Learning and Teaching Blog

Outstanding STEM Learning For All: New EDC Report Shares NSF Forum Findings

Sarita Pillai leads initiatives to improve the quality and equity of STEM education, including managing national research and technical assistance centers, building and sustaining communities of practice to promote professional learning, and engaging youth in developing STEM-focused, technology-based resources. Sarita is the PI of the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded STEM Learning and Research (STELAR) Center at EDC and co-PI of the NSF-funded Center for Innovative Research in Cyberlearning (CIRCL). In 2015, Sarita, STELAR co-PI Caroline Parker, Catherine McCulloch (co-PI of Community for Advancing Discovery Research in Education—CADRE at EDC), and colleagues from SRI Education worked with the NSF and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to coordinate a daylong invitational forum on "next generation" STEM education. In this post, Sarita shares a few key points from EDC’s May 2016 report on the Forum, Next Generation STEM for All: Envisioning Advances Based on NSF Supported Research.

Oral and Written Mathematics: A Story from Kindergarten

Paul Goldenberg has over 40 years of experience in K–12 mathematics curriculum development, research, and professional development. He leads a wide range of EDC projects that foster a love of and enthusiasm for mathematics in learners from early childhood through adulthood, and has taught self-contained elementary (Grades 2 and 4), middle and high school mathematics, and college and graduate school mathematics and psychology. In this post, the first in a series that will invite readers to take a look inside children's early mathematics explorations and epiphanies, Paul describes the connection between oral and written mathematics through the eyes of six-year-old Aaron.

Remembering David Riley: 40 Years of Improving Outcomes for Students with Disabilities

EDC honors the memory of Senior Advisor David Riley, who passed away on May 2, 2016. Twenty-two years ago, David founded EDC's Urban Special Education Leadership Collaborative. He was a national and state leader, a valued colleague, and a true champion for students with disabilities, students who are English learners, and students who are members of underrepresented groups. Over his 40-year career in the field, David worked tirelessly to close opportunity gaps and ensure all students receive an excellent education. His dedication to equity lives on today in the work of the Collaborative's over 100 member school districts nationwide that are taking action to improve outcomes for students with disabilities. This blog post includes excerpts from a profile of David that appears in the Winter 2016 issue of the Collaborative's Urban Perspectives newsletter.

Computer Science Education: Preparing Informed Decision-Makers and Innovators

Jim Stanton was one of two EDC computer science education leaders who were invited to share their expertise during a December 2015 White House K–12 Computer Science Education Workshop. As the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Computing Attainment Network (MassCAN) facilitated by EDC, Jim works with industry, education, and policy leaders to enhance access to computer science education, expand professional development for teachers, and create more pathways to STEM careers. Recently, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE) released new, draft Digital Literacy and Computer Science Standards developed in collaboration with MassCAN. In this post, Jim reflects on the importance of ensuring all students graduate from high school with a strong foundation in computer science education and computational thinking.

Why the World Needs Resilient Kids and How to Go About Building Their Bounce

Karen Cairone designs resources that build the capacity of early childhood educators, leaders, and parents to promote young children's resilience and that support the use of effective coping mechanisms to handle stress. She is an expert in child and adult mental health and resilience, social and emotional development, challenging behaviors in young children, product and training design, and training delivery. Currently, Karen is contributing to the EDC-led Center of Excellence for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation and Home Visiting Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network. She also designs and conducts trainings on Preventing and Addressing Challenging Behaviors for one of EDC’s joint federally and state funded-projects, the Center for Early Learning Professionals. In this post, Karen discusses why it is so vital to promote all young children’s resilience and shares simple, yet effective ways that adults can help foster resilience.

Mapping the Evolution of Special Education: Reflecting Back, Gazing Forward

David Riley began his career teaching high school students with disabilities and serving as a district director of special education. As the founder and former director of EDC’s Urban Special Education Leadership Collaborative, David led the provision of technical assistance and professional development to a national membership network of general and special education leaders from approximately 100 urban school districts in 27 states. Although David passed away in May 2016, his work lives on in the actions that Collaborative members take to improve the quality and equity of education in their districts nationwide. In 2014, David wrote this post to share his reflections on the work of the Collaborative, the evolution of the special education field that he had witnessed, and what it takes to ensure that all students can access and benefit from a high-quality education.

Using Texting to Encourage Participant Engagement and Retention

Bri Hightower works to deepen understanding of the role of technology and media in enhancing learning—particularly for children from low-income communities and underrepresented groups. Before joining EDC’s Center for Children and Technology, Bri conducted research for Northwestern University’s Center on Media and Human Development, where she analyzed children’s media content and assisted with the development of a web series which will explain reproductive health to children. Currently, she contributes her methodological expertise to a wide range of EDC studies, including EDC’s and SRI Education’s ongoing summative evaluation of the Ready To Learn initiative. In this post, Bri shares findings from her team’s experience using texting to engage, inform, and retain participants in a recent Ready To Learn home study on the impact of PEG+CAT transmedia on preschoolers. PIs Naomi Hupert and Shelley Pasnik will present findings from this study at the upcoming 2016 AERA Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.

Urban District Research: How Much Do Teachers’ Evaluations and Professional Learning Align?

Karen Shakman brings significant expertise in collaborative research, policy analysis, and evaluation. Most recently, her work has focused on advancing the field's knowledge of educator effectiveness sytems and illuminating barriers and facilitators to sustaining K-12 education reforms. As the lead researcher for REL Northeast & Islands' Northeast Educator Effectiveness Research Alliance (NEERA), she supports educational leaders at the state and district levels who are managing the design and implementation of new educator evaluation systems, and works to deepen their understanding of program evaluation, research design, and data analysis. In this post, originally published on the REL Northeast and Islands’ blog, she describes the experience of studying the alignment between teacher evaluation and professional learning within a large New England district and reflects on the effect of the study's findings at the state level.

Creating Conditions for Increased Preschool Attendance

Melissa Dahlin brings a strong background in early childhood education research, policy analysis, and technical assistance—as well as insights from her years as a preschool and Montessori teacher—to her work for Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO). As a research associate for CEELO, Melissa provides strategic technical assistance to build the capacity of state education agencies to lead sustained improvements in early learning opportunities and outcomes. She also develops research and policy resources—including the March 2016 brief, State Approaches to Family Engagement in Pre-K programs—and co-leads a Family Engagement Community of Practice. In all of her work for CEELO, and in her volunteer work for the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project, Melissa is guided by a deep commitment to ensuring that all young children and families can access the resources and support they need to thrive. In this post, originally published on the Preschool Matters...Today blog, Melissa takes a close look at the key role that effective family and community engagement plays in children’s preschool attendance.

The Big Data Driving Google Maps

Patrick McDeed, an intern with EDC’s Oceans of Data Institute (ODI), is contributing to several ODI curriculum R&D initiatives including Ocean Tracks: College Edition, an interactive Web-based learning resource that helps undergraduate students develop valuable skills in analyzing and learning from large, authentic scientific datasets. To this work, he brings a deep interest in mathematics and secondary education, as well as experience manipulating and reporting on “Big Data” as a consumer online behavior analyst—in which capacity he drew upon some of the skills and knowledge that ODI documented in its “Occupational Skills Profile for the Big-Data-Enabled-Specialist.” In this post, originally published on ODI’s blog, Patrick explores the important role that “Big Data”—in the form of Google Maps—plays in helping us navigate our daily lives as we commute to work, carpool our kids to school, and take road trips.

Designing Engaging Online Learning Experiences

Kirsten Peterson, a highly experienced instructional designer and instructor, leads EDC’s EdTech Leaders Online team in providing capacity-building, research-based programs, courses, and services that enable organizations to build successful online and blended learning experiences for K–16 students, teachers, and adult learners. Clients include schools and districts, institutions of higher education, corporations, regional education service providers, education cooperatives, afterschool programs, museums, and a wide array of nonprofit organizations. Recently, Kirsten led the development of two for-credit high school online art courses for the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, one of which was awarded a 2015 Gold MUSE award by the American Alliance of Museums. In this post, she describes three of the key tenets of instructional design that her team follows when they design courses for clients.

Logic Models and Evaluation Planning – Working Together!

Vicky Coulon, EDC research scientist and former K–12 teacher and adult educator, leads mixed methods evaluations of initiatives funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA, and private foundations. Drawing upon her significant expertise in quantitative and qualitative methodologies, she works to advance the field’s knowledge of successful strategies to enhance formal and informal STEM learning and ensure equity in STEM education. Currently, she is leading a formative and summative evaluation of the NASA-funded project From Our Town to Outer Space (FOTOS). In this post, originally published on the NSF’s EvaluATE blog, Vicky discusses the important role that logic models play in guiding teams in developing evaluation plans and organizing proposals.

Show Me a Story: Using Data Visualization to Communicate Evaluation Findings

Ginger Fitzhugh, the program chair of the American Evaluation Association (AEA) Systems in Evaluation Topical Interest Group, leads evaluations that help programs leverage knowledge to achieve better outcomes for young people. Her findings provide new insights into strategies to ensure all students have high-quality STEM educations; improve K–12 informal and formal learning; and enhance professional development. Currently, she is leading an evaluation of Techbridge, an initiative that provides afterschool and summer programs to expand academic and career options for girls in science, technology, and engineering. In this post, originally published on the National Science Foundation’s EvaluATEblog, Ginger shares tips and resources to help evaluators and researchers present their findings in clear, compelling, and impactful ways. 

Spreading the Word about Successful STEM Education

Catherine McCulloch (pictured at left) and Barbara Brauner Berns, with a strong team from EDC and external partners, work to address national concerns about the gap between research and practice in K–12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Currently, they are playing key roles in STEM Smart, a two-year National Science Foundation-funded initiative to bridge STEM education research and practice. In this post, McCulloch and Berns reflect on this partnership with the NSF and National Research Council (NRC) to share findings and implications from the NRC report Successful K–12 STEM Education.

Collaborating to Improve Early Care and Education

Sarah Kim brings a strong background in survey research to her work with teams that are examining strategies to improve the quality of early learning—particularly for children from low-income families—and promote the school readiness and success of all children. She has contributed her quantitative and qualitative methodological expertise to several studies, including a formative and summative evaluation of the Head Start National Center on Program Management and Fiscal Operations. Currently she is part of a team that is investigating the role of state- and community-level collaboration in enhancing the quality, accessibility, and comprehensiveness of early care and education. In this post, Sarah shares early findings from the study—presented in two recent briefs co-authored by Principal Investigator (PI) Gary Resnick, co-PI Meghan Broadstone, Sarah, and Heidi Rosenberg—and reflects on potential implications of the research.

Helping Entrepreneurs and Educators STEP Up to Social Media

Heidi Larson has extensive experience in virtual education, online collaboration, educational technology, and professional development. As a technical assistance specialist for the Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund TA program, she is working to sustain an education technology community of practice that provides i3 grantees with ongoing learning, peer networking, and support. For EDC’s Social Technology Enabled Professional (STEP) program, Heidi has contributed to the development of online instructional modules and rich multimedia materials targeted to guide current and future entrepreneurs in effectively using social media to grow their businesses. With STEP co-PIs Joyce Malyn-Smith and Joe Ippolito, Heidi presented findings from this work on December 18 at the Social Media for Learning in Higher Education Conference in Sheffield, England. In this post, she shares resources from STEP and discusses a new project that builds upon STEP.

Celebrating Computer Science Education Week

Paul Goldenberg has over 40 years of experience in K–12 mathematics curriculum development, research, and professional development. He has taught from self-contained elementary (Grades 2 and 4) through middle and high school mathematics and computer science, as well as graduate school mathematics and psychology for education. Currently, Paul and his long-time collaborator June Mark are the co-Principal Investigators of BJC4NYC—an NSF Math and Science Partnership (MSP) in which EDC is collaborating with UC Berkeley, the New York City Department of Education, and the NYC Foundation for Computer Science Education to broaden participation in computer science in New York City public high schools. In this post, written in celebration of Computer Science Education Week 2015 (December 7–13) and Hour of Code, Paul shares some thoughts about computer science education.

Twitter, Facebook – What’s the Difference?

Michelle Cerrone, a researcher at EDC’s Center for Children and Technology, focuses on advancing the field’s knowledge of effective STEM education, teacher development, and the role of digital media in K-12 classrooms. Currently, she is contributing her expertise in survey design as an investigator on EDC’s National Science Foundation-funded TwISLE (Twitter and Informal Science Learning and Engagement) study team. TwISLE is one of the first efforts to explore the ways in which people use social media venues like Twitter to engage in public science discussions. In this post, Michelle shares some of TwISLE’s early findings on how people perceive and use Twitter and Facebook.

Promoting English Learners’ Geometric Reasoning

Jill Neumayer DePiper began her career as a teacher and has extensive expertise in working to improve mathematics instruction, support students at risk, and enhance teacher preparation and professional development. For over seven years, Jill served as a professional developer, taught graduate-level mathematics education courses, and conducted research targeted to advance the quality and equity of mathematics education. Currently, she is a member of an EDC research team that has conducted several studies to identify new strategies to support teachers in enhancing the mathematics learning of English language learners. In this post, Jill shares some of her team’s findings from these studies.

Using Handheld Devices to Support Ambitious Learning and Teaching Goals

Jo Louie contributes her extensive expertise in conducting education and social science research to a wide range of EDC’s R&D initiatives, including Ocean Tracks—a Web interface and set of data analysis tools that make it possible for students to access and analyze large, complex datasets. In the National Science Foundation-funded Research + Practice Collaboratory initiative, she is a member of EDC’s Interactive STEM team that is working to identify, document, and disseminate ways that practitioners and researchers can work together effectively to enhance K–12 STEM education across formal and informal settings. In this post, she shares findings from an August 2015 report, Preliminary Guidelines for Using Interactive Mobile Technologies in Early Elementary Mathematics, written by Jo and the Interactive STEM team.

Using Systemic Digital Equity Strategies to Close the Digital Divide

Bob McLaughlin has extensive experience in educational technology, assistive technology, educational policy, teacher development, and strategies to close opportunity gaps for members of underrepresented groups. Guided by his abiding commitment to educational equity and social justice, he has led innovative reform initiatives focused on these issues at the school, local, state, regional, and national levels. In this post, Bob discusses the need to take a strategic Systemic Digital Equity approach to closing the digital divide.

Tuning In To Adult Literacy

Noah Goodman brings a background in bilingual education and communications to his work for EDC’s Center for Children & Technology. Noah contributes to R&D that advances knowledge of the role that technology can play in enhancing learning and teaching—including helping educators foster learners’ literacy skills, from prekindergarten through adulthood. He also plays a key role in building and sustaining online communities of learners. Currently, Noah is the Director of Teacher Outreach for Zoom In!—a new, free online resource that supports history teachers in engaging students in investigating compelling historical questions and helps teachers build students’ academic reading and writing skills.In this post, written in celebration of National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week 2015 (September 21-26), Noah spotlights TV411.ORG—EDC’s free online resource for adults and adult educators.

Fostering and Maintaining Interest in Engineering

Bernadette Sibuma brings expertise in educational research and evaluation, cognition, instructional technologies, and human-computer interaction to her work for the STEM Learning and Research Center at EDC (STELAR). Her research interests include how we can enhance STEM learning, how to effectively use technology to promote people's learning and deepen their understanding, and how different interface designs affect cognitive processes and learning outcomes. In this post, Bernadette shares some highlights from a 2015 American Educational Research Association (AERA) symposium that presented promising approaches to engineering education identified by National Science Foundation (NSF) Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) projects.

Assessing the Impact of Digital Media on Learning and Teaching

Elizabeth Pierson is a highly experienced researcher and evaluator. In her work for EDC’s Center for Children & Technology, she has contributed to multiple studies that provide new insights into effective STEM education and the role of technology in supporting 21st century school and system reform in the U.S. and around the world. Most recently, she managed an impact study in which EDC investigated how teachers are using PBS LearningMedia digital resources and what impacts the usage is having in classrooms. In this post, Elizabeth shares findings from this impact study that she presented at the 2015 International Society for Technology in Education conference.

Focus on Teaching: Realistic, Targeted, Human Support

Jessica Juliuson advances innovations in instructional design and teacher development that enhance students’ learning, improve their academic achievement, and prepare them for college and careers. As a member of an EDC team that supports a national network of Ford Next Generation Learning (NGL) communities, she provides professional development and coaching that helps teachers integrate rigorous academic and career education and collaborates with school teams to facilitate change. In this post, she shares four key features of the professional development model that EDC uses with the NGL communities. 

Using Video Analysis to Promote "Productive Talk" in Preschool

Cindy Hoisington and former EDC Senior Research Scientist Julie Hirschler design, deliver, and study engaging and rigorous professional development programs for early childhood teachers. The EDC Excellence in Teaching courses they teach—including Foundations of Science Literacy and Literacy Environment Enrichment Program—build educators’ capacity to promote young children’s school readiness and success. In their previous post, Cindy and Julie introduced “productive talk” and discussed the important role it plays in fostering young children’s learning. In this post, they discuss Foundations of Science Literacy’s “Engage-Explore-Reflect” cycle and describe how Foundations of Science Literacy uses video vignettes to help teachers engage young children in productive talk in science.

The Role of "Productive Talk" in Early Science & Language Learning

Cindy Hoisington and former EDC Senior Research Scientist Julie Hirschler design, deliver, and study engaging and rigorous professional development programs for early childhood teachers. The EDC Excellence in Teaching courses they teach—including Foundations of Science Literacy and Literacy Environment Enrichment Program—build educators’ capacity to promote young children’s school readiness and success. In this two-part post, Cindy and Julie discuss the important role that video analysis plays in promoting teachers’ professional growth and fostering their ability to enhance children’s early science and language learning. 

Competency-Based Learning: Key Elements and Needed Supports

Joshua Cox is the Alliance Researcher for the Northeast College and Career Readiness Research Alliance of the REL Northeast & Islands at EDC. His recent work for the Alliance has focused primarily on competency-based learning. At the 2015 Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) in Chicago, Joshua and his team will present findings from their study, Competency-Based Learning: Definitions, Policies, and Factors Related to Implementation. In this post, he shares some of the findings from the study that have implications for policy-makers and practitioners who seek to implement competency-based reforms.

Connecting Underrepresented Youth to STEM through Culturally Relevant Game Design

Jim Diamond has extensive experience in formative research, instructional design, and the effective use of digital media and games to enhance K–12 education and promote social justice. He leads an evaluation of iDesign, a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) project that engages youth in designing interactive, culturally and social relevant computer games to build their technological fluency and increase their interest in STEM learning and careers. On April 17 (2:15–3:45 p.m.), Jim and iDesign project leaders Roberto Joseph and Eustace George Thompson of Hofstra University discussed iDesign in a session, “Creating A Culturally Relevant Game Design Curriculum: Emerging Design Principles,” at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) in Chicago. In this post, Jim discusses iDesign’s goals and shares some of the findings that he and his colleagues presented at AERA.

Implementing Formative Assessment: Revisiting Learning Targets

For over 20 years, Susan Janssen Creighton has worked on EDC mathematics instructional design and teacher professional development initiatives. Recently, Corwin published a book that Susan, Cheryl Tobey, Emily Fagan, and Eric Karnowski wrote, Bringing Math Students into the Formative Assessment Equation: Tools and Strategies for the Middle Grades, based on their work in the National Science Foundation-funded project Formative Assessment in the Mathematics Classroom: Engaging Teachers and Students. On April 13–16, Susan, her co-authors, and several other EDC mathematics experts presented sessions on formative assessment at the National Conference of Supervisors of Mathematics and National Conference of Teachers of Mathematics Annual Meeting in Boston. In this post, originally published on Corwin's blog Corwin Connect, Susan discusses the key role that revisiting learning targets with students plays in the formative assessment process.