iQUEST: Investigations for Quality Understanding and Engagement for Students and Teachers

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Over three years, thirty-two seventh and eighth grade science teachers and more than 6,000 students from San Diego will engage in classroom learning experiences that utilize interactive learning objects, probeware and video conferencing with scientists from Rochester Institute of Technology to increase awareness, understanding and attitudes toward STEM fields.
Project Information
6 (2008/2009-2011/2012)
Principal Investigator: 
Katherine Hayden
Co-Principal Investigator(s): 
Youwen Ouyang
California State University San Marcos
Primary Focus: 
Computer Science - Programming and Other
multimedia – audio, video and animation
Organization Location City: 
San Marcos
Organization Location Region/State: 
California (CA)
Where project work happens: 
California (CA)
Other Area(s) of Focus: 
Computer Science – Gaming & Simulations
Participant type: 
American Indian or Alaskan Native
Middle School Teachers
Middle School Students
Target Area: 
Award Number: 
Overview Section

California State University San Marcos, Rochester Institute of Technology, San Diego County Office of Education, San Diego Science Alliance, K-12 High Speed Network, California State Parks, and nine southern California middle schools are collaborating to develop, implement, and evaluate teacher professional development and student learning experiences to enhance science and information and communication technologies (ICT) learning among underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students (primarily Hispanic and Native American) in grades 7 and 8. The major goal of the project is to promote workforce diversity by working with local students to ensure their readiness for, and interest and participation in, ICT-intensive careers.

Major project activities include (1) developing ICT-enhanced STEM learning modules and resources for use in middle school physics, chemistry, and life science courses, (2) preparing 32 ICT-savvy teachers from target schools in five school districts, and (3) providing students with ICT-intensive summer camps. The curriculum component addresses grade-appropriate science and technology standards by developing classroom-based science investigation modules that employ ICT technologies such as videoconferencing, interactive games, probeware, visualizations, web resources, and social networking tools (Moodle).

Thirty-two teachers will receive professional development over three years by attending Summer Academies and engaging in year-long activities that include Lesson Study and action research. Project staff, scientists, and education and computer science graduate students are providing ongoing classroom support.

Activities Section

Project teachers were brought together for an orientation in May of 2009 where they met project staff, learned about the program and received resources to review prior to their summer academy. The 2009 iQUEST Summer Academy for teachers was held at CSUSM campus from July 28 to July 30. During the Academy, teachers were provided opportunities to experiment with Moodle to support online collaboration activities. They learned how to create Web pages within Moodle, how to organize lessons and resources for their students, and how to use collaborative tools such as forums and wikis to engage students in Web-based activities and reflections. In addition, a variety of interactive science simulations were introduced to teachers for discussion, alignment with their curriculum. and for brainstorming ideas about integration in their classroom. Teachers shared self-identified online resources and ICT-enhanced science activities they had previously used. Videoconferencing was used as a medium for communication (using Adobe Connect) with a scientist from Rochester Institute of Technology who is the Associate Director of the Center for Imaging Science (partnership). He gave iQUEST teachers an introduction to ImageJ software, available for free, and offered his support in identifying curriculum-based applications of the software for 8th grade classrooms. Continued collaboration with Dr. Joe Keating and Dr. Eileen Marron (through Skype connections) led to finalizing Action Research instruments for year one. For further exploration of videoconferencing tools, teachers were introduced to the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC) and browsed through abstracts of Lessons that could be requested for their classrooms. Other guests included scientists from CSUSM and UCSD who presented demonstrations on science concepts related to the 8th grade standards and content. Teachers have attended monthly trainings and a Lesson Study Workshop to continue their training during the fall 2009 semester. Working in Lesson Study teams, teachers have designed and implemented iQUEST lessons using technology to support science concepts in the classroom.

Key Findings: 
For teacher professional development, formative assessment has guided refinement of workshops and classroom support. Instruments have been identified for data collection in project classrooms. Twenty-four students attended the iQUEST 2009 Student Summer Camp, of which 22 successfully completed pre and post surveys of attitudes toward science and technology. Student attitudes toward science as measured by a short form of the Test of Science Related Attitudes (TOSRA) and results showed a significant change from pre to post-survey. Gender had little effect on the results. Movement in science attitudes was more pronounced for girls than for boys, but the difference was not significant. Without considering gender, the overall effect size was about three-quarters of a standard deviation (d=.76), or (taking gender into account in an analysis of variance) about 36% of total variance explained by the difference in scores pre to post. In terms of self-perceptions for Information and Communications Technology Attitudes (ICTA), student pre-post scores became more positive following the week long intensive summer camp experience. The mean total scale score increased about half a standard deviation, and the change for girls was slightly larger than for boys. Lessons learned from the first summer camp will be applied and a refined curriculum will be offered during the 2nd year of the project (summer 2010).