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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
Type: Phase II Development Award Number: EDIES16C0014

Project Website:

Video Demonstration of the Phase I Prototype:

Purpose: In this project, the team fully developed and tested 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 fully developed the back-end assessment system and teacher dashboard with alerts of student progress, and integrated additional content for life science and earth science. After development concluded, researchers conducted a pilot study by implementing Inq-Blotter in 8 classrooms with results demonstrating that the product's usability, fidelity of implementation. To evaluate the promise of Inq-Blotter for providing formative assessment reports to teachers and for improving student learning outcomes, the team conducted a randomized control trial with 8 middle school teachers and 280 students in these classes. Half of the teachers were 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. Results demonstrated that teachers who used Inq-Blotter were able to provide twice as much feedback and support to twice as many students than teachers who did not. Students in the treatment group increased significantly compared to students in control in their performance on their next Inq-ITS lab for interpreting data and warranting claims competencies. In another pilot study with 4 teachers and 25 students, student's increased competency for performing lab inquiry activities was predicted based on the feedback teachers provided, driven by information from the alerts.

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 developed 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 receive class and student-level reports, automatically generated in real-time as students work through laboratory activities. The dashboard also includes teacher resources to support the alignment of the labs to learning goals, and to assist with implementation.

Related Government Projects: University researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Rutgers Graduate School of Education created and evaluated the efficacy of over 35 Inq-ITS virtual laboratory simulations and 180 inquiry activities aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards for middle school physical, life, and earth science on prior ED/IES (R305A090170, R305A120778) and National science Foundation (DRL#0733286, DGE#0742503, DRL#1008649, DRL#1252477, DRL#1643673,) grants. To productize this research, Apprendis developed and tested the efficacy of Inq-Blotter (ED-IES-15C0018, ED-IES-16C0014), a dashboard to provide teachers real-time diagnostic alerts on how middle school students struggle to conduct science inquiry practices. University researchers further examined Inq-Blotter's classroom impacts (NSF-IIS#1629045).With 2018 and 2019 ED/IES SBIR awards, Apprendris is developing Inq-ITS for high school physical science.