Leveraging Dynamically Linked Representations in a Semi-Structured Workspace to Cultivate Mathematical Modeling Competencies Among Secondary Students (M2Studio)
Mathematical modeling can support people in making sense of complex and critical unanswered questions related to real-world phenomena. For example, mathematical modeling can help determine the speed at which an infectious disease will spread, how interventions can limit the spread, and how sea level change can impact coastal populations and ecosystems. While educators and policymakers recognize the importance of mathematical modeling in K-12 education, the complexities of modeling and modeling tasks often create barriers for classroom implementation. Such tasks are complex, open-ended, and require iterative thinking and the coordination of multiple mathematical representations. This three-year Design and Development project seeks to build a semi-structured workplace to support students' mathematical modeling competencies called M2Studio. This technology integrates aspects of two existing and widely used technologies (CODAP and SageModeler) into a single workspace that can effectively capture students' activities, representations, problem solving sequences, and thinking as they work individually or in pairs on mathematical modeling tasks. The project will develop aspects of M2Studio across five design cycles, study student engagement and learning via the platform, and collect data from teachers on the conditions under which M2Studio implementation is particularly effective. The project builds on a theoretical conceptualization of mathematical modeling that involves five sub competencies: simplifying, mathematizing, working mathematically, interpreting, and validating. In building the M2Studio and dynamically linking the CODAP and SageModeler, the system will provide opportunities to be able to assess the ways in which students are engaging in these sub competencies. The project will engage in five design cycles to design the technology and associated curricular modules, deploy and test the technologies with students and teachers, and assess the impact on students' mathematical modeling competencies. The first two design cycles will focus on technology development and short in-person lab tests with 4 teachers and 16 students. Design Cycles 3 and 4 will involve two field tests with 8 teachers and 400 students. The fifth design cycle will involve an implementation study to further explore the research questions. Student learning will be assessed via a mathematical modeling sub-competencies test. Student interaction patterns will be evaluated through the qualitative analysis of screencast and classroom videos. The conditions under which the program is more or less effective with respect to classroom implementation will be measured by observations, interviews, and logs from implementing teachers. The final version of the platform will be hosted and made available widely in various K-16 mathematical modeling communities. The Discovery Research preK-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of innovative resources, models and tools. Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects. This project is co-funded by the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program, which supports projects that build understandings of practices, program elements, contexts and processes contributing to increasing students' knowledge and interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and information and communication technology (ICT) careers. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.