Collaborative Research: Professional Learning to Support Teacher Customizations of 3D Science Curriculum Materials for Equitable Student Sensemaking

Project: Research project

Project Details


The proposed 4-year design and development project addresses Strand 3, Teaching. Targeting middle school science education, the proposal focuses on supporting teachers’ learning and teaching of the instructional shifts in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) across science disciplines. The project consists of the research and development of a set of customization tools and cases of customization tool use to support teachers in adapting curriculum materials to facilitate equitable science sensemaking that is coherent from the students’ perspective. The major components of the research program include: 1. Empirical study of customization process -- challenges that arise that motivate adaptation and how teachers attempt to address them, 2. Theoretical model of teacher thinking and learning that underlies customization of curriculum materials, 3. Tools to support principled adaptation consistent with the goals of the reform and 4. Empirical study how tools influence teachers’ customization processes. Intellectual Merit A key part of recent science education reform efforts and standards includes shifting the epistemic and power structures in the classroom so that teachers and students work together to build knowledge (Reiser et al., in press). Addressing this shift for teachers requires a two-pronged supportive approach of educative curriculum materials and professional learning (NRC, 2015). Curriculum enactment is not prescriptive, but rather a “participatory relationship” between the teacher, curriculum materials, students and context (Remillard, 2005). Teacher customizations can preserve the goals of the reform while helping the tasks and activity structures better fit the needs of their students (McNeill et al., 2018). But the support for teachers is critical, to avoid teachers dropping back to viewing the materials through the lens of their current practice and working against the intended shifts the materials were designed to support (Spillane et al., 2002). This project will research and develop a theoretical model of teacher thinking and learning that underlies customization of curriculum materials. Broader Impact More than 71% of U.S. school children are now impacted by recent reform efforts with 20 states that have adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS Lead States, 2013) and 24 states that have developed their own standards based on the Framework (National Science Teaching Association, 2020). The project will develop customization tools and cases of customization tool use that align with the 3D learning goals in these standards that can be used across curriculum. During the project, over 100 teachers will engage in professional learning around the use of these customization tools to support more equitable science sensemaking in their classrooms. Furthermore, this design and development project will leverage recent middle school science curriculum materials developed by OpenSciEd as open education resources (OER). As of September 2020, there were approximately 12,000 registered middle school teachers on the OpenSciEd website. The customization tools and cases will be shared on the OpenSciEd website as OER resources reaching teachers across the country. These customization resources will support teachers in leveraging the sensemaking resources and experiences that students bring into the classroom to support figuring out for all students (Brown, 2019; Suárez, 2020; Tan & Calabrese Barton, 2010).
Effective start/end date7/1/216/30/25


  • National Science Foundation (DRL 2101377 001)


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