Online Science Education Gets $1.4 Million Research Infusion

A UC Berkeley research team will be using a second grant from the Institute of Education Sciences to expand on prior research that created online assessments for Next Generation Science Standards.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have been awarded a $1.4 million grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) to advance research on online middle school science education.

The research project, titled “Developing and Testing Multi-Component Computer-Based Assessment Tasks for the Next Generation Science Standards,” is an ongoing project from UC Berkeley, conducted in collaboration with Stanford University, SERP Institute and San Francisco Unified School District. The purpose of the project is to further test online science assessments for middle school students, focusing on two subjects: structure of matter and ecology.

Using funding from a previous IES grant, the researchers created a learning progression for scientific argumentation, which is a central feature of the state-created Next Generation Science Standards. With the new grant, they will continue to develop this learning progression; in addition, they are planning to convert the existing paper-and-pencil assessments to online assessments for wider adoption in K–12 science classrooms.  

The study is to take place in an urban school district in California. Both teachers and students from grades 8-10 will participate. The researchers will use the BEAR Assessment System (BASS) created in the previous grant, “an integrated approach to developing assessments that provides meaningful interpretations of student work relative to the cognitive and developmental goals of the domain,” according to the proposal. BASS has four building blocks that guide assessment development: progress map, item design, outcome space and measurement model. In addition to using the BASS model, the researchers will create new item templates for computerized delivery to classrooms.

The grant was made possible through funding from the National Center for Education Research (NCER), a branch of IES that supports research on the country’s most pressing education needs. NCER has selected 57 research proposals and provided a total of $105 million in funding through its Education Research Grants Program.

Further information about the project is available on the research site.  

About the Author

Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at [email protected].