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Award Abstract #1348401

Cyber-Learning Activities to Scaffold STEM Practices (CLASSP)

NSF Org: OIA
Office of Integrative Activities
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Initial Amendment Date: September 17, 2013
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Latest Amendment Date: September 17, 2013
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Award Number: 1348401
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Award Instrument: Standard Grant
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Program Manager: Uma D Venkateswaran
OIA Office of Integrative Activities
O/D Office Of The Director
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Start Date: October 1, 2013
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End Date: September 30, 2017 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date: $749,700.00
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Investigator(s): P.G. Schrader pg.schrader@unlv.edu (Principal Investigator)
MaryKay Orgill (Co-Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor: Nevada System of Higher Education
2601 Enterprise Road
Reno, NV 89512-1666 (702)522-7070
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NSF Program(s): RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROV
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Program Reference Code(s): 7715, 9150, SMET
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Program Element Code(s): 7217

ABSTRACT

This project adopts a design-based research approach to advance the theoretical agenda associated with cyber-learning activities and STEM educational practices. It addresses the overarching question: how can innovative, cyber-enabled instructional methods transform STEM education and increase opportunities for underrepresented middle school student populations? A cyber-learning methodology is being developed, implemented, and tested with respect to elevating STEM learning opportunities and success for underrepresented minority and rural middle school students in NV.

Intellectual Merit

The proposed approach combines a proven system for online inquiry with a feedback system that is informed by research on videogames. As a way to promote STEM practices (e.g., justifying claims, citing evidence), strategic rewards based on learning achievements and desired behaviors are incorporated into the existing pedagogical framework. In this way, cyber-learning activities are enhanced through just-in-time feedback as it relates directly to practices associated with success in STEM. This system is being developed in concert with a community of practitioners within the existing Nevada Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness Undergraduate Program (GEAR UP) network, a project that addresses the college preparation of underrepresented populations. The primary target audience of the project is a subset of middle school students identified through GEAR UP partnerships, specifically those from ethnically and racially diverse and economically disadvantaged communities.

Broader Impacts

The proposed approach employs Cyber-Learning Activities to Scaffold STEM Practices (CLASSP) in partnership with NV GEAR UP. Through this partnership, the impact of the projects' cyber-learning methodology is piloted in hybrid formats (online and face-to-face interactions) with students in the urban settings of Reno and Las Vegas. The final phase of the project expands this methodology to meet the interests and needs of rural educators and students in remote areas of Nevada. Although the cyber-learning method is experimental, the technology requirements are low. As a result, CLASSP is capable of being integrated into the most rudimentary technology infrastructures. The lessons learned will inform teacher training and STEM education of diverse students (i.e., ethnic, racial, and economic diversity), locally and across vast geographic distances. Further, the transition from a local to a regional implementation of CLASSP's cyber-learning methodology will directly inform the potential to disseminate CLASSP on a national scale.

 

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