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, the study 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.
As the MoHSES project rapidly draws to a close, we are very pleased to continue publishing project research that reflects our project work over the 5 years of the project. Our latest study, published in the International Journal of Science Education, explores implementation of the revised FOSS Water unit and 3rd-grade students’ model-based reasoning about water over the first two years of the project. The study provides evidence that the ‘modeling-enhanced” version of the curriculum positively impacts student learning, though these effects vary greatly by teacher. How teachers implement the curriculum appears to significantly impact the sophistication of students’ model-based explanations for water-related phenomena.
In a new video series from CADRE, a network for STEM education researchers funded by the National Science Foundation’s Discovery Research K-12 (DR K-12) program, I had a chance to share a bit about the importance of scientific modeling in science learning environments. It’s very exciting to be featured as part of a group, including Dan Damelin (The Concord Consortium) and Brian Reiser (Northwestern University), discussing this important topic related to our MoHSES, NE WETS, WELS2, and WELL projects.
Today we wrapped up our 18-month Water for Elementary Teachers of Science in Nebraska (NE WETS) project with 2 consecutive days of workshops held at Hastings Middle School. The project provided us to opportunity to work with an amazing group of K-6 teachers from in and around Hastings, NE. Thanks go out to wonderful UNL project team members Tina Vo and Tonya Bernadt, Chad Dumas, Ph.D., HPS Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, and the teachers who made the project possible.
Thanks to a fantastic group of elementary teachers for all their hard work in this first summer of the Water for Elementary Teachers of Science (Nebraska WETS) project. We had a great workshop series in June and August of this summer focused on scientific modeling, formative assessment, and water science. The summer component was also offered as graduate course credit (NRES 898 – Teaching and Learning about Water Systems). We appreciate the support of Hastings Public Schools for being a wonderful district partner and allowing us access to amazing facilities at Hastings Middle School.