Center for Curriculum Materials in Science

AAAS Project 2061, Michigan State University, Northwestern University, University of Michigan

Preparing the Next Generation of Curriculum Materials Leaders: A Center for the Design, Analysis, and Implementation of Innovative Science Materials

A Proposal to the National Science Foundation for a Center for Learning and Teaching with a Focus on Instructional Materials in Science

The American Association for the Advancement of Science
Northwestern University
The University of Michigan
Michigan State University


We propose to create a Center for Learning and Teaching (CLT) that focuses on critical research and development issues related to improving curriculum materials for K-12 science. At the same time, the proposed Center will help to foster a new generation of leadership with specific expertise in the analysis of curriculum materials and in their development, evaluation, and implementation. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), through its education reform initiative Project 2061, will act as the lead institution and will coordinate the programs and research of three doctoral granting institutions that have extensive research, development, and training experience in areas that are most relevant to curriculum reform. These partners are the University of Michigan, Northwestern University, and Michigan State University, along with Chicago Public Schools, Detroit Public Schools, and the Lansing School District. The university partners will make a commitment to expand their graduate programs in science education; devote more of their resources to understanding the processes involved in the analysis, design, and implementation of curriculum materials; and work closely with local school districts to inform the work of the Center and to share the knowledge that is gained with K-12 educators. The Center will focus on the three main goals of the CLT solicitation: (1) to develop the national leadership infrastructure at the doctoral and postdoctoral level, (2) to provide relevant inservice and/or preservice training to teachers and other professionals, and (3) to conduct research at the highest level on questions of national importance relating to the Center’s mission.

The Need for This Center
There is a widespread belief in the education community that instructional materials are a powerful way to affect what science is taught and how it is taught. Instructional materials—technology-based materials as well as traditional textbooks—are a primary source of science content, and they promote specific views about the nature of science and about the nature of science teaching and learning. For students, materials can provide engaging activities and explorations of scientific phenomena, along with helpful analogies, clear explanations, and accurate representations that help students understand the underlying scientific concepts. Materials can also help to contextualize the content that will be learned and to pose questions that will help students to make connections among ideas and to develop a more sophisticated conceptual framework. For teachers, instructional materials can provide opportunities to increase their own knowledge of science and of appropriate pedagogy (Schneider, Krajcik, & Marx, 2000). Materials can also alert teachers to students’ prior conceptions about specific content, suggest ways to activate students’ prior knowledge, and provide suggestions for scaffolding student learning (Roth, Anderson, & Smith, 1987; Lee, Eichinger, Anderson, Berkheimer, & Blakeslee, 1993).

While findings from cognitive science research offer suggestions for the design of effective instructional materials (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 1999), there is a growing concern that on many counts existing instructional materials do not measure up. In its evaluations of middle- and high-school science textbooks, AAAS’s Project 2061 found none of the major textbook publishers provided a coherent approach to the content or adequate instructional support for teachers (Kesidou & Roseman, in press). In a separate study, Hubisz found similar weaknesses in physics textbooks in a study sponsored by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation (Review of Middle School Physical Science Texts, n.d.). Most textbooks do not develop science ideas in a systematic manner that will help students build rich understanding of key ideas. Moreover, most instructional materials do not motivate students to learn science (Yager & Penick, 1986) or make use of new learning technologies or innovative instructional strategies (Krajcik, Blumenfeld, Marx, & Soloway, 2000). Most instructional materials also fail to provide teachers with resources for continuous assessment of students as they work toward attainment of lesson and topic objectives (Gallagher, 2000). Without this feedback, both teachers and students lack guidance in achieving the understanding of science that is set forth in national and state recommendations. Hence, there is a need to develop curriculum materials that align with recognized science education standards and benchmarks and that take into account what is known about pedagogical principles that foster science learning for all students regardless of culture, race, or gender.

To produce and use these new instructional materials will require a new generation of leaders in curriculum development, evaluation, and implementation. These new leaders will need a deep understanding of science, of science standards and benchmarks, of the classroom context within which science teaching and learning take place, and the research literature on science learning. They will also need a broad and flexible repertoire of pedagogical and assessment strategies, the ability to apply insights from the language arts in the teaching of science, the ability to evaluate instructional materials, and the ability to apply design principles to the development of new instructional materials. They must also understand how teachers learn and how to design professional development experiences to help teachers implement innovative materials and acquire more effective instructional practices.

At present there is no coordinated effort that is focused on the broad array of issues related to instructional materials. During a series of conferences on curriculum materials held at AAAS, it became clear how dispersed the knowledge base is in this area. In addition, there is no central location where doctoral and postdoctoral level leaders are being prepared to deal with the relevant issues. Nor are teachers being systematically prepared to make use of research findings to select and implement curriculum materials effectively while improving their own classroom practices. The proposed Center will address these needs directly, while, at the same time, increasing the nation’s capacity to create high-quality curriculum materials that can help all students achieve science literacy.

Overview of the Project
We propose to develop a Center that will focus on instructional materials design, analysis, and implementation. The Center will bring together scientists, education researchers, teacher education faculty, and K-12 teachers from two large urban school districts and one mid-sized urban district. It will draw upon the resources of three major universities and AAAS’s Project 2061 to develop the next generation of instructional materials developers who are knowledgeable concerning science content, cognitive science, pedagogy, professional development, and assessment. The Center will prepare doctoral level students in science education; it will offer a postdoctoral program for individuals from a variety of science and education related fields; it will impact preservice teacher education students through the modification of science methods courses and beginning level courses in science education; and it will offer professional development to teachers and administrators as well as to a select group of teacher leaders. The Center will foster communications about its work through summer institutes and year-round activities for participants and others. The focus of all these activities will be the design, analysis, and implementation of innovative curriculum materials.

Northwestern University, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Project 2061 are ideally suited to develop such a center because of their ongoing projects in the area of curriculum development and evaluation and because of the contributions these institutions have made to the theoretical understanding in the field. Project 2061 brings knowledge of the development of research-based principles to evaluate and design instructional materials; experience in the evaluation of instructional materials and in the preparation of individuals who can carry out these evaluations; and experience working with materials development groups that are using science education standards and benchmarks and the AAAS materials analysis criteria as the basis for the design and revision of their materials. Michigan State University brings a rigorous approach to curriculum materials development that involves cycles of research and development in which an approach to teaching a specific learning goal or set of related goals is continually refined and evaluated until successful student learning is reliably achieved. Northwestern University and the University of Michigan bring their experiences in the design of inquiry-based curriculum materials and the integration of new learning technologies into instructional materials. Their current materials design efforts involve the use of inquiry and learning technologies as the route to in-depth understanding of scientific concepts and processes specified in science education standards and benchmarks (AAAS, 1993; National Research Council, 1996).

Conceptual Framework For The Center

The Center’s programs are based on principles that are derived from the research and development work of the partner institutions. These principles form the intellectual core of the Center and shape its graduate, preservice, and inservice programs and its research agenda. Students trained in the Center should learn why these principles are central to instructional materials development and should be familiar with the field’s major findings, debates that frame modern curriculum design practice, and strategies for addressing relevant issues as these principles are applied in their own research and development efforts. In this section, we outline our conception of these defining principles for instructional materials development within the context of five overarching themes that will be at the heart of the Center’s work: (1) the centrality of clearly stated science learning goals, (2) the importance of building pedagogical supports into instructional materials, (3) the usefulness of student investigations, (4) the value of incorporating learning technologies into instructional materials, and (5) the need to serve diverse learners by designing instructional materials that are accessible to all students.

Science Learning Goals
To design high quality instructional materials, developers need to specify the learning outcomes they have in mind for students. Over the past decade a number of highly publicized efforts have been made to identify key goals for student learning. Of particular interest here is the work of AAAS, first through Science for All Americans (AAAS, 1989) and its vision for scientific literacy for all, and then through Benchmarks for Science Literacy (AAAS, 1993), which articulates important scientific ideas that should be the target of instruction at each educational level (elementary, middle, secondary). Similarly, the National Research Council’s National Science Education Standards (1996) has defined critical learning goals in science for all students. A related issue concerns structuring student learning activity around student performances (Perkins, 1992; Wiggins & McTighe, 1998). The published standards and benchmarks specify what we want students to understand, but they typically do not specify what we want students to do with that knowledge. For each learning goal targeted, it is important to identify appropriate ways in which students can use and demonstrate their knowledge, such as explaining phenomena, finding patterns and forming generalizations, and developing or critiquing analogies. Identifying these cognitive processes is necessary to get at the deeper conceptual understanding demanded by the standards and benchmarks.

Pedagogical Supports
Instructional materials can do more than present content to students; they can also include pedagogical support for teachers and students, drawing on research-based learning principles. Pedagogical support can be incorporated directly into students’ materials as well as into materials intended specifically for the teacher, such as teacher editions of textbooks. Some of the key pedagogical supports that should become part of instructional materials design include taking account of prerequisite knowledge and student misconceptions, helping students appreciate the purpose of classroom activities and the content they are learning, using representations of abstract ideas to clarify their meaning, using phenomena effectively to make the ideas plausible, employing investigations and discussions to help students make sense of ideas, using continuous assessment and student feedback to inform instruction, and enhancing the learning environment so that all students can experience success.

Student Investigations
There is much interest in the scientific community in structuring students’ learning of science content in the context of observing natural phenomena and investigating rich data. The National Science Education Standards (NRC, 1996) recommends that inquiry be the preferred method of science instruction. Students ask questions; plan experiments; and collect, analyze, and share data. Investigations allow students to experience scientific phenomena directly and to engage in certain aspects of scientific inquiry. Students need to experience phenomena and work with models in order to build mental images that will link to explanations and concepts. In designing instructional materials, designers need to know how to carefully structure experiences to help students develop these understandings. Work conducted at the University of Michigan and Northwestern University explicitly addresses the many complex issues around inquiry teaching including: (1) how to contextualize student investigations in problem scenarios, (2) the role of students’ intuitive strategies for engaging in scientific inquiry, (3) ways to allow students to practice inquiry strategies in more constrained teacher-directed settings, (4) how to use learning technologies to facilitate student investigations, (5) ways to encourage students to distinguish between data and conclusions and to offer evidence-based conclusions, and (6) ways to use the results of student investigations as a basis for assessment. This work will form the basis for much of the research that will be conducted at the Center.

Learning Technologies
We refer to the use of computers, software, and peripherals that support student learning as "learning technologies" (Krajcik, et al., 2000). Learning technologies are not an end in themselves, but they can provide added value by enabling students to access real scientific data, provide them with powerful tools for data analysis, model the connections between ideas, help them visualize data and see trends, and support communication and develop products that demonstrate student understanding. Learning technologies are cognitive tools that extend what learners can do in the classroom, but they are not intended to replace either the teacher or direct experience with natural phenomena (Smith & Reiser, 1998). For the advantages of learning technologies to be realized, curriculum developers must learn how to integrate these technologies into instructional materials. Although some creative teachers will use learning technologies by themselves in interesting ways, most teachers need more direct assistance in learning how to use them and ongoing professional development to support that use.

Diverse Learners
Active engagement of students in their own learning makes extensive demands on students, particularly when dialogue and collaboration are attempted in diverse classroom settings (Moje, 2000). Students may bring particular kinds of knowledge and experience that are unique to their cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds (Moll, 1988), some of which conflicts with science. Students may also lack the prior knowledge and experience necessary to engage in dialogue and collaboration around particular scientific concepts simply because they have not had access to certain experiences (Rodriguez, 1997). In addition, students may not be accustomed to explaining their reasoning, and thus a teacher’s request to do so may appear confusing, or even insulting (Akatugba & Wallace, 1999). Adding to the confusion, students encounter the language and ways of thinking of a variety of disciplines throughout the school day. Students move from language arts to science to history class, experiencing different terms, concepts, and ways of communicating. The texts encountered in each classroom present not only vocabulary unique to each discipline, but also different ways of examining and documenting experience (Gee, 1996; Lemke, 1990). Instructional materials developers must recognize the diversity of knowledge, learning needs, and experience, as well as social and cultural backgrounds, that young people bring to the classroom. They must also recognize that students will vary in the familiarity they have with the discursive styles and assessment techniques that they will encounter in science classrooms and seek ways to build materials that are accessible to all students. (Anderson, Holland, & Palincsar, 1997; Gallagher, 1996; Smith & Anderson, 1999).

Description Of The Center’s Programs

The Doctoral Program
The Center will help the participating institutions work together to design an innovative graduate program focused on instructional materials. A total of 30 doctoral students will be supported by this grant, 10 at each of the graduate institutions. Students will typically be supported for three years under this grant for a total of 90 student-years for the entire Center. Although we expect this program to be implemented as tracks or specializations within the existing science education or learning sciences programs in each university, all the programs will be aligned with a common set of core elements. The four partners will work together to design a set of coordinated recruiting strategies, admission standards, and graduation requirements. We will develop common core courses, research expectations, and instructional materials development experiences for all doctoral students supported by the Center. We will share existing resources and resources developed at the Center sites, such as annotated curriculum examples, video examples of teaching practices, and examples of clinical student and teacher interview data on science conceptions. The common graduate program elements will include the following:

  • Courses: All students will complete courses at their respective institutions in curriculum design, assessment, learning theory, integration of learning technologies, teacher learning and professional development, and diversity and culture. In addition, there will be three newly designed core courses required of all students in the program.
  • Practicum: All students will complete one or more practicum experiences on curriculum design, evaluation, or implementation. These may include internships at the other partner institutions, work with commercial publishers, or participation in curriculum development projects at local schools.
  • Work with teachers: Through the professional development program, all doctoral students will work with teachers and administrators on issues relevant to the teachers’ work in the area of materials evaluation, selection, and revision.
  • Research apprenticeship: All doctoral students will be engaged in research apprenticeship experiences throughout the program. They will work with teams of researchers on on-going projects focused on instructional materials development, and there will be a common set of expectations for research apprenticeships across sites. Typically this work will lead to the development of a related dissertation topic.
  • Dissertation on instructional materials: All students will complete a doctoral dissertation related to the field of instructional materials development, analysis, or implementation.

Core courses to be developed for the doctoral program. We envision at least three core courses that will focus on instructional materials design, analysis, and implementation. Although some components of these courses are in place at some of the sites, a major goal will be to articulate a common vision of the key ideas, literature, and skills in the field of instructional materials development for all students.

  • The Design of Curriculum Materials. Introduces design principles developed from research on teaching and learning, including (1) conceptual coherence based on content and process standards and benchmarks, (2) attention to prerequisite knowledge and student misconceptions, (3) inclusion of phenomena that provide support for the ideas being taught, (4) illustrations that help clarify ideas and phenomena, (5) sustained student inquiry, (5) embedded learning technologies, (6) collaboration among students, and (7) connections between and within units. Instructional materials can also be used to portray the nature of science, the role of science in society, who does science, and the interdependence of science and cultural values. This course examines the theoretical foundations of these design principles and societal implications, as well as recent attempts to apply them in the development of instructional materials. Specific cases will be studied to demonstrate the design process. Students will also have opportunities to design and critique instructional materials through collaborative team projects.
  • Analysis, Selection, and Implementation of Instructional Materials. This course builds on the principles and applications studied in the course on materials design. We examine the process by which instructional materials are evaluated to determine their suitability for local use. A number of specific protocols that have been created to analyze instructional materials will be used to evaluate curriculum materials. The course will also deal with the ways that materials are selected at the classroom, school, district, and state levels after an analysis has been completed. Finally, the course examines the implementation process and ways to build support for new materials at the school and community levels.
  • Curriculum Enactment: Examines the processes through which practitioners enact science curricula. Examines models of science teaching practice, models of implementation, mutual adaptation in reform, educative curricula, researcher/teacher partnerships, history of science education reform efforts, teacher cognition, teacher learning, and strategies for professional development.

Recruitment and admission of students to the doctoral program. Prospective students will be attracted by the program’s association with the highly respected partner universities. Recruitment will be done through university and AAAS publications, web sites, and national and regional conferences. The requirements for graduate admission at the three universities are highly competitive, allowing the programs to attract students who are prepared for rigorous work. Entering students are expected to have sufficient coursework in a science discipline so that they can achieve the equivalent of a master’s level background in science when they graduate. Students’ science background is determined through tests, individual interviews, and transcript analysis. Each institution also allows for exceptional students from other areas of specialization—such as cognitive psychology or elementary science teaching—to earn Ph.D.’s. Alternative approaches are used to bring the science experiences of these students to an appropriate level.

The partner institutions also make vigorous efforts to recruit candidates from under-represented groups through campus visits to Historically Black Colleges and Universities and through broad-based recruitment fairs. In addition, the partner institutions will actively recruit teachers interested in graduate education from among our collaborating schools in Chicago, Detroit, and Lansing. Center leaders will pursue additional avenues for recruiting minority candidates by consulting with experts in this area. Shirley Malcom, Director of AAAS’s Division of Education and Human Resources directorate and a member of our Advisory Board, will provide leadership. Dr. Malcom has a long history and excellent record of promoting the inclusion of under-served individuals throughout the educational enterprise.

Postdoctoral Program
In addition to the doctoral program already described, we propose to create a postdoctoral program to support and recruit talented Ph.D.s into the field of science education. The postdoctoral program will be a multi-year experience aimed at developing future leaders in the design, analysis, and implementation of curriculum materials. We intend to target Ph.D.s in science education and the learning sciences, as well as recent Ph.D.s in science and technology disciplines who are interested in developing and studying science instructional materials. Each of the three university partners will support two postdoctoral fellows each year and AAAS will support one. The postdoctoral fellows will participate in research projects alongside Center faculty on instructional materials development, analysis, and implementation. Postdoctoral fellows will participate in collaborative design teams, work with teachers, and learn about science education policy at the national and state levels.

Early career Ph.D.s have already been a critical part of the success of research projects at the participating institutions. After their fellowships at these institutions, postdoctoral researchers in biology, bioengineering, ecology, and virology, for example, are now employed as science education faculty in the U.S. and abroad, as materials developers in informal education settings, and as researchers in teacher professional development studies. A program that attracts scientists such as these into science education careers could have great impact in building the capacity of the science education research community.

Preservice Teacher Education
For instructional materials to have the desired impact on student learning, all teachers will need a better sense of the role that these materials play in the classroom. During the first year of the grant, it is our intention to create units of study on various aspects of the materials analysis, design, and implementation process and to embed them in the preservice teacher education courses at the participating institutions. These components will be incorporated into at least two courses at each institution—the science methods course and the science education overview course. The aim will be to take a number of the pedagogical principles that guide the work of the Center and that are typically taught in these existing courses and relate them specifically to the use of instructional materials. As our work at the Center proceeds, the new knowledge it generates will be integrated into existing courses.

Master’s level preservice students
Some of the preservice students at the participating institutions are earning their teaching certificate in master’s level programs. These programs have a requirement that students complete a special project or thesis. During the Center’s first year, we will examine ways to create experiences for master’s level students who wish to focus their work on materials development issues. For example, these students might take one or more of the doctoral level core courses as electives in their programs, participate in the Knowledge Transfer Institute, or complete their project or thesis in a materials-related area.

Inservice Professional Development
Curriculum materials have the potential to help teachers develop pedagogical, content, and pedagogical content knowledge (Shulman, 1987). Yet few teachers are prepared with frameworks and strategies to systematically analyze and adapt innovative curricula.
Without professional development explicitly aimed at helping teachers and administrators understand the intent of curriculum materials and models that demonstrate their effective use, it is unlikely that schools will be able to exploit the materials’ full potential.

The Center will provide professional development that will emphasize the importance of having coherent and interconnected learning goals for students and enable administrators and teachers to evaluate, choose, and implement materials that are consistent with the Center’s guiding principles. Teachers and administrators will learn how instructional materials can support them in applying these principles, and they will learn what they can do when current materials do not measure up.

To implement the professional development program, each university will enlarge and strengthen existing partnerships with Chicago, Detroit, and Lansing schools. The universities will each offer cohorts of approximately 30 teachers and administrators at least 100 hours of sustained professional development on instructional materials analysis, selection, and implementation over a two-year period. At each site, teachers, and administrators who have decision-making authority in the selection of instructional materials will be brought together for professional development. Activities will be led by Center staff and selected teacher leaders, bringing together expertise from the sciences, education research, and classroom practice. The Center will explore a number of mechanisms for professional development, including ongoing participation in curriculum design teams and participation in graduate courses. The professional development will be designed to connect to practice, supporting teachers’ attempts to adapt and enact curricula. A central approach will be to develop teacher leaders to play a key role in professional development of other teachers. Teacher leaders will spend two to three academic quarters working closely with Center staff on curriculum design teams. Center funds will support stipends for participants. During the planning period for the project, the Center’s Leadership Team will develop procedures for selecting teachers, administrators, and teacher leaders. Teachers and administrators will also be invited to participate in the Knowledge Transfer Institute.

Research Agenda
One of the goals of the Center is to conduct research at the highest level on questions of national importance related to the Center’s mission. But also implied in the CLT solicitation is the idea that Center funds should be used for capacity-building. To that end, the Center’s research infrastructure will include: (1) policies that ensure high standards for research by all graduate students, (2) the use of apprenticeships for the induction of doctoral students into the research community, (3) expectations that theoretical issues will be studied in relation to practical problems, (4) collaborative efforts by faculty and students across sites, and (5) mechanisms for accessing work that is being done in related fields and at other non-participating institutions through the Knowledge Transfer Institute.

The research foundations and traditions that already exist at the participating institutions are critical to the success of the Center’s research agenda and provide the intellectual base for the work of the Center. Researchers at the partner sites have been at the forefront of efforts to explore innovations in curriculum design. This has included creating materials that engage students in long-term investigations of meaningful problems (Krajcik et al., 2000; Reiser, Tabak, Sandoval, Smith, Steinmuller, & Leone, 2001; Singer, Marx, Krajcik, & Clay-Chambers, 2000) and integrating various learning technologies such as simulations (Wilensky, & Resnick, 1999), scaffolded data analysis tools (Edelson, Gordin, & Pea, 1999; Tabak & Reiser, 1997), probes (Krajcik & Layman, 1992), and modeling tools (Jackson, Krajcik, & Soloway, 2000) into instructional materials. The work has focused on prior student conceptions, conceptual change, and student inquiry strategies (Bishop & Anderson, 1990; Krajcik et al., 2000; Krajcik, Blumenfeld, Marx, Bass, Fredricks, & Soloway,1998; Tabak, & Reiser, 1997; Sandoval, in press).

Michigan State University researchers have studied the importance of teacher knowledge for developing student understanding and ways to support science teachers (Hollon, Roth, & Anderson, 1991; Smith, 1990). University of Michigan and Northwestern University researchers have also explored how to form partnerships with school districts (Blumenfeld, Fishman, Krajcik, Marx, & Soloway, 2000); how to design curricula collaboratively with teachers, scientists, and education researchers (Shrader, Williams, Gomez, Lachance-Whitcomb, & Finn, in review); and how to support teachers as they enact new curricula (Fishman, Marx, Bobrowsky, Warren, Merrill, & Best, 2001; Shrader & Gomez, 1999). Project 2061 has begun work on a five-year IERI grant (NSF 0129398) to work with researchers at Texas A&M University and the University of Delaware to investigate the relationship between the fidelity of implementation of highly rated mathematics materials and student learning and how professional development can improve fidelity of implementation.

The four partner institutions are also engaged in ongoing projects related to materials development for both curriculum and assessment. Among those currently active are curriculum development projects in middle school science (Michigan, Northwestern), high school environmental sciences (Northwestern), high school biology (NIH-funded project at Northwestern), studies of software supports for science learning (Michigan, Northwestern), and studies of curriculum enactment. A Michigan State University project is using the Internet to support collaborative efforts to evaluate and improve curriculum resources; another project is working with grade-level study groups in Lansing to evaluate and improve recently adopted materials. At AAAS, Project 2061 recently published the Atlas of Science Literacy (AAAS, 2001), which includes 49 conceptual strand maps to help educators understand the connections among K-12 learning goals. The Project has also completed evaluations of middle- and high-school science curriculum materials and is currently collaborating with two middle-school materials development projects in which benchmarks and the Project 2061 curriculum-materials analysis criteria are being used as design specifications. In a related effort, the Project has developed a procedure for analyzing the alignment of science and mathematics assessments with standards and benchmarks and is applying the procedure to a variety of items and whole tests. Project 2061 is also updating research on student misconceptions to include research findings published since 1992.

Examples of the materials-related issues to be explored through the Center’s research agenda appear below. We expect Center participants to become knowledgeable about the origins of these issues and the current state of research and practice and to situate their own work within this research context. Among the key questions that define the field are the following:

  • How can we ensure the coherence and accuracy of science content while also taking into account students’ conceptual understanding at each grade level?
  • How can we craft curricula that are informed by what is currently known about how students learn science, e.g., the importance of eliciting and building on students’ prior conceptions, providing scaffolding for new strategies, and situating learning in social contexts of investigation and communication?
  • How can we sequence materials so that students’ understanding of major ideas develops from one grade level to the next?
  • How can we design curricula that serve the learning needs of students from diverse cultural backgrounds and discourse practices?
  • How can we design curricula that enable teachers themselves to learn about science and pedagogy as they prepare for, enact, and reflect on the instructional material?
  • How can we design software tools to help students meet the conceptual, strategic, and metacognitive challenges of engaging in scientific inquiry?
  • How can we integrate mechanisms for science inquiry into the curriculum—hands-on observations and experiments, use of secondary data sets, use of visualization tools, and simulated experiments?

Research apprenticeships. A core element of the Center’s work will involve students in research apprenticeships on projects related to instructional materials development. The research apprenticeship model is used effectively at both Northwestern University and the University of Michigan to initiate graduate students into the research community. Students study the relevant theoretical literature and learn empirical research approaches in the context of actual research projects. Then they translate these theoretical ideas into practice as they become members of ongoing instructional materials development teams. Doctoral students take part in research seminars along with faculty, and many of them present their pre-dissertation apprenticeship work at professional meetings. The apprenticeship experience leads seamlessly into the dissertation research. The apprenticeship helps students learn how research and development teams work, it provides them with experience working with practitioners, and anchors their theoretical work in experience. The three university sites and AAAS provide an active portfolio of funded research projects in areas of instructional materials development, evaluation, and implementation that can provide the context for these apprenticeships. (See sections on Institutional Capacity and Results of Prior NSF Funding.)

Knowledge Transfer Institute
Because expertise related to instructional materials analysis, development, and implementation is widely distributed throughout the educational community, knowledge and experience must be drawn from many places, including commercial publishers and researchers in related fields. Some organizations and institutions have special expertise on issues related to culture, language, and gender equity in instructional materials development. Others have studied extensively the process of curricular reform at the state level (Cohen & Hill, 2001). Still others bring a wealth of experience from related fields, such as mathematics materials development. To address this dispersion of knowledge, we propose to create an institute that will bring together this widespread experience—a place where Center members and others work on common tasks and where presentations and discussions focus on issues of common concern relevant to instructional materials design, evaluation, and implementation.

The purpose of the institute is to foster the exchange of information, resources, and expertise within the Center itself and within the larger community of science educators, researchers, and curriculum developers. It will host activities both locally and nationally on a year-round basis and will be the intellectual core of the Center. Project 2061 will take the lead in planning the institute and will be responsible for coordinating, facilitating, and documenting institute activities. While the institute will be outside the university structure, it will be a key vehicle for bringing faculty and students from the various programs together. It will provide them with a common experience; it will help create a larger community of learners; and it will be a place for them to learn from each other and from experts outside their own institutional settings. The institute will also provide a forum for disseminating knowledge developed by the Center partners.

As the entry point for the Center’s incoming graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, the institute will play a key role in coordinating and unifying the work of the partner institutions. Each summer doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows will spend two weeks with each other and university faculty, teachers and administrators, and invited guests for presentations and discussions to build on the research and experiences that underpin current efforts to improve science teaching and learning and on the interactions of materials, teachers, and students. The first week of the institute will serve as an orientation for all new doctoral and postdoctoral students.

To help keep the work of the Center grounded in the learning goals that all students are expected to achieve, institute programs will be built around a few key topics that are essential to science literacy and that are the focus of the materials development projects at the three partner universities. During the institute, Center partners will present their research, demonstrate their work, and gather feedback from the other development teams, from teachers and administrators, and from the various invited guests. The institute will draw on the expertise of representatives of commercial and academic development teams from the U.S. and abroad and from the NSF-funded Dissemination and Implementation Sites. Advisory Board members were chosen to provide assistance in each of these areas.

The institute will also contribute significantly to the development of knowledge and leadership at the K-12 level. Teachers and administrators from local school districts will be included in the institute. They will also provide input and feedback to the materials development work, contribute to discussions of implementation issues, and participate in planning and carrying out professional development activities.

The institute will provide an efficient mechanism for expanding the reach and influence of the Center’s work. Each institute session will be carefully documented and its work synthesized into papers, proceedings, and technical reports that will be published and disseminated both in print and online form. A Center web site and list serves will be part of the institute communication efforts, connecting students and faculty and providing easy access to work in progress.


Year 1. The steering committee will meet to plan the activities of the Center including admission, program, and graduation requirements and the structure of the graduate programs. Core courses will be designed and additional courses will be revised for the doctoral, master’s, and undergraduate programs. Professional development activities will be designed in collaboration with teachers and administrators. The structure of the Knowledge Transfer Institute will be determined and a calendar of Institute activities will be planned for Year 1. Doctoral and postdoctoral students will be recruited for Cohort 1. A research agenda related to instructional materials development will be identified. Practicum experiences will be planned for graduate students.

Year 2. Deliver professional development activities to teachers and administrators. Continue Institute activities. Begin new graduate courses. Recruit graduate students for Cohort 2. Evaluate the success of all activities.

Years 3-5. Continue internal and external evaluation. Modify Center activities as needed based on evaluation results.

Management Plan

The Principal Investigator, Dr. Jo Ellen Roseman of AAAS, will serve as Center Director and will chair a Center Leadership Team composed of the Co-PIs, Dr. George DeBoer at AAAS, Dr. Joseph Krajcik of University of Michigan, Dr. Brian J. Reiser of Northwestern University, and Dr. James Gallagher of Michigan State University. The Director will manage the overall operation of the Center, including budget management, partner coordination, and operation of the Knowledge Transfer Institute. The Center Leadership Team will oversee the intellectual mission of the Center, and will plan, monitor, and evaluate (assisted by the external evaluator) its core activities. The leadership team will meet monthly to coordinate activities across the sites.

AAAS will be the fiscal agent and will make subawards to its university partners. Each of the university co-PIs (Krajcik, Reiser, Gallagher) will work with participating faculty to manage the work of the Center at each site, including the design and oversight of graduate, postdoctoral, and preservice training and professional development efforts. At AAAS, DeBoer will assist the Director in overseeing the work of the Center and insure its coherence. In addition, Dr. DeBoer will direct and oversee the Knowledge Transfer Institute and will serve as the on-site coordinator for all phases and activities pertaining to the Institute. Postdoctoral fellows will assist with project management along with their primary role of participating in research activities.

Advisory Board
A ten-member Advisory Board of leaders in science and science education, each with special expertise in areas related to instructional materials, will provide oversight for the Center. The Board will advise the center on issues having to do with project evaluation, the graduate programs, professional development, and the sustainability of the Center. The Board will convene during the Knowledge Transfer Institute so that Board members can participate in the institute sessions. Advisory Board members are listed in Appendix B.

Institutional Capacity

The four partner institutions bring strengths in graduate training, professional development, and teacher preparation along with broad research experience in science learning and in instructional materials analysis and development. Both the University of Michigan and Northwestern University have expertise in the study and design of innovative technologies to support science learners. Michigan State University has had extensive experience in preparing K-12 science teachers and in pioneering the development of instructional materials based on a conceptual change model, and Project 2061 brings more than 15 years of experience working at the national level to bring about systemic reform of science education. The university partners have developed close relationships with local school districts, and all of the partners have been actively involved in sustained professional development relationships with K-12 science teachers. Thus the proposed Center is built on a strong foundation of existing networks of relationships and institutional research infrastructures.

Project 2061 has been a leader in articulating science standards and developing criteria to analyze the content basis and pedagogical sensibility of science curricula. AAAS as a whole offers rich scientific, technical, and education resources through its interdisciplinary programs and its worldwide membership. AAAS’s Directorate for Education and Human Resources brings considerable expertise working in a variety of formal and informal settings with educators and students who are diverse in ethnicity, culture, language, and gender.

Through its Benchmarks for Science Literacy (AAAS, 1993) and its analysis of text materials in science and mathematics, Project 2061 continues to aim for the highest standards possible in mathematics and science education. Dr. Jo Ellen Roseman, Project 2061’s acting director and the PI for this proposal, is leading an IERI grant (NSF 0129398) to determine the extent to which fidelity of implementation of instructional materials in mathematics impacts teacher behavior and, ultimately, student learning. Project 2061 intends to conduct a similar study in science and to expand the mathematics study to look more closely at teacher understanding of the intent of standards-based instructional materials. A Center that is devoted to research on issues related to materials development and that is committed to preparing doctoral level leadership in this area would be a natural next step in Project 2061’s work.

The University of Michigan is one of the nation's leading teaching and research universities and is well-qualified to nurture the proposed research and development activities proposed in the Center. The University of Michigan is a pioneer in technological development for instruction, and its School of Education has been ranked as one of the top schools in the nation for research in the 2002 U.S. News & World Report Graduate School Rankings.

Currently, University of Michigan researchers, along with Northwestern University and Project 2061, are engaged in a partnership to create the next generation of curriculum materials for middle school students (NSF ESI-0101780). The University of Michigan also sponsors courses and seminars in teaching and learning for Ph.D. chemistry students.

The School of Education at Michigan houses the Center for Highly Interactive Technologies for Education and has long and well-established ties to the Department of Psychology, the Institute for Social Research, science departments, and other units that would be of value to the Center’s work. Faculty members have developed strong ties with local school districts and teachers through programs such as the Center for Learning Technologies in Urban Schools (LeTUS) which has been instrumental in helping to bring about systemic reform in science education in the Detroit Public School System.

The proposed Center will collaborate with the College of Literature, Science and the Arts, which is noted for curriculum reform efforts particularly in calculus and chemistry, and with the College of Engineering, which is recognized for its interests not only in the design of new technology but also in the application of such technology to education.

Northwestern University has been a leader in the field of cognitive science, creating the nation’s first graduate program in Learning Sciences. A model for programs at other institutions, this program provides interdisciplinary training in curricular, technological, and social policy innovations aimed at improving education. Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy has been ranked among the top universities in the nation for research in the 2002 U.S. News and World Report Graduate School Rankings.

Working with the LeTUS program in collaboration with the University of Michigan, Northwestern University researchers have led the development of innovative technologies for use in educational settings and the development of curricula with embedded technologies. They have worked with teachers and administrators in the Chicago public schools to investigate the process of collaborative design, establishing a model for successful problem solving partnerships with school districts (Shrader et al, in review; Singer et al, 2000). Also, central to this work is the professional development of teachers and the assessment of student learning outcomes. In addition, LeTUS researchers have worked with young career scientists interested in pursuing careers in science education, including four NSF/PFSMETE fellows.

Other collaborations include work with Northwestern’s bioengineering faculty and with faculty at Vanderbilt University to redesign undergraduate engineering education according to research in the learning sciences. The Northwestern faculty in the learning sciences also work closely with Northwestern’s teacher education program, developing and teaching core courses for elementary, middle, and secondary science teachers that bring current science education reform approaches into the practices of prospective teachers.

Michigan State University’s elementary and secondary teacher education program has been at the top of the rankings in the US News & World Report survey for eight consecutive years, and its curriculum and instruction program is highly ranked as well. The university has a long history of collaboration with local schools; its teacher preparation program for example, requires a full year internship in local schools. In the Lansing School District alone, there are more than 100 interns and 340 seniors working in the classrooms. Faculty and graduate students have also worked with local schools on a number of research projects that are relevant to the Center’s proposed work, including research on teachers’ use of curriculum materials in planning and classroom teaching, the impact of curriculum materials on student learning, and the role of materials and professional development on formative assessment. Faculty members have been involved with Project 2061 in the development and use of its curriculum-materials analysis procedure, and one of the co-PIs is involved in Project 2061’s IERI study of teachers’ use of highly rated mathematics materials, specifically in the design of methods for analyzing classroom teaching. In addition, Michigan State researchers have worked with a group of Lansing teachers to develop grade-level science pacing guides and draft assessments. They also formed grade-level study groups to evaluate potential curriculum materials using Project 2061 curriculum-materials analysis criteria. (See Appendix A for details on the Center faculty and their areas of expertise.)

Value Added

The Center will be greater than the sum of its parts. All components of the Center—students and postdoctoral fellows, research, K-12 curriculum materials, university courses, professional development models—will benefit from an unparalleled array of national and international intellectual resources that none of the four institutions alone possesses. Faculty and students will have access to colleagues with a more diverse set of interests in science, cognitive science, and science education and with expertise in materials development, analysis, revision, and implementation. National, state, local, and international perspectives relevant to instructional materials will all be represented, so that the broadest possible range of issues will be heard and addressed. Through work on common tasks, each participating institution will itself be strengthened. Through the Knowledge Transfer Institute, both today's leaders and those at the beginning of their careers, will be able to take advantage of the Center's products and research findings.

Cross-site Opportunities for Teaching and Learning
An especially important added value of the Center will be its use of the resources offered by each of the four institutions to create enhanced learning opportunities. We envision three ways to leverage these resources for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows and will explore additional possibilities, particularly for enhancing teacher professional development.

  • Guest teaching of Center faculty: Center faculty will teach sessions in science education classes at other sites in person or by videoconference. This will allow graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to benefit from the expertise at the other sites. For example, Reiser and Edelson can teach sessions that focus on the use of technological tools; Roseman or DeBoer can teach sessions on curriculum analysis; Gallagher can teach sessions on continuous assessment as part of learning with understanding; and Krajcik can teach sessions on project-based science curricula.
  • Student internships: Center funding will support students who wish to participate in internship opportunities at the other sites. For example, students might participate in a summer internship working on a curriculum analysis project at AAAS; a student interested in diversity issues might do an independent study project with faculty at the University of Michigan; others might study complexity and emergent phenomena at Northwestern University; or a student might have an experience in integrative curriculum development at Michigan State University.
  • Collaborative courses: We will explore a number of possibilities for faculty to co-teach seminar courses across sites, using videoconferencing and electronic discussion groups to link the sites. The University of Michigan and Northwestern faculty who are participating in a middle school science materials project already have biweekly research meetings conducted over TCP/IP videoconferencing; the University of Michigan and Michigan State University have already explored joint science education seminars; and Gallagher at Michigan State offers two on-line courses in science education that are taken by students around the world.


The work of the Center will lead to changes in the partner institutions that will continue beyond the life of the grant. Among the ways in which the Center’s work will be sustained are the following: (1) The Center will provide an opportunity for the partner institutions to review their graduate training programs systematically, redesign existing courses, design new courses, and establish specialization tracks in instructional materials work. These courses and programs will become part of the regular offerings of each institution and will provide a model for graduate training in instructional materials that can be adapted by other institutions. Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows trained in the Center will also create similar programs when they begin faculty positions. (2) The Center funding will facilitate the design, piloting, and evaluation of professional development models that will be widely disseminated. By involving school administrators and teacher leaders, we will be able to impact district-wide procedures for the review, selection, and implementation of curriculum materials. We will pursue additional funding to build on our professional development efforts during and following the NSF support of the Center. (3) The Center activities will also increase research productivity at each institution and stimulate proposals for additional external research funding. Faculty will be able to compete successfully for research funds in this area. (4) As with previous NSF-funded collaborative projects, the relationships that are developed continue far beyond the original funding. In particular, we expect to see increased interaction among students and faculty of the partner institutions whether on dissertation committees, in research collaborations, in co-authoring, and more.


As the external evaluator, Horizon Research, Inc. (HRI) will assess the quality and impact of the Center’s programs as a whole, as well as the synergy among them. The evaluation will be organized around the three major goals of the Center solicitation—preparation of doctoral-level leaders, professional development for teachers, and scholarly research. The Center Director, in consultation with the external evaluator and co-PIs at each site, will coordinate the record-keeping to meet the NSF data collection requirements and to provide formative evaluation regarding each aspect of the Center’s operation. The Center programs include six major components—the Doctoral Program; the Postdoctoral Program; Preservice Teacher Education; Inservice Professional Development; the Research Agenda and the Knowledge Transfer Institute.

Initially, the evaluation will focus on collecting baseline data to be used for assessing the impact of the Center and contextualizing the Center’s work. HRI will examine the existing courses for the graduate programs and preservice teacher education to assess the extent to which they currently address the Center’s principles of design, analysis, and implementation of science instructional materials. Similarly, through interviews with faculty, baseline norms and expectations of productivity in research and contributions through service will be established for doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows at the three universities. Evaluation instruments and tools (e.g., interview, observation, and review protocols; open-ended, web-based surveys) will be developed and piloted for use in subsequent years.

Formative evaluation activities will focus on providing information the Center can use to refine its decision-making and to make mid-course alterations to meet its goals more effectively. For example, information from interviews with doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows about their expectations of the program and career aspirations, as well as interviews of some applicants who chose not to enroll in the programs, will aid the Center in refining its recruitment strategies and in tailoring its programs to the needs and expectations of students and fellows. Observations of the Knowledge Transfer Institute summer sessions, and a sample of related academic year activities, in conjunction with interviews, will provide information about the utility of the sessions as orientation to the Center and as opportunities for professional learning and networking. Formative recommendations might include altered time allocations or addition of networking tools in the summer Knowledge Transfer Institutes.

Reviews of the doctoral courses, preservice units, and inservice professional development programs will adopt the Project 2061 Criteria for Evaluating the Quality of Instructional Support (AAAS, 2000) as standards of quality. Evaluators will observe a sample of the inservice professional development sessions, using an adapted version of HRI’s Professional Development Observation Protocol developed for the Core Evaluation of the Local Systemic Change through Teacher Enhancement Program (REC 9912485) to judge the quality of the sessions in terms of purposes, design, implementation, content, and climate. Interviews with members of the course, unit, and inservice development teams will be used to interpret the results of the reviews in terms of attention to the Criteria in the process of development.

Open-ended interviews and surveys, administered via internet tools, will be conducted with the graduate students and a sample of preservice students and inservice participants to assess the utility and benefit of the courses, units, and inservice experiences. A sample of student products will be collected for content analysis against the relevant Center learning goals. Formative feedback drawing on these data will include analysis of strengths and weakness of the courses, units, and programs in light of the Criteria and participants’ experience, as well as identification of opportunities and barriers that may aid in the improvement of the development process, and the revision of the courses, units, and programs.

Evaluation of the impact of the Center will focus on the learning, practice, and professional contributions of participants across all of the major components. For example, through interviews and surveys with doctoral students and post-doctoral fellows, HRI will track their research presentations, papers, dissertations, and publications, and gather information on their future career plans. Summative judgments will be made regarding how Center students and fellows compare to baseline norms and expectations and how students and fellows envision their long-term professional contributions to the field. HRI will also assess the alignment between the Center’s focus and the research and professional contributions and career plans of the graduate students and fellows. Interviews with, and surveys of, inservice program participants and other curriculum decision-makers in the participating districts will provide evidence for summative judgments about the impact of the inservice program and Center principles on the review and selection of instructional materials.

The evaluation will also address the likelihood of institutionalization of critical components and key impacts of the Center. For example, interviews with faculty and administrators at the three participating universities will be used to gather information about the plan for and likelihood of sustainability of the Center’s specialization in doctoral study, and of the courses and units developed by the Center. These interviews will also determine the extent of infusion of the Center’s principles of design, analysis, and implementation of innovative science materials into other graduate and preservice education courses and inservice experiences.


The Center will take advantage of the communications and dissemination infrastructures that are in place at each of the partner institutions. It will use a variety of strategies to disseminate its research findings, products, and ideas to members of the research community including education practitioners, commercial developers and publishers, education policymakers, the education press, and the public at large. Through field-testing and eventual publication, its newly developed curriculum materials will get into the hands of researchers and teachers. As new university courses are developed for the participants, we will use the Knowledge Transfer Institute to invite new faculty and doctoral students from other institutions to learn about our methods for developing, analyzing, and implementing new curriculum materials. In this way, we will be able to impact the courses that new and prospective faculty will themselves be developing for preservice and inservice teachers.

Articles and news coverage of the Center’s work in newsletters and other publications of the partner institutions will also be used as dissemination tools. In addition, the programs and activities of the Knowledge Transfer Institute will disseminate information to the participants who attend its programs each year. A web site will be developed for the Center to assist in recruitment, to disseminate information about Center activities and research results, and to establish a community of individuals committed to the improvement of instructional materials in science. Each institution will develop its own web page, and Project 2061 will design the web page linking all Center activities together.

Results Of Prior NSF Support

University of Michigan: Professor Krajcik, worked with Blumenfeld, Marx, and Soloway on a number of projects supported by NSF to reform the teaching and learning of science. They developed computational tools to support students’ learning through inquiry (NSF REC 95-55719, NSF RED-9353481, and NSF REC 95-54205), resulting in Model-It, a tool to support students in developing dynamic computer based models; Aretmis, a research engine and digital library; and echem, a molecular construction and visualization tool. They also created professional development tools and prepared teachers to do inquiry (NSF TPE-9153759). Through REPP funding (NSF REC 972 5927) they explored issues related to reforming science education in large urban districts. As part of LeTUS (NSF REC-9720383), they developed instructional materials that embed the use of leaning technologies, collaborated with K-12 administrators and teachers, and documented challenges to scale innovations in urban school districts. Results from studies in LeTUS show learning gains by students. Krajcik, Davis, and Soloway are working with Reiser and Edelson from Northwestern University with funding from KDI (NSF-KDI-9980055) to examine the effectiveness of software scaffolds and to demonstrate how software scaffolds can support scientific inquiry. Krajcik and Marx are also collaborating with Reiser and Edelson to develop the next generation of curriculum materials, designed to support student inquiry with embedded learning technologies. Reports on University of Michigan research efforts are at

Northwestern University: NSF-funded research has investigated principles of curriculum design for supporting student inquiry in science, innovative technologies for supporting learning, professional development, and strategies for design partnerships with schools. Research in LeTUS (NSF REC-9720383) has suggested how to facilitate the development and implementation of technology-enhanced science curricula as a vehicle for changing teaching and learning in science classrooms, and how to form collaborative curriculum design teams that involve teachers, scientists, and technologists. With funding from the Chicago Public Schools Urban Systemic Program (NSF 0085115), LeTUS is creating a model of practice-based professional development that situates teacher learning in their attempts to adapt and plan their enactment of new curricula. Northwestern faculty have investigated web-based supports for teacher learning in the Living Curriculum Project (NSF-RED-9720423), an online professional development system supporting the teaching of inquiry-based science units. They are also investigating teacher learning through curriculum partnerships through a Research Experience for Teachers extension to the Center for Bioengineering Educational Technologies (NSF-EEC-9876363).

Design of technological supports for students’ scientific inquiry has been a focus of a number of projects. In SSciVEE (Supportive Scientific Visualization Environments for Education—NSF-REC-9453715), Edelson designed and studied the use of scientific visualization technologies to support learning. In the WorldWatcher curriculum project (NSF-ESI-9720687), Edelson explored how to integrate scientific visualization tools into a high school environmental science curriculum structured around real-world problems. In the Supportive Inquiry-Based Learning Environments project (NSF-REC-9720377, NSF-REC-0087751), Reiser, Edelson, and Gomez developed a model of reflective inquiry and pedagogical principles for its support in curriculum and tools. Northwestern University has received a Graduate Research Traineeship grant to initiate the Learning Sciences Program (NSF-DGE-9454155) and a number of Postdoctoral Fellowships in Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology Education (PFSMNSF-DGE-9906515, NSF-DGE-9809636, and NSF-DGE-9714534). Funded Ph.D.’s in biomedical engineering, zoology, and geology guided LeTUS curriculum teams in their efforts to design project-based instructional materials.

Michigan State University: Smith and Anderson have carried out a three-year research project which investigated teachers’ use of the SCIS materials and traditional textbooks in planning and classroom teaching (SED-802002). For that project, Smith and Anderson developed a research model involving four interrelated parts: (1) pre- and post- assessment of student understanding of the science concepts addressed by the materials, (2) analysis of the “literal program”—what teaching would be like if the teacher followed the suggestions in the materials, (3) identification of the teacher’s intentions for classroom activities and student learning, and (4) detailed description of what actually occurred during classroom teaching. Students’ understanding of the concepts addressed by a material was measured against several criteria. Using these measurements and other insights derived from the research, successive Research and Development cycles were continued until a large majority of the students met the criteria. This model served as the basis for a series of studies of the teaching and learning of specific topics. Anderson and Berkheimer directed a project that described and demonstrated a research and development model for the design of curriculum materials (MDR-855-0336), resulting in the Matter and Molecules unit. That unit was subsequently studied using the Project 2061 curriculum-materials analysis criteria and received high ratings on several criteria, providing positive examples with which to contrast lower rated materials.

AAAS Project 2061: With support from NSF, Project 2061 has developed an array of science literacy tools to promote understanding and use of learning goals, beginning with the publication of Benchmarks for Science Literacy (AAAS, 1993) (ESI-9350003; $5,000,000; 10/93-9/99). To increase understanding of conceptual connections among K-12 learning goals, Project 2061 published Atlas of Science Literacy (AAAS, 2001) (ESI-9618093; $4,746,014; 4/97-3/01), which has sold nearly 11,000 copies and is serving as a basis for several recently submitted NSDL and MSP proposals. To foster professional development aimed at improving the science literacy of teachers, Project 2061 published Resources for Science Literacy: Professional Development (AAAS, 1997) (ESI-9350003). To promote curriculum coherence and systemic reform, Project 2061 published Designs for Science Literacy (AAAS, 2001) and Blueprints for Reform (AAAS, 1998) (ESI-9350003). To improve the quality of science and mathematics curriculum materials, Project 2061 developed a set of criteria to analyze their alignment to important learning goals and the quality of instructional support they provide for those goals (ESI-9553594; $888,466; 3/96-2/97 and ESI-9618093). These criteria have been used to analyze science and mathematics instructional materials and are being used to guide the design of new materials. The project has also developed a related set of criteria for analyzing assessment tasks and is applying them to the analysis, revision, and design of tasks. The project has provided assessment-related technical assistance to the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee, comprised of legislators, business and industry leaders, and educators. (ESI-9919018; $2,476,875; 5/99-4/01) and other technical assistance to several NSF-funded materials development projects (ESI-9812299 and ESI-0096856) All of Project 2061’s tools synthesize the current state of knowledge in the field and make it accessible to a wide audience.

NSF has also supported several Project 2061 efforts to focus the attention of researchers and policy makers on science literacy issues. To understand better how early childhood experiences can develop readiness for later learning in science and mathematics, Project 2061 hosted a national forum and published Dialogue on Early Childhood Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education (AAAS, 1999) (ESI-9618093). To build awareness for the need for cognitive research in technology education (a prerequisite to the development of effective technology curriculum materials), Project 2061 hosted conferences and published proceedings (DUE-0090761; $30,000; 8/00-12/01). To focus efforts nationwide on the need for better science curriculum materials, Project 2061 has hosted a series of conferences on defining characteristics of high quality science materials, the role of research in their design, and on policy issues surrounding the development and successful implementation of goals-based curriculum materials (ESI-0102241; $337,952; 1/01-12/02).


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Text: AAAS Project 2061, Michigan State University, Northwestern University, University of Michigan
Text: Center for Curriculum Materials in Science