IU School of Education researchers receive $2.49 million grant to study science education

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Research from the Indiana University School of Education, funded with a $2.49 million foundation grant, is designed to help teachers recognize how best to engage students during science lessons and improve the effectiveness of K-12 science instruction.

Joshua Danish, an associate professor in the Learning Sciences Program within the Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology, will lead the project, called Teacher Cognition and Learning About Incorporating Science Representations in Elementary Classrooms. The project is a joint effort between IU and researchers from UCLA.

Science literacy requires the ability to grasp challenging concepts using drawings, pictures, graphs or other representations. However, students find these representations challenging to understand, and teachers often lack the understanding and skills to teach them effectively.

The project will study how teachers use representations to teach science concepts and how their students learn from these lessons. The team will work with teachers to identify existing classroom practices and challenges they face. Together they will explore new ideas from cognitive and learning sciences, introduce those ideas to classrooms and document their impact on teaching practices.

"We hope to generate theory, materials and models for supporting and training teachers so that they feel comfortable using representations in their science instruction," Danish said. "Our hope is that this will support more effective science instruction for teachers in Indiana and across the country."

The project is funded with a $2.49 million grant over five years from the 21st Century Science Initiative of the James S. McDonnell Foundation, a St. Louis-based foundation that seeks to improve quality of life by contributing to new knowledge through research and scholarship.

IU members of the team include Danish, Cindy Hmelo-Silver, Meredith Park Rogers, Dionne Cross Francis, Robert Goldstone, David Landy and Celeste Nicholas. The team also includes UCLA researchers Noel Enyedy, Jose Felipe Martinez, Lynn Kim-John and Danielle Teodora Keifer.

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Catherine Winkler

IU School of Education

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