Skip Navigation
Funding Opportunities | Search Funded Research Grants and Contracts

IES Grant

Title: Measuring the Efficacy and Student Achievement of Research-based Instructional Materials in High School Multidisciplinary Science
Center: NCER Year: 2006
Principal Investigator: Taylor, Joseph A. Awardee: Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS)
Program: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years Award Amount: $2,907,563
Type: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R305K060142
Description:

Purpose: In order to improve student achievement in science, school districts in the U.S. need rigorous evidence regarding the impact of instructional materials so they can make sound decisions about their science programs. In 2000, the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study team began the design and development of BSCS Science: An Inquiry Approach to meet the need for multidisciplinary science curricula. Their initial work was funded by the National Science Foundation. Now that the curriculum has been developed and commercially published, in this IES project, the researchers are conducting a rigorous evaluation to test whether students who use this curriculum will learn more than students using the existing commercially produced science curriculum.

Project Activities: This research will undertake a formal test of efficacy of BSCS Science: An Inquiry Approach.

Products: The products from this project include evidence regarding the efficacy of a high school multidisciplinary science curriculum, and published papers.

Purpose: The education and business communities in the United States have grown increasingly concerned about student achievement in math and the sciences. In addition to generally poor performance by U.S. students, other analyses indicate that current science instructional materials and curricula are fragmented, lack coherence, and are not carefully articulated through a sequence of grade levels. Few materials address in-depth, comprehensive standards as outlined in the National Science Education Standards (NRC, 1996) or Benchmarks for Science Literacy. In order to improve student achievement in science, school districts in the U.S. need rigorous evidence regarding the impact of instructional materials so they can make sound decisions about their science programs. In 2000, the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study team began the design and development of BSCS Science: An Inquiry Approach to meet the need for multidisciplinary science curricula. Their initial work was funded by the National Science Foundation. Now that the curriculum has been developed and commercially published, in this IES project, the researchers are conducting a rigorous evaluation to test whether students who use this curriculum will learn more than students using the existing commercially produced science curriculum.

Setting: The research will be conducted in Florida.

Population: Participants will be from two county school districts in Florida. These districts have an array of urban to suburban high schools that are typically medium in size (average of ~ 1100 students/school). A minimum of 20-24 high schools and their respective (volunteer) 9th and 10th grade science teachers will participate. The two districts are fairly diverse in terms of ethnicity. County 1 has 28% of its students classified as African American where 29% are classified as such in county 2. Similarly, county 1 has 30% of its students classified as Hispanic where 22% are classified as such in county 2. Both districts also have substantial numbers of low socioeconomic status students with 47% of students in county 1 and 42% of students in county 2 receiving free or reduced lunch.

Intervention: This research will undertake a formal test of efficacy of BSCS Science: An Inquiry Approach.

Research Design and Methods: This study will use an experimental design consisting of a cluster randomized trial (stratified based on ethnicity and free and reduced lunch percentages), where students are nested within schools, and schools are randomly assigned to treatment and comparison groups. There will be 21 schools and 50-60 teachers in both the treatment and comparison groups.

Control Condition: In the comparison condition, teachers will continue using their current instructional materials for multidisciplinary science.

Key Measures: Longitudinal measures of efficacy for the research include student growth on standardized tests (FCAT); gain scores on independent, validated annual pre/post tests aligned with state standards to measure content knowledge, understanding of scientific inquiry, and analytical and problem-solving skills; student surveys; teacher logs; teacher surveys and interviews; and classroom observations (both live and videotaped).

Data Analytic Strategy: To answer the question whether the research-based instructional materials in multidisciplinary science increase student achievement in science, the research team will analyze the data using statistical techniques that take into account the nested nature of the data.

Publications

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Taylor, J., Kowalski, S., Wilson, C., Getty, S., and Carlson, J. (2013). Conducting Causal Effects Studies in Science Education: Considering Methodological Trade-Offs in the Context of Policies Affecting Research in Schools. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 50(9): 1127–1141.

Taylor, J.A., Getty, S.R., Kowalski, S.M., Wilson, C.D., Carlson, J., and Van Scotter, P. (2015). An Efficacy Trial of Research-Based Curriculum Materials with Curriculum-Based Professional Development. American Educational Research Journal, 52(5): 984–1017.


Back