Student Outcomes

Pandemic Learning Loss in U.S. High Schools: A National Examination of Student Experiences

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools across much of the U.S. have been closed since mid-March of 2020 and many students have been attempting to continue their education away from schools. Student experiences across the country are likely to be highly variable depending on a variety of factors at the individual, home, school, district, and state levels. This project will use two, nationally representative, existing databases of high school students to study their experiences in STEM education during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2030436
Funding Period: 
Fri, 05/15/2020 to Fri, 04/30/2021
Full Description: 

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools across much of the U.S. have been closed since mid-March of 2020 and many students have been attempting to continue their education away from schools. Student experiences across the country are likely to be highly variable depending on a variety of factors at the individual, home, school, district, and state levels. This project will use two, nationally representative, existing databases of high school students to study their experiences in STEM education during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study intends to ascertain whether students are taking STEM courses in high school, the nature of the changes made to the courses, and their plans for the fall. The researchers will identify the electronic learning platforms in use, and other modifications made to STEM experiences in formal and informal settings. The study is particularly interested in finding patterns of inequities for students in various demographic groups underserved in STEM and who may be most likely to be affected by a hiatus in formal education.

This study will collect data using the AmeriSpeak Teen Panel of approximately 2,000 students aged 13 to 17 and the Infinite Campus Student Information System with a sample of approximately 2.5 million high school students. The data sets allow for relevant comparisons of student experiences prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic and offer unique perspectives with nationally representative samples of U.S. high school students. New data collection will focus on formal and informal STEM learning opportunities, engagement, STEM course taking, the nature and frequency of instruction, interactions with teachers, interest in STEM, and career aspirations. Weighted data will be analyzed using descriptive statistics and within and between district analysis will be conducted to assess group differences. Estimates of between group pandemic learning loss will be provided with attention to demographic factors.

This RAPID award is made by the DRK-12 program in the Division of Research on Learning. The Discovery Research PreK-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics by preK-12 students and teachers, through the research and development of new innovations and approaches. 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 the projects.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

 

 

 

 

Place-Based Learning for Elementary Science at Scale (PeBLES2)

To support equitable access to place-based science learning opportunities, Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance in collaboration with BSCS Science Learning, will develop and test a model to support 3rd-5th grade teachers in incorporating locally or culturally relevant place-based phenomena into rigorously tested curricular units that meet the expectations of the NGSS. The project team will develop two units that could be used in any region across the country with built-in opportunities and embedded supports for teachers to purposefully adapt curriculum to include local phenomena.

Award Number: 
2009613
Funding Period: 
Fri, 05/15/2020 to Tue, 04/30/2024
Full Description: 

This project investigates how to design instructional resources and supporting professional learning that value rigor and standardization while at the same time creating experiences that help students understand their worlds by connecting to local phenomena, communities, and cultures. Currently, many instructional materials designed for widespread use do not connect to local phenomena, while units that do incorporate local phenomena are often developed from the ground up by community members, requiring extensive time and resources.  To support equitable access to place-based science learning opportunities, the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance in collaboration with BSCS Science Learning, will develop and test a model to support 3rd-5th grade teachers in incorporating locally or culturally relevant place-based phenomena into rigorously tested units that meet the expectations of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The project team will develop two units and associated professional learning that could be used in any region across the country with built-in opportunities for teachers to purposefully adapt curriculum to include local phenomena.

A design based research approach will be used to: 1) iteratively design, test, and revise, two locally adaptable instructional resource packages for Grades 3-5 science; 2) examine how teachers apply unit resources and professional learning experiences to incorporate local phenomena into the curriculum and their teaching; and 3) examine how the process of curriculum adaptation can support teacher understanding of the science ideas and phenomena within the units, teacher agency and self-efficacy beliefs in science teaching, and student perceptions of relevance and interest in science learning. Participating teachers will range from rural and urban settings in California, Colorado, and Maine. Data sources will include instructional logs, teacher surveys, and student electronic exit tickets from 50 classrooms per unit as well as teacher interviews, classroom observations, and student focus groups from six exemplar case study teachers per unit. Evaluation of the project will focus on monitoring the (1) quality of the research and development components, (2) quality of program implementation to inform program improvement and future implementation, and (3) potential of scaling up the program to other sites and organizations. The design and research from this project will advance the field’s knowledge about how to design instructional materials and professional learning experiences that meet the expectations of the NGSS while also empowering teachers to adapt materials in productive ways, drawing on locally or culturally relevant phenomena.

 

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.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Comparing the Efficacy of Collaborative Professional Development Formats for Improving Student Outcomes of a Student-Teacher-Scientist Partnership Program

The goal of this project is to study how the integration of an online curriculum, scientist mentoring of students, and professional development for both teachers and scientist mentors can improve student outcomes. In this project, teachers and scientist mentors will engage collaboratively in a professional development module which focuses on photosynthesis and cellular respiration and is an example of a student-teacher-scientist partnership.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2010556
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2020 to Sun, 08/31/2025
Full Description: 

Science classrooms in the U.S. today increasingly expect students to engage in the practices of science in a way that help them form a deeper understanding of disciplinary core ideas and the practices by which science is done. To do this, students should learn how scientists work and communicate. It also calls for changes in how teachers teach science, which in turn creates a need for high-quality professional development so they can be more effective in the classroom. Professional scientists can also benefit from training preparing them to support teachers, motivate students, and model for students how scientists think and work. Preparing teachers and scientists through collaborative professional development can help maximize the impact they can have on student outcomes. To have the broadest impact, such professional development should be cost-effective and available to teachers in rural or underserved areas. This project focuses on high school life science (biology) teachers and their students. It will make use of an online mentoring platform, a student-teacher-scientist partnership program established in 2005. That study found that implementing in combination with high-quality, in-person collaborative teacher/scientist professional development resulted in positive and statistically significant effects on student achievement and attitudes versus business-as-usual methods of teaching the same science content. This project has two main components: 1) a replication study to determine if findings of the previous successful study hold true; and 2) adding an online format for delivering collaborative professional development to teachers and scientists enabling one to compare the effectiveness of online professional development and in-person professional development delivery formats for improving student outcomes.

The goal of this project is to study how the integration of an online curriculum, scientist mentoring of students, and professional development for both teachers and scientist mentors can improve student outcomes. In this project, teachers and scientist mentors will engage collaboratively in a professional development module which focuses on photosynthesis and cellular respiration and is an example of a student-teacher-scientist partnership. Teachers will use their training to teach the curriculum to their students with students receiving mentoring from the scientists through an online platform. Evaluation will examine whether this curriculum, professional development, and mentoring by scientists will improve student achievement on science content and attitudes toward scientists. The project will use mixed-methods approaches to explore potential factors underlying efficacy differences between in-person and online professional development. An important component of this project is comparing in-person professional development to an online delivery of professional development, which can be more cost-effective and accessible by teachers, especially those in rural and underserved areas.

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

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Evolving Minds: Promoting Causal-Explanatory Teaching and Learning of Biological Evolution in Elementary School

Adopting a teaching and curricular approach that will be novel in its integration of custom explanatory storybook materials with hands-on investigations, this project seeks to promote third grade students' understanding of small- and large-scale evolution by natural selection. By studying students across multiple school districts, this research will shed light on the benefits to diverse students of instruction that focuses on supporting children's capacities to cogently explain aspects of the biological world rather than learn disparate facts about it.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2009176
Funding Period: 
Mon, 06/01/2020 to Fri, 05/31/2024
Full Description: 

Natural selection is a fundamental mechanism of evolution, the unifying principle of biology. It is central to understanding the functional specialization of living things, the origin of species diversity and the inherent unity of biological life. Despite the early emergence of tendencies that can make evolution increasingly challenging to learn over time, natural selection is currently not taught until middle or high school. This is long after patterns of misunderstanding are likely to have become more entrenched. The current research responds to this situation. It targets elementary school as the time to initiate comprehensive instruction on biological evolution. Adopting a teaching and curricular approach that will be novel in its integration of custom explanatory storybook materials with hands-on investigations, it seeks to promote third grade students' understanding of small- and large-scale evolution by natural selection. By studying students across multiple school districts, this research will shed light on the benefits to diverse students of instruction that focuses on supporting children's capacities to cogently explain aspects of the biological world rather than learn disparate facts about it. It will also illuminate the value of simple tools, like explanatory storybooks, for elementary school teachers who are often expected to teach counterintuitive topics such as natural selection while not feeling confident in their own understanding.

This project will investigate changes in Grade 3 students' learning and reasoning about living things during implementation of a guided inquiry curriculum unit on evolution by natural selection that emphasizes causal-mechanistic explanation. Classroom inquiry activities and investigations into a range of real-world phenomena will be framed by engagement with a sequence of innovative custom causal-explanatory storybook, animation and writing prompt materials that were developed under prior NSF support to promote transferable, scientifically accurate theory- and evidence-based reasoning about natural selection. In response to the distinctive challenges of life science and evolution learning, the project will integrate and thematically unify currently disparate Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) content and practice standards to create a comprehensive unit that addresses all three NGSS dimensions and is accompanied by evidence-based approaches to teacher professional development (PD). Using a design based research approach, and informed by cognitive developmental findings, this 4-year project will engage at least 700 students and their teachers and include partners from at least four school districts, Boston University, and TERC.

Improving the Teaching of Genetics in High School to Avoid Instilling Misconceptions about Gender Differences (Collaborative Research: Riegle-Crumb)

This project will study the aspects of genetics instruction that affect students' beliefs in neurogenetic essentialism, which is implicated in lowering girls' sense of STEM abilities, feeling of belonging in STEM classes, and interest in pursuing further education in STEM fields. The goal of the project is to answer important questions about how to teach genetics at the high school level in a manner that is scientifically accurate but does not have these detrimental side effects.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1956119
Funding Period: 
Wed, 07/01/2020 to Mon, 06/30/2025
Full Description: 

Recent research suggests that learning about genetics during high school biology can lead to a belief that inherent differences in the genes and brains of men and women are the main causes of gender differences in behavior and intellectual abilities (a belief known as neurogenetic essentialism). This belief is implicated in lowering girls' sense of their own STEM abilities, their feelings of belonging in STEM classes, and their interest in pursuing further education in STEM fields. The goal of this project, led by a team of researchers at Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, the University of Texas, Austin, and New York University is to answer important questions about how to teach genetics at the high school level in a manner that is scientifically accurate, but does not have these detrimental side effects. Specifically, this new line of experimental research will identify and revise the content in common genetics instruction that promotes the belief in neurogenetic essentialism. The proposed experiments will also explore how the beliefs of peers and teachers contribute to changes in such beliefs in students. This work has further implications for how the topic of differences between men and women is addressed during high school biology education. Furthermore, the research findings will advance theory on factors that contribute to gender disparities in STEM attitudes and aspirations.

Building on preliminary evidence, this project aims to accomplish four key goals. First, the project will study which specific aspects of genetics instruction affect students' beliefs in neurogenetic essentialism. Second, the project will identify the cognitive mechanisms through which these effects occur. Third, the project will uncover the downstream effects of revised genetics instructional materials on a broad range of motivational variables relevant to STEM pursuit, such as implicit person theories, sense of belonging in STEM, and interest in this domain. Fourth, the project will explore the contextual factors (e.g., teacher and peer beliefs) that may moderate or mediate how students respond to the instructional materials. The research team will develop and iteratively refine genetics educational materialsthat teach about genetic, neurological, and behavioral variation within and between sexes, as well as the social causes of such differences. The research team will then test the effectiveness of these revised materials through two large-scale randomized control trials, one targeting students directly and one targeting students' learning via their teachers. The results of this project will produce generalizable knowledge regarding the cognitive, sociological, and educational factors that contribute to STEM gender disparities.

CAREER: Promoting Equitable and Inclusive STEM Contexts in High School

This project focuses on fostering equitable and inclusive STEM contexts with attention to documenting and reducing adolescents' experiences of harassment, bias, prejudice and stereotyping. This research will contribute to understanding of the current STEM educational climates in high schools and will help to identify factors that promote resilience in the STEM contexts, documenting how K-12 educators can structure their classrooms and schools to foster success of all students in STEM classes.

Award Number: 
1941992
Funding Period: 
Sat, 02/01/2020 to Fri, 01/31/2025
Full Description: 

This project focuses on fostering equitable and inclusive STEM contexts with attention to documenting and reducing adolescents' experiences of harassment, bias, prejudice and stereotyping. An important barrier to persistence in STEM fields for marginalized groups, including women and ethnic minorities, relates to a culture in many STEM organizations, such as academic institutions, that fosters discrimination, harassment and prejudicial treatment of those from underrepresented groups. This research will contribute to understanding of the current STEM educational climates in high schools and will help to identify factors that promote resilience in the STEM contexts, documenting how K-12 educators can structure their classrooms and schools to foster success of all students in STEM classes. Further, this work will explore how to create schools where students stand-up for each other and support each other so that any student who is interested will feel welcome in STEM classes and programs.

This research aims to examine cultures of discrimination and harassment in STEM contexts with attention to: 1) assessing STEM climates in high schools in order to identify the character of discrimination and harassment, 2) understanding how youth think about these instances of bias and discrimination; 3) identifying pathways to resilience for underrepresented youth pursuing STEM interests, and 4) testing an intervention to promote bystander intervention from those who witness discrimination and harassment in STEM contexts. This research will take an intersectional approach recognizing that those who are marginalized by multiple dimensions of their identity may experience STEM contexts differently than those who are marginalized by one dimension of their identity. Because adolescence is a critical developmental period during which youth are forming their attitudes, orientations and lifelong behaviors, this research will attend to issues of bias and discrimination well before individuals enter college STEM classrooms or the STEM workforce: namely, during high school. Further, this work will examine the creation of equitable STEM climates in both college-preparation classes as well as workforce development STEM programs offered though or in partnership with high schools. This research will provide clear evidence to document the current culture of STEM contexts in high schools, using mixed methods, including surveys, qualitative interviews and longitudinal measurement. Further, the project will involve development and implementation of an intervention, which will provide the first test of whether bystander intervention can be fostered in STEM students and will involve training STEM students in key 21st century skills, such as social-cognitive capacities and interpersonal skills, enabling them to speak up and support peers from marginalized backgrounds when they observe discrimination and harassment.

CAREER: Spreading Computational Literacy Equitably via Integration of Computing in Preservice Teacher Preparation

This project will study the effect of integrating computing into preservice teacher programs. The project will use design-based research to explore how to connect computing concepts and integration activities to teachers' subject area knowledge and teaching practice, and which computing concepts are most valuable for general computational literacy.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1941642
Funding Period: 
Wed, 07/01/2020 to Mon, 06/30/2025
Full Description: 

Understanding and creating computer-powered solutions to professional and personal problems enables people to be safe, resourceful, and inventive in the technology-infused world. To empower society, K-12 education is rapidly changing to spread computational literacy. To spread literacy equitably, schools must give all students opportunities to understand and design computing solutions. However, school schedules are already packed with required coursework, and most teachers graduated from programs that did not offer computer science courses. To spread computational literacy within the K-12 system, this project will integrate computing into all preservice teacher programs at Georgia State University. This approach enables all teachers, regardless of primary discipline or grade band, to introduce their students to authentic computing solutions within their discipline and use these solutions as powerful tools for teaching disciplinary content and practices. In addition, this approach ensures equity because all preservice teachers will learn to use computing tools through their regular coursework, rather than a self-selected group that chooses to engage in elective courses or professional development on the topic. The project will also require preservice teachers to use computing-integrated activities in their student teaching experiences. This requirement helps teachers gain the confidence to use the activities in their future classrooms and immediately benefits students in the Atlanta area, who are primarily from groups that are underrepresented in computing, including women, people of color and those who are from low-income families.

This project will study the effect of computing integration in preservice teacher programs on computational literacy. Preservice teacher programs, like K-12 school schedules, are loaded with subject area, pedagogy, and licensure requirements. Therefore, research needs to examine the most sustainable methods for integrating computing into these programs. The proposed project will use design-based research to explore 1) how to connect computing concepts and integration activities to teachers' subject area knowledge and teaching practice, and 2) which computing concepts are most valuable for general computational literacy. Because computational literacy is a relatively new literacy, the computing education community still debates which concepts are foundational for all citizens. By studying computing integration in a range of grade bands and subject areas, this project will explore which computing concepts are applicable in a wide range of subjects. These research activities will feed directly into the teaching objective of this project ? to provide computing education and computational literacy to all preservice teachers. This project will prepare about 1500 preservice teachers (more than half of them will be women) across all grades and subject areas who can teach computing integrated activities.

 

CAREER: Understanding Latinx Students' Stories of Doing and Learning Mathematics

This project characterizes and analyses the developing mathematical identities of Latinx students transitioning from elementary to middle grades mathematics. The central hypothesis of this project is that elementary Latino students' stories can identify how race and language are influential to their mathematical identities and how school and classroom practices may perpetuate inequities.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1941952
Funding Period: 
Mon, 06/01/2020 to Sat, 05/31/2025
Full Description: 

Although the Latino population throughout the United States continues to increase, various researchers have shown that Latino students are often not afforded high quality learning experiences in their mathematics classrooms. As a result, Latino students are underrepresented in higher level mathematics courses and careers involving mathematics. Having a better understanding of Latino students' perspectives and experiences is imperative to improving their opportunities to learn mathematics. Yet, little research has made central Latinos students' perspectives of learning and doing mathematics, especially over a critical period of time like the transition from elementary to middle school. The goal of this study will be to improve mathematics teaching and learning for Latino youth as they move from upper elementary to early middle school mathematics classrooms. The project involves three major parts: investigating the policy, media, and oral histories of Latino families/communities to understand the context for participating Latino students' mathematics education; exploring Latino students' stories about their experiences learning and doing mathematics to understand these students' perspectives; and creating documentary video portraitures (or composite cases) of participants' stories about learning and doing mathematics that can be used in teacher preparation and professional development. Finally, the project will look across the experiences over the duration of the project to develop a framework that can be used to improve Latino students' mathematics education experiences. This project will provide a window into how Latino students may experience inequities and can broaden mathematics educators' views on opportunities to engage Latino students in rigorous mathematics. The project will also broaden the field's understanding of how Latino students racial/ethnic and linguistic identities influence their experiences learning mathematics. It will also identify key factors that impact Latino students' experiences in learning mathematics to pinpoint specific areas where interventions and programs need to be designed and implemented. An underlying assumption of the project is that carefully capturing and understanding Latino students' stories can illuminate the strengths and resilience these students bring to their learning and doing of mathematics.

This research project characterizes and analyses the developing mathematical identities of Latinx students transitioning from elementary to middle grades mathematics. The overarching research question for this study is: What are the developing stories of learning and doing mathematics of Latino students as they transition from elementary to middle school mathematics? To answer this question, this study is divided into three phases: 1) understanding and documenting the historical context by examining policy documents, local newspaper articles, and doing focus group interviews with community members; 2) using ethnographic methods over two years to explore students' stories of learning and doing mathematics and clinical interviews to understand how they think about and construct arguments about mathematics (i.e., measurement, division, and algebraic patterning); and 3) creating video-cases that can be used in teacher education. Traditional ways of teaching mathematics perpetuate images of who can and cannot do mathematics by not acknowledging contributions of other cultures to the mathematical sciences (Gutiérrez, 2017) and the way mathematics has become a gatekeeper for social mobility (Martin, Gholson, & Leonard, 2010; Stinson, 2004). Focusing on Latino students' stories can illuminate teachers' construction of equitable learning spaces and how they define success for their Latino students. The central hypothesis of this project is that elementary Latino students' stories can identify how race and language are influential to their mathematical identities and how school and classroom practices may perpetuate inequities. Finally, the data and video-cases will then be used to develop a conceptual framework for understanding the development of the participating students' developing mathematical identities. This framework will provide an in-depth understanding of the developing racial/ethnic, linguistic, and mathematical identities of the participating Latino students. The educational material developed (e.g. video documentaries, discussion material) from this project will be made available to all interested parties freely through the project website. The distribution of these materials, along with further understanding of Latino students' experiences learning mathematics, will help in developing programs and interventions at the elementary and middle grade level to increase the representation of Latino students in STEM careers. Additionally, identifying the key factors impacting Latino students' experiences in learning mathematics can pinpoint specific areas where interventions and programs still need to be designed and implemented. Future projects could include the assessment of these programs. This project will also inform the development of professional learning experiences for prospective and practicing teachers working with Latino or other marginalized students.

The Developmental Emergence and Consequences of Spatial and Math Gender Stereotypes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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