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RiSE Center Colloquium, April 4 – Steven Greenstein

Maine Center for Research in STEM Education (RiSE Center)
Colloquia & Seminar Series

 Presents

Steven Greenstein
Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ

Topology, Technology, and Children’s Ideas

ABSTRACT: Children’s school experiences in geometry are entirely Euclidean. But they also have topological, or at least non-metric, ideas. In this talk I will describe the forms of mathematical reasoning that I identified in my investigations of children’s intuitive and informal topological ideas. It is these forms of non-metric reasoning that I refer to as “Qualitative Geometry.” I will also introduce the dynamic geometry environment I designed to elicit and further support the development of these ideas and discuss the theoretical and conceptual approach I used to design it. Bring a laptop if you’d like to play along.

 

BIO: Steven Greenstein is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Montclair State University. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Georgia State University, a Master’s degree in Mathematics from Texas State University, and a Ph.D. in Mathematics Education from the University of Texas at Austin. His research focuses on children’s topological thinking, culturally relevant pedagogy, and the design of microworlds and physical tools for learning mathematics and generating opportunities for authentic forms of mathematical experience.

 

Monday,  April 4, 2016
3:00 pm
Arthur St. John Hill Auditorium, 165 Barrows Hall

RiSE Colloquium – Jose Herrera – February 1, 2016

Maine Center for Research in STEM Education (RiSE Center)
Colloquia & Seminar Series

Presents

Jose Herrera
Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs
and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (CASa)
Western New Mexico University, Silver City, NM 88062.
E-mail: jose.herrera@wnmu.edu

Summiting the academic mountain:  The challenges of first-generation college students

Over the preceding 100 years, the educational system in the United States has been increasingly successful at providing educational access and attainment to a progressively diverse set of high school students. More recently, a much improved record of access to the post-secondary educational system also has been highlighted by the United States Department of Education. These successes have been dampened by the sobering low completion rates by students who are (disproportionately) the first in their families to attend college, and males of color. Contemporary approaches to data analytics at several institutions have suggested three or four risk factors that have variable impacts, but in nearly all cases, decrease graduation rates: financial need; being first in their family to attend college; underprepared in reading, writing or math; and, being a single head of household. Perhaps more worrisome, several studies are now convincingly demonstrating the troublesome and more complex effects of a long list of psychosocial factors that more variably affect subpopulations of students and their success. The impact of these factors differ within the educational landscape but are overrepresented in students who are first in their family to attend college. Regional efforts to establish meta-majors, develop structured pathways, co-requisite enrollment of developmental and mainstreamed coursework and metacognitive educational approaches are having a positive, but variable, effect on the educational gains of all students.

 

Monday, February 1, 2016
3:00 pm
Arthur St. John Hill Auditorium, 165 Barrows Hall

Ravit Duncan – RiSE Colloquium, February 22 at 3pm in Hill Auditorium

Maine Center for Research in STEM Education (RiSE Center)
Colloquia & Seminar Series

Presents

Ravit Duncan
Associate Professor of Science Education
Rutgers University

Developing and Testing a Learning Progression in Genetics

ABSTRACT:
The Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards embody a developmental perspective on learning in their proposed learning progressions for core disciplinary ideas and science practices. These progressions describe paths of successively more sophisticated ways of reasoning in a domain that develop over the course of schooling. Their development depends on carefully designed instruction that builds on students existing ideas in productive ways. Learning progressions have been touted as a promising approach to aligning standards, curriculum, and assessment. To realize any potential of LPs we need to systematically validate and refine these hypothetical models in real-world contexts. Such validation efforts are challenging, as they require the coordination of messy empirical data with, often, under-specified theoretical models. In my talk I will discuss some of the challenges of developing and testing learning progressions as well as their implications for standards, curriculum, and assessment.

BIO:
Ravit Golan Duncan is an associate professor of science education with a joint appointment in the Graduate School of Education and the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University. She received her Ph.D. in Learning Sciences from Northwestern University. She currently has two main research strands:  designing and studying of inquiry-based learning environments in life sciences that engage students with modeling and argumentation, and studying learning progressions in science education, and specifically in genetics. In addition Dr. Duncan also coordinates and teaches in the certification program in biological sciences at Rutgers University, and has studied the development of pre-service teachers’ knowledge and beliefs as they progressed through the program. She is the recipient of several federal grants and has published in science education and teacher education journals including the Journal of Research in Science EducationScience Education, and Journal of Science Teacher Education.

 

Monday, February 22, 2016
3:00 – 4:00 pm
Arthur St. John Hill Auditorium, 165 Barrows Hall

RiSE Colloquium – Sara Lindsay – Dec. 7

Maine Center for Research in STEM Education (RiSE Center)
Colloquia & Seminar Series

Presents

Sara Lindsay
School of Marine Sciences, University of Maine

Assessing Student Learning in Ocean Science: Charting a course
in the School of Marine Sciences

 The oceans define our planet, supporting and shaping life on earth. Many challenges facing society involve the oceans, whether related to climate, fisheries, or human populations. Meeting these challenges will require citizens literate about the ocean and science, and training such citizens is a primary goal of the School of Marine Sciences Undergraduate program. Ocean Science is an interdisciplinary field that requires students to build content knowledge and apply quantitative and communication skills related to core disciplines including Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Oceanography and Physics. Relatively little educational research regarding teaching and learning of ocean science concepts exists in comparison to well-studied areas such as chemistry, physics and biology. In this talk I will share insights gained from several assessments of marine sciences undergraduate learning related to ocean primary productivity and scientific literacy skills. These internal program evaluations suggest that student difficulties with quantitative and data literacy skills may hinder their mastery of content and that these difficulties are persistent across grade levels. I will also discuss some of our ideas for addressing these student difficulties, and opportunities for discipline based educational research in marine sciences.

 

Bio:

Sara Lindsay is an Associate Professor in the School of Marine Sciences, and contributes to advising M.S.T. students. A broadly trained invertebrate biologist who teaches introductory courses in Marine Biology, she is particularly interested in how students develop quantitative literacy skills, how they solve complex problems in marine sciences, and what teaching practices best support that learning. She is a Fellow in the national Partnership for Undergraduate Life Sciences Education, working to reform undergraduate life sciences education. Before coming to UMaine, Sara was a postdoc at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, an NIH National Research Service Award postdoctoral fellow at the University of South Carolina, completed her PhD in Biology at the University of South Carolina, and her B.A at Smith College.

Monday, Dec. 7, 2015
3:00 -4:00 pm
Arthur St. John Hill Auditorium, 165 Barrows Hall

Thesis Defense – Gregory Kranich

ORAL THESIS DEFENSE

Gregory Kranich
Thesis Advisor: Michael Wittmann

An Abstract of the Thesis
Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of
Master of Science (in Teaching)

December, 2015

 

INCONSISTENT CONCEPTIONS OF ACCELERATION CONTRIBUTING TO
FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT LIMITATIONS

 

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education has become a national priority in light of measures indicating marginal student success in the United States. Just as evidence is integral to policy decisions, so too do teachers depend on evidence to inform instructional choices. Classroom assessment remains a touchstone means of gathering such evidence as indicators of students’ progress, and increasingly, teachers are designing, implementing, and interpreting assessments in collaboration with one another.

In rural Maine, the work of the Maine Physical Sciences Partnership (PSP) has enabled science educators to come together as a supportive professional community. As part of their involvement in the Maine PSP, a team of teachers developed common assessments for a unit on force and motion concepts. Individual members vetted the following perspectives as the team discussed goals for student understanding: a) terminology used to describe acceleration, b) the sign of acceleration as an indicator of speeding up or slowing down, and c) the sign of acceleration as an indicator of direction, independent of speed increase or decrease. The latter two ideas could be in agreement (when motion is in the positive direction) or conflict (when motion is in the negative direction). With limited time and objectives to accomplish, the team opted to only include an item about motion in the positive direction, leaving the inconsistencies of their ideas unresolved. As a result, the assessment lacked the ability to provide sufficient evidence of which idea students might hold. We examined the group’s interactions as captured by video recording and employed basic qualitative methods to analyze the event as a case study. Our findings suggest that an incomplete understanding of acceleration limited the teachers’ ability to resolve their initial conflict. Further, the item’s susceptibility for students to provide correct answers, albeit for the wrong reasons, was not recognized at the time. We consider the item’s implications on teachers interpreting student assessment responses, masking a potential need for adjusted instruction by teachers and conceptual refinement by students. Finally, we discuss the pedagogical implications and limitations of this study.

 

Wednesday, December 2
1:00 pm
Arthur St. John Hill Auditorium

Thesis Defense – Daniel Laverty

ORAL THESIS DEFENSE

MST Candidate
Daniel Laverty

Thesis Co-Advisor: John Thompson
Thesis Co-Advisor: MacKenzie Stetzer

Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of
Master of Science in Teaching
December, 2015

 Investigating Teachers’ Content Knowledge and Pedagogical Content Knowledge in a Middle School Physical Science Curriculum on Force and Motion

 Teaching is a profession that requires the incorporation of many types of knowledge in order to create effective instructional experiences that promote student learning.  Teachers need to blend their knowledge of the content with the methods for delivering that content and an understanding of their students’ thinking.  With increasing concern in the United States over student achievement in science and mathematics, there is ongoing discussion about which elements of teacher knowledge most directly correlate with effective instruction.  How do specific strands of teacher knowledge blend to influence student learning outcomes?  This study explores the roles of teacher content knowledge (CK) and pedagogical content knowledge (PCK), particularly teacher knowledge of student ideas (KSI), in the context of a middle-school physical science curriculum on force and motion.  The study takes place within the Maine Physical Sciences Partnership (MainePSP).  The primary focus of the MainePSP is the professional development of physical science instructors in grades 6-9 via curriculum renewal using common instructional resources across multiple school districts in rural Maine.

Teachers and their students were given multiple-choice assessment items to examine teachers’ CK as well as the learning gains of their students.  To measure teacher KSI, teachers were additionally asked to predict if a significant portion of their students (>10%) would select a multiple-choice option on a certain assessment item and to articulate student reasoning for selecting that choice.

For both the CK and the KSI surveys, teacher performance varied widely, between 10% and 90% of the maximum score on each survey represented, with little to no correlation between CK and KSI scores.  Overall results from the student assessment indicate that students come into the curriculum with incorrect ideas about force and motion, but are on par with comparable populations seen in the literature.  Furthermore, there was little shift in student understanding of force and motion concepts after instruction of the curriculum.  Additionally, teacher CK and KSI were not strong predictors of student performance when related to the narrow learning gains observed.  We discuss possible factors to which this lack of correlation may be attributed, including the implementation process and elements of the curriculum itself, and also the resolution of the KSI instrument.  Recommendations for future research are provided.

Friday, Dec. 4, 2015
9:00 am
Fireside Conference Room, Estabrooke Hall

RiSE Center Hosts Collaborative Student Science Summit – Spring 2015

UMaine News – April 7, 2015

WVII (Channel 7) and WABI (Channel 5) reported on the 2015 Student Summit hosted by the Maine Center for Research in STEM Education, or RiSE Center, at the University of Maine. More than 200 students in grades 6–9 throughout the state will take part in an out-of-this-world collaborative engineering design challenge Saturday, April 11, at the University of Maine. Hosted by the Maine Center for Research in STEM Education at the University of Maine (RiSE Center), the 2015 Student Summit encourages participants to successfully transport a […]

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Leadership of PERL faculty, alumni recognized in physics education journal

UMaine News – September 28, 2015

In September, Physical Review, one of the premier physics journals, with a specific journal for physics education research, published a “focused collection” of articles focused on upper-division physics courses. UMaine is a leader in physics education research as it relates to upper-division physics courses. The university’s  nationally recognized leadership in education research, particularly in physics, […]

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MaineESP receives 2015 Philip Marcoux Award

UMaine News – October 13, 2015

The Maine Elementary Sciences Partnership (MaineESP) received the 2015 Philip Marcoux Award from the Maine Science Teachers Association (MSTA) at its annual conference in Gardiner on Oct. 9. The award recognizes a science education professional or partnership that makes continuous and enduring contributions to science education; demonstrates capacity for creating and implementing successful science education-related […]

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December 2 – Thesis Defense – Gregory Kranich

ORAL THESIS DEFENSE

Gregory Kranich
Thesis Advisor: Michael Wittmann

An Abstract of the Thesis
Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of

Master of Science (in Teaching)
December, 2015

 

INCONSISTENT CONCEPTIONS OF ACCELERATION CONTRIBUTING TO FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT LIMITATIONS

 Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education has become a national priority in light of measures indicating marginal student success in the United States. Just as evidence is integral to policy decisions, so too do teachers depend on evidence to inform instructional choices. Classroom assessment remains a touchstone means of gathering such evidence as indicators of students’ progress, and increasingly, teachers are designing, implementing, and interpreting assessments in collaboration with one another.

In rural Maine, the work of the Maine Physical Sciences Partnership (PSP) has enabled science educators to come together as a supportive professional community. As part of their involvement in the Maine PSP, a team of teachers developed common assessments for a unit on force and motion concepts. Individual members vetted the following perspectives as the team discussed goals for student understanding: a) terminology used to describe acceleration, b) the sign of acceleration as an indicator of speeding up or slowing down, and c) the sign of acceleration as an indicator of direction, independent of speed increase or decrease. The latter two ideas could be in agreement (when motion is in the positive direction) or conflict (when motion is in the negative direction). With limited time and objectives to accomplish, the team opted to only include an item about motion in the positive direction, leaving the inconsistencies of their ideas unresolved. As a result, the assessment lacked the ability to provide sufficient evidence of which idea students might hold. We examined the group’s interactions as captured by video recording and employed basic qualitative methods to analyze the event as a case study. Our findings suggest that an incomplete understanding of acceleration limited the teachers’ ability to resolve their initial conflict. Further, the item’s susceptibility for students to provide correct answers, albeit for the wrong reasons, was not recognized at the time. We consider the item’s implications on teachers interpreting student assessment responses, masking a potential need for adjusted instruction by teachers and conceptual refinement by students. Finally, we discuss the pedagogical implications and limitations of this study.

 

Wednesday, December 2
1:00 pm
Arthur St. John Hill Auditorium

 

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