Theoretical and Methodological tools for studying group productive disciplinary engagement
A team of researchers from Purdue University and Indiana University will look at how students in group settings become engaged in learning the core ideas and practices specific to STEM disciplines. The project team will develop theory and measures for observing collaborative group engagement during complex and meaningful learning tasks in middle school biology and math classes. The project outcomes will be broadly available for examining engagement in science and mathematics practices such as are being called for in national and local science standards. Ultimately, these measures will support the identification of content and disciplinary connections characteristic of high quality engagement in science and math, as well as the group processes and instructional activities that promote this engagement. This, in turn, can substantially inform curricular design that promotes high quality engagement. The project is funded by the EHR Core Research (ECR) program, which supports work that advances the fundamental research literature on STEM learning and training.
This research project will draw on recent theoretical advances concerning the construct of productive disciplinary engagement (PDE). PDE applies to learning that is (1) joint, (2) dynamic, and (3) inextricable from its context, including key STEM concepts and disciplinary practices. The project team will develop a detailed model to guide the subsequent development of observational tools using an evidence-centered design approach and then execute a validation plan to support interpretation of group scores from a rubric designed to measure PDE. The project team will develop theory and operationalize PDE in a rubric grounded in extant measures and theoretical advances. Initial trials of a paper-format rubric will be conducted using extant video data. To evaluate the rubric ratings as group engagement measures, pre-specified validity evidence will be collected and analyzed during trials of the rubric. Statistical models of engagement as evolving within and across activities will be tested, as well as used to predict occurrences of PDE. This research will address foundational theoretical questions about how PDE progresses during disciplinary practices.