Joan Walker

American Institutes for Research (AIR)

This comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis synthesizes evidence surrounding math and science remote education programs from the past 15 years. The goal is to understand the effectiveness of math and science remote education programs; how their effectiveness varies by program characteristics (e.g., fully online vs. hybrid, synchronous vs. asynchronous, and student-instructor ratio); and whether their effects vary with student sample characteristics.

University of Missouri

To act on energy issues, students need a strong understanding of energy flow and energy efficiency. However, students rarely have opportunities to learn about how buildings, such as their own school, drive about 40% of energy use and global carbon emissions. Addressing this gap in science education, this project will design, pilot, and evaluate a 6-week middle school curriculum called Build it Green! (BIG!). Blending classroom experiences and interactive digital learning tools, the researchers will work with rural middle schools in Missouri to implement and test how following the story of energy flow in and out of a hypothetical school building enhances students’ understanding of energy systems in the science of green buildings.

Florida International University (FIU)

This three-year early-stage design and development project will support a new teacher professional development and support model that builds the agency of 30 Miami-Dade County public high school science teachers to design, implement, and refine engineering instruction for their Latinx and Black students by partnering of high school teachers with Latinx and Black undergraduate engineering students in collaborative teams to co-design and implement inclusive, standards-aligned formal and informal engineering experiences. This work will generate new ways to support teachers’ roles as change agents in enacting engineering pedagogies centering those who have been historically excluded.

Michigan State University (MSU)

This project will develop and test a learning progression for middle school physical science that incorporates the three dimensions identified in Next Generation of Science Standards (NGSS): the Disciplinary Core Ideas of matter, interaction, and energy; the Science and Engineering Practices of constructing explanations and developing and using models; and the Crosscutting Concepts of cause and effect and systems and system models. Bringing together all three NGSS dimensions is an innovation that allows for the project to explore the variety of learning pathways that students may follow as they apply scientific knowledge and practices to make sense of compelling phenomena or solve complex problems.

Vanderbilt University

This project will promote pre-K teachers' use of specific teaching strategies that have been shown to enhance young children's learning and social skills. To enhance teachers' use of these practices, the project will develop a new practitioner-friendly version of the Classroom Quality Real-time Empirically-based Feedback (CQ-REF) tool for instructional coaches who work with pre-K teachers. The CQ-REF tool will guide coaches' ability to observe specific teacher practices in their classrooms and then provide feedback to help teachers evaluate their practices and set goals for improvement, addressing the need for accessible, real-time feedback on high quality pre-K classroom teaching.

University at Buffalo (SUNY Buffalo)

This project will develop a standards-aligned engineering professional learning model for elementary teachers of multilingual learners. This interdisciplinary approach is innovative in its effort to provide teachers with sustained time to reflect on what they believe about language, their teaching of linguistically and racially minoritized students, and their interactions with multilingual students around engineering content. Using a participatory and collaborative approach, experts in literacy, language, and engineering will work with elementary teachers to develop strategies for how teachers can view students’ multilingualism as an asset to engineering.

Tufts University

This project will develop, enact, and study a critical climate technology journalism curriculum to support multilingual sixth grade students’ knowledge and practices in engineering. Synthesizing expertise in climate technology, communication, and multilingual education, the project will engage students in investigating, designing, and communicating critical engineering knowledge about community-based technological systems. Students will learn engineering as they construct and convey messages about climate technology in their community for an audience of family members, community groups, and civic leaders.

Queens College, CUNY

This professional development project engages a sample of kindergarten and 1st-grade teachers in a series of workshops, during which teachers will work individually and together to design and test new lesson plans that enhance teachers' abilities to help young children think and act like a scientist. Moreover, teachers work individually and together to construct lessons that connect science content to young learners' cultural backgrounds, interests and prior knowledge.

University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine)

This project is an innovative exploratory research study focused on developing a high school environmental engineering curriculum that addresses the challenges posed by climate change. The curriculum follows a model-validate-iterate design paradigm, where students model dynamic real-world systems, validate their models using data, and create multiple iterations to explore changes in the system over time. The project aims to cultivate a new generation of environmental engineers who possess the necessary skills to analyze complex systems, collaborate with diverse communities, and develop creative solutions.


This study will investigate factors influencing teacher change after professional learning (PL) experiences and will examine the extent to which modest supports for science and engineering teaching in grades 3-5 sustain PL outcomes over the long term, such as increases in instructional time devoted to science, teacher self-efficacy in science, and teacher use of reform-oriented instructional strategies aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC Chapel Hill)

This Rapid Response Research (RAPID) project is an exploratory mixed methods study investigating the impact of vulnerability and resilience in the recovery of North Carolina schools affected by both Hurricanes Florence (2018) and Matthew (2016). Specifically, the study assesses whether schools that were impacted by both storms used organizational learning strategies to recover faster than schools that were impacted by either Hurricane Florence or Matthew alone.

Harvard University

This project will develop a modified virtual world and accompanying curriculum for middle school students to help them learn to more deeply understand ecosystems patterns and the strengths and limitations of experimentation in ecosystems science. The project will build upon a computer world called EcoMUVE, a Multi-User Virtual Environment or MUVE, and will develop ways for students to conduct experiments within the virtual world and to see the results of those experiments.

University of Toledo (UT)

Building on successful prior work, this project simultaneously targets young children's teachers and families/caregivers in an effort to build both parties' capacity to promote student interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning. The project aims to: 1) Transform early childhood science teaching based upon Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to measurably increase student science, literacy, and math achievement, and 2) Engage families of PreK-3 students in science inquiry practices to measurably improve student science, literacy, and math achievement.

Ohio Northern University

This project will develop curricular activities and assessment guidance for K-12 science and engineering educators who seek to incorporate engineering design content into their biology, chemistry, and physics classes.

TERC, Inc.

This project supports the expansion of an interactive, online STEM Videohall where hundreds of NSF-funded researchers share their work through brief video narratives and interactive discussion.

San Diego State University (SDSU)

This project examines how Latine, bilingual teachers' dispositions to teach science and engineering to bilingual learners change as they enter the teaching profession. Specifically, it explores bilingual teachers' transition from a period of strong social support to one of scarce social support, i.e., from being Bilingual Teacher Candidates to Novice Bilingual Teachers (NBTs) as they plan and teach bilingual science and engineering lessons.

University at Buffalo (SUNY Buffalo)

In this project, the research team will create a computer-mediated design environment that enables students in grades 7-10 to collaboratively explore, make connections, generate, and evaluate design ideas that address environmental science challenges. A unique feature of the project is its use of an artificial intelligent (AI) design mentor that relies on Design Heuristics, a research-based creativity tool that guides students through exploration of ideas and “learns” from students’ design processes to better assist them. The project will examine students’ perceptions of science and engineering, their ability to integrate academic and personal or community knowledge, their confidence for engaging in engineering, and their design thinking.


This project will adapt an effective in-person teacher professional development model to an online approach. A defining feature of the Science Teachers Learning from Lesson Analysis (STeLLA) Professional Development program is its use of videos of classroom instruction and examples of student work to promote teacher learning. Adapting the STeLLA program to an online learning model can reach a broader and more diverse audience, such as teachers working in rural school districts and underserved communities.