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Award Abstract #1255807

Improving Understandings of Student Engagement in STEM to Enhance Teacher

Division Of Research On Learning
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Initial Amendment Date: September 24, 2012
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Latest Amendment Date: September 24, 2012
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Award Number: 1255807
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Award Instrument: Standard Grant
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Program Manager: Finbarr Sloane
DRL Division Of Research On Learning
EHR Direct For Education and Human Resources
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Start Date: October 1, 2012
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End Date: September 30, 2015 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date: $299,766.00
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Investigator(s): Barbara Schneider bschneid@msu.edu (Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor: Michigan State University
Office of Sponsored Programs
East Lansing, MI 48824-2600 (517)355-5040
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NSF Program(s): REAL
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Program Reference Code(s): 7916, 9177, SMET
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Program Element Code(s): 7625


Researchers from the U.S. and from Finland are collaborating in this Science Across Virtual Institutions (SAVI) project to investigate how teachers use the information about student engagement they obtain through the use of mobile technology to make formative decisions about classroom instruction. The members of the U.S. team for this project are from Michigan State University while the members for the Finnish team are from the University of Helsinki. The project involves three face-to-face workshops, during the first of which the researchers identify how the current instruments and processes, including the Experience Sampling Method (ESM), are used to define and operationalize concepts of engagement to improve teacher practice. The second workshop finalizes the specifics of the design of the research and analysis plans, including interpretive frameworks that integrate the different methodologies currently used by the researchers, to conduct the research in classrooms in both the U.S. and Finland. The third workshop focuses on the discussion of the findings from the study and development of prospects for the usability and scalability of the tools investigated in the study.

The research builds on an existing international postdoctoral research collaboration (Pathways to Adulthood) and extends that research to include the involvement of doctoral students, teacher educators and mentors as part of the research teams. The researchers are extending the approach used in prior work, the Experience Sampling Method (ESM) and its related cell phone technology, to connect to the methodology used by the Finnish researchers. The researchers are constructing a theoretical base that improves knowledge around students' sense of self-efficacy and the impact of self-efficacy on learning. The cell phone technology holds real promise as an approach that teachers could use to gain richer information on students' perspectives. The researchers are extending the concept of engagement as it is currently characterized as "flow" to include measures of student interest, challenge and skill.

Motivation as a factor in student achievement is of growing importance. There is evidence that engagement as self-efficacy is related to achievement in science, and determining ways to enhance motivation and to connect it to teacher actions is important. This project is contributing to the knowledge of how to measure engagement in the environment of teachers' work in the classroom. In addition, it supports cross-national collaboration and learning by developing a cadre of young researchers who actively contribute to this collaborative research agenda.


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Linnansaari, J., Viljaranta, J., Lavonen, J., Schneider, B., & Salmela-Aro, K.. "Finnish students' engagement in science lessons," NorDiNa, v.11, 2015, p. 192.

Moeller, J., Salmela-Aro, K., Lavonen, J., & Schneider, B.. "Does anxiety in math and science classrooms impair motivation? Gender differences beyond the mean level," International Journal of Gender, Science, and Technology, v.7, 2015, p. 229.


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