduates and the science achievement of 4th-5th grade students? and (3) What is the impact of the ESTELL program on the beliefs and practice of the participating science methods faculty, teacher supervisors and cooperating teachers?

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

Math Pathways & Pitfalls lessons for students boost mathematics achievement for diverse students, including English Learners, English Proficient students, and Latino students. This project develops modules that increase teachers’ capacity to employ the effective and equitable principles of practice embodied by Math Pathways & Pitfalls and apply these practices to any mathematics lesson. This four-year project develops, field tests, and evaluates 10 online professional development modules.

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

Researchers and developers at WestEd are developing, field-testing, and evaluating ten online professional development modules anchored in research-based teaching principles and achievement-boosting mathematics materials. The modules provide interactive learning opportunities featuring real classroom video demonstrations, simulations, and scaffolded implementation. The professional development module development builds on the Math Pathways and Pitfalls instructional modules for elementary and middle school students developed with NSF support. The professional development provided through the use of these modules is web-based (rather than face-to-face), is provided in chunks during the school year and immediately applied in the classroom (rather than summer professional development and school year application), and explicitly models ways to apply key teaching principles to regular mathematics lessons (rather than expecting teachers to extract and apply principles spontaneously).

The project studies the impact of the modules on teaching practice with an experimental design that involves 20 treatment teachers and 20 control teachers. Data are gathered from teacher questionnaires, classroom observations, and post-observation interviews.

Scaffolding Understanding by Redesigning Games for Education (SURGE)

This project is focusing on the redesign of popular commercial video games to support students’ understanding of Newtonian mechanics. In support of this goal, SURGE develops and implements design principles for game-based learning environments, integrating research on conceptual change, cognitive processing-based design, and socio-cognitive scripting. These enhanced games bridge the gap between student learning in non-formal game environments and the formalized knowledge structures learned in school by leveraging and integrating the strengths of each.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1019170
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/01/2008 to Wed, 03/31/2010

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