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.
This project aims to advance the preparation of preservice teachers in middle school mathematics, specifically on the topic of proportionality, a centrally important and difficult topic in middle school mathematics that is essential to students’ later success in algebra. To address the need for a workforce of high-quality teachers to teach this mathematics, the project is developing a digital text that could be widely used to communicate the unique transitional nature of middle school mathematics.
This project implemented a facets-of-thinking perspective to design tools and practices to improve high school chemistry teachers' formative assessment practices. Goals are to identify and develop clusters of facets related to key chemistry concepts; develop assessment items; enhance the assessment system for administering items, reporting results, and providing teacher resource materials; develop teacher professional development and resource materials; and examine whether student learning in chemistry improves in classes that incorporate a facet-based assessment system.
Supported by research on students' preconceptions, particularly in chemistry, and the need to build on the knowledge and skills that students bring to the classroom, this project implements a facets-of-thinking perspective for the improvement of formative assessment, learning, and instruction in high school chemistry. Its goals are: to identify and develop clusters of facets (students' ideas and understandings) related to key high school chemistry concepts; to develop assessment items that diagnose facets within each cluster; to enhance the existing web-based Diagnoser assessment system for administering items, reporting results, and providing teacher resource materials for interpreting and using the assessment data; to develop teacher professional development and resource materials to support their use of facet-based approaches in chemistry; and to examine whether student learning in chemistry improves in classes that incorporate a facet-based assessment system.
The proposed work builds on two previously NSF-funded projects focused on designing Diagnoser (ESI-0435727) in the area of physics and on assessment development to support the transition to complex science learning (REC-0129406). The work plan is organized in three strands: (1) Assessment Development, consisting of the development and validation of facet clusters related to the Atomic Structure of Matter and Changes in Matter and the development and validation of question sets related to each facet cluster, including their administration to chemistry classes; (2) Professional Development, through which materials will be produced for a teacher workshop focused on the assessment-for-learning cycle; and (3) Technology Development, to upgrade the Diagnoser authoring system and to include chemistry facets and assessments.
Anticipated products include: (1) 8-10 validated facet clusters related to the Atomic Structure of Matter and Changes in Matter; (2) 12-20 items per facet cluster that provide diagnostic information about student understanding in relation to the facet clusters; (3) additional instructional materials related to each facet cluster, including 1-3 questions to elicit inital student ideas, a developmental lesson to encourage students' exploration of new concepts, and 3-5 prescriptive lessons to address persistent problematic ideas; and (4) a publically-available web-based Diagnoser for chemistry (www.Diagnoser.com), including student assessments and instructional materials.
This project researches the use of cyberinfrastructure to implement a strategy for using online telescopes as a laboratory to engage middle and high school students in cutting edge science research while providing them with significant new opportunities to apply STEM concepts, practice inquiry, and design and learn about the nature of scientific discovery.
This project is developing a science teacher education model focused on the establishment of a diagnostic learning environment through formative assessment as a powerful instructional practice for promoting learning of all students (grades 5–12) on the topic of energy with the goal of increasing the understanding of the processes through which teachers develop the requisite knowledge, skills, and dispositions for effective deployment of a formative assessment instructional cycle.
This project is developing, validating, and evaluating computer modeling-based formative assessments to improve student learning in chemistry. Activities include developing a series of computer models related to key topics in high school chemistry, developing questions to probe student understanding of matter and energy, identifying teaching and learning resources appropriate for different levels of student conceptual understanding, and developing professional development resources on integrating formative assessments into high school chemistry courses.
This project examines the nature of adaptive expertise in mathematics education, exploring relationships between this concept from cognitive psychology and effective middle school mathematics instruction. One goal of the project is to operationalize adaptive expertise in mathematics classroom using three dimensions: cognitive models of professional competence, instructional practices, and professional learning. Then, researchers seek to determine whether teachers who are more effective at raising student achievement are more or less adaptive.
The SAVE Science project is creating an innovative system using immersive virtual environments for evaluating learning in science, consistent with research- and policy-based recommendations for science learning focused around the big ideas of science content and inquiry for middle school years. Motivation for this comes not only from best practices as outlined in the National Science Education Standards and AAAS' Project 2061, but also from the declining interest and confidence of today's student in science.
This project promotes teacher "learning in practice" to bring out and build on the cognitive strengths of their students for science learning in the classroom. Understanding the broader contexts of their student’s lives will enable teachers to make teaching more effective and relevant for their students. Teachers and researchers collaborate to develop theories of action, document and disseminate practices that support teacher learning, and design a model for sustainable, school-wide improvement of science education.
The Accessing Science Ideas (ASI) project is developing and researching content enhancements that support science learning of middle school students with executive function and related learning disabilities. The goal of ASI research is to measure the extent to which curricular units with content enhancements lead to increased student understanding of science concepts, improved reasoning, and greater confidence.
The Accessing Science Ideas (ASI) project is developing and researching content enhancements that support science learning of middle school students with executive function and related learning disabilities. These content enhancements are being designed for and integrated into two Full Option Science System (FOSS) curriculum units, Diversity of Life and Populations and Ecosystems. The goal of ASI research is to measure the extent to which curricular units with content enhancements lead to increased student understanding of science concepts, improved reasoning, and greater confidence for all students in an inclusive science classroom. However, we anticipate that the students with executive function challenges who find it particularly difficult to organize and remember information, shift between concrete phenomena and abstract concepts and see relationships among ideas will benefit most.
Content enhancements are instructional strategies and materials that do not change content but rather ‘enhance’ it by making it accessible to all learners. They make ideas more explicit, prompt elaboration, involve students in transforming the information, and make concepts, ideas, and their relationships more concrete. In this project, we design, pilot, and revise our content enhancements for each unit prior to the field test.
The study employs an experimental design with randomization at the teacher level. Teachers in the intervention are provided with training and then use content enhancements while those in the control group teach the FOSS unit as they typically would. The control group receives training and the content enhancements at the conclusion of the research phase.