What Are We Up To?

Publish Date: 
Tue, 10/02/2012

AP Biology Leadership Academy Gears Up for Fall PD Conference

The AP Biology Leadership Academy kicked off this summer with 46 participants taking part in two successful weeklong Academies hosted by BSCS and NABT.

The Academy brings together research on how people learn, best practices in science teaching, and leadership development to create a program that will inspire leaders within the AP Biology community as they implement the updated framework for AP Biology.

“This fall,” says AP Bio Director Brooke Bourdélat-Parks, “Academy teachers will take part in the NABT Professional Development Conference in Dallas. BSCS will continue to work with the teachers through an online interface throughout the school year, and then reconvene for another weeklong institute in Colorado Springs next summer.”

This work is sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Pearson Foundation, and the Richard Petritz Foundation. View photo gallery and click here to learn more about the program.


Understanding Student Motivation in STEM Classrooms

BSCS recently received news of funding from NSF's PRIME program for a research project titled Validating a Rapid Measure of Student Motivation: Using the Expectancy-Value Theory of Motivation to Understand Student Achievement and Interest in STEM Classrooms. This project will build upon recent work studying factors in student motivation in courses in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The work will focus on students from middle school through early college, and will take place in a number of states.

A unique instrument will be designed to give researchers and evaluators a new lens on student motivation and future interest in STEM. For example, one approach to studying achievement gaps may be to investigate systematically whether there is also a “motivation gap” among students in different demographic groups.

Principal Investigator Steve Getty says, "This work has come about through great collaborations with Drs. Kenneth Barron at James Madison University and Chris Hulleman at the University of Virginia. Our initial tests measuring student motivation began with our work on Carbon Connections. This new work brings together the experience and background of BSCS in science learning and the expertise of our Virginia partners in educational psychology and motivation theory.”

Co-PIs on the project are BSCS Director of Research & Development Joseph Taylor, along with Barron and Hulleman. The work has exciting implications for other work at BSCS as the measure is planned for use in other research projects to help explain findings related to student achievement.


BSCS Developing a New NIH Curriculum Module on Allergies

NIH AllergiesBSCS Science Educator Mark Bloom is leading a team that is currently developing Allergies and Scientific Inquiry: An Innovative, Online Module for Middle School.

This NIH-supported curriculum resource will provide students and teachers with an engaging environment in which to learn about the science of food allergies and the science practices associated with an inquiry approach.

Dr. Bloom says, “The curriculum will enhance understandings about the causes, diagnoses, and management of food allergies, as well as the importance of medical research to the development of new therapies.”

A research study of the instructional materials will assess student content understanding, changes in attitudes toward others who have food allergies, and interest in biomedical careers.

The Allergies resource will be available at no cost in 2015.


BSCS Collaborating with EDWorks to Design STEM High School Academies

BSCS recently collaborated with EDWorks to design six new high school academies. Three STEM academies and three humanities academies are part of a high school redesign process offered through EDWorks.

The STEM high schools follow the themes of Green Technologies, Health Sciences, and Digital Citizenship. The high schools with a humanities theme are structured around the ideas of Innovation, Global Leadership and Public Service, and Improv.  

BSCS Executive Director Janet Carlson and BSCS Science Educators Betty Stennett and Connie Hvidsten planned and developed course descriptions, course sequences, unit projects, and example lesson plans for the science and engineering courses in each academy.


New ViSTA Plus Builds on Success of Previous Work

ViSTA PlusVideocases for Science Teaching Analysis Plus (ViSTA Plus) is an NSF-funded project that merges two successful, research-based teacher education programs—BSCS ViSTA and STeLLA—into a multiyear teacher education curriculum that spans a year of preservice preparation and the first year of teaching.

ViSTA Plus presents a distinctive version of practice-based teacher education,” says Principal Investigator Rebecca Kruse.

ViSTA Plus starts with analysis of other teachers’ videocases during the methods course and moves to collaborative analysis of teachers’ own videocases during their student teaching and first year of teaching. The ViSTA Plus conceptual framework supports teachers in using Student Thinking and Science Content Storyline Lenses to analyze science teaching, and in using a set of teaching strategies that supports use of both of these lenses in their planning and teaching. Through this analysis work, teachers deepen their science content knowledge, develop their ability to analyze teaching and learning, and improve their teaching and their students’ learning.  

“We aim to develop effective beginning teachers—that is, teachers who have a demonstrated positive impact on their students’ learning in science,” says Kruse.

BSCS will launch its study of the ViSTA Plus curriculum at University of New Mexico and Oklahoma State University in Spring 2013 using a quasi-experimental design that compares the impact of the ViSTA Plus program to that of these traditional teacher preparation programs that serve diverse populations, especially Native American, Hispanic, and low-SES (socio-econimic status) students.

The study will conclude in Spring 2015. The tested and revised ViSTA Plus curriculum should be widely available in late 2016. BSCS Senior Science Educator and ViSTA Plus Co-Principal Investigator Kathy Roth has been instrumental in helping develop both BSCS ViSTA and STeLLA.


Year Four | Science Teachers Learning from Lesson Analysis (STeLLA)

STeLLABSCS is currently in the fourth year of a five-year professional development project called Science Teachers Learning from Lesson Analysis (STeLLA).

STeLLA is a PD program and research study for elementary/middle school teachers in grades 4-6 and their students.

BSCS is working with a group of 70 teachers in the Pikes Peak (Colorado Springs) region, half of whom are engaged in deepening their content knowledge in science and half who are engaged in content deepening as well as lesson analysis using videocases of science teaching.

Project lead Nancy Landes says, “STeLLA is based on a very sophisticated and elegant framework that uses two lenses—the Student Thinking Lens and the Science Content Storyline Lens—that help teachers put student thinking and learning in the forefront as they work with their students to help them learn important science concepts. The program also recognizes the critical role that teachers’ science content knowledge plays in the teaching and learning of science at these grade levels, so the program emphasizes improving teachers’ understanding of science concepts throughout.”

The STeLLA project is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Our partners include science faculty from the University of Denver, The Colorado College (Colorado Springs), California State Polytechnic University (Pomona, California), and the Poudre Learning Center (Greeley, Colorado). McREL of Aurora, Colorado, serves as our external evaluator.

Learn more about STeLLA and view the Summer Institute photo gallery.


BSCS Proud to Add the Spencer Foundation as Sponsor of October's PCK Summit

BSCS is looking forward to hosting an international summit examining the state of field in understanding teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge (PCK). The Summit will take place 20-25 October in Colorado Springs. BSCS and Willamette University have been funded by an NSF-REESE grant to conduct a rigorous, analytical synthesis of research focused on teacher professional knowledge, in particular pedagogical content knowledge (PCK), in science.

This project seeks to advance understandings of teacher professional knowledge by bringing clarity to the PCK construct, the model of professional knowledge in which it is embedded, and its implications for enhancing teacher practice and student learning.

The PCK Summit will bring together 30 researchers from multiple countries to debate the key conceptual models that guide PCK research, examine the current measures, and identify a unified model to guide a coherent research agenda for the future. Background papers developed to guide discussions during the Summit can be accessed here.

This two-year project is led by Julie Gess-Newsome of Williamette University, Dean of the School of Education and member of the BSCS Board of Directors, BSCS Executive Director Janet Carlson, and BSCS Science Educator April Gardner. The PCK Summit is funded by NSF-REESE and sponsored by the Spencer Foundation.