Funding Source: Curricular Redesign Grant Proposal submitted to the UW System Learning Technology Development Council

Title: Collaborative Learning Models and Pedagogical Practices for Undergraduate Research in Math and Science Education, through Team Development of Learning Objects for the PRAXIS II

Principal Investigators: Robert Hoar, University of Wisconsin—La Crosse and Sherrie Serros, University of Wisconsin—Eau Claire

Submitted: March 16, 2007

Status: Funded. Project dates: July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008.

Project Overview:

The PRAXIS-WI project seeks to help reverse declining student achievement in math and science and to increase the number of qualified teachers in those fields, as mandated by No Child Left Behind.

Further, to address pedagogical needs observed in earlier projects, we emphasize faculty development and student learning research by:

  • identifying, implementing, and assessing best practices for different models of collaborative learning in undergraduate math and science research.

  • documenting (through the Lesson Study approach) teamwork, reflection, and discussion of pedagogical learning. Differences in novice-expert thinking in math-science problem solving are examined to make expert processes more accessible. Building on 2006-07 project results—but with greater emphasis on science—we are expanding the existing Learning Object (LO) collection addressing math-science problems released by ETS (the producer of PRAXIS exams required for teacher certification). By the end of this academic year, our project will create 96 LOs for distributed, customizable learning by pre-service teachers preparing for PRAXIS exams and existing teachers seeking to strengthen their knowledge.

Each semester, 12 University of Wisconsin math, science, and education faculty will each develop one expert-novice student team. Teams will meet weekly to discuss content and create storyboards on a template designed to communicate animation and content to programmers for formatting. Like-models of teams will connect for cross-mentoring. Co-PIs will ascertain faculty needs, share new approaches and challenges, and facilitate building, sharing, assessing, and publishing LOs online.

Project Outcomes:

  • Identification/refinement of best practices in collaborative learning for use in various contexts–course embeds, undergraduate research, student-driven, faculty-led, cross-disciplinary, etc.

  • 12 faculty per semester will learn to articulate when/how they impact students, how novices problem-solve, and how to design/use LOs and collaborative practices to engage students.

  • 96 students will deepen their understanding of subject matter and pedagogical concepts to diagnose team and classroom learning.

  • 96 new science and math LOs will be produced and published to our website

To visit the project website, click here.