TEEMS2 Activities


Technology Enhanced Elementary and Middle School Science (TEEMSS2) is a project, funded by the National Science Foundation (Grant No. IMD0352522), whose goal is to bring the power of information and communication technology to science education in grades 3 - 8, by creating and disseminating valuable, proven, and easily implemented technology-based science learning materials and associated teacher professional development. The project is creating instructional materials that address important science content and can be easily and inexpensively integrated into any science program. The project has selected age-appropriate, standards - based content for which technology offers real advantages. The learning strategy is based on student investigations of real phenomena using sensors and of virtual environments based on computer models.

The new materials take advantage of computers, sensors, handhelds, and electronic networking to more effectively teach students and give them deeper insights into the process of science inquiry. These educational technologies can significantly enhance science learning at elementary grades. They are particularly valuable at helping students to: investigate the natural world analytically; understand cause - and - effect relationships; visualize change; gain insights into the ways systems act; connect math, science, and technology; and explore emergent behavior.

The core of science is about investigating, exploring, asking questions, analyzing, and thinking - activities that these educational technologies are uniquely able to facilitate and deepen. They facilitate inquiry in four ways that are largely lacking in elementary science teaching:

  • investigations of real events with sensors - a central activity of science;
  • explorations using highly interactive models;
  • electronic communications about investigations, which supports student reflection, thinking, and collaboration;
  • assessment embedded in learning activities, which gives teachers and researchers new ways to reveal student understanding.

Technology is an essential part of modern science, but it is rarely used in elementary and middle school science education. The project addresses this void and, in so doing, has the potential of improving elementary and secondary science education nationwide, particularly in under - resourced urban and rural schools, serving poor and diverse communities.

TEEMSS2 tools

TEEMSS2 is producing 15 units keyed to the National Science Education Standards (NSES) that take full advantage of computers, sensors, and interactive models. Grade levels 3 - 4, 5 - 6, and 7 - 8 will have five units each, targeting the five NSES standards: Inquiry, Physical Science, Life Science, Earth and Space Science, and Technology and Design. Each unit contains two Investigations, each with a discovery question, several trials, analysis, and further investigations. There is also a teacher - s version of each investigation, which contains background material and a discussion guide.

The TEEMSS2 activities are embedded in software (SensorPortfolio) that allows students to read the investigation, answer questions, collect data, analyze their results, and save their work within one application. It also allows the collection of formative and summative assessment data, which is readily available through online teacher reports. CCPortfolio is not specific to any manufacturer or platform. It is designed to work with whatever curriculum, computers, handhelds, and sensors schools may adopt.

Research goals

The research goals for the TEEMSS2 project are to evaluate student learning of the targeted standards, and to evaluate the components of the project: the materials, the teacher training, and the classroom implementation. We have recruited approximately 70 teachers from all over the state of Missouri who will use the TEEMSS2 materials in their classrooms during January - May 2005 (year 1) and again during the school year 2005 - 6 (year 2). We estimate that teachers will have an average of 40 students with whom they will use our materials each year; therefore we expect approximately 4000 students to participate in our study over the two years. We have been working with an organization in Missouri, SuccessLink, who is helping with recruitment and communication with teachers for 21 school sites. Two additional sites are in Clarksville, Texas and Brooklin, Maine.

Our research design is as follows. We have divided the teachers into two groups. Group 1 teachers will use our materials in both years 1 and 2. Group 2 teachers will use our materials only in year 2, but will cover the content area of the units with their students using current classroom practices in year 1. Both groups will apply pre and post tests to their students in both years 1 and 2. Analysis of the year 1 data will allow comparison of similar students in the untreated vs. treated groups. The year 2 data will also allow comparison of the effect of our materials on similar students taught by group 2 teachers before and after treatment, and for the group 1 teachers, the effects of teacher experience in the second year once they are familiar with using computers, sensors, and interactive models for science education.

The student pre and post-tests have been developed in collaboration with our external evaluators at SRI. The tests will be short, multiple-choice and short-answer tests, one for each of the first 9 units developed. The questions were drawn from existing standardized tests, and supplemented by unit - specific questions developed for TEEMSS2. The questions will evaluate student learning of the standards which are targeted by our materials. Validity testing of the tests was conducted in November, 2004 with approximately 60 - 100 students for each test. The validity testing was used to select questions that were appropriate for the target grade level, to evaluate inter-rater reliability for scoring, and to compare student performance on matched pre/post variations of questions.

In addition to the pre and post - tests, other data to be collected include teacher pre and post - surveys, student post - surveys, embedded assessments within the materials, and classroom observation. The pre and post surveys will address background, experiences with the materials, opinions and reflections. The software will store student answers to embedded assessment questions as they use the materials, which will supplement our assessment of student learning. Classroom observation will be conducted by trained observers from SuccessLink, using a protocol that we developed, with the goals of learning the range of ways in which our materials are used in the classroom, the effectiveness of the experience on a particular day, and to learn about typical classroom experiences which may enhance our final report.

If you have any questions concerning TEEMSS2, please contact teemss2@concord.org.
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