Innovative Technologies to Improve Teaching and Learning

ALTEC Projects 

Enhancing Argumentation with Social Media: Supporting Teacher Professional Learning & Student Scientific Argumentation (2013-2016)

This exploratory proposal is researching and developing professional learning activities to help high school teachers use available and emerging social media to teach scientific argumentation. The project responds to the growing emphasis on scientific argumentation in new standards. Participants include a team of ninth and tenth grade Life Science teachers collaborating as co-researchers with project staff in a design study to develop one socially mediated science unit. It also produces strategies, tools and on-line materials to support teachers' development of the pedagogical, content, and technological knowledge needed to integrate emerging technologies into science instruction. This project focuses on the flexible social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that students frequently use in their everyday lives. Research questions explore the technology of social media and the pedagogy needed to support student engagement in scientific argumentation. The Year Three pilot analyses provide data on the professional learning model. The project provides a basis for scale-up with this instructional and professional learning model to other core science content, cross-cutting themes, and STEM practices. (NSF DR-K12 Award #1316799)

The Evidence Games: Collaborative Games Engaging Middle School Students in the Evaluation of Scientific Evidence (2010-2014)

The overall goal of the project was to increase middle school science students’ and teachers’ knowledge of and thinking related to scientific argumentation through the use of a multiplayer game engaging students in competitive and collaborative play. The project utilized the Integrative Learning Design Framework described by Bannan (2009). Year One focused on engaging in the process of informed exploration and began some initial enactment activities. Year Two proceeded through the Enactment Phase to construct a working prototype. Year Three focused on the process of evaluating for local impact. This process involved iterative refinement of the game prototype as we addressed question such as usability, validity, and relevance. During this phase we conducted our Research Study in the Fall 2012.  For the Year 3 study, eight teachers from middle schools in Northeast Kansas were recruited for the treatment condition based on availability and interest in teaching scientific argumentation. Six teachers with similar demographics were selected to serve as comparison teachers. In most cases, these teachers were from the same school as the treatment teacher, in order to maintain similar curriculum and student demographics. 

A total of 14 science teachers participated in either the treatment or comparison group, with a minimum of three of their classes, or about 15 to 20 students per class participating in the 8-week unit on science, resulting in a student sample of over 1400 students. Students and teachers in the treatment condition utilized the Reason Racer game, developed through the Evidence Game Project. Students and teachers in the comparison condition proceeded with science instruction as usual, without using the Reason Racer. Students who played the game at least 10 times improved in every aspect of argumentation skill and judgment. Students who played the game also reported an increase in confidence and motivation to engage in science compared to students who did not play the game.  (NSF DR-K12 Award #1019842)

CYBER T.E.A.M.S. (2011-2014)

The CYBER T.E.A.M.S. Project at Fort Leavenworth Schools featured a new transformative pedagogy of a blended instruction model leveraging a collaborative “Challenge” based curriculum incorporating critical 21st Century Life Skills, including teamwork and resiliency. This research-based initiative leverages the best practices in Learning Spaces, Challenge Based Learning, Curriculum Development and Professional Development.  Funded by the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), this project responded to the need to redesign and revitalize STEM education by expanding STEM learning strategies to engage students and teachers in fostering the development of higher-order thinking and 21st Century Skills.  ALTEC served as the External Evaluator for the CYBER T.E.A.M.S. Project, working in cooperation with the District Staff to ensure a successful implementation of the grant.  Evaluation focused on Fidelity of Implementation, Process/Formative, and Summative activities.  ALTEC was responsible for data collection, analysis and reporting as outlined in the CYBER T.E.A.M.S. grant application.

Kansas TRC (2003-2012)

More than 5,000 students across Kansas are well on their way to becoming digital citizens, thanks to a program called Technology Rich Classrooms (TRC). From 2003-2012, the program enabled qualifying school districts to purchase technology for their classrooms and learn how to use it effectively with the assistance of a job-embedded coach or facilitator. The TRC grants awarded by the Kansas Department of Education (KSDE) were part of a federal program called Enhancing Education Through Technology, commonly referred to as “EETT.” The primary goal of EETT was to help states improve student achievement through the use of technology. To help manage the program, KSDE established a partnership with the KU Center for Research on Learning (KU-CRL). Staff from the Center’s Advanced Learning Technologies division coordinated the project and provided statewide professional development.


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