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Expanding the Science and Literacy Curricular Space: The GlobalEd 2 Project

Year: 2008
Name of Institution:
University of Connecticut
Goal: Development and Innovation
Principal Investigator:
Brown, Scott
Award Amount: $1,496,566
Award Period: 3 years
Award Number: R305A080622


Purpose: Problem-based learning research illustrates that leveraging interdisciplinary contexts as a venue to engage in real world problem solving can deepen students' understanding, flexibility in application of knowledge, and transfer of knowledge between contexts. The purpose of this project is to develop the GlobalEd II intervention, building upon the interdisciplinary nature of social studies as an expanded curricular application aimed at increasing instructional time devoted to science and persuasive writing. Through this web-based virtual environment which incorporates simulated activities, students will be confronted with real-world problems and required to act collaboratively to understand and resolve these problems.

Project: This project will support the pilot testing of previously developed prototypes of the GlobalEd II simulation and accompanying teacher professional development materials in order to identify specific areas for revision. Following that initial pilot testing, and revisions based upon the results of those pilot tests, the fully developed curricular units will be tested to demonstrate the feasibility and usability of the intervention for addressing persuasive writing and science standards in eighth-grade social studies classrooms.

Products: The products will include a fully specified set of three GlobalEd II simulations, including simulations addressing the real-world problem topics of water, genetically modified organisms, and global climate change. GlobalEd II will be a communication intensive, technology-based instructional environment that is intended to facilitate students' abilities to construct sophisticated persuasive text and understand important scientific principles. An accompanying professional development package will also be created.

Structured Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to develop the GlobalEd II intervention which is designed to provide students with the opportunity to ground knowledge of literacy, math, and science in areas that can demonstrate authentic applications and thus promote learning outcomes. GlobalEd II will build upon the interdisciplinary nature of social studies and is designed to increase instructional time devoted to science and persuasive writing.

Setting: The setting for the research will be classrooms in Chicago and Connecticut.

Population: Participants in this project will include approximately 28 eighth-grade teachers and 560 students.

Intervention: The GlobalEd II intervention will use technologies currently available in schools to expand the capacity of social studies instruction to address persuasive writing and science standards for eighth graders. In GlobalEd II activities, classrooms will be assigned to represent particular countries in an online simulation-based scenario. Students will work collaboratively to attempt to resolve real-world international problems, such as the distribution of water resources. For each scenario, students will be provided data and will learn about the arguments presented for different policy responses to the real-world problem. Students will use scientific arguments to make oral and written presentations to demonstrate their understanding of issues. Students will engage in negotiations with other students assigned to differing points of view and will ultimately generate solutions. Once agreements have been reached, students will engage in a debriefing and reflection session, including writing persuasive essays and using other tasks to connect the experience to the educational context. A "virtual teacher" will monitor communications and will facilitate the learning process.

Research Design and Methods: The researchers will use a principled approach to curriculum development that is embedded within an iterative cycle of design, implementation, and evaluation. Development will include revising the existing simulation scenarios to target state standards in science and persuasive writing. Formative data collected from a pilot test with 12 classrooms will be used to improve and revise the existing face-to-face scenarios as they are transformed into an online, virtual version of the intervention. Following the completion of this development and revision process, a full pilot of the three GlobalEd II scenarios will be field-tested in 28 classrooms over several months. This pilot test will include the online professional development component.

Key Measures: To address issues of feasibility, utility, and to provide evidence of potential learning gains among students, pre/post instruments concerning science knowledge, persuasive writing, learning dispositions, attitudes, and self-efficacy will be collected. Feasibility and utility data will also be collected from the teachers who participated in the simulations.

Data Analytic Strategy: In early beta tests, data will be gathered from observations, interviews, and surveys. Analysis of the information gathered from these data will be used to inform the revisions of the intervention. In later field tests of the full set of simulations and all supplemental resources, pre/post data will be collected on self-efficacy, writing quality, and science content knowledge.

Related IES Projects: GlobalEd 2 (R305A130195)


Book chapter

Brown, S.W., and Lawless, K.A. (2014). Promoting Students' Writing Skills in Science Through an Educational Simulation: The GlobalEd 2 Project. In P. Zaphiris (Ed.), Human-Computer Interaction, Part I, LNCS 8523 (pp. 371–379). Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.

Brown, S.W., Lawless, K.A., and Boyer, M.A. (2015). The GlobalEd 2 Simulations: Promoting Positive Academic Dispositions in Middle School Students in a Web-Based PBL Environment. In A. Walker, H. Leary, C. Hmelo-Silver, and P. Ertmer (Eds.), Essential Readings in Problem-Based Learning (pp. 147–159). West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press.

Lawless, K.A., Brown, S.W., and Boyer, M.A. (2016). Educating Students for STEM Literacy: GlobalEd 2. In R.D. Lansiquot (Ed.), Technology, Theory and Practice in Interdisciplinary STEM Programs: Connecting STEM and Non-STEM Approaches (pp. 53–82). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Brown, S.W., Lawless, K.A., and Boyer, M.A. (2013). Promoting Positive Academic Dispositions Using a Web-Based PBL Environment: The GlobalEd 2 Project. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning, 7(1): 67–90.

Lawless, K.A., and Brown, S.W. (2015). Developing Scientific Literacy Skills Through Interdisciplinary, Technology-Based Global Simulations: GlobalEd 2. The Curriculum Journal, 26(2): 268–289.

Lawless, K.A., Brown, S.W., Rhoads, C., Lynn, L., Newton, S.D., Brodowiksa, K.,.. and Wang, M. (2018). Promoting Students' Science Literacy Skills Through a Simulation of International Negotiations: The GlobalEd 2 Project. Computers in Human Behavior, 78: 389–396.

Puranik, C., and Lonigan, C.J. (2011). From Scribbles to Scrabble: Preschool Children's Developing Knowledge of Written Language. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 24(5): 567–589.

Riel, J. and Lawless, K.A. (2016). 'Spacing Count:' A Metric for Identifying the Degree to Which Work Is Spaced out and Distributed over Time in Distance Learning and Online Professional Development Courses. SSRN.

Riel, J. and Lawless, K.A. (2016). Spread Index:' A Metric for Identifying When Work is Completed and Quantifying Procrastination in Self-Paced, Online Teacher Professional Development Courses. SSRN.


Brown, S., Lawless, K., Boyer, M., Yukhymenko, M., Powel, N., & Browdowinska, K. (2013). Promoting Middle School Students' Science Knowledge: The GlobalEd 2 Game. In E-Learn: World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education (pp. 1764–1773).

Brown, S.W., Lawless, K.A., Rhoads, C., Newton, S.D., and Lynn, L. (2016). Increasing students' science writing skills through a PBL simulation. In Proceedings of The 13th IADIS International Conference Cognition and Exploratory Learning in Digital Age (pp. 86–94).

Brown, S.W., Lawless, K.A., Rhoads, C., Newton, S.D., and Lynn, L. (2016). Increasing Students' Science Writing Skills through a PBL Simulation. In International Association for Development of the Information Society (IADIS) International Conference on Cognition and Exploratory Learning in the Digital Age (CELDA) (pp. 86–94).

Lawless, K., Brown, S., and Boyer, M. (2012). A Socio-Scientific Approach to STEM Education: The GlobalEd2 Project. In Proceedings of EdMedia: World Conference on Educational Media and Technology (pp. 395–400). Waynesville, NC: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).