In this research and development project, we developed and studied multimedia educative curriculum materials (MECMs) with the goal of supporting middle school science teachers in learning how to teach about scientific argumentation. This goal is important because scientific argumentation, one of the science practices described in the recently published Next Generation Science Standards, represents a significant change from traditional science instruction and thus presents new challenges for teachers. Educative curriculum materials is a term used to describe curriculum materials that are designed to support teacher learning as well as student learning, and the focus of this project was on how we could take advantage of the capabilities of a web-based teacher’s guide to provide enhanced, multimedia support for teachers, within educative curriculum materials, in order to help them implement scientific argumentation in their classrooms. For example, a web-based teacher’s guide can include short videos that show teachers what an activity or an approach actually looks like in the classroom. Curriculum materials are an important way to support educational reform efforts because they are an efficient and scalable way to impact a large number of teachers.
To address the project goal, we pursued three objectives: (1) research into the factors impacting implementation of argumentation, and the relationship between teachers’ ideas about argumentation and their instructional practices; (2) development of a model set of Multimedia Educative Curriculum Materials (MECMs) to support teachers’ understanding of teaching argumentation, instantiated within a middle school science curriculum; and (3) investigation of the impact of these MECMs on teachers’ ideas about argumentation.
Objective 1: Research into the factors impacting implementation of argumentation.
Teachers reported that their own learning goals impacted their argumentation instruction more so than influences related to context, policy and assessment. The low influence of policy and assessment was because teachers saw a lack of alignment of these with argumentation. Although the majority of teachers saw argumentation as important, they discussed this science practice in very different ways. Consequently, it may be more important to help teachers develop a richer understanding of what counts as argumentation and how to best students in this practice, than to provide a rationale for why it is important.
Objective 2: Development of a model set of MECMs. We designed a set of 24 teacher-facing videos and a number of other multimedia elements and incorporated them into a web-based teacher’s guide for an Earth and Space Science curriculum. The videos have also been incorporated into a website, argumentationtoolkit.org. In addition, we developed a set of Teacher Learning Modules to support teacher educators in using these materials with preservice or inservice teachers, also housed on argumentationtoolkit.org. The website currently receives over 2000 unique visitors per month.
Objective 3: Investigating the impact of the MECMs.
Teachers who enacted the middle school science curriculum with either the text-based supports or the text+multimedia supports had significant gains in both their PCK of argumentation and beliefs about argumentation. However, the addition of the multimedia resources did not have a greater effect on teachers’ PCK, which could be in part because of the limitations of the measures used in the study. In terms of teachers’ beliefs, the factor that had the greatest impact on their beliefs was the number of lessons they taught. The more lessons teachers taught, the greater the change in their beliefs about argumentation.
Last Modified: 11/24/2017
Modified by: Suzanna Loper