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IES Contract

Title: Recognizing How Teachers Identify and Support Students Needing Help During Inquiry
Center: NCER Year: 2016
Principal Investigator: Sao Pedro, Mike Awardee: Apprendis
Program: Small Business Innovation Research      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years (5/1/2016-4/31/2018) Award Amount: $899,986
Goal: Phase II Development Award Number: EDIES16C0014

Project Website:

Video Demonstration of the Phase I Prototype:

Purpose: In this project, the team will fully develop and test Inq-Blotter, an online alerting dashboard for teachers to formatively assess and track progress as students engage in virtual laboratory experiments. Science educators and researchers agree that integrating authentic inquiry practices with science content knowledge promotes students deeper understanding of science, and helps them learn critical thinking skills necessary for tomorrows jobs. Further, as more schools adopt the Next Generation Science Standards, educators will be required to incorporate more authentic inquiry experiences into instruction, assess students skills on inquiry, and ensure that each student demonstrates adequate progress. Meeting these goals is a challenge, as class sizes are often too large for teachers to identify which students are struggling and why, and to provide immediate feedback to each student to support learning.

Project Activities: During Phase I (completed in 2015), the team developed a prototype that included a back-end server to link Inq-Blotter to a previously developed virtual laboratory for physical science, and a teacher dashboard to generate formative assessment reports of student performance on the virtual laboratory. Researchers worked with 5 middle school science teachers and 196 students to determine that the prototype operated as intended. Teachers reported increased awareness of areas where students were having difficulty, and increased collaboration with students. In Phase II of the project, the team will fully develop the back-end assessment system and teacher dashboard with alerts of student progress, and integrate additional content for life science and earth science. After development concludes, researchers will complete a pilot study to assess the feasibility and usability, fidelity of implementation, and the promise of Inq-Blotter for providing formative assessment reports to teachers and for improving student learning outcomes. The team will collect data from 16 middle school teachers and students in these classes. Half of the teachers will be randomly assigned to use the Inq-Blotter to use formative assessment data to inform instruction in their classrooms, while the other half of teachers will use virtual laboratories. Researchers will compare pre-and-post scores of student's learning using standardized measures of science inquiry.

Product: Through previous development grants from IES and the National Science Foundation, researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute developed 16 virtual laboratory simulations and 57 inquiry activities aligned to Next Generation Science standards in physical, life, and earth science. This project will develop Inq-Blotter, a dashboard to provide teachers real-time formative and summative assessment reports on middle school students doing science inquiry. When using the Inq-Blotter reporting dashboard, teachers will receive class and student-level reports, automatically generated in real-time as students work through laboratory activities. The dashboard will also include teacher resources to support the alignment of the labs to learning goals, and to assist with implementation.