Quantitative

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.

Enhancing Teaching and Learning with Social Media: Supporting Teacher Professional Learning and Student Scientific Argumentation

This exploratory proposal is researching and developing professional learning activities to help high school teachers use available and emerging social media to teach scientific argumentation. The project responds to the growing emphasis on scientific argumentation in new standards.

Award Number: 
1316799
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2013 to Mon, 07/31/2017
Full Description: 

This exploratory proposal is researching and developing professional learning activities to help high school teachers use available and emerging social media to teach scientific argumentation. The project responds to the growing emphasis on scientific argumentation in new standards. Participants include a team of ninth and tenth grade Life Science teachers collaborating as co-researchers with project staff in a design study to develop one socially mediated science unit. It also produces strategies, tools and on-line materials to support teachers' development of the pedagogical, content, and technological knowledge needed to integrate emerging technologies into science instruction. This project focuses on the flexible social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that students frequently use in their everyday lives. Research questions explore the technology of social media and the pedagogy needed to support student engagement in scientific argumentation. The Year Three pilot analyses provide data on the professional learning model. The project provides a basis for scale-up with this instructional and professional learning model to other core science content, cross-cutting themes, and STEM practices.

High Adventure Science: Earths Systems and Sustainability

This project is developing modules for middle school and high school students in Earth and Space Science classes, testing the hypothesis that students who use computational models, analyze real-world data, and engage in building scientific reasoning and argumentation skills are better able to understand Earth science core ideas and how humans impact Earth's systems. The resulting online curriculum modules and teacher guides provide exciting examples of next generation Earth science teaching and learning materials.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1220756
Funding Period: 
Mon, 10/01/2012 to Fri, 09/30/2016
Project Evaluator: 
Karen Mutch-Jones
Full Description: 

We have entered the Anthropocene, an age when the actions of seven billion humans have increasing influence on the Earth. The High-Adventure Science: Earth Systems and Sustainability project is developing modules for middle school and high school students in Earth and Space Science classes, testing the hypothesis that students who use computational models, analyze real-world data, and engage in building scientific reasoning and argumentation skills are better able to understand Earth science core ideas and how humans impact Earth's systems. The Concord Consortium in partnership with the University of California Santa Cruz and the National Geographic Society are co-developing these modules, conducting targeted research on how the modules enhance students' higher order thinking skills and understanding of human-Earth interactions, and broadly disseminating these materials via far-reaching education networks.

The High-Adventure Science: Earth Systems and Sustainability project is creating online, middle and high school curriculum modules that feature computational models and cover five topics: climate change, fresh water availability, fossil fuel utilization, resource sustainability, and land use management. At the same time, the project team is conducting design studies to look at how specific features, prompts, argumentation and evaluation tools built into the modules affect student understanding of core Earth science concepts. The design studies promote rapid, iterative module development and help to identify features that support student learning, as well as scientific reasoning, scientific argumentation with uncertainty, systems thinking, and model-based experimentation skills. For each module, pre- and posttest data, embedded assessments, student surveys, classroom observations, teacher interviews and surveys, provide important information to rapidly improve module features, content, and usability. The final, high-quality, project materials are being made available to a national audience through the National Geographic Society as well as through the High-Adventure Science: Earth Systems and Sustainability website hosted at the Concord Consortium.

It is essential that students graduate from high school with a solid understanding of the scientific concepts that help explain how humans impact Earth systems, and conversely, how Earth processes impact humans. The High-Adventure Science: Earth Systems and Sustainability project provides a unique, research-based approach to conveying to students core Earth science content, crosscutting concepts, and fundamental practices of science. The resulting online curriculum modules and teacher guides provide exciting examples of next generation Earth science teaching and learning materials, and the research findings provide new insights on how students learn core science concepts and gain critical scientific skills.

Identifying and Measuring the Implementation and Impact of STEM School Models

The goal of this Transforming STEM Learning project is to comprehensively describe models of 20 inclusive STEM high schools in five states (California, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, and Texas), measure the factors that affect their implementation; and examine the relationships between these, the model components, and a range of student outcomes. The project is grounded in theoretical frameworks and research related to learning conditions and fidelity of implementation.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1238552
Funding Period: 
Mon, 10/01/2012 to Fri, 09/30/2016
Full Description: 

The goal of this Transforming STEM Learning project is to comprehensively describe models of 20 inclusive STEM high schools in five states (California, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, and Texas), measure the factors that affect their implementation; and examine the relationships between these, the model components, and a range of student outcomes. The project is grounded in theoretical frameworks and research related to learning conditions and fidelity of implementation.

The study employs a longitudinal, mixed-methods research design over four years. Research questions are: (1) What are the intended components of each inclusive STEM school model?; (2) What is the status of the intended components of each STEM school model?; (3) What are the contexts and conditions that contribute to and inhibit the implementation of components that comprise the STEM schools' models?; and (4) What components are most closely related to desired student outcomes in STEM schools? Data gathering strategies include: (a) analyses of school components (e.g., structures, interactions, practices); (b) measures of the actual implementation of components through teacher, school principals, and student questionnaires, observation protocols, teacher focus groups, and interviews; (c) identification of contextual conditions that contribute to or inhibit implementation using a framework inclusive of characteristics of the innovation, individual users, leadership, organization, and school environment using questionnaires and interviews; and (d) measuring student outcomes using four cohorts of 9-12 students, including standardized test assessment systems, grades, student questionnaires (e.g., students' perceptions of schools and teachers, self-efficacy), and postsecondary questionnaires. Quantitative data analysis strategies include: (a) assessment of validity and reliability of items measuring the implementation status of participating schools; (b) exploratory factor analysis to examine underlying dimensions of implementation and learning conditions; and (c) development of school profiles, and 2- and 3-level Hierarchical Linear Modeling to analyze relationships between implementation and type of school model. Qualitative data analysis strategies include:(a) descriptions of intra- and inter-school implementation and factor themes, (b) coding, and (c) narrative analysis.

Expected outcomes are: (a) research-informed characterizations of the range of inclusive STEM high school models emerging across the country; (b) identification of components of STEM high school models important for accomplishing a range of desired student achievement; (c) descriptions of contexts and conditions that promote or inhibit the implementation of innovative STEM teaching and learning; (d) instruments for measuring enactment of model components and the learning environments that affect them; and (e) methodological approaches for examining relationships between model components and student achievement.

The Impact of Early Algebra on Students' Algebra-Readiness (Collaborative Research: Knuth)

In this project researchers are implementing and studying a research-based curriculum that was designed to help children in grades 3-5 prepare for learning algebra at the middle school level. Researchers are investigating the impact of a long-term, comprehensive early algebra experience on students as they proceed from third grade to sixth grade. Researchers are working to build a learning progression that describes how algebraic concepts develop and mature from early grades through high school.

Award Number: 
1219606
Funding Period: 
Mon, 10/01/2012 to Wed, 09/30/2015
Full Description: 

The Impact of Early Algebra on Students' Algebra-Readiness is a collaborative project at the University of Wisconsin and TERC, Inc. They are implementing and studying a research-based curriculum that was designed to help children in grades 3-5 prepare for learning algebra at the middle school level. Researchers are investigating the impact of a long-term, comprehensive early algebra experience on students as they proceed from third grade to sixth grade. Researchers are working to build a learning progression that describes how algebraic concepts develop and mature from early grades through high school. This study helps to build our knowledge about the piece of the progression that is just prior to entering middle school where many students begin formal instruction in algebra.

Building on previous research about early algebra learning, researchers will teach a curriculum that was carefully designed to reflect what we know about learning algebraic concepts. Previous research has shown that young children from very diverse backgrounds have the ability to construct algebraic ideas such as equality, representation, generalization, and functions. Researchers are collecting data about students' algebraic knowledge as well as arithmetical knowledge.

We know that the majority of students in the United States struggle with learning formal algebra. By studying the implementation of the research-based curriculum for an extended period of time, researcher's are learning about how algebraic ideas are connected and whether or not early instruction on algebraic ideas will help students learn more formal ideas in middle school.

The Impact of Early Algebra on Students' Algebra-Readiness (Collaborative Research: Blanton)

In this project researchers are implementing and studying a research-based curriculum that was designed to help children in grades 3-5 prepare for learning algebra at the middle school level. Researchers are investigating the impact of a long-term, comprehensive early algebra experience on students as they proceed from third grade to sixth grade. Researchers are working to build a learning progression that describes how algebraic concepts develop and mature from early grades through high school.

Award Number: 
1219605
Funding Period: 
Mon, 10/01/2012 to Wed, 09/30/2015
Full Description: 

The Impact of Early Algebra on Students' Algebra-Readiness is a collaborative project at the University of Wisconsin and TERC, Inc. They are implementing and studying a research-based curriculum that was designed to help children in grades 3-5 prepare for learning algebra at the middle school level. Researchers are investigating the impact of a long-term, comprehensive early algebra experience on students as they proceed from third grade to sixth grade. Researchers are working to build a learning progression that describes how algebraic concepts develop and mature from early grades through high school. This study helps to build our knowledge about the piece of the progression that is just prior to entering middle school where many students begin formal instruction in algebra.

Building on previous research about early algebra learning, researchers will teach a curriculum that was carefully designed to reflect what we know about learning algebraic concepts. Previous research has shown that young children from very diverse backgrounds have the ability to construct algebraic ideas such as equality, representation, generalization, and functions. Researchers are collecting data about students' algebraic knowledge as well as arithmetical knowledge.

We know that the majority of students in the United States struggle with learning formal algebra. By studying the implementation of the research-based curriculum for an extended period of time, researcher's are learning about how algebraic ideas are connected and whether or not early instruction on algebraic ideas will help students learn more formal ideas in middle school.

Evaluation of the Sustainability and Effectiveness of Inquiry-Based Advanced Placement Science Courses: Evidence From an In-Depth Formative Evaluation and Randomized Controlled Study

This study examines the impact of the newly revised Advanced Placement (AP) Biology and Chemistry courses on students' understanding of and ability to utilize scientific inquiry, on students' confidence in engaging in college-level material, and on students’ enrollment and persistence in college STEM majors. The project provides estimates of the impact of students' AP-course taking on their progress into postsecondary educational experiences and their intent to continue to prepare to be future engineers and scientists.

Award Number: 
1220092
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/15/2012 to Wed, 08/31/2016
Full Description: 

This study examines the impact of the newly revised Advanced Placement (AP) Biology and Chemistry courses on students' understanding of and ability to apply scientific inquiry, on students' confidence in successfully engaging in college-level material, and on students enrollment and persistence in college STEM majors. AP Biology and Chemistry courses represent an important educational program that operates at a large scale across the country. The extent to which the AP curricula vary in implementation across the schools in the study is also examined to determine the range of students' opportunity to learn the disciplinary content and the knowledge and skills necessary to engage in inquiry in science. Schools that are newly implementing AP courses are participants in this research and the challenges and successes that they experience are also a component of the research plan. Researchers at the University of Washington, George Washington University and SRI International are conducting the study.

The research design for this study includes both formative components and a randomized control experiment. Formative elements include observations, interviews and surveys of teachers and students in the AP courses studied. The experimental design includes the random assignment of students to the AP offered and follows the performances of the treatment and control students in two cohorts into their matriculation into postsecondary educational experiences. Surveys measure students' experiences in the AP courses, their motivations to study AP science, the level of stress they experience in their high school coursework and their scientific inquiry skills and depth of disciplinary knowledge. The study examines the majors chosen by those students who enter into colleges and universities to ascertain the extent to which they continue in science and engineering.

This project informs educators about the challenges and successes schools encounter when they expand access to AP courses. The experiences of the teachers who will be teaching students with variable preparation inform future needs for professional development and support. The project provides estimates of the impact of students' AP-course taking on their progress into postsecondary educational experiences and their intent to continue to prepare to be future engineers and scientists. It informs policy efforts to improve the access to more rigorous advanced courses in STEM and provides strong experimental evidence of the impact of AP course taking. The project has the potential to demonstrate to educational researchers how to study an educational program that operates at scale.

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