Disciplinary Content Knowledge

Aligning the Science Teacher Education Pathway: A Networked Improvement Community

This project will study the activities of a Networked Improvement Community (NIC) as a vehicle to bridge gaps across four identified steps along the science teacher training and development pathways within local contexts of 8 participating universities. The overarching goal of the project is to strengthen the capacity of universities and school districts to reliably produce teachers of science who are knowledgeable about and can effectively enact the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), although prepared in varied organizational contexts.

Award Number: 
1908900
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Full Description: 

California State University will study the activities of a Networked Improvement Community (NIC) as a vehicle to bridge gaps across four identified steps along the science teacher training and development pathways within local contexts of 8 participating universities (NIC sites). Networked Improvement Community (NIC) will co-create a shared vision and co-defined research agenda between university researchers, science educators and school district practitioners working together to reform teacher education across a variety of local contexts. By studying outcomes of shared supports and teacher tools for use in multiple steps along the science teacher education pathway, researchers will map variation existing in the system and align efforts across the science teacher education pathway. This process will integrate an iterative nature of educational change in local contexts impacting enactment of the NGSS in both university teacher preparation programs and in school district professional training activities and classrooms.

The overarching goal of the project is to strengthen the capacity of universities and school districts to reliably produce teachers of science who are knowledgeable about and can effectively enact the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), although prepared in varied organizational contexts. The project will accomplish this goal 1) leveraging the use of an established Networked Improvement Community, composed of science education faculty from eight university campuses and by 2) improving and studying coherence in the steps along the science teacher education pathway within and across these universities and school districts. The project will use a mixed methods approach to data collection and analysis. Consistent with Improvement Science Theory, research questions will be co-defined by all stakeholders.

Getting Unstuck: Designing and Evaluating Teacher Resources to Support Conceptual and Creative Fluency with Programming

The project will create opportunities for teachers to develop programming content knowledge and new understandings of the creative possibilities in computer science education, thereby increasing opportunities for students to develop conceptual and creative fluency with programming.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1908110
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Wed, 06/30/2021
Full Description: 

The project will create opportunities for teachers to develop programming content knowledge and new understandings of the creative possibilities in computer science education, thereby increasing opportunities for students to develop conceptual and creative fluency with programming. K-12 introductory programming experiences are often highly scaffolded, and it can be challenging for students to transition from constrained exercises to open-ended programming activities encountered later in-and out of-school. Teachers can provide critical support to help students solve problems and develop the cognitive, social, and emotional capacities required for conceptually and creatively complex programming challenges. Teachers - particularly elementary and middle school teachers, especially in rural and Title I schools - often lack the programming content knowledge, skills, and practices needed to support deeper and more meaningful programming experiences for students. Professional development opportunities can cultivate teacher expertise, especially when supported by curricular materials that bridge teachers' professional learning and students' classroom learning. This research responds to these needs, addressing key national priorities for increasing access to high-quality K-12 computer science education for all students through teacher professional development.

The project will involve the design and evaluation of (1) an online learning experience for teachers to develop conceptual and creative fluency through short, daily programming prompts (featuring the Scratch programming environment), and (2) educative curricular materials for the classroom (based on the online experience). The online experience and curricular materials will be developed in collaboration with three 4th through 6th-grade rural or Title I teachers. The project will evaluate teacher learning in the online experience using mixed-methods analyses of pre/post-survey data of teachers' perceived expertise and quantitative analyses of teachers' programs and evolving conceptual knowledge. Three additional 4th through 6th-grade teachers will pilot the curricular materials in their classrooms. The six pilot teachers will maintain field journals about their experiences and will participate in interviews, evaluating use of the resources in practice. An ethnography of one teacher's classroom will be developed to further contribute to understandings of the classroom-level resources in action, including students' experiences and learning. Student learning will be evaluated through student interviews and analyses of student projects. Project outcomes will inform how computer science conceptual knowledge and creative fluency can be developed both for teachers and their students' knowledge and fluency that will be critical for students' future success in work and life.

Building Students' Data Literacy through the Co-design of Curriculum by Mathematics and Art Teachers (Collaborative Research: Matuk)

This project aims to enact and study the co-design of classroom activities by mathematics and visual arts teachers to promote middle school students' data literacy.

Award Number: 
1908557
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Wed, 06/30/2021
Full Description: 

The aim of this project is to enact and study a process in which middle school teachers of mathematics and visual arts co-design and teach activities that combine math and art to teach data science. Many existing efforts to promote data literacy are grounded in mathematical concepts of central tendency and variation, and typically are narrowly focused in single subject domains. Taking an art-based perspective on data science has the potential to promote student relevance, accessibility, engagement, reasoning, and meaning-making with data science. Moreover, visualization technology has advanced to a degree that the relation between the information in data and visual aesthetic can be leveraged easily. To explore the opportunity this offers, research on this project will examine how to equip teachers to develop such interdisciplinary pedagogical approaches to cultivate their students' data literacy. This exploratory project will provide support for 12 teachers during summer workshops and during the school year as these teachers implement their co-designed units in their classrooms. The work addresses the following questions: (1) How do we support effective co-design of data literacy units among art teachers, mathematics teachers, and researchers? (2) How are teachers able to use the unit materials in their classrooms to engage students in data literacy? And (3) How does an art-based approach support students' data literacy? Answers to these questions will build an understanding of how to support interdisciplinary curriculum design collaborations among researchers and teachers. They will also show how art-integrated, maker-oriented activities can support middle school learners' data literacy development; and how to design technologies that are accessible and powerful to teachers and learners in these interdisciplinary environments.

Through summer workshops and year-round design collaborations, the project will iteratively design, test and refine four units for middle school classrooms, including activities, tools, and assessments, to promote students' data literacy. Data will be collected from co-design sessions as well as classroom-enactments, and will include observations, video/audio recordings, student- and teacher-generated artifacts, and pre and post assessments of students' knowledge and self-efficacy. Mixed methods analyses of these data, and syntheses of findings across participants, classroom enactments, and project years, will explore effective ways to support co-design among art teachers, mathematics teachers, and researchers; and the impact of art-integrated activities on students' data literacy. This project will reach 12 teachers and their students across 6 New York city schools. By building capacity and knowledge about how to initiate and sustain teachers' interdisciplinary curriculum collaborations, the project will have broader impact. Refined project materials, including pedagogical approaches, toolkits and adaptable classroom activities, will be disseminated to facilitate classroom adoption by other educators who wish to undertake similar art-integrated data literacy curriculum design collaborations, and will thus ultimately broaden participation in data science among diverse youth within and beyond New York City.

Building Students' Data Literacy through the Co-design of Curriculum by Mathematics and Art Teachers (Collaborative Research: Vacca)

The aim of this project is to enact and study a process in which middle school teachers of mathematics and visual arts co-design and teach activities that combine math and art to teach data science.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1908142
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Wed, 06/30/2021
Full Description: 

The aim of this project is to enact and study a process in which middle school teachers of mathematics and visual arts co-design and teach activities that combine math and art to teach data science. Many existing efforts to promote data literacy are grounded in mathematical concepts of central tendency and variation, and typically are narrowly focused in single subject domains. Taking an art-based perspective on data science has the potential to promote student relevance, accessibility, engagement, reasoning, and meaning-making with data science. Moreover, visualization technology has advanced to a degree that the relation between the information in data and visual aesthetic can be leveraged easily. To explore the opportunity this offers, research on this project will examine how to equip teachers to develop such interdisciplinary pedagogical approaches to cultivate their students' data literacy. This exploratory project will provide support for 12 teachers during summer workshops and during the school year as these teachers implement their co-designed units in their classrooms. The work addresses the following questions: (1) How do we support effective co-design of data literacy units among art teachers, mathematics teachers, and researchers? (2) How are teachers able to use the unit materials in their classrooms to engage students in data literacy? And (3) How does an art-based approach support students' data literacy? Answers to these questions will build an understanding of how to support interdisciplinary curriculum design collaborations among researchers and teachers. They will also show how art-integrated, maker-oriented activities can support middle school learners' data literacy development; and how to design technologies that are accessible and powerful to teachers and learners in these interdisciplinary environments.

Through summer workshops and year-round design collaborations, the project will iteratively design, test and refine four units for middle school classrooms, including activities, tools, and assessments, to promote students' data literacy. Data will be collected from co-design sessions as well as classroom-enactments, and will include observations, video/audio recordings, student- and teacher-generated artifacts, and pre and post assessments of students' knowledge and self-efficacy. Mixed methods analyses of these data, and syntheses of findings across participants, classroom enactments, and project years, will explore effective ways to support co-design among art teachers, mathematics teachers, and researchers; and the impact of art-integrated activities on students' data literacy. This project will reach 12 teachers and their students across 6 New York city schools. By building capacity and knowledge about how to initiate and sustain teachers' interdisciplinary curriculum collaborations, the project will have broader impact. Refined project materials, including pedagogical approaches, toolkits and adaptable classroom activities, will be disseminated to facilitate classroom adoption by other educators who wish to undertake similar art-integrated data literacy curriculum design collaborations, and will thus ultimately broaden participation in data science among diverse youth within and beyond New York City.

Building Students' Data Literacy through the Co-design of Curriculum by Mathematics and Art Teachers (Collaborative Research: Silander)

The aim of this project is to enact and study a process in which middle school teachers of mathematics and visual arts co-design and teach activities that combine math and art to teach data science.

Award Number: 
1908030
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Wed, 06/30/2021
Full Description: 

The aim of this project is to enact and study a process in which middle school teachers of mathematics and visual arts co-design and teach activities that combine math and art to teach data science. Many existing efforts to promote data literacy are grounded in mathematical concepts of central tendency and variation, and typically are narrowly focused in single subject domains. Taking an art-based perspective on data science has the potential to promote student relevance, accessibility, engagement, reasoning, and meaning-making with data science. Moreover, visualization technology has advanced to a degree that the relation between the information in data and visual aesthetic can be leveraged easily. To explore the opportunity this offers, research on this project will examine how to equip teachers to develop such interdisciplinary pedagogical approaches to cultivate their students' data literacy. This exploratory project will provide support for 12 teachers during summer workshops and during the school year as these teachers implement their co-designed units in their classrooms. The work addresses the following questions: (1) How do we support effective co-design of data literacy units among art teachers, mathematics teachers, and researchers? (2) How are teachers able to use the unit materials in their classrooms to engage students in data literacy? And (3) How does an art-based approach support students' data literacy? Answers to these questions will build an understanding of how to support interdisciplinary curriculum design collaborations among researchers and teachers. They will also show how art-integrated, maker-oriented activities can support middle school learners' data literacy development; and how to design technologies that are accessible and powerful to teachers and learners in these interdisciplinary environments.

Through summer workshops and year-round design collaborations, the project will iteratively design, test and refine four units for middle school classrooms, including activities, tools, and assessments, to promote students' data literacy. Data will be collected from co-design sessions as well as classroom-enactments, and will include observations, video/audio recordings, student- and teacher-generated artifacts, and pre and post assessments of students' knowledge and self-efficacy. Mixed methods analyses of these data, and syntheses of findings across participants, classroom enactments, and project years, will explore effective ways to support co-design among art teachers, mathematics teachers, and researchers; and the impact of art-integrated activities on students' data literacy. This project will reach 12 teachers and their students across 6 New York city schools. By building capacity and knowledge about how to initiate and sustain teachers' interdisciplinary curriculum collaborations, the project will have broader impact. Refined project materials, including pedagogical approaches, toolkits and adaptable classroom activities, will be disseminated to facilitate classroom adoption by other educators who wish to undertake similar art-integrated data literacy curriculum design collaborations, and will thus ultimately broaden participation in data science among diverse youth within and beyond New York City.

Using Animated Contrasting Cases to Improve Procedural and Conceptual Knowledge in Geometry

This project aims to support stronger student outcomes in the teaching and learning of geometry in the middle grades through engaging students in animated contrasting cases of worked examples. The project will design a series of animated geometry curricular materials on a digital platform that ask students to compare different approaches to solving the same geometry problem. The study will measure changes in students' procedural and conceptual knowledge of geometry after engaging with the materials and will explore the ways in which teachers implement the materials in their classrooms.

Award Number: 
1907745
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2019 to Sun, 07/31/2022
Full Description: 

This project aims to support stronger student outcomes in the teaching and learning of geometry in the middle grades through engaging students in animated contrasting cases of worked examples. Animated contrasting cases are a set of two worked examples for the same geometry problem, approached in different ways. The animations show the visual moves and annotations students would make in solving the problems. Students are asked to compare and discuss the approaches. This theoretically-grounded approach extends the work of cognitive scientists and mathematics educators who have shown this approach supports strong student learning in algebra. The project will design a series of animated geometry curricular materials on a digital platform that ask students to compare different approaches to solving the same geometry problem. The study will measure changes in students' procedural and conceptual knowledge of geometry after engaging with the materials and will explore the ways in which teachers implement the materials in their classrooms. This work is particularly important as geometry is an understudied area in mathematics education, and national and international assessments at the middle school level consistently identify geometry as a mathematics content area in which students score the lowest.

This project draws on prior work that documents the impact of comparison on students' learning in algebra. Providing students with opportunities to compare multiple strategies is recommended by a range of mathematics policy documents, as research has shown this approach promotes flexibility and enhances conceptual knowledge and procedural fluency. More specifically, the approach allows students to compare the effectiveness and efficiency of mathematical arguments in the context of problem solving. An initial pilot study on non-animated contrasting cases in geometry shows promise for the general approach and suggests that animating the cases has the potential for stronger student learning gains. This study will examine the extent to which the animated cases improve students' conceptual and procedural knowledge of geometry and identify factors that relate to changes in knowledge. The project team will develop 24 worked example contrasting cases based on design principles from the prior work in algebra. The materials will be implemented in four treatment classrooms in the first cycle, revised, and then implemented in eight treatment classrooms. Students' written work will be collected along with data on the nature of the classroom discussions and small-group interviews with students. Teachers' perspectives on lessons will also be collected to support revision and strengthening of the materials. Assessments of students' geometry knowledge will be developed using measures with demonstrated validity and reliability to measure changes in student learning.

Developing Organizational Capacity to Improve K-8 Mathematics Teaching and Learning

This project will develop and test a leadership model to improve K-8 mathematics teaching and learning by involving stakeholders across the K-8 spectrum. The project will support teachers, teacher leaders, and administrators in collectively identifying and addressing problems of practice in the teaching and learning of mathematics, and in turn develop plans to improve school and district organizational capacities to support stronger mathematics teaching.

Award Number: 
1907681
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Sun, 06/30/2024
Full Description: 

The Developing Organizational Capacity to Improve K-8 Mathematics Teaching and Learning is a 4-year implementation and improvement project. The project will develop and test a leadership model to improve K-8 mathematics teaching and learning by involving stakeholders across the K-8 spectrum. The project will support teachers, teacher leaders, and administrators in collectively identifying and addressing problems of practice in the teaching and learning of mathematics, and in turn develop plans to improve school and district organizational capacities to support stronger mathematics teaching. At the heart of the project is the Elementary Mathematics Leadership (EML) model, which is designed to improve stakeholder understandings of effective math teaching practices. The EML model involves collaboratively identifying classroom-based problems of practice with school and district personnel, designing and implementing professional development aligned with the problems of practice, and iterating those cycles of development, implementation, and revision to assess the model's effectiveness.

The EML model operates at the teacher, school, and district level using a design-based implementation research approach. At the district level, leadership teams in conjunction with researchers will identify problems of practice for which work on those problems will lead to a more coherent mathematics instruction in the district. Following this, professional development and coaching at the teacher level will be designed and implemented to target the problem of practice, with a focus on big ideas within the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. This phase of the model also includes professional development aimed at school leaders and district administrators to strengthen organizational capacity to support and lead change related to the problem of practice. The final phase of the model calls on researchers, district, and school personnel to engage in an annual redesign of the intervention, making use of data gathered during the school year and evidence about what is happening in classrooms. This design acknowledges the broader policy context in which schools and districts operate as they work towards instructional change. To evaluate the effectiveness of the overall EML model, the project will collect a wide variety of data, including student achievement outcomes using standardized tests; assessments of teachers' mathematical knowledge, instructional practices, and efficacy measures; and measures of leader, administrator, and organizational capacities to support high-quality mathematics instruction. Four districts will be recruited to participate, enacting the model in pairs with a staggered start for one pair of districts to be able to measure treatment effects, using a variation of a switching replications design. Classroom practice and teacher outcomes will be assessed using a variety of MKT assessments, the Mathematical Quality of Instruction (MQI), and the Instructional Quality Assessment (IQA). School level outcomes will be collected via a leadership assessment and interview data, and district level outcomes will be assessed through the use of interview and documentary data. Analysis will include a statistical analysis of the EML model using hierarchical linear modeling, MANOVA/ANOVA, and regression as appropriate at the level of students and teachers, and qualitative analysis and descriptive statistics will be used at the school and district level due to small sample size.

Professional Development for Teaching and Learning about Energy and Equity in High School Physics (Collaborative Research: Scherr)

This project will research and develop instructional materials and conduct professional development for teachers to help students understand energy flow. The project will create a model for secondary science teacher professional development that integrates science concepts with equity education.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1936601
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Full Description: 

This project will research and develop instructional materials and conduct professional development for teachers to help students understand energy flow, an important scientific concept with economic and social implications. This energy learning is the foundation for informed decision-making about sustainable and just use of energy resources. Energy issues are not only issues of science and technology, but must be integrated with civics, history, economics, sociology, psychology, and politics to understand and solve modern energy problems. Placing the scientific concept of energy in this social context presents an opportunity to advance science education as equitable and culturally responsive.

This project will create a model for secondary science teacher professional development that integrates science concepts with equity education. This model promotes a key epistemological issue: that science concepts are not culture-free or socially neutral ideas, but rather are concepts created and sustained by people in specific times and places for the purposes of (1) addressing specific social needs and (2) empowering people or groups of people. The two major components of the project are (1) the professional development experience, including both an intensive in-person summer workshop and an online professional learning community, and (2)an energy and equity portal, including an instructional materials library, an action research exchange, and a community forum for teacher discussions. The portal will provide technical resources to support the PLC, including support for sharing instructional materials and reporting on action research. The research plan includes exploratory, development and application phases. The researchers will identify teacher learning in the first iteration of PD, collect and analyze the instructional artifacts to inform how teacher engage with, participate in, and build an understanding energy as a historically and politically situated science concept. A team of scholar-videographers will observe, taking real-time field notes and making daily memos. The research team will use the instructional artifacts, video recordings, field notes, and memos as a basis for analysis through the next academic year. The result will be a nationally significant community of teacher-leaders and library of research-tested instructional materials that are responsive to students' scientific ideas, relevant to socio-political concerns about energy sustainability, respectful of students' cultures, and open to all students no matter their cultural background. Teachers participating in the project will learn to explain how scientific concepts of energy reflect culturally specific values, analyze socio-politically relevant energy scenarios, learn the historic and present-day inequities in the energy industry and in science participation, and be supported in preparing instruction for secondary students that is culturally responsive and relevant to their students' communities.

This project was previously funded under award #1907815.

Professional Development for Teaching and Learning about Energy and Equity in High School Physics (Collaborative Research: Mason)

This project will research and develop instructional materials and conduct professional development for teachers to help students understand energy flow. The project will create a model for secondary science teacher professional development that integrates science concepts with equity education.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1907950
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Full Description: 

This project will research and develop instructional materials and conduct professional development for teachers to help students understand energy flow, an important scientific concept with economic and social implications. This energy learning is the foundation for informed decision-making about sustainable and just use of energy resources. Energy issues are not only issues of science and technology, but must be integrated with civics, history, economics, sociology, psychology, and politics to understand and solve modern energy problems. Placing the scientific concept of energy in this social context presents an opportunity to advance science education as equitable and culturally responsive.

This project will create a model for secondary science teacher professional development that integrates science concepts with equity education. This model promotes a key epistemological issue: that science concepts are not culture-free or socially neutral ideas, but rather are concepts created and sustained by people in specific times and places for the purposes of (1) addressing specific social needs and (2) empowering people or groups of people. The two major components of the project are (1) the professional development experience, including both an intensive in-person summer workshop and an online professional learning community, and (2)an energy and equity portal, including an instructional materials library, an action research exchange, and a community forum for teacher discussions. The portal will provide technical resources to support the PLC, including support for sharing instructional materials and reporting on action research. The research plan includes exploratory, development and application phases. The researchers will identify teacher learning in the first iteration of PD, collect and analyze the instructional artifacts to inform how teacher engage with, participate in, and build an understanding energy as a historically and politically situated science concept. A team of scholar-videographers will observe, taking real-time field notes and making daily memos. The research team will use the instructional artifacts, video recordings, field notes, and memos as a basis for analysis through the next academic year. The result will be a nationally significant community of teacher-leaders and library of research-tested instructional materials that are responsive to students' scientific ideas, relevant to socio-political concerns about energy sustainability, respectful of students' cultures, and open to all students no matter their cultural background. Teachers participating in the project will learn to explain how scientific concepts of energy reflect culturally specific values, analyze socio-politically relevant energy scenarios, learn the historic and present-day inequities in the energy industry and in science participation, and be supported in preparing instruction for secondary students that is culturally responsive and relevant to their students' communities.

Professional Development Supports for Teaching Bioinformatics through Mobile Learning

This project will investigate the professional development supports needed for teaching bioinformatics at the high school level. The project team will work with biology and mathematics teachers to co-design instructional modules to engage students with core bioinformatics concepts and computational literacies, by focusing on local community health issues supported through mobile learning activities.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1812738
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2018 to Mon, 02/28/2022
Full Description: 

Bioinformatics is an emerging area of research that develops new knowledge through computational analysis of vast biological and biomedical data. This project will investigate the professional development supports needed for teaching bioinformatics at the high school level. Building from a robust literature in professional development design research, project team will work with biology and mathematics teachers to co-design instructional modules to engage students with core bioinformatics concepts and computational literacies, by focusing on local community health issues supported through mobile learning activities. The overarching goal of the project is to help create an engage population of informatics-informed students who are capable of critically analyzing information and able to solve local problems related to their health and well-being.

The project team will use a design-based implementation research approach to identify the curricular and instructional supports needed to achieve the teaching and learning goals through iterative project revisions, employing mixed methods to evaluate teacher and student learning processes and outcomes. Teachers from local high needs schools will participate in a three-week summer workshop, where they will learn about state-of-the-art bioinformatics content, project-based pedagogies that promote computational literacy, and strategies integrate mobile technologies into instruction.  They will implement the instructional units during the year, and the summer workshop will be revised and delivered to an expanded cohort of teachers the following summer. The data collection and analysis conducted on teachers' enactment of these modules will reveal the professional development and implementation areas needed to support particular populations, specifically underrepresented groups in STEM, to engage with bioinformatics learning and take authentic action on local community issues.

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