Collaborative Research: Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Designing School System Educational Infrastructure to support Elementary School Science Instruction

Project: Research project

Project Details


Overview: The following is a Level 3 proposal targeting fundamental research on STEM Learning and Learning Environments, submitted under NSF 15-509 EHR Core Research -- Fundamental Research in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education. The proposal is to produce fundamental research on the the work of developing school-level and system-level STEM learning environments that bridge from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to high quality science instruction. The NGSS advance ideals for students’ making sense of scientific phenomena through “three dimensional science learning” that integrates science and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas. While the NGSS depends on local discretion in operationalizing these ideals in classroom instruction, many teachers and schools lack capabilities to do so. Thus, the proposed project has three primary goals: (1) to develop a practical theory of organization and management detailing key domains of work essential to bridging from academic standards to classroom instruction; (2) to construct models of effective, system-level and school-level science learning environments that animate the work detailed in this theoretical framework; and (3) to test the usefulness of the preceding theory and models for critically analyzing efforts to bridge from academic standards to classroom instruction. Toward these goals, proposed project is descriptive, theory-building program of research that uses an embedded, comparative case study design to describe (and to compare among) efforts in a diverse sample of states, systems, and elementary school engaged in the work of bridging from the NGSS to to classroom instruction. Intellectual Merit: The proposed project is a cross-disciplinary collaboration among researchers with complementary expertise in studying system, school, and instructional improvement. This team will advance knowledge of educational policy, system and school improvement, and instructional improvement by addressing a fundamental puzzle of contemporary education reform: the coordination of national and state academic standards with classroom instruction. The proposed project is creative, original, and transformative because it will synthesize and extend research on designing and redesigning schools and systems (rather than individual classrooms) to bridge from academic standards to classroom instruction, focusing specifically on the work of (a) enacting or interpreting the NGSS, (b) envisioning classroom instruction aligned with the standards, (c) designing coherent educational infrastructure supporting this vision, and (d) coupling infrastructure and classroom instruction. Broader Impact: The contributions to broader social progress lie supporting schools and systems in designing themselves to support excellence and equity in students’ educational opportunities and outcomes. The centerpiece of the project is a practical theory of organization and management focused on domains of work instrumental in bridging from academic standards to classroom instruction. This keen focus on practical work, in turn, increases the potential for the proposed project to directly guide improvements in science learning, teaching, and outcomes in schools. Such support is especially critical for low performing schools and systems that are experiencing standards as punitive policy implements and not as resources motivating instructional transformation. To ensure that this practical theory of organization and management is responsive to these schools an
Effective start/end date8/1/187/31/23


  • National Science Foundation (DRL-1761057)


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