Reasoning Skills

Leveraging the Power of Reflection and Visual Representation in Middle-Schoolers' Learning During and After an Informal Science Experience (Collaborative Research: Uttal)

This project addresses a longstanding problem in informal science education: how to increase the likelihood of consequential STEM learning from short duration experiences such as field trips.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2115905
Funding Period: 
Fri, 10/01/2021 to Tue, 09/30/2025
Full Description: 

This project addresses a longstanding problem in informal science education: how to increase the likelihood of consequential science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning from short duration experiences such as field trips. Although informal learning experiences can greatly contribute to interest in and knowledge of science, there is a shared concern among educators and researchers that students may have difficulty recalling and using scientific information and practices emphasized during these experiences, even though doing so would further their science learning. Nonetheless, science learning is rarely, if ever, a "one-shot deal." Children acquire knowledge about science cumulatively across different contexts and activities. Therefore, it is important that informal science learning institutions identify effective practices that support the consolidation of learning and memory from exhibit experiences to foster portable, usable knowledge across contexts, such as from informal science learning institutions, to classrooms, and homes. To this end, this Research in Service to Practice project seeks to harness the power and potential of visual representations (e.g., graphs, drawings, charts, maps, etc.) for enhancing learning and encouraging effective reflection during and after science learning experiences. The project promises to increase learning for the 9,000+ 5th and 6th grade students from across the rurality and growing diversity of the state of Maine who annually participate in LabVenture, a 2.5-hour exploration of the Gulf of Maine ecosystem at Gulf of Maine Research Institute. The research will provide new and actionable informal science learning practices that promote engagement with visual representations and reflection, and science understandings that can be applied broadly by informal science institutions.

The project is grounded in the idea that visual representations, including drawings, can both enhance science learning and encourage reflection on doing science that can support extension of that learning beyond a singular informal science experience. The project uses design-based research to address the following research questions: (1) Does reflection during an informal science learning experience promote students’ retention and subsequent use of science information and practices that are part of the experience? (2) Does interpreting and constructing visual representations, such as drawings, improve students’ understanding and retention of information, and if so, how and when?  and (3) Does combining visual representations and narrative reflections confer benefits on students’ science learning and engagement in science practices both during the informal learning experience, and later in their classrooms and at home? These questions will be pursued in collaboration with practitioners (both informal educators and classroom teachers) and a diverse team of graduate and undergraduate student researchers. Approximately 600 student groups (roughly 3000 individual students) will be observed during the LabVenture experience, with further data collection involving a portion of these students at school and at home. The project will yield resources and video demonstrations of field-tested, empirically based practices that promote engagement with visual representations and reflection, and science understandings that can travel within students' learning ecosystem. In support of broadening participation, the undergraduate/graduate student researchers will gain wide understanding and experience connecting research to practice and communicating science to academic and nonacademic audiences.

Leveraging the Power of Reflection and Visual Representation in Middle-Schoolers' Learning During and After an Informal Science Experience (Collaborative Research: Dickes)

This project addresses a longstanding problem in informal science education: how to increase the likelihood of consequential STEM learning from short duration experiences such as field trips.

Award Number: 
2115603
Funding Period: 
Fri, 10/01/2021 to Tue, 09/30/2025
Full Description: 

This project addresses a longstanding problem in informal science education: how to increase the likelihood of consequential science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning from short duration experiences such as field trips. Although informal learning experiences can greatly contribute to interest in and knowledge of science, there is a shared concern among educators and researchers that students may have difficulty recalling and using scientific information and practices emphasized during these experiences, even though doing so would further their science learning. Nonetheless, science learning is rarely, if ever, a "one-shot deal." Children acquire knowledge about science cumulatively across different contexts and activities. Therefore, it is important that informal science learning institutions identify effective practices that support the consolidation of learning and memory from exhibit experiences to foster portable, usable knowledge across contexts, such as from informal science learning institutions, to classrooms, and homes. To this end, this Research in Service to Practice project seeks to harness the power and potential of visual representations (e.g., graphs, drawings, charts, maps, etc.) for enhancing learning and encouraging effective reflection during and after science learning experiences. The project promises to increase learning for the 9,000+ 5th and 6th grade students from across the rurality and growing diversity of the state of Maine who annually participate in LabVenture, a 2.5-hour exploration of the Gulf of Maine ecosystem at Gulf of Maine Research Institute. The research will provide new and actionable informal science learning practices that promote engagement with visual representations and reflection, and science understandings that can be applied broadly by informal science institutions.

The project is grounded in the idea that visual representations, including drawings, can both enhance science learning and encourage reflection on doing science that can support extension of that learning beyond a singular informal science experience. The project uses design-based research to address the following research questions: (1) Does reflection during an informal science learning experience promote students’ retention and subsequent use of science information and practices that are part of the experience? (2) Does interpreting and constructing visual representations, such as drawings, improve students’ understanding and retention of information, and if so, how and when?  and (3) Does combining visual representations and narrative reflections confer benefits on students’ science learning and engagement in science practices both during the informal learning experience, and later in their classrooms and at home? These questions will be pursued in collaboration with practitioners (both informal educators and classroom teachers) and a diverse team of graduate and undergraduate student researchers. Approximately 600 student groups (roughly 3000 individual students) will be observed during the LabVenture experience, with further data collection involving a portion of these students at school and at home. The project will yield resources and video demonstrations of field-tested, empirically based practices that promote engagement with visual representations and reflection, and science understandings that can travel within students' learning ecosystem. In support of broadening participation, the undergraduate/graduate student researchers will gain wide understanding and experience connecting research to practice and communicating science to academic and nonacademic audiences.

Leveraging the Power of Reflection and Visual Representation in Middle-Schoolers' Learning During and After an Informal Science Experience (Collaborative Research: Haden)

This project addresses a longstanding problem in informal science education: how to increase the likelihood of consequential STEM learning from short duration experiences such as field trips.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2115610
Funding Period: 
Fri, 10/01/2021 to Tue, 09/30/2025
Full Description: 

This project addresses a longstanding problem in informal science education: how to increase the likelihood of consequential science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning from short duration experiences such as field trips. Although informal learning experiences can greatly contribute to interest in and knowledge of science, there is a shared concern among educators and researchers that students may have difficulty recalling and using scientific information and practices emphasized during these experiences, even though doing so would further their science learning. Nonetheless, science learning is rarely, if ever, a "one-shot deal." Children acquire knowledge about science cumulatively across different contexts and activities. Therefore, it is important that informal science learning institutions identify effective practices that support the consolidation of learning and memory from exhibit experiences to foster portable, usable knowledge across contexts, such as from informal science learning institutions, to classrooms, and homes. To this end, this Research in Service to Practice project seeks to harness the power and potential of visual representations (e.g., graphs, drawings, charts, maps, etc.) for enhancing learning and encouraging effective reflection during and after science learning experiences. The project promises to increase learning for the 9,000+ 5th and 6th grade students from across the rurality and growing diversity of the state of Maine who annually participate in LabVenture, a 2.5-hour exploration of the Gulf of Maine ecosystem at Gulf of Maine Research Institute. The research will provide new and actionable informal science learning practices that promote engagement with visual representations and reflection, and science understandings that can be applied broadly by informal science institutions.

The project is grounded in the idea that visual representations, including drawings, can both enhance science learning and encourage reflection on doing science that can support extension of that learning beyond a singular informal science experience. The project uses design-based research to address the following research questions: (1) Does reflection during an informal science learning experience promote students’ retention and subsequent use of science information and practices that are part of the experience? (2) Does interpreting and constructing visual representations, such as drawings, improve students’ understanding and retention of information, and if so, how and when?  and (3) Does combining visual representations and narrative reflections confer benefits on students’ science learning and engagement in science practices both during the informal learning experience, and later in their classrooms and at home? These questions will be pursued in collaboration with practitioners (both informal educators and classroom teachers) and a diverse team of graduate and undergraduate student researchers. Approximately 600 student groups (roughly 3000 individual students) will be observed during the LabVenture experience, with further data collection involving a portion of these students at school and at home. The project will yield resources and video demonstrations of field-tested, empirically based practices that promote engagement with visual representations and reflection, and science understandings that can travel within students' learning ecosystem. In support of broadening participation, the undergraduate/graduate student researchers will gain wide understanding and experience connecting research to practice and communicating science to academic and nonacademic audiences.

Learning about Viral Epidemics through Engagement with Different Types of Models

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for supporting student learning about viral outbreaks and other complex societal issues. Given the complexity of issues like viral outbreaks, engaging learners with different types of models (e.g., mechanistic, computational and system models) is critical. However, there is little research available regarding how learners coordinate sense making across different models.

Award Number: 
2101083
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2021 to Sun, 08/31/2025
Full Description: 

The project will develop new curriculum and use it to research how high school students learn about viral epidemics while developing competencies for scientific modeling. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for supporting student learning about viral outbreaks and other complex societal issues. Given the complexity of issues like viral outbreaks, engaging learners with different types of models (e.g., mechanistic, computational and system models) is critical. However, there is little research available regarding how learners coordinate sense making across different models. This project will address the gap by studying student learning with different types of models and will use these findings to develop and study new curriculum materials that incorporate multiple models for teaching about viral epidemics in high school biology classes. COVID-19 caused devasting impacts, and marginalized groups including the Latinx community suffered disproportionately negative outcomes. The project will directly recruit Latinx students to ensure that design products are culturally responsive and account for Latinx learner needs. The project will create new pathways for engaging Latinx students in innovative, model-based curriculum about critically important issues. Project research and resources will be widely shared via publications, conference presentations, and professional development opportunities for teachers.

The project will research three aspects of student learning: a) conceptual understandings about viral epidemics, b) epistemic understandings associated with modeling, and c) model-informed reasoning about viral epidemics and potential solutions. The research will be conducted in three phases. Phase 1 will explore how students make sense of viral epidemics through different types of models. This research will be conducted with small groups of students as they work through learning activities and discourse opportunities associated with viral epidemic models. Phase 2 will research how opportunities to engage in modeling across different types of models should be supported and sequenced for learning about viral epidemics. These findings will make it possible to revise the learning performance which will be used to develop a curricular module for high school biology classes. Phase 3 will study the extent to which students learn about viral epidemics through engagement in modeling practices across different models. For this final phase, teachers will participate in professional development about viral epidemics and modeling and then implement the viral epidemic module in their biology classes. A pre- and post-test research design will be used to explore student conceptual understandings, model-informed reasoning, and epistemic understandings.

Connecting Elementary Mathematics Teaching to Real-World Issues (Collaborative Research: Felton)

This project will engage students and teachers in rich, real-world math tasks; will support future teachers and mathematics educators in adapting, designing, and implementing similar tasks; and will provide a basis for further research on the most effective ways to design and implement real-world tasks in the mathematics classroom.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101456
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/01/2021 to Sun, 06/30/2024
Full Description: 

There are long-standing calls to make mathematics more meaningful, relevant, and applicable both inside and outside of the K-12 classroom. In particular, there is a growing recognition that mathematics is a valuable tool for helping students understand important real-world issues that affect their lives and society. Further, mathematics can support students in becoming mathematically literate and engaged democratic citizens. Despite the increased interest in connecting mathematics to real-world issues in the classroom, many teachers feel unprepared to do so. This project will engage students and teachers in rich, real-world math tasks; will support future teachers and mathematics educators in adapting, designing, and implementing similar tasks; and will provide a basis for further research on the most effective ways to design and implement real-world tasks in the mathematics classroom.

The three goals of the Connecting Elementary Mathematics to the World project are: (1) To explore how mathematics teachers adapt, design, and enact tasks that connect mathematics to the real world. We will study the teaching practices of the project team as they engage in this work in two summer camps and in elementary classrooms at two sites. (2) To develop a collection of exemplar tasks and rich records of practice for each task. These records of practice will detail the mathematical and real-world learning goals, background knowledge needed for both goals, common student responses, and videos or vignettes of the task in progress. A team of six teachers at two sites will be recruited to collaborate with the team throughout the project. Teachers will provide input and feedback on the design of, appropriateness of, and relevance of the tasks and the support materials needed to implement the real-world tasks. Initial tasks will be field tested with elementary students and additional tasks will be developed for subsequent week-long summer camps and for teaching in elementary classrooms. (3) To research both the development and enactment of these tasks. We will develop a theoretical framework for creating and implementing real-world tasks that can inform future practice and research in this area. The research products of this project will result in (a) an understanding of effective teaching and design practices for connecting mathematics to real-world issues, (b) a theoretical framework of how these practices are interconnected, and (c) how these practices differ from practices when teaching typical school mathematics tasks.

Connecting Elementary Mathematics Teaching to Real-World Issues (Collaborative Research: Thanheiser)

This project will engage students and teachers in rich, real-world math tasks; will support future teachers and mathematics educators in adapting, designing, and implementing similar tasks; and will provide a basis for further research on the most effective ways to design and implement real-world tasks in the mathematics classroom.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101463
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/01/2021 to Sun, 06/30/2024
Full Description: 

There are long-standing calls to make mathematics more meaningful, relevant, and applicable both inside and outside of the K-12 classroom. In particular, there is a growing recognition that mathematics is a valuable tool for helping students understand important real-world issues that affect their lives and society. Further, mathematics can support students in becoming mathematically literate and engaged democratic citizens. Despite the increased interest in connecting mathematics to real-world issues in the classroom, many teachers feel unprepared to do so. This project will engage students and teachers in rich, real-world math tasks; will support future teachers and mathematics educators in adapting, designing, and implementing similar tasks; and will provide a basis for further research on the most effective ways to design and implement real-world tasks in the mathematics classroom.

The three goals of the Connecting Elementary Mathematics to the World project are: (1) To explore how mathematics teachers adapt, design, and enact tasks that connect mathematics to the real world. We will study the teaching practices of the project team as they engage in this work in two summer camps and in elementary classrooms at two sites. (2) To develop a collection of exemplar tasks and rich records of practice for each task. These records of practice will detail the mathematical and real-world learning goals, background knowledge needed for both goals, common student responses, and videos or vignettes of the task in progress. A team of six teachers at two sites will be recruited to collaborate with the team throughout the project. Teachers will provide input and feedback on the design of, appropriateness of, and relevance of the tasks and the support materials needed to implement the real-world tasks. Initial tasks will be field tested with elementary students and additional tasks will be developed for subsequent week-long summer camps and for teaching in elementary classrooms. (3) To research both the development and enactment of these tasks. We will develop a theoretical framework for creating and implementing real-world tasks that can inform future practice and research in this area. The research products of this project will result in (a) an understanding of effective teaching and design practices for connecting mathematics to real-world issues, (b) a theoretical framework of how these practices are interconnected, and (c) how these practices differ from practices when teaching typical school mathematics tasks.

Improving Professional Development in Mathematics by Understanding the Mechanisms that Translate Teacher Learning into Student Learning

This project explores the mechanisms by which teachers translate what they learn from professional development into their teaching practice. The goal of this project is to study how the knowledge and skills teachers acquire during professional development (PD) translate into more conceptually oriented mathematics teaching and, in turn, into increased student learning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2100617
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2021 to Sun, 08/31/2025
Full Description: 

A great deal is known about the effects of mathematics teacher professional development on teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching. While some professional development programs show meaningful changes in teacher knowledge, these changes do not always translate into changes in teacher practice. This project explores the mechanisms by which teachers translate what they learn from professional development into their teaching practice. The goal of this project is to study how the knowledge and skills teachers acquire during professional development (PD) translate into more conceptually oriented mathematics teaching and, in turn, into increased student learning. The project builds on a promising video-based PD that engages teachers in analyzing videos of classroom mathematics teaching. Previous research indicates that teachers who can analyze teaching by focusing on the nature of the mathematical learning opportunities experienced by students often teach more effectively. The researchers aim to better understand the path teachers follow as they develop this professional competency and translate it into more ambitious teaching that supports richer student learning. The lack of understanding of how a PD program can reach students is a significant barrier to improving the effectiveness of PD. To build this understanding, the researchers aim to test and refine an implementation theory that specifies the obstacles teachers face as they apply their learning to their classroom teaching and the contextual supports that help teachers surmount these obstacles. Lessons learned from understanding the factors that impact the effects of PD will help educators design PD programs that maximize the translation of teacher learning into student learning.

The project will recruit and support a cohort of teachers, grades 4–5 (n=40) and grades 6–7 (n=40) for three years to trace growth in teacher learning, changes in teaching practices, and increases in student learning. The PD will be provided throughout the year for three consecutive years. The researchers will focus on two mathematics topics with a third topic assessed to measure transfer effects. Several cycles of lesson analysis will occur each year, with small grade-alike curriculum-alike groups assisted by trained coaches to help teachers translate their growing analysis skills into planning, implementing, and reflecting on their own lessons. Additional days will be allocated each year to assist the larger groups of teachers in developing pedagogical content knowledge for analyzing teaching. The research focuses on the following questions: 1) What are the relationships between teacher learning from PD, classroom teaching, and student learning, how do hypothesized mediating variables affect these relationships, and how do these relationships change as teachers become more competent at analyzing teaching?; and 2) How do teachers describe the obstacles and supports they believe affect their learning and teaching, and how do these obstacles and supports deepen and broaden the implementation theory? Multi-level modeling will be used to address the first question, taking into account for the nested nature of the data, in order to test a model that hypothesizes direct and indirect relationships between teacher learning and teaching practice and, in turn, teaching practice and student learning. Teachers will take assessments each year, for each mathematics topic, on the analysis of teaching skills, on the use of teaching practices, and on students’ learning. Cluster analysis will be used to explore the extent to which the relationship between learning to analyze the mathematics of a lesson, teaching quality, and student achievement may be different for different teachers based on measured characteristics. Longitudinal analysis will be used to examine the theoretical relationships among variables in the hypothesized path model. Teachers’ mathematical knowledge for teaching, lesson planning, and textbook curricular material use will be examined as possible mediating variables between teacher learning and teaching practice. To address the second research question, participants will engage in annual interviews about the factors they are obstacles to doing this work and about the supports within and outside of the PD that ameliorate these obstacles. Quantitative analyses will test the relationships between the obstacles and supports with teacher learning and classroom teaching. Through qualitative analyses, the obstacles and supports to translating professional learning into practice will be further articulated. These obstacles and supports, along with the professional development model, will be disseminated to the field.

Developing a Modeling Orientation to Science: Teaching and Learning Variability and Change in Ecosystems (Collaborative Research: Miller)

This project addresses the need to make science relevant for school students and to support student interpretation of large data sets by leveraging citizen science data about ecology and developing instruction to support student analyses of these data. This collaboration between Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Bowdoin College and Vanderbilt University engages middle-school students in building and revising models of variability and change in ecosystems and studies the learning and instruction in these classroom contexts.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2010155
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2020 to Thu, 08/31/2023
Full Description: 

There is an ongoing need to find ways to make science relevant for school students and an increasing need to support student interpretation of large data sets. This project addresses these needs by leveraging citizen science data about ecology and developing instruction to support student analyses of these data. This collaboration between Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Bowdoin College and Vanderbilt University engages middle-school students in building and revising models of variability and change in ecosystems and studies the learning and instruction in these classroom contexts. Students construct and critique models that they and peers invent and, through the lens of models, develop foundational knowledge about the roles of variability and change in ecosystem functioning, as well as the roles of models and argumentation in scientific practice. The context for students' work is a set of citizen science-based investigations of changes in ecosystems in Maine conducted in twelve collaborating classrooms. The project studies how and to what extent students' use of different forms of modeling emerges from and informs how they investigate ecosystems. A parallel research effort investigates how and to what extent the development of teachers' comfort and proficiency with modeling changes students' engagement in these forms of modeling and students' understandings of ecosystems. A key contribution of the project is capitalizing on the Gulf of Maine Research Institutes's Ecosystem Investigation Network's citizen science field research to ground for middle school students the need to invent, revise, and contest models about real ecosystems. The understandings that result from the project's research provide evidence toward first, scaling the learning experiences to the network of 500+ teachers who are part of the Ecosystem Investigation Network, and, second, replication by programs nationally that aim to engage students in data-rich, field-based ecological investigations.

The investigation takes place in twelve collaborating middle-school classrooms, drawn from the network of 500+ Maine teachers trained in Maine's Ecosystem Investigation Network. Over the course of their field investigations, students engage in the construction, critique, and revision of three forms of modeling that play central roles in ecology: microcosms, system dynamics, and data modeling. Two innovations are introduced over the course of the project. The first is focused on enriching classroom supports for engaging in multiple forms of modeling. The second involves enhancing middle school teachers' learning about modeling, especially in the context of large data citizen science investigations. The study uses a mixed methods approach to explore the impact of the innovations on the experiences and understandings of both teachers and students. Instruments include teacher interviews and questionnaires, student interviews, and classroom observation. The understandings that result from the project's research will inform the design of professional development for teachers around data analysis and interpretation, and around how student understanding of modeling develops with sustained support, both of which are practices at the heart of scientific literacy.

Assessing College-Ready Computational Thinking (Collaborative Research: Wilson)

The goal of this project is to develop learning progressions and assessment items targeting computational thinking. The items will be used for a test of college-ready critical reasoning skills and will be integrated into an existing online assessment system, the Berkeley Assessment System Software.

Award Number: 
2010314
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2020 to Sat, 08/31/2024
Full Description: 

Because of the growing need for students to be college and career ready, high-quality assessments of college readiness skills are in high demand. To realize the goal of preparing students for college and careers, assessments must measure important competencies and provide rapid feedback to teachers. It is necessary to go beyond the limits of multiple-choice testing and foster the skills and thinking that lie at the core of college and career ready skills, such as computational thinking. Computational thinking is a set of valuable skills that can be used to solve problems, design systems, and understand human behavior, and is thus essential to developing a more STEM-literate public. Computational thinking is increasingly seen as a fundamental analytical skill that everyone, not just computer scientists, can use. The goal of this project is to develop learning progressions and assessment items targeting computational thinking. The items will be used for a test of college-ready critical reasoning skills and will be integrated into an existing online assessment system, the Berkeley Assessment System Software.

The project will address a set of research questions focused on 1) clarifying computational thinking constructs, 2) usability, reliability of validity of assessment items and the information they provide, 3) teachers' use of assessments, and 4) relationships to student performance. The study sample of 2,700 used for the pilot and field tests will include all levels of students in 10th through 12th grade and first year college students (both community college and university level). The target population is students in schools which are implementing the College Readiness Program (CRP) of the National Mathematics and Science Institute. In the 2020-21 academic year 54 high schools across 11 states (CA, GA, FL, ID, LA, NC, NM, OH, TX, VA, and WA) will participate. This will include high school students in Advanced Placement classes as well as non-Advanced Placement classes.  The team will use the BEAR Assessment System to develop and refine assessment materials. This system is an integrated approach to developing assessments that seeks to provide meaningful interpretations of student work relative to cognitive and developmental goals. The researchers will gather empirical evidence to develop and improve the assessment materials, and then gather reliability and validity evidence to support their use. In total, item response data will be collected from several thousand students. Student response data will be analyzed using multidimensional item response theory models.

Geological Construction of Rock Arrangements from Tectonics: Systems Modeling Across Scales

This project will create two curriculum units that use sophisticated simulations designed for students in secondary schools that integrate the study of the tectonic system and the rock genesis system. The project seeks to overcome the more typical approaches taken in earth science classrooms where such geologic processes are treated as discrete and highly predictable, rather than intertwined and dynamic.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2006144
Funding Period: 
Thu, 10/01/2020 to Mon, 09/30/2024
Full Description: 

Plate tectonics is the fundamental theory of geology that underlies almost all geological processes, including land and rock formation. However, the geologic processes and immense timeframes involved are often misunderstood. This study will create two curriculum units that use sophisticated simulations designed for students in secondary schools. The simulations will integrate the study of the tectonic system and the rock genesis system. Data from the simulations would be students' sources of evidence. For instance, the Tectonic Rock Explorer would use a sophisticated modeling engine that uses the physics involved in geodynamic data to represent compressional and tensional forces and calculate pressure and temperature in rock forming environments. This project seeks to overcome the more typical approaches taken in earth science classrooms where such geologic processes are treated as discrete and highly predictable, rather than intertwined and dynamic. In addition, this study would include work on students with disabilities in earth science classrooms and explore the practices that seem to be particularly useful in helping understand these systems. By working with simulations, the researchers intend to engage students in scientific practices that are more authentic to the ways that geologists work. The researchers will study if and how these simulations and the computer-based tools allow students to observe and manipulate processes that would be may otherwise be inaccessible.

This work follows on from prior work done by the Concord Consortium on simulations of earth systems. The design and development progression in Years 1 and 2 would create two units. The first module focuses on the relationship between tectonic movement and rock formation. The second would investigate geochronology and dating of rock formations. The researchers would work with 3 teachers (and classes), and then 15 teachers (and classes) using automated data logs, class observations, and video of students working in groups in Years 1 and 2. Professional development for teachers would be followed by the creation of educative materials. Researchers will also develop the framework for an assessment tool that includes understanding of geologic terms and embedded assessments. The researchers will used a mixed methods approach to analyze student data, including analyses cycles of analysis of students pre- and post-test scores on targeted concepts, reports of student performances on tasks embedded in the simulations, and the coding of videos to analyze discourse between partners and the supports provided by teachers. Teacher data will be analyzed using interviews, surveys and journals, with some special focus on how they are seeing students with identified disabilities respond to the materials and simulations. The research team intends to make materials widely available to thousands of students through their networks and webpages, and pursue outreach and dissemination in scholarly and practitioner conferences and publications.

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