Pedagogical Content Knowledge

Developing Formative Assessment Tools and Routines for Additive Reasoning

This design and development project is an expansion of the Ongoing Assessment Project (OGAP), an established model for research-based formative assessment in grades 3-8, to the early elementary grades. The project will translate findings from research on student learning of early number, addition, and subtraction into tools and routines that teachers can use to formatively assess their students' understanding on a regular basis and develop targeted instructional responses.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1620888
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2016 to Thu, 02/28/2019
Full Description: 

This design and development project is an expansion of the Ongoing Assessment Project (OGAP), an established model for research-based formative assessment in grades 3-8, to the early elementary grades. OGAP brings together two powerful ideas in mathematics education - formative assessment and research based learning trajectories - to enhance teacher knowledge, instructional practices, and student learning. Building on a proven track record of success with this model, the current project will translate findings from research on student learning of early number, addition, and subtraction into tools and routines that teachers can use to formatively assess their students' understanding on a regular basis and develop targeted instructional responses. The project involves a development component focused on producing and field testing new resources (including frameworks, item banks, pre-assessments and professional development materials) and a research component designed to improve the implementation of these resources in school settings. The materials that are developed from this project will help teachers be able to more precisely assess student understanding in the major mathematical work of grades K-2 in order to better meet the needs of diverse learners. With the addition of these new early elementary materials, OGAP formative assessment resources will be available for use from kindergarten through grade 8.

Although much attention has been paid to the improvement of early literacy, building strong mathematical foundations and early computational fluency is equally critical for later success in school and preparation for STEM careers. This project will develop and field test tools, resources, and routines that teachers can employ to help young students develop deeper conceptual understandings and more powerful and efficient strategies in the early grades. The project emerged from the needs of school-based practitioners looking for instructional support in the primary grades and uses design-based research methodology. The new materials will be developed, tested, and revised through multiple iterations of implementation in schools. Research-based learning trajectories will be consolidated into simplified frameworks that illustrate the overall progression of major levels of student thinking in the domains of counting, addition, and subtraction. A bank of formative assessment items will be developed, field tested, and refined through a three-phase validation process. Professional development modules will be designed and field tested to support teacher knowledge and effective use of the formative assessment tools and routines. Data collected on key activities in the formative assessment process (including teacher selection of items, analysis of student work, instructional implications, and enacted instructional response) will be used to continually inform development as well as illuminate the conditions under which formative assessment leads to productive changes in instruction and student learning in the classroom. The project will yield a set of field tested tools and resources ready for both broader dissemination and further research on the promise of the intervention, as well as an understanding of how to support effective implementation.

Developing Preservice Elementary Teachers' Ability to Facilitate Goal-Oriented Discussions in Science and Mathematics via the Use of Simulated Classroom Interactions

The project will develop, pilot, and validate eight discussion-oriented performance tasks that will be embedded in an online simulated classroom environment. The resulting research and development products could be used nationwide in teacher preparation and professional development settings to assess and develop teachers' ability to support classroom discussion in science and mathematics.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1621344
Funding Period: 
Mon, 08/01/2016 to Fri, 07/31/2020
Full Description: 

There is widespread recognition in educational literatures that academic discourse is important for supporting students' developing understanding in the disciplines of science and mathematics. College and career-ready standards also call for attention to supporting students' learning of how to think and communicate like disciplinary experts. The teaching practice of orchestrating classroom discussion is intended to support students in obtaining higher levels of academic achievement but also to support students' participation in a democratic society. However, research has found that teachers--particularly novice teachers--struggle to orchestrate discussion effectively for science and mathematics. The investigators of this project hypothesize that opportunities to 1) practice orchestrating discussions in simulated classroom environments; 2) receive constructive feedback on their practice; and 3) reflect on that feedback and their experiences with peers and teacher educators, develops preservice teachers' abilities to lead productive classroom discussion. This may allow them to be more effective at orchestrating discussion when they begin teaching real students in science and mathematics classrooms. The project team, which includes investigators from Educational Testing Service (ETS) and software engineers at Mursion, will develop, pilot, and validate eight discussion-oriented performance tasks that will be embedded in an online simulated classroom environment. The resulting research and development products could be used nationwide in teacher preparation and professional development settings to assess and develop teachers' ability to support classroom discussion in science and mathematics.

The Discovery Research K-12 (DRK-12) program 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 Early Stage Design and Development project will 1) iteratively develop, pilot, and refine eight science and mathematics discussion-oriented performance tasks (six formative, two summative), scoring rubrics, and rater training materials; 2) deploy the intervention in four university sites, collecting data from 240 prospective teachers in both treatment and business-as-usual courses; and 3) use data analyses and expert review to build a five-part argument for the validity of the assessment and scoring rubrics. Data sources include prospective teachers' background and demographic information, cognitive interviews, surveys, scores on content knowledge for teaching (CKT) instruments, performance and scores on the developed performance tasks, discussion scores on Danielson's Framework for Teaching observation protocol, and case study interviews with prospective teachers. The project team will also conduct interviews with teacher educators and observe classroom debrief sessions with prospective teachers and their teacher educators. The research will examine each teacher's scores on two summative performance tasks administered pre- and post-intervention and will look for evidence of growth across three formative tasks. Linear regression models will be used to understand relationships among teachers' CKT scores, pre-intervention performance task scores, group assignment, and post-intervention performance task scores. A grounded theory approach to coding qualitative data of 24 case study teachers, observations of debrief sessions, and interviews with teacher educators will generate descriptive use cases, illustrating how the tools can support prospective teachers in learning how to facilitate discussions focused on science and mathematics argumentation. Mursion will develop a webpage on its website dedicated to this project that will allow the team to post the new performance-based tasks, scoring rubrics, and examples of performance in the simulated environment for teacher educators, educational researchers, and policy makers and collect feedback from them that can be used as another information source for refining tools and their use. Research findings will also be disseminated by more traditional means, such as papers in peer-reviewed research and practitioner journals and conference presentations.


Project Videos

2019 STEM for All Video Showcase

Title: Simulated Classrooms as Practice-Based Learning Spaces

Presenter(s): Jamie Mikeska, Heather Howell, & Carrie Straub

2018 STEM for All Video Showcase

Title: Leading Science/Math Discussions in a Simulated Classroom

Presenter(s): Heather Howell, Jamie Mikeska, & Carrie Straub

 2017 STEM for All Video Showcase
Title: Simulated Classroom Environments for Discussions

Presenter(s): Jamie Mikeska, Heather Howell, & Carrie Straub


CAREER: Multilevel Mediation Models to Study the Impact of Teacher Development on Student Achievement in Mathematics

This project will develop a comprehensive framework to inform and guide the analytic design of teacher professional development studies in mathematics. An essential goal of the research is to advance a science of teaching and learning in ways that traverse both research and education.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1552535
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2016 to Tue, 08/31/2021
Full Description: 

This is a Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) project. The CAREER program is a National Science Foundation-wide activity that offers the most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research. The intellectual merit and broader impacts of this study lie in two complementary contributions of the project. First, the development of the statistical framework for the design of multilevel mediation studies has significant potential for broad impact because it develops a core platform that is transferable to other STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education areas and STEM disciplines. Second, the development of software and curricular materials to implement this framework further capitalize on the promise of this work because it distributes the results in an accessible manner to diverse sets of research and practitioner groups across STEM education areas and STEM disciplines. Together, the components of this project will substantially expand the scope and quality of evidence generated through mathematics professional development and, more generally, multilevel mediation studies throughout STEM areas by increasing researchers' capacity to design valid and comprehensive studies of the theories of action and change that underlie research programs.

This project will develop a comprehensive framework to inform and guide the analytic design of teacher professional development studies in mathematics. The proposed framework incorporates four integrated research and education components: (1) develop statistical formulas and tools to guide the optimal design of experimental and non-experimental multilevel mediation studies in the presence of measurement error, (2) develop empirical estimates of the parameters needed to implement these formulas to design teacher development studies in mathematics, (3) develop free and accessible software to execute this framework, and (4) develop training materials and conduct workshops on the framework to improve the capacity of the field to design effective and efficient studies of teacher development. An essential goal of the research is to advance a science of teaching and learning in ways that traverse both research and education.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Scholars Teacher Academy Resident System

This project will investigate the effectiveness of a teacher academy resident model to recruit, license, induct, employ, and retain middle school and secondary teachers for high-need schools in the South. It will prepare new, highly-qualified science and mathematics teachers from historically Black universities in high-needs urban and rural schools with the goal of increasing teacher retention and diversity rates.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1621325
Funding Period: 
Fri, 07/15/2016 to Wed, 06/30/2021
Full Description: 

This project at Jackson State University will investigate the effectiveness of a teacher academy resident model to recruit, license, induct, employ, and retain middle school and secondary science and mathematics teachers for high-need schools in the South. It will prepare new, highly-qualified science and mathematics teachers from historically Black universities in high-needs urban and rural schools. The project involves a partnership among three historically Black universities (Jackson, State University, Xavier University of Louisiana, and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff), and diverse urban and rural school districts in Jackson, Mississippi; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Pine Bluff Arkansas region that serve more than 175,000 students.

Participants will include 150 middle and secondary school teacher residents who will gain clinical mentored experience and develop familiarity with local schools. The 150 teacher residents supported by the program to National Board certification will obtain: state licensure/certification in science teaching, a master's degree, and initiation. The goal is to increase teacher retention and diversity rates. The research question guiding this focus is: Will training STEM graduates have a significant effect on the quality of K-12 instruction, teacher efficacy and satisfaction, STEM teacher retention, and students? Science and mathematics achievement? A quasi-experimental design will be used to evaluate project's effectiveness.

Supporting Teacher Practice to Facilitate and Assess Oral Scientific Argumentation: Embedding a Real-Time Assessment of Speaking and Listening into an Argumentation-Rich Curriculum (Collaborative Research: Greenwald)

The fundamental purpose of this project is to support teacher practice and professional learning around oral scientific argumentation in order to improve the quality of this practice in classrooms. The key outcome of this work will be a research-informed and field-tested prototype to improve the quality of teaching and learning argumentation in middle school science classrooms usable in different learning environments.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1621441
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2016 to Mon, 08/31/2020
Full Description: 

This is an early-stage design and development collaborative study submitted to the assessment strand of the Discovery Research PreK-12 (DRK-12) program, in response to Program Solicitation NSF 15-592. The fundamental purpose of this project is to support teacher practice and professional learning around oral scientific argumentation in order to improve the quality of this practice in classrooms. To achieve this purpose, the project will examine the validity of a new technology-based formative assessment tool for classroom argumentation--"Diagnosing the Argumentation Levels of Groups" (DiALoG)--for which psychometric validation work has been conducted in a laboratory setting. The DiALoG assessment tool allows teachers to document classroom talk and display scores across multiple dimensions--both intrapersonal and interpersonal--for formative assessment purposes. The project will work with 6th-8th grade science teachers to monitor and support argumentation through real-time formative assessment data generated by the DiALoG instrument. DiALoG will be used in conjunction with "Amplify Science", a Lawrence Hall of Science-developed curriculum that incorporates the science practice of engaging in argument from evidence, and a suite of newly developed Responsive Mini-Lessons (RMLs), which consist of 20-30 minute instructional strategies designed to assist teachers to provide feedback to students' thinking and follow-up to argumentation episodes that the DiALoG tool identifies in need of further support. The study will allow the refinement and expansion of DiALoG and evaluation of its impact on teacher pedagogical content knowledge and formative assessment practices in widespread classroom use.

The project will address two specific research questions: (1) How can DiALoG be refined to provide a formative assessment tool for oral argumentation that is reliable, practical, and useful in middle school classrooms?; and (2) How does the use of DiALoG affect teacher formative assessment practices around evidence-based argumentation, when implementing science units designed to support oral argumentation? In order to answer these questions, the project will conduct a randomized control trial with 100 teachers: 50 will teach argumentation-focused curriculum with DiALoG, 50 will teach the same curriculum without DiALoG. Both control and treatment teachers will receive all digital and physical materials needed to teach three Amplify Science curriculum units. Treatment teachers will be provided also with the most recent version of DiALoG, including the linked RMLs, as well as support materials for using DiALoG with the Amplify curriculum. A subgroup of focus teachers (5 from the treatment group, and 5 from the control group) will be the subject of additional data collection and analysis. Three focus lessons, in which students are engaging in small-group or whole-class oral argumentation, will be selected from each of the three Amplify Science curricular units. Teacher measures for the randomized control trial will include validated instruments, such as (a) a pre- and post-assessment of teacher pedagogical content knowledge; (b) post-lesson and post-unit surveys in which teachers will self-report on their formative assessment practices; and (c) video recordings of selected lessons in the focus classrooms. In order to observe potential differences in formative assessment practices between treatment and control, protocols will be used to analyze the video recordings of focus classrooms, including (a) Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol; (b) Assessment of Scientific Argumentation inside the Classroom; and (c) Formative Assessment for Teachers and Students. The key outcome of this work will be a research-informed and field-tested prototype to improve the quality of teaching and learning argumentation in middle school science classrooms usable in different learning environments.

Supporting Teacher Practice to Facilitate and Assess Oral Scientific Argumentation: Embedding a Real-Time Assessment of Speaking and Listening into an Argumentation-Rich Curriculum (Collaborative Research: Henderson)

The fundamental purpose of this project is to support teacher practice and professional learning around oral scientific argumentation in order to improve the quality of this practice in classrooms. The key outcome of this work will be a research-informed and field-tested prototype to improve the quality of teaching and learning argumentation in middle school science classrooms usable in different learning environments.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1621496
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2016 to Mon, 08/31/2020
Full Description: 

This is an early-stage design and development collaborative study submitted to the assessment strand of the Discovery Research PreK-12 (DRK-12) program, in response to Program Solicitation NSF 15-592. The fundamental purpose of this project is to support teacher practice and professional learning around oral scientific argumentation in order to improve the quality of this practice in classrooms. To achieve this purpose, the project will examine the validity of a new technology-based formative assessment tool for classroom argumentation--"Diagnosing the Argumentation Levels of Groups" (DiALoG)--for which psychometric validation work has been conducted in a laboratory setting. The DiALoG assessment tool allows teachers to document classroom talk and display scores across multiple dimensions--both intrapersonal and interpersonal--for formative assessment purposes. The project will work with 6th-8th grade science teachers to monitor and support argumentation through real-time formative assessment data generated by the DiALoG instrument. DiALoG will be used in conjunction with "Amplify Science", a Lawrence Hall of Science-developed curriculum that incorporates the science practice of engaging in argument from evidence, and a suite of newly developed Responsive Mini-Lessons (RMLs), which consist of 20-30 minute instructional strategies designed to assist teachers to provide feedback to students' thinking and follow-up to argumentation episodes that the DiALoG tool identifies in need of further support. The study will allow the refinement and expansion of DiALoG and evaluation of its impact on teacher pedagogical content knowledge and formative assessment practices in widespread classroom use.

The project will address two specific research questions: (1) How can DiALoG be refined to provide a formative assessment tool for oral argumentation that is reliable, practical, and useful in middle school classrooms?; and (2) How does the use of DiALoG affect teacher formative assessment practices around evidence-based argumentation, when implementing science units designed to support oral argumentation? In order to answer these questions, the project will conduct a randomized control trial with 100 teachers: 50 will teach argumentation-focused curriculum with DiALoG, 50 will teach the same curriculum without DiALoG. Both control and treatment teachers will receive all digital and physical materials needed to teach three Amplify Science curriculum units. Treatment teachers will be provided also with the most recent version of DiALoG, including the linked RMLs, as well as support materials for using DiALoG with the Amplify curriculum. A subgroup of focus teachers (5 from the treatment group, and 5 from the control group) will be the subject of additional data collection and analysis. Three focus lessons, in which students are engaging in small-group or whole-class oral argumentation, will be selected from each of the three Amplify Science curricular units. Teacher measures for the randomized control trial will include validated instruments, such as (a) a pre- and post-assessment of teacher pedagogical content knowledge; (b) post-lesson and post-unit surveys in which teachers will self-report on their formative assessment practices; and (c) video recordings of selected lessons in the focus classrooms. In order to observe potential differences in formative assessment practices between treatment and control, protocols will be used to analyze the video recordings of focus classrooms, including (a) Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol; (b) Assessment of Scientific Argumentation inside the Classroom; and (c) Formative Assessment for Teachers and Students. The key outcome of this work will be a research-informed and field-tested prototype to improve the quality of teaching and learning argumentation in middle school science classrooms usable in different learning environments.

CAREER: Making Science Visible: Using Visualization Technology to Support Linguistically Diverse Middle School Students' Learning in Physical and Life Sciences

Award Number: 
1552114
Funding Period: 
Wed, 06/01/2016 to Mon, 05/31/2021
Full Description: 

The growing diversity in public schools requires science educators to address the specific needs of English language learners (ELLs), students who speak a language other than English at home. Although ELLs are the fastest-growing demographic group in classrooms, many are historically underserved in mainstream science classrooms, particularly those from underrepresented minority groups. The significant increase of ELLs at public schools poses a challenge to science teachers in linguistically diverse classrooms as they try to support and engage all students in learning science. The proposed project will respond to this urgent need by investigating the potential benefits of interactive, dynamic visualization technologies, including simulations, animations, and visual models, in supporting science learning for all middle school students, including ELLs. This project will also identify design principles for developing such technology, develop additional ways to support student learning, and provide new guidelines for effective science teachers' professional development that can assist them to better serve students from diverse language backgrounds. The project has the potential to transform traditional science instruction for all students, including underserved ELLs, and to broaden their participation in science.

In collaboration with eighth grade science teachers from two low-income middle schools in North Carolina, the project will focus on three objectives: (1) develop, test, and refine four open-source, web-based inquiry units featuring dynamic visualizations on energy and matter concepts in physical and life sciences, aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS); (2) investigate how dynamic visualizations can engage eighth-grade ELLs and native-English-speaking students in science practices and improve their understanding of energy and matter concepts; and (3) investigate which scaffolding approaches can help maximize ELLs' learning with visualizations. Research questions include: (1) Which kinds of dynamic visualizations (simulations, animations, visual models) lead to the best learning outcomes for all students within the four instructional science units?; (2) Do ELLs benefit more from visualizations (or particular kinds of visualizations) than do native-English-speaking students?; and (3) What kinds of additional scaffolding activities (e.g., critiquing arguments vs. generating arguments) are needed by ELLs in order to achieve the greatest benefit? The project will use design-based research and mixed-methods approaches to accomplish its research objectives and address these questions. Furthermore, it will help science teachers develop effective strategies to support students' learning with visualizations. Products from this project, including four NGSS-aligned web-based inquiry units, the visualizations created for the project, professional development materials, and scaffolding approaches for teachers to use with ELLs, will be freely available through a project website and multiple professional development networks. The PI will collaborate with an advisory board of experts to develop the four instructional units, visualizations, and scaffolds, as well as with the participating teachers to refine these materials in an iterative fashion. Evaluation of the materials and workshops will be provided each year by the advisory board members, and their feedback will be used to improve design and implementation for the next year. The advisory board will also provide summative evaluation of student learning outcomes and will assess the success of the teachers' professional development workshops.

CAREER: Investigating Fifth Grade Teachers' Knowledge of Noticing Appalachian Students' Thinking in Science

This project will investigate teachers' knowledge of noticing students' science thinking. The project will examine teacher noticing in practice, use empirical evidence to model the teacher knowledge involved, and design teacher learning materials informed by the model. The outcomes of this project will be a model of teachers' knowledge of noticing Appalachian students' thinking in science and the design of web-based interactive instructional materials supporting teachers' knowledge construction around noticing Appalachian students' thinking in science.

Award Number: 
1552428
Funding Period: 
Fri, 07/01/2016 to Wed, 06/30/2021
Full Description: 

This is a Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) proposal responsive to Program Solicitation NSF 15-555. The CAREER program is a National Science Foundation-wide activity that offers the most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research. Based on findings from research on effective science teaching supporting the notion that meaningful learning occurs when teachers attend to students' thinking, this project will conduct an in-depth investigation of teachers' knowledge of noticing students' science thinking in terms of what they do and say, to not only attend to their ideas, but also to make sense of and respond to those ideas. The work will be grounded on the premise that there is a relationship between teachers' practice and knowledge, and that it is possible to observe practice in order to infer knowledge. The project will examine teacher noticing in practice, use empirical evidence to model the specialized teacher knowledge involved, and design teacher learning materials informed by the model. The setting of the study will include an existing school-university partnership serving diverse student populations in Appalachian communities, where students significantly underperform nationally in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics areas across grades levels. It will target fifth grade science teachers' noticing their students' thinking as they engage in science learning in six rural and semi-rural elementary schools.

The three research questions will be: (1) What disciplinary ideas in students' thinking do elementary teachers notice in practice?; (2) What knowledge do elementary teachers draw on when noticing the disciplinary ideas in students' thinking in practice?; and (3) How does a set of web-based interactive instructional materials support teachers' knowledge construction around noticing the disciplinary ideas in students' thinking in science? In order to investigate teachers' noticing students' thinking, and answer the research questions, the project will use two wearable technologies to collect data of teachers' "in-the-moment" noticing while engaged in planning, instructional, and assessment activities. One is a point-of-view digital video system consisting of three parts: a small video camera, a hand-held remote, and a separate recording module. The other is an audio-recording wristband with a recording mode allowing the user to capture previous one-minute loops of audio data. An audio loop is saved whenever the user taps the wristband. Data will be analyzed for evidence of students' disciplinary knowledge and skills in order to give insight of teachers' knowledge involved in noticing each instance using the three interconnected dimensions featured in "A Framework for K-12 Science Education" (National Research Council, 2012). The project will consist of four strands of work: (1) empirically investigating teachers' noticing of students' thinking; (2) developing an initial conceptual model of teachers' knowledge of noticing students' thinking; (3) conducting design-based research to develop instructional materials supporting teachers' knowledge construction around noticing students' thinking in science; and (4) producing and disseminating these instructional materials through an interactive web-based platform. The main outcomes of this project will be (a) an empirically grounded model of fifth grade teachers' knowledge of noticing Appalachian students' thinking in science; and (b) the design of web-based interactive instructional materials supporting fifth grade teachers' knowledge construction around noticing Appalachian students' thinking in science. These outcomes will serve as the foundation for a more comprehensive future research agenda testing and refining the initial model and instructional materials in other learning environments in order to eventually contribute to a practice-based theory of teachers' knowledge of noticing students' thinking in science to inform and impact science teaching practice. An advisory board will oversee the project's progress, and an external evaluator will conduct both formative and summative evaluation.

Three-Dimensional Teaching and Learning: Rebuilding and Researching an Online Middle School Curriculum

This project will develop an online curriculum-based supported by a teacher professional development (PD) program by rebuilding an existing life science unit of Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) Middle School Science. The project is designed to be an exemplar of fully digital Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) aligned resources for teachers and students, creating an NGSS-aligned learning environment combining disciplinary core ideas with science and engineering practices and cross-cutting concepts.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1502571
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2015 to Sat, 08/31/2019
Full Description: 

This project was funded by the Discovery Research K-12 (DRK-12) program that 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. The project, in collaboration with Oregon Public Broadcasting, will develop an online curriculum-based supported by a teacher professional development (PD) program by rebuilding an existing life science unit of Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) Middle School Science. The materials will include strategically integrated multimedia elements including animations, interactive learning experiences, and enhanced readings for students, as well as classroom videos for teachers that will help all users gain a deeper understanding of three-dimensional learning. The project is designed to be an exemplar of fully digital Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) aligned resources for teachers and students, creating an NGSS-aligned learning environment combining disciplinary core ideas with science and engineering practices and cross-cutting concepts. Using the powerful affordances of a digital environment, the project will invigorate and inspire learners and support teachers as only a media-rich environment can do.

The project will develop and research the project innovation, the combination of digital instructional materials for students and online teacher PD using a proven lesson-analysis framework. Although prior research has demonstrated the efficacy of the lesson analysis PD and curriculum elements independently, there has been little investigation of their joint ability to transform teaching and learning. The project will merge research and development in this project by incorporating a complex array of multi-component assessment activities, including classroom-based assessments, in a quasi-experimental study. Assessment activities will be designed using an evidence-centered design process that will involve the careful selection and development of assessment tasks, scoring rubrics, and criteria for scoring based on the performance expectations (PEs) and the best ways to elicit evidence about student proficiency with those PEs. The research, carried out by SRI International, will use multi-component tasks that will support inferences about student learning and advance understanding of how to assess NGSS learning. Project research and resources, which will include a digital, middle school life sciences unit, teacher PD and online digital resources, and related assessment tools, which will be widely disseminated to policy makers, researchers, and practitioners.

PlantingScience: Digging Deeper Together - A Model for Collaborative Teacher/Scientist Professional Development

This project will design, develop, and test a new professional development (PD) model for high school biology teachers that focuses on plant biology, an area of biology that teachers feel less prepared to teach. The new PD model will bring teachers and scientists together, in-person and online, to guide students in conducting authentic science investigations and to reflect on instructional practices and student learning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1502892
Funding Period: 
Thu, 10/01/2015 to Mon, 09/30/2019
Full Description: 

This project will design, develop, and test a new professional development (PD) model for high school biology teachers that focuses on plant biology, an area of biology that teachers feel less prepared to teach. The new PD model will bring teachers and scientists together, in-person and online, to guide students in conducting authentic science investigations and to reflect on instructional practices and student learning. The project will also develop and test the outcomes of a summer institute for teachers and a website that will support the online mentoring of students and the professional development of teachers. Outcomes of the project will include the development of a facilitation guide for the teacher professional development model, a website to support student mentoring and teacher professional development, a series of resources for teachers and scientists to use in working with students, and empirical evidence of the success of the new professional development model.

This full research and development project will employ a pre-test/post-test control group design to test the efficacy of a professional development model for high school biology teachers. The professional development model is grounded in a theory of action based on the premise that when teachers are engaged with scientists and students in a technology-enabled learning community, students will demonstrate higher levels of achievement than those using more traditional instructional materials and methodologies. The means of post-intervention outcome measures will be compared across treatment and comparison groups in a cluster-randomized trial where teachers will be randomly assigned to treatment groups. The study will recruit a nation-wide sample to ensure that participants represent a wide array of geographic and demographic contexts, with preference given to Title 1 schools. The research questions are: a) To what extent does participation in the Digging Deeper community of teachers and scientists affect teacher knowledge and practices? b) To what extent does participation in the Digging Deeper community of teachers and scientists affect scientists? quality of mentorship and teaching? And c) To what extent does student use of the online program and participation in the learning community with scientist mentors affect student learning? Instruments will be developed or adapted to measure relevant student and teacher knowledge, student motivation, and teacher practices. Computer-mediated discourse analysis will be used over the course of the study to track online interactions among students, teachers, and science mentors.

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