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IES Contract

Title: Inq-ITS Online Labs for High School Physics and Physical Science
Center: NCER Year: 2019
Principal Investigator: Sao Pedro, Mike Awardee: Apprendis
Program: Small Business Innovation Research      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years (6/26/2019 – 6/25/2021) Award Amount: $899,959.61
Goal: Phase II Development Award Number: 91990019C0037

Project Website:

Video Demonstration of the Phase I Prototype:

Purpose: The team will fully develop and test Inq-ITS Online Labs for High School Physics and Physical Science. This product automatically scores how students use mathematics when applying science inquiry practices based on actions they take within the labs, not multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank questions. Teachers use an alerting dashboard that notifies them when and exactly how students struggle. The product responds to the need that U.S. students continue to fall behind on science, having dropped from 17th in 2008 to 25th in 2015 on a 2015 international comparison. The drop is due, at least in part, to a lack of mathematics and inquiry competencies.

Project Activities: During Phase I in 2018, the team prototyped four self-scoring labs that integrated mathematics practices with other science inquiry practices. Each lab featured a testable question where students hypothesized about the mathematical relationships between variables, and tools to graph, model, and analyze data to draw conclusions. Researchers surveyed 185 grade 9 students and found the prototype operated as intended. Students reported learning from teachers' feedback, driven by alerts of when they struggled. Teachers reported that the technology increased awareness of which students were having difficulty and how they struggled.

In Phase II, the team will expand the product to 20 labs and expand its capacity to assess how students integrate "using mathematics" practices. Specifically, the team will develop new algorithms to auto-score how students make predictions with mathematics, build new lab activities, integrate new the assessments into the teacher alerting dashboard, and complete iterative research to inform refinements. A pilot study will assess the feasibility, usability, fidelity of implementation and the promise of the product for improving teacher awareness and student learning outcomes. Sixteen high school physics classrooms and 320 students will participate in a randomized controlled design to determine whether the alerting dashboard improves the timeliness and frequency with which teachers can provide feedback to students and whether the approach improves students' learning as measured within the system and on standardized measures of science inquiry. The team will gather costs for all expenditures for training and implementation.

Product: In this project, the team will develop a performance-based lab for the high school level. The Inq-ITS Performance Based Labs for High School Physics and Physical Science will integrate "using mathematics" practices with other science practices to study physics/physical science phenomena. An accompanying teacher dashboard will generate immediate, diagnostic, and actionable alerts driven by algorithms that assess how students integrate using mathematics practices during their virtual investigations. Teachers use the insights gleaned from the immediate alerts to inform individual and whole classroom instructional practices. Resources to be developed will support the alignment of the labs to learning goals, and to assist with implementation.

Related Projects: University researchers 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).