CoMPASS: Integrating Digital Text in Design-Based Science Classes
Funded by National Science Foundation/ Interagency Education Research Initiative
$1.9 million.
• Co-Pls : O'Connell, A., University of Connecticut; Hübscher, R., Bentley College;    Rebello, S., Kansas State University.



Hands-on activities in which students experience and manipulate scientific phenomena are an integral part of current project-based and design-based approaches to science learning. However, a concern raised about the focus on hands-on activities is that students can concentrate on the construction activities, and build a working solution by trial and error, without understanding the underlying deep science principles and phenomena. Research has pointed out the important role of language in science, emphasizing that reading, writing, and communicating are essential aspects of helping students construct science understanding. The National Science Education Standards also highlight the role of text as an important aspect of developing scientific and informational literacy. However, informational text is seldom used to complement the rich and interactive nature of hands-on activities.

This IERI project has two major goals. First is aim to further the understanding of integrating the conceptual learning from informational text with the experimental and hands-on activities in a design-based classes. The enactment of the intervention across different contexts will be systematically studied by examining the variations in teacher practices, student characteristics, project challenges and aspects of classroom culture that enable students to take advantage of the affordances of both design activities and the use of the multiple electronic texts. We aim to generate a set of pedagogical guidelines for integration of informational resources in scientific inquiry. Second is the aim to understand students’ changing representations as they use multiple texts in their science explorations. As electronic texts become ubiquitous in educational settings, there is an increasing need to understand how students in project-based and design-based classrooms engage in learning from multiple texts in the context of an inquiry classroom. The goal of this project is to examine students’ learning trajectories by taking into consideration the strategies that students use student characteristics such as prior knowledge, metacognitive awareness, their group interactions and the relationships of these to navigation and learning.
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