Skip Navigation
Funding Opportunities | Search Funded Research Grants and Contracts

IES Grant

Title: The Universally Designed Science Notebook: An Intervention To Support Science Learning For Students With Disabilities
Center: NCSER Year: 2007
Principal Investigator: Rappolt-Schlichtmann, Gabrielle Awardee: Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST)
Program: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3/1/2007 to 2/28/2011 Award Amount: $1,997,888
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A070130
Description:

Purpose: Students with disabilities tend to lag behind their peers in science achievement. For example, on the 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress, 13 percent of students with disabilities in Grade 4 were proficient in science, and 4 percent were proficient in Grade 12. To date, very little rigorous research has been conducted to develop and evaluate science interventions for students with disabilities. This project will develop and conduct an initial evaluation of a universally designed, web-based science notebook (Universally Designed Notebook) intended to improve the science achievement of students with disabilities, particularly high-incidence disabilities. The researchers will also develop a teacher training module and a teacher guide to support the classroom use of the web-based science notebook. The Magnetism and Electricity module from the Full Option Science System, a widely used hands-on elementary science program, will be the instructional curriculum in which the web-based science notebook is studied.

Project Activities: The researchers will carry out a development process involving five cycles of development, focus group testing, and further development and refinement of the universally designed, web-based science notebook. Following the development phase, the researchers will conduct an initial evaluation of the web-based science notebook with 30 fourth and fifth grade inclusive classroom teachers, each with at least 4 students with high-incidence disabilities. Quantitative data will be analyzed to evaluate the potential effects of the intervention on science achievement, and qualitative analyses will be conducted to explore features of the web-based science notebook that may facilitate effects on achievement.

Products: The expected outcomes from this study include a prototype web-based science notebook with accompanying teacher training module and teacher guide focusing on the Magnetism and Electricity module from the Full Option Science System for students in Grades 4 and 5, including students with high-incidence disabilities. In addition, reports of the research activities and findings of the evaluation will be published.

Structured Abstract

Purpose: Students with disabilities tend to lag behind their peers in science achievement. For example, on the 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress, 13 percent of students with disabilities in Grade 4 were at or above the proficient level in science, and 4 percent were at or above the proficient level in Grade 12. To date, very little rigorous research has been conducted to develop and evaluate science interventions for students with disabilities. This project will develop and conduct an initial evaluation of a universally designed, web-based science notebook (Universally Designed Notebook) intended to improve the science achievement of students with disabilities, particularly high-incidence disabilities. The researchers will also develop a teacher training module and a teacher guide to support the classroom use of the web-based science notebook. The Magnetism and Electricity module from the Full Option Science System, a widely used hands-on elementary science program, will be the instructional curriculum in which the web-based science notebook is studied.

Setting: The study will be conducted in 30 4th- and 5th-grade inclusive classrooms in Massachusetts and South Carolina.

Population: The project will involve teachers and students in 4th- and 5th-grade inclusive science classes that include both typically achieving students and students with high incidence disabilities including specific learning disabilities, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, emotional disturbances, and mild cognitive disabilities. During the development of the Universally Designed Notebook, teachers and students will participate in focus groups. A total of 16 to 20 teachers (four focus groups of 4-5 teachers each) and 16 students (half with a high-incidence disability, half without disabilities) will be recruited. Also in the development phase, four additional 4th- or 5th-grade teachers and 100 students from inclusive science classes will participate in the piloting of the intervention. In the experimental research study, the project will recruit a total of 30 classroom teachers and, estimating 25 students per class, 750 students (approximately 630 students without disabilities, and approximately 120 students with disabilities).

Intervention: The project will develop the Universally Designed Notebook, a teacher training module, and a teacher guide that supports 4th- and 5th-grade students, in particular those with high-incidence disabilities, in learning science. The Universally Designed Notebook will provide students with tools for collecting and organizing data, opportunities to analyze and interpret science experiments, tools for cooperative learning, and tools for monitoring their own progress, and will provide teachers with tools to review student work, provide quality feedback, and extract formative assessment data on an individual or class-wide basis. The researchers will develop a teacher training module and a teacher guide to support the classroom use of the Universally Designed Notebook, specifically within the Magnetism and Electricity module from the Full Option Science System.

Research Design and Methods: In the experimental study, fifteen teachers will be randomly assigned to the treatment condition (Universally Designed Notebook) and 15 to the control condition that uses traditional, paper-based science notebooks. Before this assignment, teachers will be paired within each district using a matching index based on the level of inclusiveness (percent students in a class with disabilities), student reading scores, student demographics and socioeconomic status, and teacher experience. Then, one teacher in each pair will be randomly assigned to the treatment condition and the other to the control condition. Teachers in both conditions will receive training of equivalent length; those in the treatment group will receive training on the Universally Designed Notebook, while those in the control group will receive training on the use of the traditional notebook. All teachers will cover two consecutive modules, one on Magnetism and Electricity, and the other on a topic to be determined. For the Magnetism and Electricity module, control classrooms will use traditional notebook while experimental classrooms will use the Universally Designed Notebook. For the other module, both control and experimental classrooms will use traditional notebooks.

Control Condition: The control condition will be a traditional paper-based science notebook that will be used in teaching science content from the Magnetism and Electricity module of the Full Option Science System as in the treatment condition.

Key Measures: Student measures for the experimental study will include instruments developed by another project (The Assessing Science Knowledge Project), "testlets" to be constructed from released statewide science assessment items aligned with the content of the modules, student work collected from science notebooks and scored by two or more "blinded" raters, the Gates-MacGinitie Reading Tests, and the Test of Written Language, Third Edition. Teacher measures will include a survey on perceptions of notebook efficacy.

Qualitative data will be collected from students and teachers by means of classroom observations, surveys, interviews, focus groups, "think alouds," logs, and notebook products.

Data Analytic Strategy: Quantitative data will be analyzed using hierarchical linear modeling to account for clustering of students within classrooms. Qualitative analyses will be performed to study the features of Universally Designed Notebook, using conventional analysis methods such as data coding, inductive analysis, triangulation of multiple sources, and external audit.

Publications

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Rappolt-Schlichtmann, G., Daley, S.G., Lim, S., Lapinski, S., Robinson, K H., and Johnson, M. (2013). Universal Design for Learning and Elementary School Science: Exploring the Efficacy, Use, and Perceptions of a Web-Based Science Notebook. Journal of Educational Psychology, 105(4): 1210–1225. doi:10.1037/a0033217


Back