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Topic: "IHEs, MSPs, Rs and Ps: Whats your model? Whats your hope?"

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Topic started by: Brian Drayton on 10/24/14

A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for? – Robert Browning

Long ago, when I was young, Dr. Judith Ramaley described the NSF MSP program as a grand research endeavor. In a way, the program could be seen as a design research effort, based on the proposition that IHE STEM faculty could participate in K-12 STEM education in such a way as to transform it, by transforming the teaching workforce, and the curriculum materials. The Five Key Features emphasized partnerships, rooted in IHE-plus-others collaborations, to increase teacher quality/quantity/diversity, using challenging courses & curricula. Programs interventions were to be based on evidence, and to produce evidence. The evidence among other things would provide a test of the founding proposition, and the embodiment in these Features. It was exciting to imagine so many people working together on such big, open questions. She said, “Ihave no idea, when NSF connects these dots, what the picture will be. I do know that it will be you who decide…” What an invitation!

 

But how to do it in concrete terms? Well, there have been lots of models tried over the years. I have always been interested in the ways that people have tried to address the essential question: What can a partnership between research scientists (or mathematicians) and schools actually look like? I am not sure how many different models have really been discovered not too many, I think; maybe there’s only so many ways to arrange the players on the board.
The Research+Practice Collaboratory’s blog carries a nice short piece, drawing on a 2012 NRC tome Using Science in as Evidence in Public Policy. The focus of that book is on how to get Research into Practice (and also how to get people to do Research that is important for Practice). The blog post talks about three basic strategies for communication between Rs and Ps:

– Translating. “Translation involves turning [research]findings into programs educators can use.”
— Brokering ” involves thefiltering, synthesizing, summarizing, and disseminating of research findings in user-friendly packages.”
— Partnering “involves long-term collaborations between researchers, practitioners, and often designers, aimed at transforming teaching and learning in complex, multi-layered educational systems.” Such long-term intermingling is also referred to as “cultural exchange.”

When I first read the NRC book, I immediately wondered: How do the scientists (mathematicians) function in the MSPs? What gets translated, brokered, or passed on in partnership? It seems to me that the MSPs exhibit all three of these strategies in varying proportions but some focus on the culture of science (math), some focus on the content, even thoughno one denies that culture and content are intrinsically connected.

Questions can be asked about the data that drove the designs, and the data that haveemerged about the designs. What aspects of science (math) culture have taken hold in MSP schools, because of th? Where has school culture overwhelmed it, or prevented its taking root? Where has school culture transformed scientists’ or mathematicians’ culture? What content has been exchanged in either direction?

But the bottom line questions for me are, What did you hope for, and why? How close have you gotten? What’s just beyond your grasp maybe that you couldn’t have imagined when you started?

 

 


Originally posted Oct 24, 2014

This archived topic is open to the public.

restart conversation
This topic has 24 posts, showing: 1-20
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great question

posted by: Gabriel Della-Piana on 10/26/2014 5:44 pm

I would be interested in hearing responses as to
obstacles to the hopes. Maybe in the form of vignettes
of critical incidents that concretize the obstacles.

IHEs, MSPs, Rs and Ps

posted by: Sara Silver on 10/27/2014 9:23 am

Brian, all very provocative questions. What is the forum for unraveling some of these? Perhaps some MSPs could volunteer (with their partners) to post responses?

Unraveling

posted by: Brian Drayton on 10/27/2014 2:31 pm

Sara, If there's interest, we could create a separate discussion (or discussions). Shall we see if others jump in, and then if a theme attracts comment, we can start a new forum discussion, and pull the relevant comments over to seed it?
Which question is salient to you?

Unraveling

posted by: Sara Silver on 10/28/2014 8:29 am

This part interests me:
******
Questions can be asked about the data that drove the designs, and the data that have emerged about the designs. What aspects of science (math) culture have taken hold in MSP schools, because of th? Where has school culture overwhelmed it, or prevented its taking root? Where has school culture transformed scientists or mathematicians culture? What content has been exchanged in either direction?

But the bottom line questions for me are, What did you hope for, and why? How close have you gotten? Whats just beyond your grasp maybe that you couldnt have imagined when you started?
****
We'd need some MSP project admin and their IHE partners to jump in. Not sure how to solicit.

Teasing apart the questions, #1: Models for scientist involvement

posted by: Brian Drayton on 10/29/2014 7:05 am

So maybe one core topic to start with is: What is your MSP's model for the role of the scientist (mathematician)? In what ways/roles specifically were they supposed to have an impact on the K-12 partners? What has worked, and what has not?

Teasing apart the questions #1: Models for scientist involvement

posted by: Sara Silver on 10/30/2014 8:48 am

Yes, this is a good place to start. Let's see what Joe Gardella et al. come up with. Thanks.

MSP models for roles for scientists/mathematicans: aspiration and reality

posted by: Nancy Shapiro on 11/19/2014 7:20 am

Brian,
In both of our MSPs in Maryland, we had aspirations that scientists would work side-by-side with expert teachers, contributing to the curricular content and also to build build bridges for longer term collaborations. We had heard too many times that schools and teachers didn't know who to call or how to find a way into the "system." That was a reciprocal challenge, since university faculty had no idea how to reach into schools (even if they wanted to!). Like anything else, it worked in some ways, and didn't in others--and for better or worse, relationships matter a lot.
That's not to diminish the importance of the research, the data and/or evidence. Rather, I would suggest that in order to take advantage of the learnings from the MSP research, you have to have established strong two-way relationships in order to get prolonged, sustainable "bang for the buck." By situating our MSPs at the University System office, the school districts have a person to call, a telephone number and a "nose under the tent." When they have something they need (whether it's a request for math faculty to be part of Common Core workgroups or a higher ed partner for a new grant), I will get a call from a district science supervisor or more frequently from the State Department of Education, asking me to put them in touch with faculty who can help.

What didn't work--trying to get faculty to engage with teachers in open-ended learning communities. Unless there is an "exigence" or urgency, it was hard to establish ongoing communities of practice between teachers and faculty--it felt forced and irrelevant.

One thing that we've learned is that we have to be able to respond to school needs--and I anticipate LOTS of school needs coming down the pike with Common Core and NGSS. But that's a topic for another post.

Aspirations vs. reality--what gets transmitted?

posted by: Sara Silver on 11/20/2014 4:21 pm

Nancy and Joe, good to hear about your respective IHE experiences. Brian Drayton and I were wondering if you could "noodge" one of your LEA partners to join this discussion. From you, we are getting a picture of what the IHE hopes to transmit and what actually gets transmitted. It would be instructive to know what LEAs think. From their POV, what were they hoping for and what in reality did they get through the MSP partnership? Future probes: if there are disconnects/gaps, how might we mitigate them?

LEA perspective

posted by: Nancy Shapiro on 11/21/2014 12:38 pm

I'll see if I can have them respond. They are pretty busy...as I'm sure you can understand, and the grants have concluded, so they may not be tracking MSPnet as closely as they were when we had an active project.

Keeping IHE and K-12 teachers in touch

posted by: Brian Drayton on 11/24/2014 11:54 am

Nancy, for me a long-term hope has been than science teachers (and this includes professors) could really see themselves as on the same team-- in a way creating an expectation that relationship-building is desirable. Don't see it happening much.
On the other hand, I do see places where professors and non professors get together around mutual interests (e.g. bird-watching), so that relationships are built in one area where there's authentic mutuality. I wonder if there's a way to do some community-building around things other than education, which could provide connections that later might include exchanges relevant to education.

IHE and K-12 teachers--what can we realistically expect?

posted by: Nancy Shapiro on 11/30/2014 5:26 pm

Brian, I understand where you are coming from, and I agree than unless there is some extracurricular relationship that is established between IHE and K-12 teachers, the connections frequently wither over time. Recently, however, I'm sensing a stronger motivation on the part of the K-12 teachers to link up with IHEs in the wake of Common Core and NGSS. In Maryland we have been relentlessly pushing higher ed faculty to become better informed about Common Core and NGSS by convening lots of meetings across the state with K-12 leaders. Part of our shared hope is that the school leaders will get "face time" with faculty during these meetings, and will engage them in the ongoing professional development (PD) that will be necessary for the local school districts to support their current faculty as they ramp up for CC and NGSS. Our hope is that it will be a mutual engagement--learnings on both sides. There is an urgency around CC and NGSS which creates another opportunity--but there are also the inevitable politics of CC and NGSS--so we'll have to see what happens.

Still curious: How have you deployed IHE faculty?

posted by: Brian Drayton on 12/30/2014 7:01 am

This discussion has been dormant, but the posts are full of interesting possibilities, which I want to revive in case some people had things to contribute but were swamped by the holidays.
First point: What roles did you design for IHE faculty in your MSP, when you wrote the proposal? What has worked? What has been hard to make happen? Have new roles emerged?

ISEP (Buffalo, NY) response to "IHEs, MSPs, Rs and Ps: Whats your model? Whats your hope?"

posted by: Joseph Gardella on 10/29/2014 7:05 am

Hi Sara and Brian:
Good to hear from you both.
Our ISEP program will respond with a longer post; deadlines looming but I would like to talk about our ideas and how they have been accomplished (and where they have not).....so I am interested either on this forum or a separate one. Give me til the weekend.
Joe Gardella
Director, ISEP
This part interests me:
******
Questions can be asked about the data that drove the designs, and the data that have emerged about the designs. What aspects of science (math) culture have taken hold in MSP schools, because of th? Where has school culture overwhelmed it, or prevented its taking root? Where has school culture transformed scientists or mathematicians culture? What content has been exchanged in either direction?

But the bottom line questions for me are, What did you hope for, and why? How close have you gotten? Whats just beyond your grasp maybe that you couldnt have imagined when you started?
****
We'd need some MSP project admin and their IHE partners to jump in. Not sure how to solicit.

Following up

posted by: Brian Drayton on 11/18/2014 3:27 pm

Hi, Joe,
Hope your looming deadlines are now in the rear-view mirror? We've been waiting eagerly for your further thoughts on this. Maybe you could pick one of the themes that interested you and use that to begin with. For example school culture in tension with an MSP's vision or theory of action?

Interdisciplinary Research as a model for increasing teacher PCK

posted by: Joseph Gardella on 11/19/2014 5:21 pm

Our central model, under research goals, is the adaptation of interdisciplinary research experience as a means to increase teacher PCK. There are a few differences in ISEP strategy compared to traditional Research Experience for Teachers (RET) models. The first, of course, is defining a cross cutting experience that links desired PCK outcomes for that teacher to research that translates across different fields, splits science and medicine, science and enigineering, between traditional departments or science courses. Fields like geographic information analysis, environmental science and engineering, biomedical research, and a host of science/engineering connections are areas that appeal to the teachers. A second difference is the requirement that the teacher write a research proposal that defines a work product for the classroom. The proposals guide our placements. Work products are not research publications but classroom materials, lesson plans, new inquiry based science/engineering experiments, and collaborations between teachers. Finally, extensive wrap around support in the academic year for implementation includes Ph.D. Grad Assistants in each ISEP school (there are twelve, five K-8 schools where we focus on grades 4-8 and six high schools with one comprehensive (and open enrollment) STEM school from grades 5-12.

What have been the results from evaluation? Our evaluator reports the following summary following Summer 2014 data collection
Teachers Knowledge and Skills. Statistically significant improvements indicated teachers were better prepared to encourage participation of females and minorities in science courses after participating in ISEP, better prepared to teach a diverse range of students, and make curricular decisions aligned with standards. Following one year of participation in ISEP, teachers reported less need for professional development in interdisciplinary concepts, suggesting that ISEP experiences had provided opportunities to develop their understanding of interdisciplinary science.
ISEP teachers had positive views toward inquiry-based teaching and learning and held positive attitudes and beliefs about teaching science and mathematics in general. ISEP teachers demonstrated a good understanding of most aspects of the Nature of Science. Following participation in ISEP activities, teacher participants demonstrated better understanding of some aspects of classroom inquiry and the Nature of Science.
Students Inquiry Experiences. ISEP teachers students reported more positively on their classroom inquiry learning experiences than did their peers taught by non-ISEP teachers. Elementary students reported that their ISEP teachers demonstrated many behaviors that characterize inquiry teaching. Students of ISEP teachers also reported more of their own behaviors that characterize inquiry learning. Of 24 items asking students about their classroom experiences, ISEP students reported more often that their classrooms were inquiry-oriented than did non-ISEP students on all but 1 item.
Middle school students of ISEP teachers also reported that their teachers more frequently used inquiry teaching practices. Of the 24 items asking students to report on classroom inquiry experiences, ISEP students reported more positively than did non-ISEP students on all but 2 items. Of the 24 items asking students about their classroom inquiry experiences, high school students of ISEP teachers responded more positively on 16 items than did their non-ISEP peers.
Students Interest and Attitudes. Elementary students of ISEP teachers agreed more that they like science, and would keep on taking science classes even if they did not have to, than did students of non-ISEP teachers. Students of ISEP teachers also demonstrated a better understanding of the Nature of Science than did their non-ISEP peers. Middle school ISEP teachers students also reported more often that they would keep on taking science classes even if they did not have to, compared to their non-ISEP peers. ISEP high school students were more likely to take challenging high school science courses, plan for post-secondary education, and plan to take science courses in college than were their non-ISEP peers.

Joe Gardella

ISEP, teacher research, and models of change

posted by: Brian Drayton on 12/2/2014 1:23 pm

Joe, I really enjoyed this description of your project. There are many ways in which it resonates with my own experiences in supporting teacher research experiences a decade ago. The authenticity of the research was important for the most satisfying result that is, the teachers were not just data collectors, but were including in the sense-making, and in some cases the design of the research project they were part of.
However, one thing that we didn't get data on is persistence. That is, our model saw teachers as part of the same community as the scientists they were working with/mentored by. The hope was that the teachers would be encouraged by their experience to take much more personal control of their professional development, and feel authorized to speak with scientists as part of that. This required some adjustment from the scientists, too. Once the funding ended, it did not seem likely that this model would hold -- the TERC team did a lot of match-making between teachers and scientists, provided some PD and shared experiences to support the project planning, etc.
So do you have any data about cultural changes that might last once the ISEP funding (and more important the project teams) goes away?

Seeing the arc

posted by: F. Joseph Merlino on 11/22/2014 10:49 am

I had a MSP for 9 years in the Greater Philadelphia area. We had 200 secondary schools in 45 districts and 13 IHE partners. Jim Hamos was my PO and he was great. Supportive yet nudging us always in this or that. A true colleague and friend.

Yes the MSPs were a design experiment although at the time I did not realize that is what they were. But I knew we we doing something different than a typical project.

One of the advantages of having a long project is that you get the see the arc of activity, the rest of the story as the late radio commentator Paul Harvey used to say.

One of the big take aways for me was the transiency of it all. Teachers, principals and central office administrators would come and go. Permanence beyond one year was an illusion, a false hope.

We, along with the Univ of Penn, currently have an NSF PRIME grant to investigate Ambient Positional Instability or API as we call it. This comes out of our MSP experience work. This expands Richard Ingersoll's work on teacher retention as we are using the SLDS of states to track teacher movement in and out of schools and in and out of grades and positions over time.

The coming and goings of math and science teachers over time or "churn" is like trying to golf in a hurricane.

So while I agree with everything Arthur H. Camins just posted, I do think any sustained improvement is really impossible without greater staff and admin stability, especially in urban schools. Beating up on teachers is not likely to encourage the younger ones to stay and get better. And the economically trapped older ones will likely just hunker down into a siege mentality.

Under these circumstances, and with STEM education supports being starved for funding at the federal and state levels, I see dim prospects for the Common Core and NGSS, especially when middle class and upper middle class kids start to bomb the PARC and Smarter Balance assessments.

So for the near term, I am not very hopeful. That is why our former MSPGP team is now doing work in Egypt designing integrated STEM schools based on their country's "Grand Challenges" with new proficiency based assessments. Turns out that USAID these days is a bigger STEM education funder than either NSF or US Dept of Educ.

re: seeing the arc

posted by: Richard Askey on 12/1/2014 1:50 pm

Merlino's message is depressing. However, one should not give up on trying to make the Common Core work. Here is a link to a presentation on what the Brookhill Mathematics Institute has been doing in Wisconsin to help teachers improve their content knowledge. http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hub/258285/file-1810169111-pdf/Presentations/A SCD_Fall_2014_Presentation.pdf
This is needed, and teachers do not think of it as teacher bashing.

post moderated on 12/1/2014

giving the standards a chance to work out

posted by: Brian Drayton on 12/2/2014 1:29 pm

Richard, thanks for your post, and the link. The PD portrayed in that presentation does seem engaging and substantive. Is it embedded in some kind of follow-up, as teachers take the learning back to the classrooms? What do teachers say they find most worrisome about the new standards? When I've talked with science teachers and administrators in Mass., the "practices" come up frequently.
Of course, Joe's post is not so much about the standards as about school policy & politics, and the testing regime -- and the evidence is that in both regards, conditions are not really conducive to good learning, for teachers or students, in very many cities and towns.

New Years discussion update

posted by: Joseph Gardella on 12/31/2014 7:33 am

Thanks to Brian, Sara and Joseph Merlino's thoughts, I am responding a bit to Brian's ask for reopening the discussion.

First, I appreciate Joseph Merlino's observations. We based a lot of our thinking on ISEP development on the Philadelphia project he led, along with other MSP's in urban districts. I agree completely that turnover of school leadership and teachers is a detail that mitigates against sustainability, especially in our case, where we focus on only 12 high needs schools in Buffalo, changes in principals, coordinating teachers (our leading teacher in each school), and working with multiple superintendents just in the course of our award (two "permanent" superintendents and three interim superintendents) is an issue. We stated in our goals that using ISEP as a means to stabilize teacher loyalty to the school was a goal, and our data seem to hold up on that, teachers seem more ready to stay at an ISEP school than transfer voluntarily, but forced transfers happen. Principal changes have been interesting, with some ISEP principals actually leaving to go to other ISEP schools, but loss of good principals to moving up to higher administrative levels has been a challenge.

Ok, back to Brian's question; what has worked and what is new. I gave results from our evaluator previously. Now here are my observations.

1. the interdisciplinary research model and our plan to have teachers write proposals...I think that has really worked to develop teacher understanding of process and outcomes as part of the professional development scheme. We do have a good fraction of teachers staying committed over many summers to projects and laboratories also, a good sign in my book.

2. the role of graduate assistants in the schools is far more significant than I imagined. They play significant roles, are not viewed by teachers and principals as outsiders or threatening (we worked closely with union leadership (and thanks to Jim Hamos for leading us to that!) in a district where the union is reviled by most community leaders, many are surprised how well we work with the head of the union (BTW, who has a Physics degree from my institution). The GAs, an expensive component of ISEP, are amazing in their dedication to the goals of ISEP, their PLC activities are driving a lot of innovation. GAs have written proposals, developed new programs and helped innovate on TPD.

3. Service learning UNDERGRADUATE students do more than serve and learn,t hey lead. We have many initiatives that have grown from undergraduate students, a college readiness office in one school, a translation project for ELL student and ESL teachers in a district that enrolls immigrant and refugee students who speak over 80 different languages and dialects, that has resulted in full translations of high school biology (Living Environment in NYState) into Arabic, Burmese (Karin is the dialect), Nepali and Somali, including oral translations for those students who speak but cannot read their language. These are just two ideas that came from undergraduates!

4. Faculty participation in hosting teachers. I have NEVER twisted an arm for faculty participation at UB and Buffalo State college, our two core IHEs. Last year I placed 78 teachers in summer positions of all types, and 60 in research labs, including three under a separate NSF grant to supporting partner the Hauptman Woodward Institute (those doing modern genomics research). Besides senior faculty leadership and particiopation, I am amazed about junior faculty who come forward to do the work, and amazing support from deans, provost and presidents at our institutions.

5. Our parent PLC for engaging parents has developed their own calendar of events that support ISEP engagement for students and parents. Last year, they conceived and planned our first Student Science Summit. We planned for 150 people (student teams from each of our twelve schools) at the Buffalo Museum of Science on a Saturday morning in March. 300 people showed up. The parents also have an ISEP sponsored social justice conference each year. Minority parents engaged at multiple levels of leadership really meets my goal of following the Epstein model of parent engagement. These were surprising outcomes.

6. Corporate partners who are amazing; it's not about money, it is about people. Corporate staff in the classroom and hosting teachers in the summer.

7. Our informal science partner, the Buffalo Museum of Science has expanded access to our participants. Each parent in the PLC got a free family membership to the Museum, new summer and intersession programs are attracting ISEP students to them (generally more accessible to suburban parents and students, now more Buffalo kids participating, and the Museum is right in the city on the East side...).


8. We have a diverse and complex partnership, four core partners (Buffalo Schools, UB, Buffalo State College and the Museum of Science), four supporting partners for research (Praxair, Life Technologies, Hauptmann Woodward research Institute and Roswell Park Cancer Institute) providing access for teacher research), and supporting partners for student support: Buffalo Public Schools District Parent Coordinating Council, WNY Service Learning Collaborative and new IHE partners, Niagara U, Canisius College, Medaille College and Daemen College, which provide service learning students.

That's a few positives beyond our plan.

What's failed?

1. We have been slow, but now improving, to engage middle and high school students in planned summer STEM programs; that has improved with the addition of Cradle Beach a historic summer camp serving the disabled and economically disadvantaged.

2. We have been slow to gain identity and potential supplemental funding from New York State Ed. that seems to be changing, we have had two small grants for extending PD to other teachers in the district, but now the BPS is adding ISEP to other STate Ed initiatives in career and technical ed, and just announced program for expanding socioeconomic diversity in high needs schools.

I have to thank our Steering Committee leadership of the IHE presidents for helping on this.

3. The turnover issues that Joseph Merlino addressed; still an issue even though we thought it would be.

4. Still need to articulate a clear theory of action (careful input from our external advisory committee and working on that).

I hope that helps push the conversation a bit.

Happy New Year to everyone; MSPs have brought us together with other MSP participants! That's a great opportunity.

Best wishes
Joe Gardella

Joseph A. Gardella, Jr.
SUNY Distinguished Professor and
John and Frances Larkin Professor of Chemistry
University at Buffalo, SUNY

www.buffalo.edu/~gardella

Director, Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Partnership (ISEP) with Buffalo Public Schools

http://isep.buffalo.edu
http://isep.mspnet.org