NARST 2012

Indianapolis, IN
March 26-27, 2012
Conference Website

The National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST) is a worldwide organization of professionals committed to the improvement of science teaching and learning through research. NARST promotes research in science education and the communication of knowledge generated by the research. The ultimate goal of NARST is to help all learners achieve science literacy.

Monday, March 26

Rachel KayBeing Smart About SmartGraphs: An Experimental Trial in Physical Science Classrooms

Rachel Kay

8:30 – 10:00 AM, Room 101
Strand 12: Educational Technology: Cognitive Reasoning with Technology

The primary purpose of this two-year study is to determine whether and to what extent the use of new, free, open-source, web-based software called SmartGraphs improves the performance of eighth- and ninth-grade students in Physical Science classes compared to their peers using the same textbooks who do not use the software. SmartGraphs software allows students to interact with graphs, for example by clicking on a portion of a graph to answer questions. This study uses a pre-post experimental design with teachers randomly assigned to treatment (SmartGraphs) and control (regular curriculum) conditions.

Tuesday, March 27

Enhancing Engineering Education through Hands-On Models and Computer-Based Simulations

Rachel Kay

8:30 – 10:00 AM, Room 101
Strand 12: Educational Technology: Modeling and Model-Based Reasoning through Technology

Engineering education has become an integral part of K-12 education. The National Resource Council has recently released a science framework that emphasizes the connectedness between engineering skills and science knowledge (NRC, 2011). Engineering education in high schools can benefit from integrating science and engineering into a design-based framework. Incorporating simulations into this framework has the potential to enhance it, as they provide powerful problem-solving tools—in addition to the hands-on tools—that can compensate for time, material, safety and environmental constraints. The Enhancing Engineering Education (EEE) project has developed two parallel curricula in order to explore how simulations enhance student learning in the context of creating energy efficient model houses. One curriculum uses hands-on experiments in which students manipulate physical materials and temperature sensors to examine heat transfer concepts and then apply these concepts to building their own energy-efficient model houses. The second curriculum uses Energy 2D, computer simulations developed at the Concord Consortium, in which students manipulate variables to explore the same heat transfer concepts, and then use Energy 3D, an additional model software, to help design and build their energy-efficient house. In this study we investigated how aspects of each program relate to students’ understanding and coordination of science and engineering principles. The program was implemented initially in the Spring, 2011 and is continuing into the 2011-2012 school year. Specifically, we aim to present how student reasoning differs when learning with simulations versus hands-on exploration, and examine particular strength of each curriculum.

Tuesday, March 27

Chad DorseyEducational Technology: Symposium – Digital Resources to Support Science Instruction: Research, Development and Practice

Chad Dorsey

4:00 – 5:30 PM, Room 101
Strand 12: Educational Technology

Increasingly, science teachers integrate digital resources into their teaching “toolbox,” alongside more familiar activities such as laboratory investigations, demonstrations and observations. Digital resources refer to web- or computer-based animations, simulations, games, and videos. While these resources sometimes replicate a non-digital experience, more often they offer a way to illustrate or visualize or a scientific concept beyond what non-digital tools can provide. But how might these resources help students learn? How should they be integrated into instruction? In this session, panelists will share their research and content development experiences as well as the theoretical underpinnings of their work to discuss implications of using digital resources in science instruction. Presenters will share varying perspectives on these issues through discussion of their research and development projects. The symposium presiders will facilitate audience comments within the framework of the guiding questions and the discussant will lend a constructive, critical view to the participants’ ideas and suggest future directions for research. Symposium attendees will gain an understanding of the issues and contribute to the discussion about setting a research agenda for digital resource use in science education

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