Research on Supporting Teachers

September 25, 2014

Supporting the Development of High Quality Secondary Mathematics and Science Teachers and Teacher Leaders is a project supported by the Knowles Foundation for Science Teaching (KSTF), which funds fellowships for beginning teachers to enhance their leadership and teaching skills.  KSTF – an organization committed to the preparation and on-going support of high quality science and mathematics teachers and teacher leaders – is also committed to conducting rigorous, mixed methods research that assesses the effects of its programs on participants, ranging from effects of individual teachers’ knowledge to effects on a national network of science and mathematics teachers who are leading the profession. The project is a collaboration between Suzanne Wilson and a team of research assistants at the University of Connecticut and Jodie Galosy, Director of Research, at the Knowles Foundation. Our goal is to describe and explain the effects of the Knowles’ fellowship program through documenting their participation in Foundation-related activities and their experiences in the classrooms, schools, and districts in which they work. For the next three years, we will be interviewing, observing, and surveying teachers, principals, and program staff in an effort to document the ways in which fellows and their peers who do not have access to KSTF resources find ways to grow and develop as teachers, as well as documenting how their middle and high school students engage in science and mathematics in meaningful ways.

Moving Next Generation Science Standards into Practice

Moving Next Generation Science Standards into Practice: A Middle School Ecology Unit and Teacher Professional Development Model is a project supported by the National Science Foundation and an extension of earlier collaborative work – Learning Scientific Inquiry — between Suzanne Wilson, Jamie Mikeska, and a group of researchers then at Michigan State University, scientists and teacher leaders at the American Museum of Natural History, and scientists at the Carey Institute. In that project, we developed teaching case materials concerning the zebra mussel invasion of the Hudson River and offered professional development for middle school teachers in the New York City Public Schools to introduce them to the materials and how they might be used in middle school classrooms. Based on that work, we are now developing a middle school ecology unit in collaboration with science educators and curriculum specialists at the Lawrence Hall of Science and offering professional development for New York City Public School teachers in how to use those materials in their classrooms. Materials are developed to bring to life the Next Generation of Science Standards and the Framework for K-12 Science Education, both of which aspire to raise the quality of science education in this country to new heights. Suzanne Wilson, Bianca Montrosse-Moorhead and their team of research assistants at the University of Connecticut are developing measures of teacher learning that could be used in future evaluation of the effectiveness of professional development programs like this one. Our collective goal is to develop curriculum materials for teachers, high quality professional development that supports teachers as they iteratively learn to adopt and adapt those materials in their classrooms, and authentic measures of student and teacher learning that can be used to assess the quality of the materials and professional development we have generated.

Cyber-enabled Learning: Digital Natives in Integrated Scientific Inquiry Classrooms

Research completed in the Neag School of Education by Dr. Todd Campbell, Associate Professor in Science Education, is contributing to what we know about supporting teachers with professional development, curriculum, and technology focused on engaging students in investigative science learning.  Through National Science Foundation Discovery Research K-12 funding Dr. Campbell and his team of colleagues from Utah State University, Boise State University, and the New York Institute of Technology developed and used innovative curriculum units that have been used extensively in New York and Utah by more than 90 teachers and 9000 students over the past 5 years.  More about this curriculum and technologies, like 3-D virtual ecological environments and online virtual world games, can be found in practitioner journals like Science Scope and Science Activities: Classroom Projects and Curriculum Ideas.  Research included in the International Journal of Science Education as part of this work has demonstrated how teachers ideas and beliefs about science teaching have shifted overtime to images of science more commensurate with the actual work of scientists.  Additionally, research presented at the Association of Science Teacher Education 2014 International Conference has demonstrated how students in teachers’ classrooms participating in the project achieve significantly higher on state-level standardized assessments than students of teachers from a control group who are not participating in the project.  Finally, evidence from this research also demonstrates how teachers’ classroom instruction has changed to include more technology for supporting students’ science investigations.  More about this project and project resources can be found at

Campbell, T., ZuWallack, B. A., Longhurst, M., Shelton, B. E., & Wolf, P. G. (2014). An examination of the changes in science teaching orientations and technology-enhanced tools for student learning in the context of professional Development. International Journal of Science Education. 36(11), 1815-1848. First published online 21 January 2013. DOI 10.1080/09500693.2013.879622.

Campbell. T., Longhurst, M., Wang, S., Hsu, H., & Coster, D. (2014). New technologies and reformed-based science instruction:  An examination of the professional development focused on supporting science teaching and learning with technologies. Presentation at the 2014 Association for Science Teacher Education (ASTE) International Convention. San Antonio, Texas.

Campbell, T., Dowdle, G., Shelton, B. E., Olsen, J., Longhurst, M., & Beckett, H. (2013). Gaming as a platform for developing science practices.  Science Activities: Classroom Projects and Curriculum Ideas, 50(3), 90-98.

Duffy, A. M., Wolf, P. G., Barrow, J., Longhurst, M., & Campbell, T. (2013). Ecological investigations within an interactive plant community simulation. Science Scope. 36(8), 42-51.

Campbell, T., Longhurst, M., Duffy, A. M., Wolf, P. G., & Nagy, R. (2012). Investigating human impact in the environment with faded scaffolded inquiry supported by technologies. Science Activities: Classroom Projects and Curriculum Ideas, 49:4, 99-107.

The New Literacies of Online Research and Comprehension

September 23, 2014

A study conducted at the University of Connecticut by a research team at the Neag School of Education shows a large and significant achievement gap, based on income inequality, for an important new type of reading — the ability to read online to learn information. The study, part of a research grant funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, will appear in the January, 2015 issue of Reading Research Quarterly, the flagship journal for reading research published by the International Reading Association.

Professor Donald Leu, Neag Endowed Chair in Literacy and Technology and lead author, said, “We know about the traditional reading achievement gap for offline reading that is based on income inequality. It is large and getting larger. The results of this study show an achievement gap for online reading that is separate and independent from this offline gap. This type of reading is not adequately recognized by most states. For example, the words ‘online’ or ‘Internet’ never appear in the Common Core State Reading Standards. Moreover, this type of reading is not included in the National Assessment of Educational Progress, reported as ‘the gold standard of tests.’”

Classroom of students on computers

Leu, D.J., Forzani, E., Rhoads, C., Maykel, C., Kennedy, C., & Timbrell, N. (2015). The new literacies of online research and comprehension: Rethinking the reading achievement gap. Reading Research Quarterly, 50(1).