|Title:||Promoting Transfer of the Control of Variables Strategy in Elementary and Middle School Children via Contextual Framing and Abstraction|
|Principal Investigator:||Klahr, David||Awardee:||Carnegie Mellon University|
|Program:||Cognition and Student Learning [Program Details]|
|Award Period:||3 years||Award Amount:||$1,502,231|
|Type:||Development and Innovation||Award Number:||R305A100404|
Co-Principal Investigator: Stephanie Ann Siler
Purpose: Students from third to seventh grade have a surprisingly poor understanding of the basic procedural and conceptual aspects of experimental design (simply labeled here as "CVS," for the Control of Variables Strategy). Although students' understanding of CVS does improve as a result of direct instruction, students' performance is typically low, even when a repeated tutoring cycle of instruction is used. The purpose of this project is to determine which elements are critical to support the teaching and learning of CVS. Throughout the proposed studies, the researchers will use direct instruction coupled with student-constructed responses, but plan to vary the framing and context in which instruction and assessment occur. All instruction will be delivered by variants of a computer tutor ("TED1" for "Training in Experimental Design") developed and evaluated under the researchers' previous 2006 Cognition and Student Learning grant (http://ies.ed.gov/funding/grantsearch/details.asp?ID=47).
Project Activities: A series of six studies will be conducted in which different instructional methods will be included in the computer tutor TED1 and tested for effects on student outcomes. These instructional methods will include using alternative instructional framings to scaffold student understanding, and varying the level of abstraction of instructional materials. Participants will include elementary and middle school students and science teachers. Most of the studies will incorporate a single-variable, randomized, between-subjects design. Measures of near, far, and distant transfer of CVS will be collected in all of the studies, and the effects of instructional variations and their relationship to a variety of student factors will be determined. As findings of the most effective instructional variants emerge (including those which are differentially effective for sub-sets of students), they will incrementally become permanent features of TED2, a fully developed web-based computer tutor that supports CVS learning and transfer.
Products: Products will include published reports and TED2, a web-based computer tutor that supports the conceptual understanding and procedural skills of designing and interpreting scientific experiments in elementary and middle school students.
Setting: The research will take place in 10–12 public, private, and parochial schools in western Pennsylvania.
Population: The target population will include approximately 240 elementary and middle school students and 12 science teachers. The participating schools serve either urban children living in impoverished neighborhoods (greater than 90 percent free or reduced lunch, 95 percent African American) or middle to upper-middle-class students (15 percent free or reduced lunch, and less than 15 percent African American).
Intervention: The researchers will develop TED2, a web-based computer tutor that supports the conceptual understanding and procedural skills of designing and interpreting scientific experiments.
Research Method: A series of six studies will be conducted. The ordering of studies will be partly contingent upon the effectiveness of the instructional modifications introduced in each study. Studies will explore the effects of varying instructional methods used by TED1 and identified in the cognitive science literature as likely to promote student learning. These instructional methods include using alternative instructional framings to scaffold student understanding of the instruction and varying the level of abstraction of instructional materials to determine which better supports robust learning and transfer. All instruction will be delivered by variants of TED1. Most of the studies will randomly assign students to receive CVS instruction using TED1 with the instructional method being tested (e.g., abstract instructional materials) or to receive CVS instruction using the current TED1. As findings of the most effective instructional variants emerge, they will incrementally become permanent features of TED2, a fully developed web-based computer tutor that promotes CVS learning and transfer.
Control Condition: Control conditions depend on the research question asked and vary with each study.
Key Measures: Measures of near, far, and distant transfer of CVS will be collected in all of the studies.
Data Analysis: The effects of instructional manipulations and their relationship to a variety of student factors will be determined using univariate and repeated measures analyses of covariance. Repeated measures analysis comparing students' follow-up and final post-test scores will be used to compare the relative effectiveness of each condition for promoting far and distant transfer.
Related IES Projects: From Cognitive Models of Reasoning to Lesson Plans for Inquiry (R305H030229) and Training in Experimental Design: Developing Scalable and Adaptive Computer-based Science Instruction (R305H060034)
Project Website: http://www.tedtutor.org/
Siler, S.A., and Klahr, D. (2012). Detecting, Classifying and Remediating Children's Explicit and Implicit Misconceptions About Experimental Design. In R.W. Proctor, and E.J. Capaldi (Eds.), Psychology of Science: Implicit and Explicit Reasoning (pp. 137–182). New York: Oxford University Press.
Siler, S.A., Klahr, D., and Matlen, B. (2013). Conceptual Change When Learning Experimental Design. In S. Vosniadou (Ed.), International Handbook of Research on Conceptual Change, Volume 2 (pp. 138–158). New York: Routledge.
Journal article, monograph, or newsletter
Klahr, D., Zimmerman, C., and Jirout, J. (2011). Educational Interventions to Advance Children's Scientific Thinking. Science, 333(6045): 971–975.
Koedinger, K.R., Booth, J.L., and Klahr, D. (2013). Instructional Complexity and the Science to Constrain It. Science, 342(6161): 935–937
Matlen, B.J., and Klahr, D. (2013). Sequential Effects of High and Low Instructional Guidance on Children's Acquisition of Experimentation Skills: Is it all in the Timing?. Instructional Science, 41(3): 621–634.
Siler, S.A., and Willows, K.J. (2014). Individual Differences in the Effect of Relevant Concreteness on Learning and Transfer of a Mathematical Concept. Learning and Instruction, 33: 170–181.
Siler, S.A., Klahr, D., and Price, N. (2013). Investigating the Mechanisms of Learning From a Constrained Preparation for Future Learning Activity. Instructional Science, 41(1): 191–216.
Klahr, D. (2013). What do we Mean? On the Importance of not Abandoning Scientific Rigor When Talking About Science Education. In Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (pp. 14075–14080). Washington, DC: PNAS.