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College of Education

Andrews Institute

Research Projects

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research projects

Current Projects

Conceptual understanding, language acquisition, and identity formation in chemistry:

Project Overview
The purpose of this project was to provide the Chemistry Department and the professors of record with information about the effectiveness of the Chemistry Boot Camp. They could use the information to make changes to the delivery and/or requirements so that the Chemistry Boot Camp can better serve the need of students, faculty, and department.

The Chemistry Boot Camp was administered through the universities’ online system. Only students admitted to the university and having a university ID and email were allowed to enroll. Students who declared a STEM major were encouraged by advisors to take advantage of the opportunity for this additional help. There was no cost or academic credit associated with the Boot Camp and there were no penalties for not fully engaging or for dropping out. The research team (RT) did not help design the course or many of the imbedded assessments. The RT did develop a survey that was added to the shell during the third week.

Research Team
Dr. Molly Weinburgh
Naomi Alanis
Megan Clawson
Ashley Titus
Stephanie Wallace

Project Overview
While multimodal language development is critical for all students, supporting the acquisition of this type of discourse becomes essential for the increasing number of immigrant students enrolling in schools in the United States today. Statistics suggests that as this population grows, it continues to experience high rates of academic failure—44% of immigrant children do not complete high school (PEW Hispanic Center, 2002). These statistics, in addition to findings demonstrating that it takes emerging multilingual students from four to seven years to develop academic language, have led to the development of instructional programs that systematically integrate language and content objectives. Since 2007, our team has focused on the acquisition of content knowledge and academic language in science and mathematics for emerging multilingual students. The research site is a 3-week summer school for students enrolled in the local school district.

Project 1 - Instructional Intentions and Student Learning: Multimodal Language of the Science Notebook of an Emergent Multilingual Learner.

Our research has focused broadly on understanding of how EMLs construction and use discourse in science. We are also interested in knowing more about the link between the planning by teachers and the learning by students. To address the gap in research, this study unpacks the relationship of teacher intention to the student products. Specifically, in a summer science program for EMLs we ask, (RQ1) What are the teacher’s instructional intentions? (RQ2) In what ways do the student journal entries communicate understanding of investigations?

Research Team
Dr. Daniella Biffi
Dr. Molly Weinburgh
Dr. Cecilia Silva

Project 2 - Emergent multilingual learners use of multimodal discursive resources in science journals to communicate “doing” and “learning”

The purpose of this study was to examine the multimodal discursive resources emergent multilingual learners (EMLs) used in their journals on the topic of erosion. Thus, we ask RQ1 In what ways do multimodal discursive resources differ as EMLs describe doing an investigation (practices) and learning (content) in response to a writing prompt (What I did-What I learned)?”. This research, grounded in an interpretive/constructivist paradigm, examined the journals of 18 EMLs who participated in a summer program where they engaged in the social context of scientific practice.

Research Team

  • Callie Price
  • Dr. Daniella Biffi
  • Dr. Molly Weinburgh
  • Dr. Cecilia Silva
  • Dr. Kathy Smith
  • Monica Amyett
  • Tonie Domino

Project 3 – The use of multimodal discursive practices by emergent multilingual learners when writing and how NGSS practices are reflected

Our overall research purpose is to gain understanding of discourse construction and use by EMLs in science. We specifically ask: RQ 1. How do EMLs incorporate multimodal discursive practices in their journal entries following an investigation? RQ2. How are the multimodal discursive practices found in the journal entries of the EMLs reflect (show evidence of) the NGSS practices?

Research Team

  • Callie Price
  • Dr. Molly Weinburgh
  • Dr. Cecilia Silva
  • Dr. Kathy Smith
  • Ana Benitez

Project Overview
The Mathematics Education Research Group in North Texas (MERGiNT) consists of mathematics educators from local universities. The two primary goals of the MERGiNT group are to support its members’ full individual professional development as mathematics education researchers and to foster collaborations within the working group. One of our projects in support of the second goal is to develop a model for successful localized mathematics education research working groups by integrating the literature on collaborative working groups with our experiences of forming and maintaining a productive collaboration.

 
Research Team

  • Dr. Sarah Quebec Fuentes
  • Dr. Theresa Jorgensen (University of Texas at Arlington)
  • Dr. Colleen Eddy (University of North Texas)
  • Dr. James Epperson (University of Texas at Arlington)
  • Dr. Christina Gawlik (Texas Woman’s University)
  • Dr. Winifred Mallam (Texas Woman’s University)
  • Dr. Elizabeth Ward (Texas Wesleyan University)
  • Dr. Ann Wheeler (Texas Woman’s University)
  • Dr. Yolanda Parker (University of Texas at Arlington)
  • Dr. Christopher Kribs Zaleta (University of Texas at Arlington)

Project Overview
This project is a longitudinal study which has three underlying goals: (1) to discern the interactions between the thinking and learning of inquiry mathematics and science by observing and comparing the mathematics methods and the science content courses; (2) to follow the elementary preservice teachers’ understanding of inquiry in mathematics and science through their course work; and (3) to assess whether the preservice teachers incorporate inquiry during mathematics and science lessons while teaching and determine the factors that influence that choice. A subset of the preservice teachers in the study will be followed through their student teaching and into their first year on the job. The study will be extended with a second cohort of preservice elementary teachers using the information learned from the first cycle to inform research decisions and to explore the ways in which the mathematics methods and science content courses can support each other in the preparation of the future teachers.

Research Team

  • Dr. Sarah Quebec Fuentes
  • Dr. Mark Bloom

Project Overview
The purpose of this study is to compare two different mathematics curriculum models: traditional and standards-based. Traditional curricula, distributed by major publishing companies, are strongly influenced by market-based research. On the other hand, standards-based curricula reflect research on how students develop a conceptual understanding of mathematics. In particular, the focus will be on the delivery process of the two models and their influences on the teachers’ instructional practices at the Kindergarten level.

Research Team

  • Dr. Sarah Quebec Fuentes
  • Dr. Bi Ying Hu

Project Overview
Research has documented the need for prospective teachers (PTs) to have content and pedagogical knowledge (Shulman, 1986). Researchers continue to study various aspects related to pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) and differentiate between types of knowledge PTs need to teach mathematics (Ball, Thames, & Phelps, 2008; Hill & Ball, 2004). As researchers continue to focus on aspects of PCK for teachers, teacher education programs continue to increase content (e.g.; teaching strategies, differentiated instruction, mathematics content, assessment strategies, English language learners) while the number of courses in which PTs enroll remains the same. Teaching practices associated with PCK are a focus in methods courses and PTs are expected to enter student teaching implementing the various practices that were read about, discussed, observed, or modeled by the instructor. Research suggests that such experiences do not align with how people learn, rather people learn through experiences that (1) build on their own knowledge, (2) provide guidance from another expert and (3) allow thinking to be visible so ideas can be discussed and clarified (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000).

Currently, most PTs either observe secondary mathematics teachers in a field placement then write a reflection citing evidence from the lesson or observe methods course instructors model teaching practices with a subsequent discussion about the practices used. While each approach can help students gain a better understanding of teaching practices, their effectiveness is limited. First, there is no guarantee the PTs will observe the teaching practices discussed in their methods course during field placement. Second, PTs often write their reflection hours, or days, after the observation, diminishing the quality and accuracy of the observations. Third, perceptions of teaching practices often differ between PTs and instructors. While each person has an image of what the teaching practices look like when implemented in the classroom, these images are often not the same for novice teachers (Tripp, Graham, Dye, & Wright, 2007). Fourth, there is no guarantee PTs will notice what the instructor wanted them to notice (Sherin & van Es, 2005; Star & Strickland, 2007). Finally, there is a question whether the teaching practices discussed, modeled or read about will transfer to the PTs own teaching. Addressing these limitations has led us to consider how the use of technology can create authentic learning experiences for our PTs to develop competency in implementation of teaching practices.

The first phase of the cycle is to see it– meaning PTs observe teaching practices implemented in classrooms. Using a video library of model teachers, PTs watch video instances (short clips) of multiple teachers and then rate the instances based on supplied definitions and rubrics for the different teaching practices. The second phase is to try it – meaning PTs implement the teaching practices in their own teaching of lessons during the course that are videotaped. The third phase is to reflect on it – meaning PTs code their own video and rate themselves using the same rating systems they used for the model teachers. PTs then compare themselves to the rubric as well as model teachers and continually improve on teaching practices. This three-phase cycle is then repeated so PTs are continually learning and understanding how to implement teaching practices.

This process allows PTs to see multiple examples of teaching practices implemented in a real teaching situation. Second, it allows the PTs to create correct images of these teaching practices and view other teachers’ implementation. Third, it allows PTs to implement these practices in their own teaching. Fourth, it requires PTs to reflect on how their implementation compares with model teachers, which helps in the development of their own teaching practices.

Research Team

  • Dr. J. Matt Switzer
  • Dr. Dawn Teuscher (Brigham Young University)

Project Overview
Successful completion of an algebra course, or equivalent, serves as a gatekeeper for students’ future educational, professional, and economic opportunities (e.g., Ball, 2004; National Academy of Science, 2007). Those who successfully complete an algebra course are at a considerable advantage over their peers who have not. This critical role of algebra has also been a focus in several recent high profile reports. Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS), Rising Above the Gathering Storm (National Academy of Science, 2007), Mathematical Proficiency for All Students (Ball, 2004), and Foundations for Success (National Mathematics Advisory Panel, 2008) have each placed an increased emphasis on two specific, but related, aspects of learning and teaching algebra. First, students’ early mathematics education must prepare them for success in algebra (Kilpatrick & Izsak, 2008). Second, in order to increase students’ proficiency in algebra their experiences in algebra and beyond must also support all students in attaining this goal.

In addition to the increased emphasis on the importance of students’ success in algebra, is the corresponding emphasis on algebra for all. From a social justice perspective Robert Moses has argued for and worked toward this goal through the Algebra Project (Moses, 2011). The stance that all students can be successful in mathematics in general, and algebra in particular, is also consistent with the Equity Principle in NCTM’s Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (NCTM, 2000). Likewise, Achieve has taken the position that everyone can do algebra (American Diploma Project (ADP), 2004). Further, numerous state legislatures have taken the position that students must complete the equivalent of at least an algebra course in order to receive a high school diploma.

Considerable knowledge exists regarding the teaching and learning of algebra (e.g., Blanton, et al., 2007; Booth, 1984; Brizuela & Schliemann, 2004; Carpenter, Levi, Berman, & Pligge, 2005; Drijvers, 2003; Kaput, 2008a; Kieran, 2007; Kuchemann, 1981; Lee, 2006; NCTM, 2000; Radford, Bardino, & Sabena, 2007). This includes the relatively new and evolving domain of research on early algebra, which has begun to develop a knowledge base addressing the relationships between arithmetic and algebra (e.g., Blanton & Kaput, 2001; Carpenter, Franke, & Levi, 2003; Carraher & Schliemann, 2007; Kieran, 2007; Schliemann, et al., 2003; Van Amerom, 2003; Warren & Cooper, 2008b). One finding consistent across these areas of research is that many students at all levels demonstrate difficulties with the meaning and use of conventional mathematical symbols (e.g., Cooper & Warren, 2008; Fujii, 2003; Kuchemann, 1981).

A subset of the research on students’ meaning and use of conventional mathematical symbols addresses students’ meanings for and subsequent use of variables. In fact, the research (cf., Booth, 1984; Carraher, Brizuela, & Schliemann, 2000; Carraher, Schielmann, & Brizuela, 2001; Ellis, 2007; Knuth, Alibali, McNeil, Weinberg, & Stephens, 2005; Kuchemann, 1981; Lannin, Barker, & Townsend, 2006; MacGregor & Stacey, 1997; Swafford & Langrall, 2000; Warren & Cooper, 2008b) has established a great deal about students’ meaning and use of conventional letter-symbolic representations of variables. This research has demonstrated that many students appear to have different meanings and strategies for dealing with variables and these strategies may vary across task types (e.g., word problems, word equations and equations (Koedinger & Nathan, 2004)). However, the setting for the majority of this research has been at the middle school level and beyond and does not include students’ meanings and use of informal representations of variables, or why or how difficulties arise.

Therefore, this study is examining how 36 grade 4-6 students from one elementary and middle school in a Midwestern US city and one elementary and middle school in a Southern US city conceptualized and utilized formal and informal representations of variables across core mathematical tasks. While algebraic conventions for variables represented with literal symbols (e.g., x and y) have been established for student in algebra classes and beyond, little research into elementary school students’ initial conception(s) for variables exists. This study examined student interpretations of formal (e.g., x + y = 12) and informal representations of variables (e.g., c + r = 12).

Research Team

  • Dr. J. Matt Switzer

 

Completed Projects

Project Overview
While academic language development is critical for all students, supporting the acquisition of this type of discourse becomes essential for the increasing number of immigrant students enrolling in schools in the United States today. Statistics suggests that as this population grows, it continues to experience high rates of academic failure—44% of immigrant children do not complete high school (PEW Hispanic Center, 2002). These statistics, in addition to findings demonstrating that it takes emerging multilingual students from four to seven years to develop academic language, have led to the development of instructional programs that systematically integrate language and content objectives. Since 2007, our team has focused on the acquisition of content knowledge and academic language in science and mathematics for emerging multilingual students. The research site is a 3-week summer school for students enrolled in the local school district.

Project 1
Recent research in science education has investigated the integration of conceptual understanding with language development (Gee, 2004; Lee, Quinn & Valdes, 2013; Oliveira & Weinburgh, 2016; Smolkin & Donovan, 2004; Weinburgh, Silva, Smith, Groulx & Nettles, 2014). The purpose of this study was to investigate how emerging multilingual students use hybrid language: a) to demonstrate their knowledge of science and b) in argumentation. The study focuses on emerging multilingual students who participated in a summer science and mathematics enrichment program embedded with language acquisition.

Research Team                                  

  • Dr. Molly Weinburgh
  • Dr. Cecilia Silva

Graduate Students

  • Ms. Shelly Wu
  • Ms. Allison Silveus
  • Mr. Stacy Vasquez
  • Ms. Daniella Biffi

Project 2
This research focuses on the distinction between procedural language and conceptual language for emerging multilingual students engaged in a science exploration.

Research Team                                  

  • Dr. Molly Weinburgh
  • Dr. Cecilia Silva
  • Dr. Smith

Project Overview
The diminishing pipeline and lack of diversity in the science fields continues to concern many in science and science education. Groups underrepresented in STEM fields include females (National Academies of Science, 2017), certain racial/ethnic groups (Hurtado, Newman, Tran, & Chang, 2010; NAS, 2017), and first generation college students (Dika & D’Amico, 2016). Several research projects have emerged from a summer experience funded through Upward Bound (UB). The purpose of UB was to identify marginalized students with academic potential and to assist them with tutoring and mentoring during the academic year and to provide summer enrichment. To be included in the UB program, a student had to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, low-income family, have completed 8th grade, be at least 13 years old but not yet 19 years old, and be a potential first-generation college attendee. During the summer enrichment program used for this study, students lived in the dormitories from Sunday night to Friday afternoon during the month of June. For all students, the morning activities included core academic subjects (science, mathematics, and language arts) and the afternoon included electives, such as athletics. After dinner, the students were engaged in tutoring time and/or social activities. The sub-set of 20 students in this study were selected by the Upward Bound program administrators. The criterion was that the student had taken one or more semesters of high school chemistry. Fifteen females (four African American, eleven Latina) and five males (two African American, three Latino) met the criterion. At the time of the summer program, one student had completed 9th grade, three completed 10th grade and 16 had completed 11th grade.

Project 1
The purpose of this study is to investigate the discourse practices utilized in a chemistry laboratory by students of color, from low income families, who participated in a summer, lab-based residential program.  Our specific questions were: (1) How do students manifest joining the chemistry community?  (2) How do Discourse practices of the hybrid language emerge? (3) In what ways do Discourse practices and sense of community contribute to science learning?

Research Team              

  • Dr. Molly Weinburgh
  • Dr. Ummuhan Malkoc

Graduate Students

  • Ms. Heather Thompson
  • Mr. John Cordell

Project 2
The purpose of this study to examine the laboratory conditions initiated by the teacher that encourage or discourage discourse.

Research Team                      

  • Dr. Molly Weinburgh

Graduate Student

  • Ms. Heather Thompson

Project Overview
The Colorado Consortium for Earth and Space Science Education (CCESSE) is a consortium of multiple partners in Southern Colorado who share a passion for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education and outreach. The goal of CCESSE is to increase the quality and quantity of informal science learning opportunities available to students and to spark their interest and participation in STEM fields. The long-term goal is to increase the “STEM pipeline” of adults who seek careers in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics. CCESSE is partially supported through a grant provided by the United States Air Force Academy and provides educational activities to over 13,000 students each year while collecting pre-post evaluation data on at least 4,000 of these students annually.

Research on the effects of informal science learning opportunities highlights the value of informal STEM education in motivating students—both mainstream and historically disadvantaged students—to pursue STEM-related degrees in college (Allison & Hibbler, 2004;Rahm & Ash, 2008). Informal science education is a focus for the Challenger Learning Center of Colorado, the lead program owned and operated by CCESSE. The Challenger Learning Center provides multiple on-site and distance education space science learning experiences. Other partners include, or have included, the following organizations: (1) Project Lead the Way, a series of week-long summer student camps focused on STEM learning for both middle and high school students, (2) Peak Area Leadership in Science (PALS) and EleSTEMary, two groups of educators who organize Saturday professional training events for other educators in grades preK – 12, (3) the Science Olympiad, a series of “competitive” science events held at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS), and (4) Cool Science, a program designed to promote knowledge and interest in the STEM fields through on-site demonstrations at elementary schools across Southern Colorado. In 2012, evaluation data were analyzed for over 4,100 students who participated directly in CCESSE events (while thousands of other students participated indirectly through instruction received by their teachers during summer PALS workshops). Over 200 teachers participated either directly or indirectly in one of the six programs previously described. Quantitative and qualitative results demonstrate that the events were extremely successful. Details provided in the attached report illuminate the project’s success. The interim 2013 evaluation report consists of data collected by the Challenger Learning Center of Colorado. A research manuscript, based on the data in this report, is currently being reviewed for publication in an internationally recognized Science Education journal.
 
Links

Colorado Consortium for Earth and Space Science Education Year Two Evaluation: Final Report

Research Team

  • Dr. Lindy Crawford
  • Dr. Jacqueline Huscroft-D’Angelo

References

Allison, M. T. & Hibbler, D. K. (2004). Organizational barriers to inclusion: Perspectives from the recreation professional. Leisure Sciences, 26(3), 261-280.

Rahm, J. & Ash, D. (2008). Learning environments at the margin: Case studies of disenfranchised youth doing science in an aquarium and an after-school program. Learning Environments Research, 11, 49-62.

Project Overview
While academic language development is critical for all students, supporting the acquisition of this type of discourse becomes essential for the increasing number of immigrant students enrolling in schools in the United States today. Statistics suggests that as this population grows, it continues to experience high rates of academic failure—44% of immigrant children do not complete high school (PEW Hispanic Center, 2002). These statistics, in addition to findings demonstrating that it takes English language learners (ELLs) from four to seven years to develop academic language, have led to the development of instructional programs that systematically integrate language and content objectives. Since 2007, our team has focused on the acquisition of content knowledge and academic language in science and mathematics for English language learners (ELLs). The research site is a 3-week summer school for students enrolled in the local school district’s Language Center (LC) program. The LC is structured as a “school-within a school” and aims at gradually transitioning ELL students into mainstream classrooms over a two to three-year period. The team has two foci at this time. A subgroup is investigating the student growth in mathematics. This is particularly interested in how the students think about using mathematics for communication and how they then actually use mathematics to communicate ideas. For more information contact Dr. Smith. Another subgroup is investigating students’ change in science content as measured on a retelling.

Research Team

  • Dr. Cecilia Silva
  • Dr. Kathy Smith
  • Dr. Robin Griffith
  • Dr. Michael Faggella-Luby
  • Dr. Molly Weinburgh 

Graduate Student Researchers

  • Allie Clary
  • Natalie Smith

Publications

  • Weinburgh, M.H., Silva, C. & Smith, K.H. (2014). Learning from fourth and fifth graders in a summer school for English language learners. In M. Diaz, C. Eick, and L. Diaz (Eds.) Science Teacher Educators as K-12 Teachers: Practicing what we teach (181-194). London: Springer Publishers.
  • Silva, C., Weinburgh, M. H. & Smith, K. H. (2013) Not just good science teaching: supporting academic language development. Voices in the Middle. 20(3), 34-42.
  • Silva, C., Weinburgh, M.H., Smith, K., Malloy, R. & Marshall (Nettles), J. (2012). Toward Integration: A Model of Science and Literacy. Childhood Education. 88(2). 91-95.
  • Weinburgh, M.H & Silva, C. (2012). An Instructional Theory for English Language Learners: The 5R Model for Enhancing Academic Language Development in Inquiry-Based Science. In Irby, B.J., Brown, G., Lara-Alecio, R. (Eds.) and J. Koch (Sect. Ed.) Handbook of Educational Theories. (pp. 293-304). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing Inc.
  • Weinburgh, M.H., Silva, C., Malloy, R., Marshall, J. & Smith, K. (2012). A Science Lesson or Language Lesson? Using the 5Rs. Science & Children. 49(9) 72-76.
  • Weinburgh, M. H. & Silva, C. (2011). Math, science, and models. Science & Children. 48(10) 38-42.
  • Weinburgh, M. H., & Silva, C. (2011) Integrating Language and Science: The 5Rs for English Language Learners. In Berlin, D. F. & White, A. L. (Eds.). Science and Mathematics: International Innovations, Research, and Practices (pp. 19-32). Columbus, OH: International Consortium for Research in Science and Mathematics Education.

References

  • Barsalou, L.W. (1999). Language comprehension: Archival memory or preparation for situated action. Discourse Processes, 28, 61-80.
  • Gee, J. P. (2004). Language in the science classroom: Academic social languages as the heart of school-based literacy. In. E. W. Saul (Ed.). Crossing Borders in Literacy and Science Instruction. Arlington, VA: NSTA Press.
  • Lemke, J.L. (2007). The Literacies of Science. In. E. W. Saul (Ed.). Crossing Borders in Literacy and Science Instruction. Arlington, VA: NSTA Press.
  • Pew Hispanic Center. (2002). Educational attainment: Better than meets the eye, but large challenges remain. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved July 5, 2007, from http://pewhispanic.org/files/factsheets/3.pdf.

Project Overview
In January 2014, TCU was awarded a Teacher Quality Enhancement Grant to provide 110 hours of professional development to in-service biology teachers over one calendar year. Fifty teachers from a pool of applicants will be select to participate. Participating teachers will attend an intensive summer institute and follow up academic year events including Saturday workshops and classroom observations. This will provide the opportunity to help teachers acquire new knowledge and skill as well as proving a ‘laboratory’ for studying the effectiveness of this model of professional development, how teachers incorporate new content/pedagogy into their teaching, and how teacher change effects student achievement.

The research questions to be examined include:

  • What are the changes in levels of concern as measured by the by the SoC Questionnaire?
  • What changes occur in teachers’ understanding of ELL strategies in biology?
  • What changes occur in teachers’ pedagogical practice?

The research team is using qualitative and quantitative methods as they try to more fully understand the impact of professional development on biology teachers.

Research Team

  • Dr. Molly Weinburgh

Project Overview
MERG is a nine-person research group consisting of mathematics educators from several universities in Texas. We are developing an instrument to measure self-efficacy for teaching and learning algebra for both pre- and in-service teachers. This is a multi-stage, long-term project. After creating the instrument, we will determine its validity and reliability. The collaboration of the universities will enable us to have a large enough and diverse population to do this analysis. The goal is to then use this instrument to study the potential relationships between efficacy for teaching and learning algebra and student achievement, teacher content knowledge, and teacher pedagogical content knowledge. There are also possible longitudinal connections related to pre-service teacher education and/or in-service teacher professional development.
 
Research Team

  • Dr. Sarah Quebec Fuentes
  • Dr. Trena Wilkerson (Baylor University)
  • Dr. Sandi Cooper (Baylor University)
  • Dr. Colleen Eddy (University of North Texas)
  • Dr. Winifred Mallam (Texas Woman’s University)
  • Dr. Bill Jasper (Sam Houston State University)
  • Dr. Elizabeth Ward (Texas Wesleyan University)
  • Dr. Alejandra Sorto (Texas State University)
  • Dr. Judy Taylor (LeTourneau University)

Project Overview
The purpose of this study is to construct a learning progression for elementary students about their reasoning in ecology in general and about their feedback loop reasoning specifically. My motivation is to understand if the culture makes a difference in students’ reasoning. This is why this study is a comparative study between students in the US and those in Lebanon. I have conducted previous work in a mid-western suburban school in the US. However the following question was lingering: how would the learning progression change if it were conducted in a different culture? In previous work, I have constructed a learning progression for ecological systemic reasoning and feedback loop reasoning for lower elementary students in an American Sub-urban context (Hokayem 2012; Hokayem & Gotwals under review; Hokayem et al. in press). One of the major questions that remained was: how would the learning progression look like when cultural differences are taken into consideration? So far, learning progression research has been developed in the United States and Europe, but there are no studies about learning progression in other countries, particularly in countries where students learn science in a language other than their native language (e.g. Lebanon). The significance of this comparative research is that it will use cross-cultural data and compare learning progression in different cultures in an attempt to come up with a refined learning progression that takes into account cultural differences.

Research Team

  • Dr. Hayat Hokayem

Project Overview
Historically, teacher knowledge in mathematics, as measured by teacher certification, courses completed, major, grade point average, and scores on standardized exams, have not shown a significant relationship to student achievement, especially at the elementary level (Grossman, Wilson, & Shulman, 1989; National Mathematics Advisory Panel, 2008). These results imply that traditional mathematical content knowledge, although necessary, is insufficient for teaching mathematics (Hill & Ball, 2009). Similarly, knowledge of general pedagogical strategies in the absence of content area knowledge is insufficient for teaching. Shulman (1986) described this as the missing paradigm and proposed that, in addition to subject matter knowledge, teachers must also develop pedagogical content knowledge (PCK).

Shulman (1987) acknowledged that his conception of teacher knowledge was incomplete and encouraged researchers to formulate a clear framework for teacher content knowledge. Ball and colleagues set out to determine what successful teaching necessitates in respect to mathematics content knowledge and PCK (Ball, Thames, & Phelps, 2008). They identified domains of knowledge required for teaching mathematics and developed items to measure this knowledge. Findings indicated that knowledge for teaching mathematics extends beyond simply knowing the mathematics in elementary curriculum (Hill, Shilling, & Ball, 2004). Teachers also must be able to quickly identify errors and the sources thereof, understand students’ misconceptions based on particular errors, evaluate nonstandard approaches to determine mathematical correctness and generalizability, explain conceptual underpinnings of procedures, identify benefits of different ways to represent content, and determine appropriate sequences of examples. Ball et al. (2008) developed a framework, Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching (MKT), comprised of Subject Matter Knowledge and PCK, expanding on Shulman’s (1986, 1987) components of teacher knowledge.

Research findings on teachers’ MKT have shown a significant relationship between teachers’ MKT, the mathematical quality of their instruction (Hill et al., 2008), and student achievement (Hill, Rowan, & Ball, 2005; Rockoff, Jacob, Kane, & Staiger, 2008). However, much of the MKT research has been geared towards informing teacher educators about MKT, its different components (Ball et al., 2008; Hill & Ball, 2009), and means to improve the MKT of teachers via professional development (PD) or university coursework (Ball & Forzani, 2009; Hill & Ball, 2004). Therefore, preservice teachers (PTs) are often exposed to MKT implicitly through the structures and content of mathematics coursework.

Ball et al. (2008) called for studies on the effects of different methods used in mathematics teacher education on teachers’ MKT and development of support materials for university coursework and PD related to MKT. In this presentation, we describe the results of a research project addressing both aspects of this call in the context of a two-semester mathematics methods course for elementary PTs who were explicitly exposed to MKT through purposively designed class activities and assignments. Specifically, a case study was used to promote the PTs to consider the importance of teacher knowledge. PTs analyzed and discussed the case study identifying strengths and weaknesses in the teacher’s instruction and knowledge needed by the teacher to effectively teach the lessons. Drawing on these discussions, the PTs developed an initial teacher knowledge framework. Throughout the mathematics methods courses, PTs refined the framework as they engaged in class activities, readings, journal responses, evaluation of their and other teachers’ practice, and assignments in which the framework was integrated. The results of this process demonstrate that providing PTs the experiences and support in considering the importance of teacher knowledge in teaching mathematics can increase PTs awareness and development of MKT.

Research Team

  • Dr. Sarah Quebec-Fuentes
  • Dr. J. Matt Switzer

Project Overview
This project will pair TCU undergraduate mathematics education majors with mathematics teachers from an area high school with the goal of developing a model of productive collaboration between the two parties. As a pilot for a larger program, the project will combine practical experience (for undergraduate assistants) with data gathering (for investigators) and a viewpoint on current research (for teachers). A uniquely responsive feedback loop, in which teacher needs will be assessed promptly and continuously, will be established so that all participants can collaboratively adapt and respond as the situation demands.

Research Team

  • Dr. Sarah Quebec Fuentes
  • Dr. Loren Spice

Project Overview
In the early 2000s, Churchill School in Thunder Bay, Ontario began to incorporate inquiry instructional model. This research investigates varies aspects of the school culture and student engagement through an in depth examination of Churchill School. Students are introduced to inquiry teaching in the 9th grade. The type and complexity of the inquiry increases through grades 10, 11, and 12. The teachers engage the students in guided inquiry as well as self-directed inquiry. Several research projects are in the process in a collaborative team of professors from Lakehead University, TCU and Churchill School. These include:

  • Case study of some of the teachers and of the whole department
  • Ethnography of three generations of mentors/mentee who have been responsible for the inquiry approach in the school
  • Examination of student matriculation patterns compared to non-inquiry schools
  • Analysis of classroom actions during inquiry

Research Team

Faculty:

  • Dr. Molly Weinburgh
  • Dr. Tony Bartley (Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada)
  • Dr. Wayne Melville (Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada)

Teachers:

  • Doug Jones (Churchill School, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada)
  • Nike Sacevich (Churchill School, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada)
  • Jane Lampo (Churchill School, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada)

References

  • Barrow, L. (2006). A Brief History of Inquiry: From Dewey to Standards. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 17:265-278.
  • Martin-Hansen, L. (2002). Defining Inquiry. The Science Teacher, 69(2), 34-37.
  • National Research Council. (1996). National science education standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
  • National Research Council. (2000). Inquiry and the national science education standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
  • Settlage, J. (2007). Demythologizing Science Teacher Education: Conquering the False Ideal of Open Inquiry. Journal of Science Teacher Education (2007) 18:461-467.
  • Windschitl, M. (2004). Folk theories of “inquiry:” How pre-service teachers reproduce the discourse and practices of an atheoretical scientific method. Journal of Research in Science Teaching (2004) 41:481-512
  • Withee, T., & Lindell, R. (2006) Different Views on Inquiry: A Survey of Science and Mathematics Methods Instructors. AIP Conference Proceedings, 2006, Vol. 818 Issue 1, p125-128.

Publications

  • Melville, W., Weinburgh, M., Bartley, A. & Hardy, I. (submitted). School administrators and departmental chairs: Fields and the implementation of a change. Leadership and Policy in Schools. 28 pages.
  • Melville, W., Bartley, A. & Weinburgh, M. (2012). Change forces: Implementing change in a secondary school for the common good. Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, 133, 1-26
  • Bartley, A., Melville, W., Weinburgh, M., Jones, D., Lampo, A., Sacevich, N. & Lower, J. (2011). Curriculum innovation from within: Emancipatory action research in the context of single sex classes in science and mathematics. Proceedings of the 2011 Annual Conference of the Association for Science Teacher Education, Minneapolis, MN.

Project Overview
The purpose of this study is to investigate the pedagogical growth of a university professor. To follow this experience, an observational case study was conducted. The development of the professor’s pedagogical knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge and beliefs about teaching mathematics were documented and are currently being analyzed. The contribution of the collaboration of the investigators to this evolution is also being examined.

Research Team

  • Dr. Sarah Quebec Fuentes
  • Dr. Loren Spice