skip to main content

Attention:

The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 11:00 PM ET on Friday, May 17 until 8:00 AM ET on Saturday, May 18 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.


Title: Science teachers' sensemaking of the use of epistemic tools to scaffold students' knowledge (re)construction in classrooms
Abstract

This study explores the process of teacher scaffolding student engagement in epistemic tools from the critical sensemaking perspective. Epistemic tools are contextual artifacts manipulated to investigate and evaluate ideas to construct knowledge within the constraints of a disciplines' representational means. The main sources of our data are ~50 min‐long semistructured, responsive interviews with the 14 secondary school science teachers who participated in our professional learning environment (PLE) and implemented the activities from the PLE in their classrooms. We utilized the tools of discourse analysis to explore teacher sensemaking while they learned to teach science with epistemic tools. We then looked at intertextualities of meaning across multiple sets of data such as students' artifacts, pre/postsurveys, audio and video recordings of the workshops, and teachers' written implementation feedback forms. As a result, we recognized a pattern across different classrooms. Teachers would begin with a contextualized goal, and use a pedagogical strategy to scaffold their students as they worked to achieve that goal. Then, all teachers reported they faced some sort of ambiguity (such as grappling with failure, different levels of students). When faced with an ambiguity, teachers would then revise either their contextualized goal or their initial pedagogical strategy to help their students to reach their goals. Finally, we utilized constant‐comparative analysis to identify themes for teachers' contextualized goals. Four major themes emerged, including communicating connections to core ideas of science, making sense of how science works, assessing students' learning process outcomes, and fostering students' epistemic agency. The findings of the study have implications for future research and professional development activities on the use of epistemic practices and tools in classrooms with unique contextual characteristics.

 
more » « less
NSF-PAR ID:
10373728
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Research in Science Teaching
Volume:
57
Issue:
7
ISSN:
0022-4308
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 1058-1092
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Sensemaking is conceptualized as a trajectory to develop better understanding and is advocated as one of the fundamental practices in science education. However, the field is lacking of a framework to view the prolonged process of sensemaking that starts from a raise of uncertainty of a target phenomenon to a grasping of a better understanding of a target phenomenon. The process requires teachers to recognize the role of scientific uncertainty in different phases of sensemaking and develop responsive instructional supports to help students navigate the uncertainties. With an attention on student scientific uncertainty as a potential driver of the trajectory of sensemaking, this study aims to identify different phases of sensemaking that can be developed with students’ scientific uncertainty. This study especially attends to two types of scientific uncertainty—conceptual and epistemic uncertainties. Conceptual uncertainty refers to student struggle of using conceptual understanding (e.g., mastery of content and everyday knowledge) to respond to an encountered phenomenon. Epistemic uncertainty emerges from struggles in using epistemic understanding to generate new ideas. Based on the multiple case study method, we examined sensemaking activities in two Korean science classrooms and one American science classroom and identified three phases of sensemaking: (a) focusing on a driving question related to a target phenomenon, (b) delving into multiple resources to develop plausible explanation(s), and (c) examining the successfulness of the new understanding and concretizing it. Based on the findings, we discuss two emerging themes. First, sensemaking progresses through three distinctive phases driven by students’ dynamically evolving scientific uncertainty. Second, attending to both epistemic and conceptual uncertainties can support developing sensemaking coherent with students’ view. 
    more » « less
  2. Biologically inspired design has become increasingly common in graduate and undergraduate engineering programs, consistent with an expanding emphasis by professional engineering societies on cross-disciplinary critical thinking skills and adaptive and sustainable design. However, bio-inspired engineering is less common in K-12 education. In 2019, the NSF funded a K-12 project entitled Biologically Inspired Design for Engineering Education (BIRDEE), to create socially relevant, accessible, and highly contextualized high school engineering curricula focusing on bio-inspired design. Studies have shown that women and underrepresented minorities are drawn to curricula, courses, and instructional strategies that are integrated, emphasize systems thinking, and facilitate connection building across courses or disciplines. The BIRDEE project also seeks to interest high school girls in engineering by providing curricula that incorporate humanistic, bio-inspired engineering with a focus on sustainable and authentic design contexts. BIRDEE curricula integrate bio-inspired design into the engineering design process by leveraging design tools that facilitate the application of biological concepts to design challenges. This provides a conceptual framework enabling students to systematically define a design problem, resulting in better, more well-rounded problem specifications. The professional development (PD) for the participating teachers include six-week-long summer internships in university research laboratories focused on biology and bio-inspired design. The goal of these internships is to improve engineering teachers’ knowledge of bio-inspired design by partnering with cutting-edge engineers and scientists to study animal features and behaviors and their applications to engineering design. However, due to COVID-19 and research lab closures in the summer of 2020, the research team had to transfer the summer PD experience to an online setting. An asynchronous, quasi-facilitated online course was developed and delivered to teachers over six weeks. In this paper, we will discuss online pedagogical approaches to experiential learning, teaching bio-inspired design concepts, and the integration of these approaches in the engineering design process. Central to the online PD design and function of each course was the use of inquiry, experiential and highly-collaborative learning strategies. Preliminary results show that teachers appreciated the aspects of the summer PD that included exploration, such as during the “Found Object” activity, and the process of building a prototype. These activities represented experiential learning opportunities where teachers were able to learn by doing. It was noted throughout the focus group discussions that such opportunities were appreciated by participating teachers. Teachers indicated that the experiential learning components of the PD allowed them to do something outside of their comfort zone, inspired them to do research that they would not have done outside of this experience, and allowed them to “be in the student's seat and get hands-on application”. By participating in these experiential learning opportunities, teachers were also able to better understand how the BIRDEE curriculum may impact students’ learning in their classrooms 
    more » « less
  3. null (Ed.)
    Today’s classrooms are remarkably different from those of yesteryear. In place of individual students responding to the teacher from neat rows of desks, one more typically finds students working in groups on projects, with a teacher circulating among groups. AI applications in learning have been slow to catch up, with most available technologies focusing on personalizing or adapting instruction to learners as isolated individuals. Meanwhile, an established science of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning has come to prominence, with clear implications for how collaborative learning could best be supported. In this contribution, I will consider how intelligence augmentation could evolve to support collaborative learning as well as three signature challenges of this work that could drive AI forward. In conceptualizing collaborative learning, Kirschner and Erkens (2013) provide a useful 3x3 framework in which there are three aspects of learning (cognitive, social and motivational), three levels (community, group/team, and individual) and three kinds of pedagogical supports (discourse-oriented, representation-oriented, and process-oriented). As they engage in this multiply complex space, teachers and learners are both learning to collaborate and collaborating to learn. Further, questions of equity arise as we consider who is able to participate and in which ways. Overall, this analysis helps us see the complexity of today’s classrooms and within this complexity, the opportunities for augmentation or “assistance to become important and even essential. An overarching design concept has emerged in the past 5 years in response to this complexity, the idea of intelligent augmentation for “orchestrating” classrooms (Dillenbourg, et al, 2013). As a metaphor, orchestration can suggest the need for a coordinated performance among many agents who are each playing different roles or voicing different ideas. Practically speaking, orchestration suggests that “intelligence augmentation” could help many smaller things go well, and in doing so, could enable the overall intention of the learning experience to succeed. Those smaller things could include helping the teacher stay aware of students or groups who need attention, supporting formation of groups or transitions from one activity to the next, facilitating productive social interactions in groups, suggesting learning resources that would support teamwork, and more. A recent panel of AI experts identified orchestration as an overarching concept that is an important focus for near-term research and development for intelligence augmentation (Roschelle, Lester & Fusco, 2020). Tackling this challenging area of collaborative learning could also be beneficial for advancing AI technologies overall. Building AI agents that better understand the social context of human activities has broad importance, as does designing AI agents that can appropriately interact within teamwork. Collaborative learning has trajectory over time, and designing AI systems that support teams not just with a short term recommendation or suggestion but in long-term developmental processes is important. Further, classrooms that are engaged in collaborative learning could become very interesting hybrid environments, with multiple human and AI agents present at once and addressing dual outcome goals of learning to collaborate and collaborating to learn; addressing a hybrid environment like this could lead to developing AI systems that more robustly help many types of realistic human activity. In conclusion, the opportunity to make a societal impact by attending to collaborative learning, the availability of growing science of computer-supported collaborative learning and the need to push new boundaries in AI together suggest collaborative learning as a challenge worth tackling in coming years. 
    more » « less
  4. In this proposal, we will share some initial findings about how teacher and student engagement in cogenerative dialogues influenced the development of the Culturally Relevant Pedagogical Guidelines for Computational Thinking and Computer Science (CRPG-CSCT). The CRPG-CSCT’s purpose is to provide computer science teachers with tools to enhance their instruction by accurately reflecting students’ diverse cultural resources in the classroom. Additionally, the CRPG-CSCT will provide guidance to non-computer science teachers on how to facilitate the integration of computational thinking skills to a broad spectrum of classes in the arts, humanities, sciences, social sciences, and mathematics. Our initial findings shared here are part of a larger NSF-funded research project (Award No. 2122367) which aims to better understand the barriers to entry and challenges for success faced by underrepresented secondary school students in computer science, through direct engagement with the students themselves. Throughout the 2022-23 academic year, the researchers have been working with a small team of secondary school teachers, students, and instructional designers, as well as university faculty in computer science, secondary education, and sociology to develop the CRPG-CSCT. The CRPG-CSCT is rooted in the tenets of culturally relevant pedagogy (Ladson-Billings, 1995) and borrows from Muhammad’s (2020) work in Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy. The CRPG-CCT is being developed over six day-long workshops held throughout the academic year. At the time of this submission, five of the six workshops had been completed. Each workshop utilized cogenerative dialogues (cogens) as the primary tool for organizing and sustaining participants’ engagement. Through cogens, participants more deeply learn about students’ cultural capital and the value of utilizing that capital within the classroom (Roth, Lawless, & Tobin, 2000). The success of cogens relies on following specific protocols (Emdin, 2016), such as listening attentively, ensuring there are equal opportunities for all participants to share, and affirming the experiences of other participants. The goal of a cogen is to reach a collective decision, based on the dialogue, that will positively impact students by explicitly addressing barriers to their engagement in the classroom. During each workshop, one member of the research team and one undergraduate research assistant observed the interactions among cogen participants and documented these in the form of ethnographic field notes. Another undergraduate research assistant took detailed notes during the workshop to record the content of small and large group discussions, presentations, and questions/responses throughout the workshops. A grounded theory approach was used to analyze the field notes. Additionally, at the conclusion of each workshop, participants completed a Cogen Feedback Survey (CFS) to gather additional information. The CFS were analyzed through open thematic coding, memos, and code frequencies. Our preliminary results demonstrate high levels of engagement from teacher and student participants during the workshops. Students identified that the cogen structure allowed them to participate comfortably, openly, and honestly. Further, students described feeling valued and heard. Students’ ideas and experiences were frequently affirmed, which served as an important step toward dismantling traditional teacher-student boundaries that might otherwise prevent them from sharing freely. Another result from the use of cogens was the shared experience of participants comprehending views from the other group’s perspective in the classroom. Students appreciated the opportunity to learn from teachers about their struggles in keeping students engaged. Teachers appreciated the opportunity to better understand students’ schooling experiences and how these may affirm or deny aspects of their identity. Finally, all participants shared meaningful suggestions and strategies for future workshops and for the collective betterment of the group. Initial findings shared here are important for several reasons. First, our findings suggest that cogens are an effective approach for fostering participants’ commitment to creating the conditions for students’ success in the classroom. Within the context of the workshops, cogens provided teachers, students, and faculty with opportunities to engage in authentic conversations for addressing the recruitment and retention problems in computer science for underrepresented students. These conversations often resulted in the development of tangible pedagogical approaches, examples, metaphors, and other strategies to directly address the recruitment and retention of underrepresented students in computer science. Finally, while we are still developing the CRPG-CSCT, cogens provided us with the opportunity to ensure the voices of teachers and students are well represented in and central to the document. 
    more » « less
  5. As the importance to integrate engineering into K12 curricula grows so does the need to develop teachers’ engineering teaching capabilities and knowledge. One method that has been used to aid this development is engineering professional development programs. This evaluation paper presents the successes and challenges of an engineering professional development program for teachers focused around the use of engineering problem-framing design activities in high school science classrooms. These activities were designed to incorporate the cross-cutting ideas published in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and draw on best practices for instructional design of problem-framing activities from research on design and model-eliciting activities (MEAs). The professional development (PD) was designed to include the following researched-based effective PD key elements: (1) is content focused, (2) incorporates active learning, (3) supports collaboration, (4) uses models of effective practice, (5) provides coaching and expert support, (6) offers feedback and reflection, and (7) is of sustained duration. The engineering PD, including in-classroom deployment of activities and data collection, was designed as an iterative process to be conducted over a three-year period. This will allow for improvement and refinement of our approach. The first iteration, reported in this paper, consisted of seven high school science teachers who have agreed to participate in the PD, implement the problem-framing activities, and collect student data over a period of one year. The PD itself consisted of the teachers comparing science and engineering, participating in problem-framing training and activities, and developing a design challenge scenario for their own courses. The participating teachers completed a survey at the end of the PD that will be used to inform enhancement of the PD and our efforts to recruit additional participants in the following year. The qualitative survey consisted of open-ended questions asking for the most valuable takeaways from the PD, their reasoning for joining the PD, reasons they would or would not recommend the PD, and, in their opinion, what would inspire their colleagues to attend the PD. The responses to the survey along with observations from the team presenting the PD were analyzed to identify lessons learned and future steps for the following iteration of the PD. From the data, three themes emerged: Development of PD, Teacher Motivation, and Teacher Experience. 
    more » « less