Quantitative

Bio-Sphere: Fostering Deep Learning of Complex Biology for Building our Next Generation's Scientists

The goal of this project is to help middle school students, particularly in rural and underserved areas, develop deep scientific knowledge and knowledge of the practices and routines of science. Research teams will develop an innovative learning environment called Bio-Sphere, which will foster learning of complex science issues through hands-on design and engineering.

Award Number: 
1418044
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/01/2014 to Fri, 08/31/2018
Full Description: 

Today's citizens face profound questions in science. Preparing future generations of scientists is crucial if the United States is to remain competitive in a technology-focused economy. The biological sciences are of particular importance for addressing some of today's complex problems, such as sustainability and food production, biofuels, and carbon dioxide and its effect on our environment. Although knowledge in the life sciences is of critical importance, this is an area in which there are significantly fewer studies examining students' conceptions than in physics and chemistry. The goal of this project is to help middle school students, particularly in rural and underserved areas, develop deep scientific knowledge and knowledge of the practices and routines of science. A major strength of Bio-Sphere is the inclusion of hands-on design and engineering in biology, a field in which there are fewer instances of curricula that integrate engineering design at the middle school level. The units will enable an in-depth, cohesive understanding of science content, and Bio-Sphere will be disseminated nationally and internationally through proactive outreach to teachers as well as scholarly publications.

This project addresses the need to inculcate deep learning of complex science by bringing complex socio-scientific issues into middle school classrooms, and providing students with instructional materials that allow them to practice science as scientists do. Research teams will develop, iteratively refine and evaluate an innovative learning environment called Bio-Sphere. Bio-Sphere combines the strengths of hands-on design and engineering, engages students in the practices of science, and fosters learning of complex science issues, especially among underserved populations. Each Bio-Sphere unit presents a complex science issue in the form of a design challenge that students solve by conducting experiments, using visualizations in an electronic textbook, and connecting with the community. The units, aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards, provide greater coherence, continuity, and sustained instruction focused on uncovering and integrating key ideas over long periods of time. The project will follow a design-based research methodology. In Phase 1, the Bio-Sphere materials will be developed. Phase 2 will consist of studies in Wisconsin schools to generate existence proofs, i.e., examining enactments with respect to the designed objectives to understand how a design works. Phase 3 studies will focus on practical implementation: how to bring this innovative design to life in very different classroom contexts and without the everyday support of the design team, and will be conducted in rural schools in Alabama and North Carolina.

Assessing Student Engagement in Math and Science in Middle School: Classroom, Family, and Peer Effects on Engagement

The project will use a comprehensive mixed methods design to develop theoretically-grounded measures of student engagement in middle school math and science classes that reflect a multidimensional construct within an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse sample of urban youth. The project conceptualizes student engagement as a multidimensional construct including behavioral, emotional, and cognitive components. This multidimensional perspective of student engagement provides a rich characterization of how students act, feel, and think.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1315943
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2013 to Thu, 08/31/2017
Full Description: 

The proposed project uses a comprehensive mixed methods design to develop theoretically-grounded measures of student engagement in middle school math and science classes that reflect a multidimensional construct within an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse sample of urban youth. The project conceptualizes student engagement as a multidimensional construct including behavioral, emotional, and cognitive components. This multidimensional perspective of student engagement provides a rich characterization of how students act, feel, and think. The project has three aims which are to 1) develop reliable and valid measures of student engagement in middle school math and science classes for the use of teachers and researchers; 2) field test and validate these measures of student engagement in math and science classes; and 3) test a) whether classroom, peer, and family characteristics predict student engagement in math and science classes, which in turn, predicts their course enrollment patterns, academic achievement, and educational and career aspirations in math and science and b) whether these associations differ by gender, race, and socioeconomic status.

To meet these goals, the proposed project includes two studies. In study 1, twenty-five middle school students and 10 math and 10 science teachers participate in focus groups and individual interviews to inform the development of survey instruments in fulfillment of Aim 1. In study 2, 450 middle school students and their teachers and parents participate in a field study to test the psychometric quality of the newly developed instruments in fulfillment of Aims 2 and 3. The sample is recruited from four middle schools located in a socioeconomically and ethnically diverse community. Data to be collected includes information on math and science course enrollment, performance, educational and career aspirations, student engagement in math and science, and support from teachers, peers, and parents.

This project develops easily-administered and psychometrically sound instruments for teachers and researchers to assess student engagement in math and science classes, so they can identify groups of students who are at risk for disengagement and potentially turning away from STEM careers as a first step towards designing appropriate school interventions. It is anticipated that the project findings provide research-based solutions to some of the specific behaviors that influence youth motivation in math and science. Specifically, the project identifies family, peer, and classroom predictors and educational outcomes of student engagement in math and science classes that are amenable to future interventions, as well as examines differences in the relations between context, engagement, and educational outcomes by gender, race, and socioeconomic status. The study also yields information that can directly and immediately support teachers in the partner school districts to enhance the quality of math and science education. As findings are disseminated to math and science teachers, they are able to develop effective strategies to promote student engagement in math and science. This multidimensional approach will advance current scholarship and practice concerning middle school students' pursuit of math and science related fields.

Climate Change Narrative Game Education (CHANGE)

This exploratory project helps high school students learn complex Global Climate Change (GCC) science by making it personally relevant and understandable. CHANGE creates a prototype curriculum, and integrates it into elective Marine Sciences high school courses. Research will examine the project's impact on student learning of climate science, student attitude toward science, and teacher instruction of climate science.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1316782
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/15/2013 to Wed, 08/31/2016
Full Description: 

This exploratory project helps high school students learn complex Global Climate Change (GCC) science by making it personally relevant and understandable. CHANGE creates a prototype curriculum, and integrates it into elective Marine Sciences high school courses. Research will examine the project's impact on student learning of climate science, student attitude toward science, and teacher instruction of climate science. The goal of this project is to develop a place-based futuristic gaming simulation model that can easily extend to the other locales in other states, based on local climate change effects, local stakeholders, local economic and social effects to motivate the high school students in that area. CHANGE uses: (a) scientifically realistic text narratives about future Florida residents (text stories with local Florida characters, many years in the future based on GCC), (b) local, place-based approach grounded in west-central Florida Gulf Coast using scientific data, (c) a focus on the built environment, (d) simulations & games based on scientific data to help students learn principles of GCC so students can experience and try to cope with the potential long term effect of GCC via role-play and science-based simulation, and (e) a web-based eBook narrative where sections of narrative text alternate with simulations/computer games. The proposed project will work with 25 high school Marine Science teachers in 25 schools in Hillsborough County, Florida. The project delivers new research for instructional technologists and serious game developers regarding effective interface and usability design of intermedia narrative gaming-simulations for education.

This project employs and researches innovative models for delivering high school GCC education. GCC is a complex topic involving numerous factors and uncertainties making teaching this extremely important topic very difficult. The pioneering techniques proposed for this project will advance science education of GCC. It also will deliver new research for instructional technologists and serious game developers regarding effective interface and usability design of intermedia narrative gaming-simulations for education. Effective education is probably the most crucial part in our ability to cope with climate change. CHANGE will educate underserved low SES and minority high school students in Hillsborough County, and later elsewhere, with a model making GCC personally relevant to them.

Integrating Quality Talk Professional Development to Enhance Professional Vision and Leadership for STEM Teachers in High-Need Schools

This project expands and augments a currently-funded NSF Noyce Track II teacher recruitment and retention grant with Quality Talk (QT), an innovative, scalable teacher-facilitated discourse model. Over the course of four years, the work will address critical needs in physics and chemistry education in 10th through 12th grade classrooms by strengthening the capacity of participating teachers to design and implement lessons that support effective dialogic interactions.

Award Number: 
1316347
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/15/2013 to Fri, 06/30/2017
Full Description: 

This project expands and augments a currently-funded NSF Noyce Track II teacher recruitment and retention grant with Quality Talk (QT), an innovative, scalable teacher-facilitated discourse model. It is hypothesized that the QT model will enhance pre- and in-service secondary teachers' development of professional vision and leadership skills necessary for 21st century STEM education. Over the course of four years, the work will address critical needs in physics and chemistry education in 10th through 12th grade classrooms in five of Georgia's high-need school districts by strengthening the capacity of participating teachers to design and implement lessons that support effective dialogic interactions. As a result of such interactions, students' scientific literacy will be enhanced, including their ability to participate in content-rich discourse (i.e., QT) through effective disciplinary critical-analytic thinking and epistemic cognition. The contributions of this project, beyond the tangible benefits for teacher and student participants, include the development, refinement, and dissemination of an effective QT intervention and professional developmental framework that the entire science education community can use to promote scientific literacy and understanding.

The project goals are being achieved through a series of three studies employing complementary methods and data sources, and a focus upon dissemination of the model in the final project year. The first two years of the project focus on developing and refining the curricular and intervention efficacy materials using design-based research methods. In Year 3, the project engages in a quasi-experimental study of the refined QT model, followed by further refinements before disseminating the materials both within Georgia and throughout the national science education community in Year 4. Quantitative measures of teacher and student discourse and knowledge, as well as video-coding and qualitative investigations of intervention efficacy, are being analyzed using multiple methods. In collaboration with, but independent from project staff and stakeholders, the participatory and responsive evaluation utilizes a variety of qualitative and quantitative methods to conduct formative and summative evaluation.

Over the course of four years, the project will involve the participation of approximately 32 teachers in Georgia whose students include substantive percentages from populations underrepresented in the STEM fields. In addition to advancing their own students' scientific literacy, these participating teachers receive professional development on how to train other teachers, outside of the project, in using QT to promote scientific literacy. Further, the project will conduct a QT Summit for educational stakeholders and non-participant teachers to disseminate the intervention and professional development model. Finally, the project team will disseminate the findings widely to applied and scholarly communities through a website with materials and PD information (http://www.qualitytalk.org), professional journals, conferences, and NSF's DRK-12 Resource Network. This project, with its focus on teacher leadership and the pedagogical content knowledge necessary to use discourse to promote student science literacy, significantly advances the nation's goals of producing critical consumers and producers of scientific knowledge.

Every Day, Every Child: A Partnership for Research with Elementary Math and Science Instructional Specialists

This exploratory project is studying the use of mathematics and science specialist teachers in elementary schools. The first four studies are in six school districts in Washington State. They are characterizing and categorizing the specialists, investigating the content knowledge, preparation and needs of these teachers, determining their instructional effectiveness, and determining their impact on student learning and attitudes towards mathematics and science.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1316520
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/15/2013 to Mon, 02/29/2016
Full Description: 

This exploratory project is studying the use of mathematics and science specialist teachers in elementary schools. The first four studies are in six school districts in Washington State. They are characterizing and categorizing the specialists, investigating the content knowledge, preparation and needs of these teachers, determining their instructional effectiveness, and determining their impact on student learning and attitudes towards mathematics and science. The project is recruiting 25 specialists in math and 15 in science and comparing them with equal numbers of matched non-specialist teachers. The fifth study is conducting a survey of state educational agencies to determine the types of specialist teaching models being used and how they are funded. The project is directed by Western Washington University in partnership with the Mathematics Education Collaboration.

The project is creating interview protocols for teachers and administrators, and utilizing Learning Math for Teaching (University of Michigan) and Assessing Teacher Learning About Science Teaching (ATLAST-Horizon Research). Classroom observations are being conducted using the Reformed Teaching Observational Protocol (RTOP-Arizona State University). Student measures include the Washington State Measures of Student Progress in math and science, an instrument to be created using items released by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the Attitudes Towards Math Inventory, and the Modified Attitudes Towards Science Inventory.

Project research results are being disseminated in mathematics and science educational journals and conference presentations and are being posted on the project website. Findings are be shared with the Educational Service Districts in Washington State and other State agencies, as well as the National Educational Association and the American Federation of Teachers.

Primary School Organizations as Open Systems: Strategic External Relationship Development to Promote Student Engagement in STEM Topics

This study explores the following issues in 9 schools across 3 neighborhoods: (1) How student engagement in STEM is enabled and constrained by the school's relations with its external community; (2) The similarities and differences in partnerships across different types of schools in three different urban neighborhoods by mapping networks, and assessing the costs and benefits of creating, maintaining, and dissolving network ties; and (3) How to model school and network decisions, relations, and resources using an operations research framework.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1344266
Funding Period: 
Tue, 10/01/2013 to Fri, 09/30/2016
Full Description: 

This INSPIRE award is partially funded by the Science of Organization Program in the Division of Social and Economic Sciences in the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate, and the Math and Science Partnership Program and the Discovery Research K-12 program in the Division of Research on Learning in the Education and Human Resources Directorate.

Our country faces a decline in student engagement, particularly in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines and among underrepresented minority groups. Most often this problem is discussed in the context of an achievement gap, where racial and socioeconomic groups perform unequally on academic assessments. To understand what creates the achievement gap, researchers must understand the STEM "opportunity gap" that exists between students from different backgrounds, where these same students achieve differently because of varying exposure to out-of-school enrichment and learning experiences. The STEM opportunity gap arises from the inequity of out-of-school learning experiences for children. Therefore, efforts to engage minorities and women in STEM in primary schools will only succeed if we consider the complex organizational environment in which primary schools operate. The focus of this study is on what interorganizational relationships are necessary for schools to maintain to ensure equitable, efficient, and effective opportunities for students to engage in STEM. External relationships require schools to commit time and resources, and schools must decide which relationships to develop and maintain. Understanding what kinds of relationships particular school types invest in and what level of effort to commit to maintaining those relationships is important for improving student engagement opportunities in STEM.

Specifically, the study explores the following issues in 9 schools across 3 neighborhoods in Chicago, IL:

(1) How student engagement in STEM is enabled and constrained by the school's relations with its external community.

(2) The similarities and differences in partnerships, particularly STEM-related partnerships, across different types of schools in three different urban neighborhoods by mapping networks, and assessing the costs and benefits of creating, maintaining, and dissolving network ties.

(3) How to model school and network decisions, relations, and resources using an operations research framework. The model prescribes network configurations that address strategic, tactical, and operational concerns, to ensure the school will equitably, efficiently, and effectively utilize partners to improve student engagement in STEM.

Promoting Students' Spatial Thinking in Upper Elementary Grades using Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

This project explores the potential for enhancing students' interest and ability in STEM disciplines by broadening fourth grade students' understanding and interest in the spatial perspectives inherent in geography and other science disciplines. The project tests a set of hypotheses that posit that the use of GIS in the classroom results in a measureable improvement in students' spatial reasoning and motivation.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1316660
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2013 to Wed, 08/31/2016
Full Description: 

This project explores the potential for enhancing students' interest and ability in STEM disciplines by broadening fourth grade students' understanding and interest in the spatial perspectives inherent in geography and other science disciplines. The study incorporates the latest developments in the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) within the classroom. The project tests a set of hypotheses that posit that the use of GIS in the classroom results in a measureable improvement in students' spatial reasoning and motivation. Geography teachers in elementary schools are trained to use GIS software to create digital maps specific to the subject matter and projects on which their students work. Students then work in small collaborative groups and engage in open discussions designed to enhance the development and use of their spatial and multi-step causal reasoning.

GIS has been used in middle and high school settings. This project introduces GIS to upper elementary grades particularly to allow students an early opportunity to be involved in meaningful data and map-driven activities to promote their spatial skills. The proposal team predicts that the traditional gap between girls and boys in spatial skills will shrink with training thus will be strongly pronounced in the experimental relative to control groups. The project documents the effectiveness of instructional practices that are likely to enhance multistep reasoning, systems thinking, conceptual and spatial understanding, and motivation for learning while learning to work with maps to solve problems involving geography and ecological awareness. The project develops instructional methods that incorporate innovative tools for promoting problem solving to address real-life issues in this increasingly technology-driven era. The innovative tool is open-source and designed for professionals, but it can be modified to be child-friendly. Classroom activities are integrated with science and social studies curricula and content standards. Teachers are expected to find the curriculum attractive and easy to implement.

Engineering for All (EfA)

This project creates, tests and revises two-six week prototypical modules for middle school technology education classes, using the unifying themes and important social contexts of food and water. The modules employ engineering design as the core pedagogy and integrate content and practices from the standards for college and career readiness.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1316601
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/15/2013 to Wed, 08/31/2016
Full Description: 

The Engineering for All project creates, tests and revises two-six week prototypical modules for middle school technology education classes, using the unifying themes and important social contexts of food and water. The modules employ engineering design as the core pedagogy and integrate content and practices from the standards for college and career readiness. Embedded assessments are developed and tested to make student learning visible to both teachers and students. Professional development for a limited group of teachers is used to increase their knowledge of engineering design and to test instruments being developed to measure (a) student and teacher capacity to employ informed design practices and (b) teacher design pedagogical content knowledge.

The project leadership is experienced at creating materials for engineering and technology and in providing professional development for teachers. The assessments and instruments are created by educational researchers. The advisory board includes engineers, science and engineering educators, and educational researchers to guide the development of the modules, the assessments and the instruments. An external evaluator reviews the protocols and their implementation.

This project has the potential to provide exemplary materials and assessments for engineering/technology education that address standards, change teacher practice, and increase the capacity of the engineering/technology education community to do research.

iSTEM: A Multi-State Longitudinal Study of the Effectiveness of Inclusive STEM High Schools

This is a quasi-experimental study of the effects of attending an inclusive STEM high school in three key geographic regions and comparing outcomes for students in these schools with those of their counterparts attending other types of schools in the same states. The study's focus is on the extent to which inclusive STEM high schools contribute to improved academic outcomes, interests in STEM careers, and expectations for post secondary study.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1817513
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2013 to Sat, 08/31/2019
Full Description: 

Researchers from SRI and George Washington University are studying the effectiveness of inclusive STEM high schools in three key geographic regions including Texas, North Carolina and Ohio. STEM schools continue to be an important policy area and test bed for one indication of what STEM education can accomplish under the most optimal conditions in which STEM is the focus of students' learning experiences. The President has called for the creation of an additional 1,000 STEM schools with relatively little evidence about the impact of such schools or the evidence of which configurations and elements of such schools are important. The study's focus is on the extent to which inclusive STEM high schools contribute to improved academic outcomes, interests in STEM careers, and expectations for post secondary study. The research study engages in implementation research to examine the elements of the STEM schools' design and implementation and other contextual factors, including state policies, which are associated with superior outcomes.

This is a quasi-experimental study of the effects of attending an inclusive STEM high school comparing outcomes for students in these schools with those of their counterparts attending other types of schools in the same states. The study includes all students in the 9th or 12th grade in the inclusive STEM high schools and students in samples of same-state comparison schools identified through propensity score matching. Data are collected longitudinally using student records and surveying students at regular intervals. The study follows the 12th grade students after graduation into postsecondary study and the workforce. The states identified in this study have the requisite administrative data systems to support the proposed study. By using a combination of data available in state-level data bases and new information obtained through project surveys, the researchers are identifying students who are matched not only on demographic variables and academic achievement before high school entry, but also on indicators of pre-existing interest and expectation such as self-efficacy and prior participation in informal STEM-related activities. Impacts on student achievement are analyzed separately for each state. Data on the elements of STEM schools are collected through teacher and administrator surveys and interviews. State STEM school history and policy data are collected through document analysis and interviews. The study utilizes hierarchical regression models, with separate models of each outcome measure and adjustments for tests of multiple comparisons. Student attrition is monitored and findings are examined to determine influence of attrition.

This project focuses on inclusive rather than selective STEM schools so that the population of students more typically represents the population of the students locally. The study provides a source of evidence about not only the effectiveness of STEM schools, but also contextual evidence of what works and for whom and under what conditions.

This project was previously funded under award # 1316920.

Language-Rich Inquiry Science with English Language Learners Through Biotechnology (LISELL-B)

This is a large-scale, cross-sectional, and longitudinal study aimed at understanding and supporting the teaching of science and engineering practices and academic language development of middle and high school students (grades 7-10) with a special emphasis on English language learners (ELLs) and a focus on biotechnology.

Award Number: 
1316398
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2013 to Tue, 07/31/2018
Full Description: 

This is a large-scale (4,000 students, 32 teachers, 5 classes per teacher per year); cross-sectional (four grade levels); and longitudinal (three years) study aimed at understanding and supporting the teaching of science and engineering practices and academic language development of middle and high school students (grades 7-10) with a special emphasis on English language learners (ELLs) and a focus on biotechnology. It builds on and extends the pedagogical model, professional development framework, and assessment instruments developed in a prior NSF-funded exploratory project with middle school teachers. The model is based on the research-supported notion that science and engineering practices and academic language practices are synergistic and should be taught simultaneously. It is framed around four key learning contexts: (a) a teacher professional learning institute; (b) rounds of classroom observations; (c) steps-to-college workshops for teachers, students, and families; and (d) teacher scoring sessions to analyze students' responses to assessment instruments.

The setting of this project consists of four purposefully selected middle schools and four high schools (six treatment and two control schools) in two Georgia school districts. The study employs a mixed-methods approach to answer three research questions: (1) Does increased teacher participation with the model and professional development over multiple years enhance the teachers' effectiveness in promoting growth in their students' understanding of scientific practices and use of academic language?; (2) Does increased student participation with the model over multiple years enhance their understanding of science practices and academic language?; and (3) Is science instruction informed by the pedagogical model more effective than regular instruction in promoting ELLs' understanding of science practices and academic language at all grade levels? Data gathering strategies include: (a) student-constructed response assessment of science and engineering practices; (b) student-constructed response assessment of academic language use; (c) teacher focus group interview protocol; (d) student-parent family interview protocol; (e) classroom observation protocol; (f) teacher pedagogical content knowledge assessment; and (g) teacher log of engagement with the pedagogical model. Quantitative data analysis to answer the first research question includes targeted sampling and longitudinal analysis of pretest and posttest scores. Longitudinal analysis is used to answer the second research question as well; whereas the third research question is addressed employing cross-sectional analysis. Qualitative data analysis includes coding of transcripts, thematic analysis, and pattern definition.

Outcomes are: (a) a research-based and field-tested prototype of a pedagogical model and professional learning framework to support the teaching of science and engineering practices to ELLs; (b) curriculum materials for middle and high school science teachers, students, and parents; (c) a teacher professional development handbook; and (d) a set of valid and reliable assessment instruments usable in similar learning environments.

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