Education Research



Technology Observation Protocol (TOP) - Science Research Project - NSF-PRIME 1438368
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Classroom observation protocols provide critical tools for examining the effect of teacher professional development on teaching practices, including impacts on pedagogical approaches and on the use of curricular materials and resources. However, while existing protocols document the quality of science teaching, few also focus on the impact of technology use in the classroom, and none measure the quality of technology implementation and its alignment with performance measures such as those described in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Building on previous research, our Technology Observation Protocol for Science (TOP-Science) project is developing a tool that will capture quality of technology use to help better understand its impact on high school science teaching.

Our project will
  • design a classroom observation protocol (IT-COP) that can evaluate the impact of technology use on high school science teaching;
  • determine the validity and reliability of the IT-COP; and
  • provide resources that support its use by researchers and evaluators to more effectively characterize the type and quality of technology use in classrooms and impacts on teaching practices.

Embedded Assessment for Citizen Science (EA4CS) - NSF AISL 1422099
Citizen science (CS) is an important way of engaging a broad range of audiences (i.e., those beyond trained scientists) in science that allows participants to do the work of science including making observations, collecting data, and sharing findings. It is essential for CS projects to determine their participants’ capacity to learn and successfully perform science inquiry skills to ensure collection of high quality data and achieve broader goals such as developing a participant’s identity as a contributor to science. Embedded assessments (EA) offer a critical method for understanding these skill gains, as they can be integrated seamlessly into the learning experience itself. However, the use of EA tools is limited, partially because practitioners lack the experience and expertise to develop and implement these complex tools. Furthermore, although there has been widespread recognition for the value of such methods, a lack of empirical documentation of the use of EAs has impeded systematic advancement in this area. The EA4CS project will address these challenges with two concurrent strategies:
  • needs assessment of the broad CS community will document targeted science inquiry skills of these projects, assessment of project impacts on these skills, and challenges associated with these evaluations; and
  • case studies to create, pilot, and analyze customized EAs for three existing and diverse CS projects.

Together these two strategies will address the following primary research questions:
  • What are common and unique science inquiry skills targeted by CS projects, and how are they currently being measured to document project impact?
  • What are the opportunities and challenges present in developing and administering EA tools customized for CS projects to assess science inquiry skills?
  • To what extent can EA tools created for a CS project provide project leaders with a better understanding of their project’s impact on participant science inquiry skills?


MADE-CLEAR Informal Climate Change Education Community of Practice - NSF CCEP-II 1239758
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Our ICCE Community seeks to build relationships across these diverse informal educators by fostering a community of practice (CoP). Our CoP consists of Maryland and Delaware informal educators who are interested in CCE and who are working together to learn how to improve their CCE practice and align this learning with reflection of their practice. They interact regularly in a fluid and evolving informal education experience. This is a design-based research project, our team is both facilitating the CoP and researching its growth and impacts. Specifically, we are examining whether and how different approaches to communicating climate change are used by CoP members, describing patterns of interactions among the CoP members, and exploring evolution of the CoP. Our methods includes social network analysis to determine if existing relationships are strengthened, if new relationships are formed, and the activities that members of the community of practice engage in. Overall, our research will increase understanding of the role of reflective practice of CoP, the value of a community-of-practice to build relationships across diverse informal education institutions around climate change, and will document the challenges and lessons learned about initiating and supporting a community or practice that enhances informal climate change education.