PIs: Tamara Sumner, Janet Carlson, William Penuel, Michael Wright, Patricia Kincaid
University of Colorado at Boulder
The “Inquiry Hub” project brings together a partnership of educational researchers, computer scientists, school district leaders, curriculum developers, interactive resource providers, and multiple publishers of STEM curricula to undertake a systemic approach to learner-centered teaching that promotes adaptability and responsiveness to the differing needs of diverse learners. The partnership integrates several prominent technology and curriculum innovations resulting from prior NSF support, which are being deployed in iterative cycles of user-driven, design-based implementation research. Formative data such as usage logs, surveys, interviews, and classroom observations are informing successive versions of this work; and a longitudinal analysis utilizing hierarchical linear modeling is being used to evaluate impact on teacher practice and student learning. The project has three primary outputs: i) a content platform to make rigorous, learner-centered curriculum resources more widely accessible to students, teachers, and districts; ii) innovative software adaptation services, coupled with targeted professional development, to significantly improve teachers’ ability to customize their teaching with learner-centered curricula so as to better meet the needs of diverse learners; and iii) a network of partner organizations and businesses to provide the social platform necessary for scaling and sustaining the project’s activities. The intellectual merit of this project lies in its demonstration of a model for employing digital curricula and cyberlearning services to bring about improvements to teaching and learning at scale. In particular, it is advancing theory and practical knowledge in three areas: i) the state- of-the-art in computational infrastructures to support an efficient way to offer customized views of content, ii) learning science theory to study how innovative cyberlearning services enable teachers to make effective adaptations to learning resources so as to meet the needs of diverse learners, and iii) understanding of the social structures and collaboration processes needed to scale and sustain research-based, cyberlearning innovations that involve multiple institutional actors. The project’s broader impacts are being felt through its development of a new organizational and business model for bringing research-based, digital curriculum and software services to market. Furthermore, testing the implementation of this project in a large, diverse urban district is demonstrating its viability as a cost-effective mechanism for bringing learner-centered teaching and curriculum to scale in a way that leads to improved learning for all.