Developing and Revising Instructional Activities to Optimize Cognitive Engagement

Project: Research project

Project Details


Developing and Revising Instructional Activities to Optimize Cognitive Engagement Developing and Revising Instructional Activities to Optimize Cognitive Engagement Topic and Goal: Cognition and Student Learning, Development and Innovation Goal Purpose. The aim of this project is to incorporate active learning instructional strategies into classroom practice by modifying the teachers edition of textbooks using research-based learning activities and accompanying embedded professional development. Using the ICAP Framework (Chi, 2009; Chi & Wylie, in press), we will develop classroom activities that exemplify the two highest levels of engagement explicated by the framework: constructive and interactive. We will embed activities to increase student engagement within two important 8th grade science topics, cells and matter. Our development process will be based upon the lessons learned in our previous implementation project (Award R305A110090-12A). The learning activities will be designed by our team of researchers with input from teachers to ensure high quality student engagement as specified by the ICAP framework. Additional professional development support, such as labeling the level of engagement, justifying why an activity should invoke a specified level of engagement, and including desired student outcomes, will be provided to help teachers effectively facilitate the activities in their classrooms. In our development phase (Years 1 & 2), we will revise activities within the teachers edition of the Holt Science & Technology series, develop assessments and professional development materials, and carry out a supplementary study on effective methods for encouraging productive student interaction. In Year 3, we will conduct a trial classroom study to evaluate the use of these materials within two 8th grade classrooms. In Year 4 we will conduct the Pilot Study, in which we will implement these materials in 20 junior high classrooms. Setting and Sample. The sampling frame for studies related to this work will be 8th grade teachers and students enrolled in general science classes within the Mesa School District in Mesa, Arizona. This large district had over 3,600 teachers and 63,000 students in the 2013-2014 school year. It has 11 junior high schools. The reported ethnicity of the district students is 47.7% Caucasian, 39.7% Hispanic, 4.8% Black, 4.4% Native American, 1.7% Asian, 0.5% Pacific Islander, and 1.1% Multiple ethnic groups. Intervention and Control Conditions. In our Pilot Study, we will compare student learning outcomes from five conditions which are determined by the mode of engagement elicited by activities and amount of professional development included in the Teachers Editions (TE): 1) the Interactive TE with professional development; 2) the Constructive TE with professional development 3) the Interactive TE with no professional development; 4) the Constructive TE with no professional development; and 5) the Standard TE, which will serve as the control group. Research Design, Key Measures and Data Analytic Strategy. We will use a quasi- experimental design for the Pilot Study, comparing learning outcomes of students in the Intervention classrooms with outcomes of students in the Control classroom. Key measures include teacher feedback from logs and surveys, classroom video recordings of teachers, pre- and posttests on the specific science topics that include researcher-developed items as well as items drawn from standardized exams that have ample reliability and validity evidence, and the Arizona AIMS Science exam scores (or the forthcoming replacement test). We will then conduct a series of reliability-corrected ANCOVAs, with students pre-test scores as the covariate, the Teachers Edition and ICAP mode as independent variables, and post-test, exam scores, or students IRT-estimated ability scores from the researcher-created items as the dependent variable to determine any effects of the Teachers Edition or ICAP mode on student learning.
Effective start/end date8/16/1512/27/20


  • US Department of Education (DOEd): $1,456,185.00


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