Over the past 7 years, I have been incredibly fortunate to collaborate with Prof. Dr. Kim Lange-Schubert, a colleague from Germany, on work related to models and modeling in elementary science classrooms. Springboarding, in part, from our earlier work on the MoHSES project, as well as a CEHS international travel fellowship awarded to former graduate student and now Assistant Professor Tina Vo, this ongoing collaboration yielded two more publications in 2019. The first is a practitioner-focused article in a German publication discussing the importance and role of models and modeling in the early grades. The second is a reporting of some smaller-scale work with students in Germany and articulation/elaboration of our underlying conceptual framework for model-based teaching and learning. We look forward to continuing this collaborative endeavor and important work yet to come.
For the last four years, the UnICORN project has afforded an opportunity to enhance and engage in research on teaching and learning about inheritance in elementary science through curriculum development and professional development for teachers. Through the implementation of a model-based curriculum, early learners in Nebraska have been afforded opportunities to use corn as a model organism to develop understanding of basic concepts of heredity and genetics using corn as a model organism. Two papers were recently published based upon this work which describe students’ understanding of core, NGSS-aligned target concepts and the relative impact of the curriculum on target outcomes in consecutive project years.
In August, the I was fortunate to attend the 2019 annual meeting of the European Science Educational Research Association (ESERA), held in Bologna, Italy. The conference provided a wonderful opportunity to be part of a PISA-focused session, organized by Jonathan Osborne, to present results of work associated with my Fulbright in Germany. It was also great to see doctoral student Florian Böschl, who works with Prof. Dr. Kim Lange-Schubert at the University of Leipzig, present work from his summer in Nebraska (2018) as part of our ongoing collaborative research on modeling in elementary science classrooms. ESERA was a truly fantastic way to cap off a year of travel and professional work in Germany.
Böschl, F., Lange-Schubert, K., & Forbes, C. T.
(2019, August). Investigating scientific modeling practices in primary science: A comparative
study of the U.S. and Germany. Paper presented at the
2019 annual meeting of the European Science Education Research Association
(ESERA) 2019, Bologna, Italy.
Forbes, C.T., Neumann, K., Schipe-Tiska, A. (2019, August). Science teaching and learning: Analysis of
PISA data from the United States and Germany. Paper presented at the 2019 annual meeting of
the European Science Education Research Association (ESERA) 2019, Bologna,
Congrats to current doctoral student Diane Lally on publication of WELL project research from the SCIL 109 course. In this study, Diane investigated undergraduate students’ use and evaluation of a data-driven, computer-based modeling tools developed by Co-PI, course co-instructor, and SNR colleague Trenton Franz. The study, which compares student outcomes over the 1st and 2nd year of the course, also provides evidence for the impact of ongoing course refinement we have been engaged in over time as part of the project. The study adds to a growing number of publications from our project work with the 109 course, as well as broader efforts within my research group focused on model-based teaching and learning. It’s great to have empirical evidence in support of our team’s hard work on the 109 course over the last 3 years and kudos to Diane for her significant contributions to this work!
Over the past two years, I have had the opportunity to contribute as a research team member on the National Geoscience Faculty Survey project led by SERC and made possible by funding from NSF. As part of this effort, I was fortunate to collaborate with Dr. Karen McNeal, as well as doctoral students Diane Lally (UNL) and Nick Soltis (Auburn University), on analysis of data from the 2016 administration of the survey to investigate U.S. geoscience faculty members’ reported emphasis on scientific modeling and systems thinking in their undergraduate courses. Based on a sample of over 2000 postsecondary instructors, this shows these elements to be more heavily emphasized by faculty members from certain geoscience subdisciplines than others and who generally show greater engagement with instructional innovation. This was a great experience working with a wonderful team on a unique dataset and we all hope these are findings that will be accessible and useful to postsecondary geoscience faculty nationwide.
The final, capstone study from the MoHSES project has been published in the May issue of the Journal of Research in Science Teaching. This comparative research investigates the implementation and 3rd-grade students’ model-based learning associated with two versions of the FOSS Water unit. The study provides evidence that students experiencing the project-developed, model-based version of the curriculum showed greater gains in their model-based explanations for water-related phenomena than did students experiencing the standard version of the unit. These findings reflect many years of hard, collaborative work with truly amazing elementary teachers to develop effective resources to support model-based science teaching and learning. This manuscript was a significant team effort that I am very pleased to see in print.
In June, the WELS2 project team held our second 1-week workshop for more than 45 Nebraska middle- and high school science teachers from over a dozen school districts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Innovation Campus. Building on the previous summer workshop, teachers learned groundwater quality sampling techniques, used a computer-based, data-driven water balance model to explore regional water challenges, toured the Nebraska Water Sciences Laboratory, and developed curricular resources to use these tools in their own classrooms. Teachers also had the opportunity to participate in the workshop as part of a UNL graduate course – SCIL 800 Experiential Learning in Food, Energy, & Water II. A special thanks goes out to colleagues Trenton Franz, Dan Snow, and Dana Divine for working with teachers to utilize extraordinary UNL resources and tools, as well as to Tina Vo and Kate Gibson for helping plan and coordinate the workshop. We greatly appreciate funding from the USDA-NIFA PD-STEP program and Improving Teacher Quality (ITQ) grant program through the Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education, both of which have made this program possible.
At the end of September, our CliMES team came together with a group of high school teachers from our district partner – Lincoln Public Schools – to begin collaborating on development of the CliMES curriculum module. We are working to develop a 6-week module designed around EzGCM for LPS’ 9th-grade Geoscience course. The proposed module will be aligned with national, state, and district standards, with a particular emphasis on HS-ESS3-5:
Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth systems.
We’re looking forward to continuing these discussions and working with our collaborating teachers as we move forward with development of the curriculum module, planned for pilot implementation in spring, 2018.
I am excited to announce our new project funded by the National Science Foundation’s Discovery Research K-12 program (DRL 1720838 and 1719872). In the High School Students’ Climate Literacy through Epistemology of Scientific Modeling (CliMES) project, we will engage in a 4-year, mixed-methods, design-based research project to investigate classroom use of EzGCM (Easy Global Climate Modeling), a web-based climate modeling suite designed to provide non-scientists experiences with climate modeling. We are developing and implementing a 6-week climate science module for secondary science classrooms designed around EzGCM. Each year, we will collect and analyze evidence of students’ model-based reasoning about climate, including pre-/post- measures of students’ conceptual and epistemic knowledge, curriculum-embedded modeling tasks, interviews, and videorecorded observations of instruction to investigate two research questions: 1) how do secondary students develop epistemic and conceptual knowledge about the Earth’s climate and climate science? and 2) how do secondary science teachers support students’ use of EzGCM to develop epistemic and conceptual knowledge about the Earth’s climate and climate science? The project will impact over 50 secondary teachers and 3000 secondary students over four years and leverages a new partnership between Columbia University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, promoting cross-fertilization between climate scientists and science educators, in partnership with Nebraska school districts.
In June, the WELS2 project team held a 1-week workshop for more than 30 Nebraska middle- and high school science teachers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The workshop focused on supporting teachers to learn to use a computer-based groundwater modeling tool, the Hydrogeology Challenge, and to develop instructional materials and supports that would enable them to use this tool within their existing science curriculum.
As part of the workshop, teachers explored the Next Generation Science Standards, conducted water-related investigations, learned about the scientific practice of modeling, and worked on curricular resources to support their own teaching. Teachers also had the opportunity to participate in the workshop as part of a UNL graduate course – NRES 898 Teaching and Learning about Water Systems. We thank our project partners from the Groundwater Foundation and Water for Food Global Institute for contributing to making this workshop a successful experience for all involved. We look forward to continuing to work with NE teachers through ongoing academic year activities and a teacher research experience in summer, 2018.