WWC review of this study

Implementation study of Chemistry That Applies (2002–2003): SCALE-uP Report No. 2.

Pyke C., Lynch, S., Kuipers, J., Szesze, M., & Driver, H. (2004). Washington, DC: George Washington University and Montgomery County Public Schools.

  • Randomized controlled trial
     examining 
    2,280
     Students
    , grade
    8
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations

Reviewed: February 2012

Science achievement outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Conservation of Matter Assessment

Chemistry That Applies vs. Business as usual

Posttest

Grade 8: Cohort 1;
1,896 students

41.68

32.71

Yes

 
 
13
More Outcomes

Conservation of Matter Assessment

Chemistry That Applies vs. Business as usual

Posttest

Grade 8: Cohort 2;
2,280 students

50.22

42.73

Yes

 
 
10

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • 6% English language learners

  • 28% Free or reduced price lunch

  • Female: 49%
    Male: 51%
  • Race
    Asian
    12%
    Black
    30%
    White
    34%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic
    24%
    Not Hispanic
    76%

  • Suburban
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    Maryland

Setting

The study took place in 10 schools in Montgomery County Public Schools, a large, suburban school district in Maryland. The study population has no ethnic majority and is among the highest performing in Maryland.

Study sample

In this randomized study, researchers created a sampling frame consisting of five profile categories, with approximately seven schools in each category. Each school category has a similar demographic and achievement profile determined by percentage of students eligible for free and reduced-price meals, math and reading achievement scores, ethnicity, eligibility for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) services, and eligibility for special education services. Two schools were randomly selected from each category to participate in the study. In each category, one school of the matched pair was then randomly chosen to implement the intervention and the other was the comparison school. The study school sample consisted of five schools implementing the intervention and five schools not implementing it. The analysis is based on two cohorts of eighth-grade students that attended the study schools during two consecutive school years. Cohort 1 was formed in the 2001–02 school year and consisted of 1,087 eighth-grade students who received Chemistry That Applies in the five intervention schools and 809 eighth-grade students in the five comparison schools who received a regular science curriculum. Cohort 2 was formed in the 2002–03 school year in the same schools and consisted of 1,121 eighth-grade students who received Chemistry That Applies in the five intervention schools and 1,159 eighth-grade students in the five comparison schools who received a regular science curriculum. Differential attrition rate of students was low for Cohort 2 (3%) and high for Cohort 1 (13%). Because of the high attrition in Cohort 1, the WWC confirmed that baseline equivalence for Cohort 1 intervention and comparison groups was demonstrated. The study reported student outcomes for the two cohorts after seven weeks of program implementation; these findings can be found in Appendix C. Additional findings for subgroups by gender, race/ethnicity, students in the Free and Reduced Price Lunch (FRPL) program, those in the ESOL program, and those eligible for Special Education (SPED) can be found in Appendix D.

Intervention Group

The curriculum unit employed by the experimental group was Chemistry That Applies (State of Michigan, 1993). Chemistry That Applies is a middle school science curriculum that received an acceptable rating by Project 2061, a curriculum analysis project funded by the Interagency Educational Research Initiative of the National Science Foundation (NSF). Chemistry That Applies consists of 24 lessons. In this study, teachers were instructed to cover the first 18 lessons only because the topics covered in the last six lessons were not part of the district curriculum and hence not covered in the comparison group. Chemistry That Applies focuses on “guided inquiry” with hands-on, student-centered material. Working in large and small groups, students explore chemical reactions, collect data, and use evidence-based arguments to support their claims. Students keep individual science notebooks for analyzing results. Chemistry That Applies provides question prompts (called “Think and Write”) that require students to use critical thinking skills. Complicated vocabulary is kept to a minimum. The unit is implemented over a period of approximately seven weeks.

Comparison Group

Comparison group teachers used regular curriculum materials normally available to Montgomery County Public Schools teachers that addressed the same target benchmarks. The comparison group curriculum comes from a range of sources, including traditional textbooks, Prentice Hall, reform-based NSF-funded materials, and teacher-designed materials. All teachers were exposed to professional development and “reform-based” strategies.

Outcome descriptions

For both the pretest and the posttest, students took the Conservation of Matter Assessment (COMA). For a more detailed description of this outcome measure, see Appendix B.

Support for implementation

All intervention group eighth-grade science teachers participated in two days of professional development. They also were given a box of lab materials, instructions for implementation, and an unspecified number of follow-up meetings during the school year. All teachers had access to their regular professional development meetings.

In the case of multiple manuscripts that report on one study, the WWC selects one manuscript as the primary citation and lists other manuscripts that describe the study as additional sources.

  • Lynch, S., Kuipers, J., Pyke, C., & Szesze, M. (2005). Examining the effects of a highly rated science curriculum unit on diverse students: Results from a planning grant. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 42(8), 912–946.

  • Lynch, S., Taymans, J., Watson, W. A., Ochsendorf, R. J., & Pyke, C. (2007). Effectiveness of a highly rated science curriculum unit for students with disabilities in general education classrooms. Council for Exceptional Children, 73(2), 202–223.

 

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