Research: Researching the Value of Educator Actions for Learning (REVEAL)
This three-year research project will study the impact of science center staff facilitation strategies in the area of mathematics learning in a museum exhibit environment. The three main deliverables are: (1) Iteratively developing and refining a theoretical model of how staff facilitation can deepen and extend family mathematical discourse at interactive exhibits; (2) Rigorously testing key components of this model, including the relationship between staff facilitation and the nature of family mathematical discourse; and (3) Providing evidence and research-based tools to support PD efforts for informal STEM educators. The project will leverage the success of the NSF-funded Access Algebra project (DRL-0714634) to advance the field's understanding of socially mediated, informal math learning and identify effective, evidence-based facilitation approaches. The project's research will build from theoretical notion of sociomathematical norms (Yackel & Cobb, 1996), which is currently based on classroom research. A key element of the project will be to determine whether and how, the norms can be applied to informal learning environments. The first phase of the project begins with a qualitative, design-based research (DBR) study to develop a theoretical model of staff-facilitated family math learning, including staff facilitation strategies that support family mathematical discourse and contextual factors that influence that discourse. In the second phase of the project, the team will use an experimental approach to rigorously test the staff facilitation model developed during Phase 1. This mixed-method design will allow the team to both study the complexities of informal math learning and rigorously test causal connections between staff facilitation and the level of family math discourse. Finally, the project staff will provide tools to support PD efforts for informal STEM educators across the country.
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