American Educational Research Association (AERA)

Friday, April 8 – Tuesday, April 12, 2016 | Washington, DC


Snowballing as a methodological approach for research literature synthesis in education: Synthesizing literature on women of color in engineering.

Fri, April 8, 12:00 to 1:30pm | Convention Center, Level Three, Ballroom A

Presenters: Nuria Jaumot-Pascual, TERC; Maria (Mia) Ong, TERC; Lily Ko, TERC; Apriel K. Hodari, Council for Opportunity in Education

Few scholars share detailed methods for producing literature syntheses of qualitative research. This paper fills that gap by reporting on a recently conducted synthesis of primarily qualitative empirical research on women of color in engineering education and early careers. First, we describe processes for choosing a search engine and developing search terms and selection criteria. Next, we discuss our adaptation of Wohlin’s (2014) search and selection methods for “forward” and “backward” snowballing; ours is one of the first applications of its kind in education. Then, we briefly describe our coding and analysis procedures using systematic analysis. Finally, we describe the significance of our contributions to the snowballing methodology and to the existing knowledge base on women of color in engineering.

Robots and Romeo and Juliet: Studying Teacher Integration of Robotics into Middle School Curricula

Fri, April 8, 2:15 to 3:45pm | Marriott Marquis, Level Four, Liberty Salon I

Presenters: Debra Bernstein (TERC), Karen Mutch-Jones (TERC), Emily Hamner (Carnegie Mellon University), Jennifer Cross (Carnegie Mellon University)

To increase opportunities for more students to engage in technology innovation, the Creative Robotics project supports robotics integration into disciplinary classrooms. The project provides professional development and resources to teachers in non-technical subjects (e.g., health, science, English), while enabling them to develop their own instructional strategies for integrating the Arts & Bots curriculum. A study of pedagogical and instructional approaches of 15 teachers during the project’s first year suggests that teachers used Arts & Bots as a tool to support student learning to: (1) facilitate translation of abstract disciplinary concepts into concrete exemplars; (2) increase exposure to disciplinary material; or (3) increase familiarity with technology. This research underscores the importance of integrated curricula that consider disciplinary needs and technological affordances.

The Emergence of Young Children’s Understanding of the Equal Sign

Fri, April 8, 4:05 to 5:35pm | Convention Center, Level Two, Exhibit Hall D Section A

Presenters: Maria Blanton (TERC); co-authors: Angela Gardiner (TERC), Barbara Brizuela, Katie Sawrey, Kimy Yangsook, Aliska Gibbons

The presentation reports on grades K–1 children’s understandings about the equal sign prior to and during classroom teaching experiments [CTE] that focus on developing a relational understanding of the equal sign. Findings suggest that children at the beginning of the CTE already held an operational misconception about the equal sign. However, after the CTE, students predominantly employed a relational view of the equal sign to accurately identify equations as true or false or to find missing values in equations with fixed unknowns. This study raises questions as to the origins of children’s misconceptions about the equal sign and whether and how this thinking emerges even in informal settings, prior to formal arithmetic instruction.

Teaching to Support Mathematical Practice Engagement in the Elementary Grades

Fri, April 8, 4:05 to 5:35pm | Convention Center, Level Two, Exhibit Hall D Section B

Presenters: Eric Hochberg (TERC), co-authored with Traci Higgins (TERC), Jim Hammerman (TERC), and Sheralyn Dash (TERC)

The Standards for Mathematical Practice (MPs) are a key component of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, yet there is a lack of consensus regarding what these practices look like and how to support instruction that facilitates their enactment, particularly at the elementary level. Using a multiple case study design, and informed by sociocultural and constructivist perspectives on learning mathematics, this paper contributes to an understanding of how MPs are enacted at the elementary level by examining student MP engagement, and the teaching that facilitates this engagement, in three fourth grade fractions lessons. Results suggest that attending to classroom mathematical communication is an especially important aspect of elementary-level MP implementation, which has implications for pre- and in-service teacher education.

A Longitudinal Study of Elementary Students’ Use of Variable Notation to Represent Mathematical Generalizations

Sat, April 9, 10:35am to 12:05pm | Marriott Marquis, Level Two, Marquis Salon 17

Presenters: Maria Blanton (TERC); co-authors Angela Gardiner (TERC), Ana Stephens, Isil Isler, Eric Knuth, Hannah Kang, Susanne Strachota

The study reported here uses a quasi-experimental design to compare the algebraic thinking of students after a 3-year, grades 3–5 early algebra intervention to students in more traditional (arithmetic-focused) classrooms. Data sources are students’ responses to grades 3–5 written assessment items, designed by the project team to measure learning throughout the intervention, that focus on students’ use of variables to represent generalizations across four situations: (1) algebraic expressions; (2) equations; (3) functional relationships; and (4) arithmetic generalizations. Results shows that intervention students performed significantly better than comparison students in both grades 3 and 4 post-tests. More interesting, however, is that intervention students were significantly more successful writing a function rule with variables than with words.

Organizing Data Journalism Activity in School and Community Learning Environments to Contextualize Science in Life

Mon, April 11, 7:45 to 9:15am | Convention Center, Level One, Room 102 B

Presenters: Joseph L. Polman, University of Colorado - Boulder; Engida Hailye  Gebre, Simon Fraser University; Andee Rubin, TERC; Leighanna Hinojosa, University of Colorado - Boulder; Stephen Sommer, University of Colorado - Boulder; Cynthia Graville-Smith, Saint Louis University

We aim to describe how facilitators of learning environments with different affordances, constraints, and cultural contexts organize activity involving youth in “data journalism.” In these activities, youth author science infographics with opportunities to publish in an online news magazine that has a rigorous editorial process. We focus on how the organization and design of data journalism activities fit within contexts, have changed over time, and enable youth to “contextualize science in their lives.”

Developing Multiple Identities: Undergraduate Scientists Learning to Facilitate Informal Science Education

Mon, April 11, 11:45am to 1:15pm | Convention Center, Level One, Room 101

Presenters: Deana Scipio, TERC; Fan Kong, University of Washington; Kristen Bergsman, University of Washington - Seattle

A practice-based focus for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education creates opportunities for professional scientists to engage with youth around broadening participation in disciplinary practices. The stereotype persists that scientists have trouble successfully mentoring youth (e.g. Barab & Hay, 2001; Hsu et al., 2009). Within this study, we argue that professional and undergraduate scientists can develop fluency in facilitation and curriculum adaptation through participation in designed learning environments. The following research question guides this paper: How can formal preparation courses help professional and undergraduate scientists develop reflective pedagogical practices as facilitators of an afterschool chemical oceanography program?

Creating New Possibilities: Supporting Identities of Youth of Color as Learners and Doers of Scientific Research

Mon, April 11, 11:45am to 1:15pm | Convention Center, Level One, Room 101

Presenter: Tammie Visintainer, TERC

This research explores trajectories of developing the practices of and identification with science for high school students of color as they participate in summer science research programs. Students conducted research alongside scientists as part of the programs. I ask two main questions: How do students’ ideas about what science is and who can do science shift after engaging in scientific research? and How do scientist instructors’ perspectives of science and race shape the resources they make available while engaging youth in scientific research?

"I Never Thought We'd Go Big!" Becoming Change Agents as Doers of Community-Based Scientific Research

Tue, April 12, 10:35am to 12:05pm | Convention Center, Level Three, Ballroom B

Presenter: Tammie Visintainer, TERC 

This study examines how engaging in community-based scientific research through participation in a summer science program transforms the possibilities high school students of color view as available to them in science. This research utilizes qualitative (e.g. interviews) and quantitative (e.g. surveys) data sources. Engaging in science practices and the accompanying program resources generated new possibilities for students as capable science learners and change agents in their community. Furthermore, findings show that the instructor’s vision of science and his students guided the design of the program resources made available. Findings show that youth of color can take up and imagine new possibilities for who they can be in science if their science and racial identities are supported in science programs.

Targeted Linguistic Modifications of Science Items for English Learners

Tue, April 12, 12:25 to 1:55pm | Marriott Marquis, Level Four, Independence Salon G

Presenters: Tracy E. Noble, TERC; Stephen G. Sireci, University of Massachusetts - Amherst; Craig S.Wells, University of Massachusetts - Amherst; Rachel R. Kachchaf, Smarter Balanced; Ann Rosebery, TERC

The goal of this study is to investigate the effect of linguistic and visual modifications of Grade 5 multiple-choice science test items on ELs and non-ELs’ performance. The science tests administered by schools in the U.S. to fulfill the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act have high-stakes consequences for students, teachers, schools, and districts. Most states assess ELs’ science knowledge and skills with tests written in English in students’ first year in U.S. schools, even though ELs are still developing their English proficiency (Solórzano, 2008; Wolf et al., 2008). Many researchers have questioned whether such tests are valid measures of ELs’ knowledge and skills in science (Sireci & Faulkner-Bond, 2015).

Addressing the Linguistic Challenges of Assessing English Learners: A State and Research Organization Partnership

Tue, April 12, 10:35am to 12:05pm | Convention Center, Level One, Room 101

Presenters: Tracy E. Noble, TERC; Catherine Bowler, Massachusetts Department of Education; Rachel R. Kachchaf, Smarter Balanced; Ann Rosebery, TERC

The majority of state science tests are given in English, with limited accommodations available to ELs (Wolf et al., 2008), and as a result, ELs’ test scores may not always reflect their knowledge and skills in science. Researchers have explored the specific linguistic features of science test items that interfere most with ELs’ comprehension of test item texts (Noble et al, 2014). In this collaboration, we built upon prior research to explore ways to improve the fairness of one state’s science test for ELs and the validity of interpreting ELs’ scores on that test as representations of their knowledge and skills in science.