Disciplinary Content Knowledge

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.

CAREER: Exploring Teacher Noticing of Students' Multimodal Algebraic Thinking

This project investigates and expands teachers' learning to notice in two important ways. First, the research expands beyond teachers' noticing of written and verbal thinking to attend to gesture and other aspects of embodied and multimodal thinking. Second, the project focuses on algebraic thinking and seeks specifically to understand how teacher noticing relates to the content of algebra. Bringing together multimodal thinking and the mathematical ideas in algebra has the potential to support teachers in providing broader access to algebraic thinking for more students.

Award Number: 
1942580
Funding Period: 
Mon, 06/01/2020 to Sat, 05/31/2025
Full Description: 

Effective teachers of mathematics attend to and respond to the substance of students' thinking in supporting classroom learning. Teacher professional development programs have supported teachers in learning to notice students' mathematical thinking and using that noticing to make instructional decisions in the classroom. This project investigates and expands teachers' learning to notice in two important ways. First, the research expands beyond teachers' noticing of written and verbal thinking to attend to gesture and other aspects of embodied and multimodal thinking. Second, the project focuses on algebraic thinking and seeks specifically to understand how teacher noticing relates to the content of algebra. Bringing together multimodal thinking and the mathematical ideas in algebra has the potential to support teachers in providing broader access to algebraic thinking for more students.

To study teacher noticing of multimodal algebraic thinking, this project will facilitate video club sessions in which teachers examine and annotate classroom video. The video will allow text-based and visual annotation of the videos to obtain rich portraits of the thinking that teachers notice as they examine algebra-related middle school practice. The research team will create a video library focused on three main algebraic thinking areas: equality, functional thinking, and proportional reasoning. Clips will be chosen that feature multimodal student thinking about these content areas, and provide moments that would be fruitful for advancing student thinking. Two cohorts of preservice teachers will engage in year-long video clubs using this video library, annotate videos using an advanced technological tool, and engage in reflective interviews about their noticing practices. Follow-up classroom observations will be conducted to see how teachers then notice multimodal algebraic thinking in their classrooms. Materials to conduct the video clubs in other contexts and the curated video library will be made available, along with analyses of the teacher learning that resulted from their implementation.

Crowdsourcing Neuroscience: An Interactive Cloud-based Citizen Science Platform for High School Students, Teachers, and Researchers

This project will develop a cloud-based platform that enables high school students, teachers, and scientists to conduct original neuroscience research in school classrooms.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1908482
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2019 to Mon, 07/31/2023
Full Description: 

Current priorities in school science education include engaging students in the practices of science as well as the ideas of science. This project will address this priority by developing a cloud-based platform that enables high school students, teachers, and scientists to conduct original neuroscience research in school classrooms. Before students and teachers initiate their own studies using the system, they will participate in existing research studies by contributing their own data and collaborating with researchers using the online, interactive system. When experienced with the system, students and teachers will become researchers by developing independent investigations and uploading them to the interactive platform. Both student-initiated and scientist-initiated proposals will be submitted to the platform, peer-reviewed by students and scientists, revised, and included in the online experimental bank. In addition to conducting their own studies using the platform, scientists will act as educators and mentors by populating the experiment bank with studies that can serve as models for students and provide science content for the educational resource center. This online system addresses a critical need in science education to involve students more fully and authentically in scientific inquiry where they gain experience in exploring the unknown rather than confirming what is already known.

This early stage design and development study is guided by three goals: 1) Develop an open-science citizen science platform for conducting human brain and behavior research in the classroom, 2) Develop a remote neuroscience Student-Teacher-Scientists (STS) partnership program for high schools, and 3) Evaluate the design, development, and implementation of the program and its impacts on students and tachers. In developing this project, the project team will link two quickly emerging trends, one in science education, and one in the sciences. Consistent with current priorities in science education, the project will engage students and their teachers in authentic, active inquiry where they learn scientific practices by using them to conduct authentic inquiry where a search for knowledge is grounded in finding evidence-based answers to original questions. On the science side, students and their science partners will participate in an open science approach by pre-registering their research and committing to an analysis plan before data are collected. In this project, students will primarily be using reaction time and online systems to do research that includes study of their own brain function. The project research is guided by three research questions. How does an online citizen neuroscience STS platform: a) impact students' understanding of, and abilities to apply neuroscience and experimental design concepts? b) Impact students' interests in, and attitudes toward science, including an awareness of science careers and applications? and c) Affect teachers' attitudes towards neuroscience teaching, and the use of inquiry-based strategies? A design-based research approach will be used to iteratively design a sustainable and scalable inquiry-based neuroscience curriculum with teachers as design partners.

Developing Leaders, Transforming Practice in K-5 Mathematics: An Examination of Models for Elementary Mathematics Specialists (Collaborative Research: Lewis)

This project will study the Developing Leaders Transforming Practice (DLTP) intervention, which aims to improve teachers' instructional practices, increase student mathematics understanding and achievement.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1906588
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2019 to Thu, 08/31/2023
Full Description: 

Minimal rigorous research has been conducted on the effect of various supports for quality mathematics instruction and providing guidance on the development and use of Elementary Mathematics Specialists (EMSs) on student achievement. Portland Public Schools (PPS), Portland State University, and RMC Research Corporation will study the Developing Leaders Transforming Practice (DLTP) intervention, which aims to improve teachers' instructional practices, increase student mathematics understanding and achievement. The project team will evaluate the efficacy and use of EMSs by testing four implementation models that consider the various ways EMSs are integrated into schools. DLTP builds on EMS research, investigating EMSs both as elementary mathematics teachers and coaches by articulating four models and examining their efficacy for both student and teacher learning. This study has the potential to provide benefits both within and beyond PPS as it informs the preparation and use of EMSs. Determining which model is best in certain contexts provides a focus for the expansion of mathematics support.

DLTP enhances the research base by examining the effect of teacher PD on student achievement through a rigorous quasi-experimental design. The project goals will be met by addressing 4 research questions: 1) What is the effect of the intervention on teacher leadership?; 2) What is the effect of the intervention on teachers' use of research-based instructional practices?; 3) What is the effect of the intervention on a school's ability to sustain ongoing professional learning for teachers?; and 4) What is the effect of the intervention on student mathematics achievement? Twelve elementary schools in PPS will select elementary teachers to participate in the DLTP and adopt an implementation model that ranges from direct to diffuse engagement with students: elementary mathematics teacher, grade level coach, grade-level and building-level coach, or building-level coach. The research team will conduct 4 major studies that include rigorous quasi-experimental designs and a multi-method approach to address the research questions: leadership study, instructional practices study, school study, and student achievement study. Several tools will be created by the project - a leadership rubric designed to measure changes in EMS mathematics leadership because of the project and a 5-part teacher survey designed capture EMS leadership skills, pedagogical content knowledge, use of research-based practices, and school climate for mathematics learning as well as implementation issues.

Developing Leaders, Transforming Practice in K-5 Mathematics: An Examination of Models for Elementary Mathematics Specialists Collaborative Research: Davis)

This project will study the Developing Leaders Transforming Practice (DLTP) intervention, which aims to improve teachers' instructional practices, increase student mathematics understanding and achievement.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1906565
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2019 to Thu, 08/31/2023
Full Description: 

Minimal rigorous research has been conducted on the effect of various supports for quality mathematics instruction and providing guidance on the development and use of Elementary Mathematics Specialists (EMSs) on student achievement. Portland Public Schools (PPS), Portland State University, and RMC Research Corporation will study the Developing Leaders Transforming Practice (DLTP) intervention, which aims to improve teachers' instructional practices, increase student mathematics understanding and achievement. The project team will evaluate the efficacy and use of EMSs by testing four implementation models that consider the various ways EMSs are integrated into schools. DLTP builds on EMS research, investigating EMSs both as elementary mathematics teachers and coaches by articulating four models and examining their efficacy for both student and teacher learning. This study has the potential to provide benefits both within and beyond PPS as it informs the preparation and use of EMSs. Determining which model is best in certain contexts provides a focus for the expansion of mathematics support.

DLTP enhances the research base by examining the effect of teacher PD on student achievement through a rigorous quasi-experimental design. The project goals will be met by addressing 4 research questions: 1) What is the effect of the intervention on teacher leadership?; 2) What is the effect of the intervention on teachers' use of research-based instructional practices?; 3) What is the effect of the intervention on a school's ability to sustain ongoing professional learning for teachers?; and 4) What is the effect of the intervention on student mathematics achievement? Twelve elementary schools in PPS will select elementary teachers to participate in the DLTP and adopt an implementation model that ranges from direct to diffuse engagement with students: elementary mathematics teacher, grade level coach, grade-level and building-level coach, or building-level coach. The research team will conduct 4 major studies that include rigorous quasi-experimental designs and a multi-method approach to address the research questions: leadership study, instructional practices study, school study, and student achievement study. Several tools will be created by the project - a leadership rubric designed to measure changes in EMS mathematics leadership because of the project and a 5-part teacher survey designed capture EMS leadership skills, pedagogical content knowledge, use of research-based practices, and school climate for mathematics learning as well as implementation issues.

Developing Leaders, Transforming Practice in K-5 Mathematics: An Examination of Models for Elementary Mathematics Specialists Collaborative Research: Rigelman)

This project will study the Developing Leaders Transforming Practice (DLTP) intervention, which aims to develop teacher leaders, improve teachers' instructional practices, and increase student mathematics understanding and achievement.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1906682
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2019 to Thu, 08/31/2023
Project Evaluator: 
RMC Research
Full Description: 

Minimal rigorous research has been conducted on the effect of various supports for quality mathematics instruction and providing guidance on the development and use of Elementary Mathematics Specialists (EMSs) on student achievement. Portland Public Schools (PPS), Portland State University, and RMC Research Corporation will study the Developing Leaders Transforming Practice (DLTP) intervention, which aims to improve teachers' instructional practices, increase student mathematics understanding and achievement. The project team will evaluate the efficacy and use of EMSs by testing four implementation models that consider the various ways EMSs are integrated into schools. DLTP builds on EMS research, investigating EMSs both as elementary mathematics teachers and coaches by articulating four models and examining their efficacy for both student and teacher learning. This study has the potential to provide benefits both within and beyond PPS as it informs the preparation and use of EMSs. Determining which model is best in certain contexts provides a focus for the expansion of mathematics support.

DLTP enhances the research base by examining the effect of teacher PD on student achievement through a rigorous quasi-experimental design. The project goals will be met by addressing 4 research questions: 1) What is the effect of the intervention on teacher leadership?; 2) What is the effect of the intervention on teachers' use of research-based instructional practices?; 3) What is the effect of the intervention on a school's ability to sustain ongoing professional learning for teachers?; and 4) What is the effect of the intervention on student mathematics achievement? Twelve elementary schools in PPS will select elementary teachers to participate in the DLTP and adopt an implementation model that ranges from direct to diffuse engagement with students: elementary mathematics teacher, grade level coach, grade-level and building-level coach, or building-level coach. The research team will conduct 4 major studies that include rigorous quasi-experimental designs and a multi-method approach to address the research questions: leadership study, instructional practices study, school study, and student achievement study. Several tools will be created by the project - a leadership rubric designed to measure changes in EMS mathematics leadership because of the project and a 5-part teacher survey designed capture EMS leadership skills, pedagogical content knowledge, use of research-based practices, and school climate for mathematics learning as well as implementation issues.

Validity Evidence for Measurement in Mathematics Education (V-M2ED) (Collaborative Research: Bostic)

The purpose of this project is to fully explore the mathematics education literature to synthesize what validity evidence is available for quantitative assessments in mathematics education.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1920621
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2019 to Wed, 07/31/2024
Full Description: 

As education has shifted more towards data-driven policy and research initiatives in the last several decades, data for policy-related aspects are often expected to be more quantitative in nature.  This has led to the increase in use of more quantitative measures in STEM education, including mathematics education. Unfortunately, evidence regarding the validity and reliability of mathematics education measures is lacking. Furthermore, the evidence for validity for quantitative tools and measures is not conceptualized or defined consistently by researchers in the field. The purpose of this project is to fully explore the mathematics education literature to synthesize what validity evidence is available for quantitative assessments in mathematics education. Drawing on the results of the synthesis study, the researchers will design, curate, and disseminate a repository of quantitative assessments used in mathematics education teaching and research. The researchers will also create materials and online training for a variety of scholars and practitioners to use the repository.

The team will address two main research questions: 1) How might validity evidence related to quantitative assessments used in mathematics education research be categorized and described? and 2) What validity evidence exists for quantitative instruments used in mathematics education scholarship since 2000? Researchers will use a cross-comparative methodology which involves conducting a literature search and then analyzing and categorizing features of instruments. The research team will examine cases (i.e., assessments described in manuscripts) in which quantitative instruments have been used, alongside specific features such as the construct measured, evidence related to sources of validity, and study sample. The team will then design, develop, and deploy a free online digital repository for the categorization of instruments and describe their associated validity evidence.

Invigorating Statistics Teacher Education Through Professional Online Learning (InSTEP)

This project seeks to strengthen the teaching of statistics and data science in grades 6-12 through the design and implementation of an online professional learning environment for teachers. The professional learning environment aims to support in-service teachers in developing stronger content knowledge related to statistics, and knowledge of how to effectively teach statistics in their classrooms.

Project Email: 
Award Number: 
1908760
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2019 to Mon, 07/31/2023
Project Evaluator: 
Full Description: 

Implementing meaningful statistics education in middle and high schools has been a persistent challenge in the United States. Statistics and data science are critical domains for STEM careers and the general data literacy of the citizenry. This project seeks to strengthen the teaching of statistics and data science in grades 6-12 through the design and implementation of an online professional learning environment for teachers. The professional learning environment aims to support in-service teachers in developing stronger content knowledge related to statistics, and knowledge of how to effectively teach statistics in their classrooms. The project will also evaluate a model of professional development that integrates personalized online learning and microcredentialing (earning small-scale certifications) to better understand its effectiveness in supporting teacher learning. The project will draw from previous work to assemble online modules that engage teachers in doing high-quality statistics and data science tasks, the analysis of video of teachers' and students' work with those tasks, learning a pedagogical framework for teachers to implement the tasks, and exploring guidelines for identifying and developing high-quality statistics and data science tasks. The project will study teacher learning through the use of these modules, and the pathways that teachers choose through them to understand the effectiveness of the model.

The project builds on previous work by the investigators to develop research-based teacher professional development modules that support learning about statistics and statistics education in grades 6-12. Materials currently developed include a series of microcredentials with design features consistent with research on effective teacher professional development. They include opportunities for teachers to engage with statistics content appropriate to the target grade levels they teach, active learning opportunities that engage them with teachers in similar contexts, and a coherent focus that builds on the knowledge and experience teachers bring to the table. The project will take place in iterative phases, beginning with focus groups of middle and high school teachers and district leaders based on first drafts of the materials. This will be followed by cognitive interviews with teachers who engage in the microcredential ecosystem which will inform modifications to the system. Following this phase, cohorts of teachers (25 in the first cohort, 75 in the second) will participate in scaffolded professional development engagement with the materials, and will be assessed with respect to changes in their knowledge and practice. The project will assess changes in teacher knowledge using reliable and valid measures of statistics knowledge and practice. Data will be collected from the online platform regarding teacher engagement and usage to better understand usage and pathways through the materials. The professional learning platform will be made available as a free and open online source at the close of the project.

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