Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.
Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.
OCR for page 57
4 Research Program Alternatives The main part of this chapter is an examination of several program options for interdisciplinary research in mathematics and science education, and their strengths and weaknesses, in light of the evidence and analysis presented in Chapter 3. The review of program options preceded by a brief disco sion of a few dimensions that must be considered in any program planning process, and it is followed by a few words on the need for long-range planning. Throughout this chapter three groups of sci- entists and educators are envisioned as participants in the research: (1) natural scientists and mathematicians; (2) social and behavioral scientists, researchers in mathematics and science education, and other education researchers; and (3) school administrators and teachers. PROGRAM DIMENSIONS The committee's assessment of existing examples of interdisciplinary research and the needs for interdis- ciplinary research in science and mathematics education indicate that a sponsoring agency should carefully con- sider a variety of options for research programs. Dif- ferent program structures and objec~ci~res are likely to lead to different kinds of participation as well as different program outcomes. Three mayor dimensions of program differences need to be considered in program planning: size and time scale, strategy for involvement, and leadership. 57
OCR for page 58
58 Size and Time Scale of Program The resources likely to be available will affect allot only the overall scale of the program but also ache probe able size of individual research projects and grand. For examples successful interdisciplinary research has been conducted in large research centers, each in~rol~ring many scientists from a single institution as well as scio enlists and educators or clinicians on a full- or pert ° time basis from across the country Successful interdis- eiplinary research has also been fostered through fellow- ships awarded to individuals and through small grants supporting only two in~restigatorso see, for example, ache joint NSF/NTE program involving cognitive and natural seientists9 and the resulting projects (described in National Science Foundation, 1981) . With respect to time scale, short- term and long- term are often, but not necessarily, commensurate with small and large. lotus, a program of modesty grants to small teens of investigators can be expected to yield results in basic knowledge or application relatively soon (Na- tional Science Foundation, 1981:196-198), as can a large ir~vestment irt a development project for which the basic research base exists (e.g., the Manhattan ProJect)O But small~scale invesmen~cs in training can be expected to have long-term pay-off, and the large ir~vestment neces- sary to create and sustain research and development centers obviously represents a long-&cerm strategy, even though shore term as well as long-term results can be expected. Agencies sometimes favor programs of small awards because they are more flexible with respect to budgetary fluctuations than are programs that require large~scale investments over a period of years. Program flexibility, however, can turn into program instability, causing the loss of outstanding investigators. Strategy for Involvement One type of s~crategy for in~cerdisciplinary collabo- ration is for the agency carefully to define the problems in science and mathematics education that are to be ad- dressed and then request proposals for carrying out the works A different strategy is for the agency to identify eminent scientists and educators who are interested in pursuing interdisciplinary research in science and mathe- maties education and then allow them to define the nature
OCR for page 59
s9 of the problem(~), develop a plan for research, and lead the research with agency support. A third strategy is to offer inducements to promising young investigators (e.g., through specially designed research grants or fellow- ships) to work in interdisciplinary settings. For any given program idea, the agency has to decide on the most appropriate strategy for involving scientists and edu- cators . Leadership A sponsoring agency has to determine how the leaders who are essential for interdisciplinary projects will be provided. A sponsoring agency and its officials might take a strong role in generating interest and ir~volvement from the scientific community, as was the case in the curriculum projects of the 1960s. Alternatively,, pro- grams might give incentives to universities to organize and marriage interdisciplinary research proje~ts9 as is done in NSF's Materials Science Program. Another pos- sibility is to ask professional scientific or educational organizations to take the lead in planning and developing interdisciplinary research projects. It should be noted again that assurance of at least some stability in pro- gram priorities and funding as well as some autonomy for project leaders will help to attract outstanding sci- entists and educators to interdisciplinary research. PROGRAM OPTIONS Considering these three dimensions of program plan- ning for interdisciplinary research and using the analy- ses presented in the preceding chapters, the committee has endeavored to relate several program options to the mayor factors that affect and are affected by interdisci- plinary research. In Figure 1, ache options are listed in the first column, and the factors identified in the com- mittee' s analyses as related to successful intardisciplin- ary research are displayed horizontally. Each program option is discussed below, together with the factors most strongly associated with it, as indicated by the aster- isks in Figure I.
OCR for page 60
60 _ _. ~0 * ~ . or ~ ~1 MU ID a; ~! ~] i] !~] _ fi ID _
OCR for page 61
61 Interdisciplinary Research Centers A large - scale program option for a sponsoring agency is support of one or a few interdisciplinary research centers. This model has been used to encourage research institutions to plan and organize interdisciplinary re- search programs. According to a recent study by the U.S. General Accounting Office (1986), scientists who are in research centers are involved in more cross-disciplinary research than colleagues who are in regular academic departments . Research centers can be planned by the sponsoring agency to address specific problems, as is the case for the centers recently funded by the Department of Educa- tion, or interdisciplinary research centers can be orga- nized to give institutions flexibility in defining re- search problems and planning interdisciplinary research. For example, the NSF-supported Materials Research Labora- tories and new Engineering Research Centers are funded through block grants in order to encourage universities and research institutions to organize programs of re- search involving several disciplines. If a center is large, it can also be asked to address systemically related problems in order to counteract the proven ineffectiveness of dealing with any educational problem in isolation. The conditions that are likely to be positively af- [ected by the creation of research centers are shown in Figure 1. First, the possibility of an interdisciplinary center could stimulate research universities to provide leadership for interdisciplinary work on science and mathematics education. lathe examples cited above document that block grants can help develop institutional leader- ship . Second, appropriate management incentives for foster - ing interdisciplinary te^'In.n can be specified in agency grant requirements. lithe requirements can also specify the kinds of disciplines and specialists that are desir- able in the projects, such as physical or life scien- ~cists, mathematicians, science educators, cognitive scien discs, and school administrators or teachers. Grant requirements, however, cannot ensure ache caliber of sci- entists or educators that apply, though grant selection can do so if there are enough applicants . Conversely, inappropriate management strategies can discourage partic- ipation by scientists and educators: for instance, a sponsoring agency's methods of soliciting proposals and
OCR for page 62
62 oversight of projects can act as an incentive or disin° centive for interdisciplinary work. The mounts of paper- work, bureaucratic monitoring, and reporting that are required were cited as important factors in the outcomes of previous interdisciplinary projects (see Chapter 3~0 Bird, the commitment of adequate resources is a ma; or advantage of the research center option. A funded center allows both par~cicipants and institutions to cost on a sufficient level of support for a multiple°year effort to build and maintain effective ten for carrying out substantial projected An important factor in Pretoria ous successful interdisciplinary projects was just such a margin of financial support so that the host institution could attract outstanding ir~divid~ls' develop collabora- tive working relations, and carry projects to fruition. An additional dividend is that such centers cast provide support for Junior faculty until they can build a track record and then obtain funds on their own, thus expanding the field. For example, materials science has largely evolved as a recognized interdisciplinary field through the long support of the Materials Research Laboratories. Institutional support in the £o~ of rewards and recog- nition for interdisciplinary activity, which has been very important in earlier projects,, is also facilitated by stable funding. Institutions are lithely to be more willing to pro~ride greater professional rewards for interdisciplinary research in the context of a funded research center. Thus' the research center option can increase the in~rol~rement of disciplinary scientists and educators and encourage peer recognition for interdis- ciplinary work, which in tub` can reinforce long°term institutional support. Fourth, coordination of project components and activi° ties and regular communication among participants from different disciplinary backgrounds are possible ire ret search centers,, though not without explicit mechanisms. Research centers can provide the opportunity for prox- imity in physical location as well as funding for meet- ingot and seminars that increase cross-disciplinary com- munication. lathe sharing of equipment (~0 go, computers arid software that funding of broad projects often en- ~cails also is a significant source of eollegialltye A full - time pro] act leader is panic] cularly important for coordination and communication, and a center is likely to have a full- tin leader. It is slot possible deco predict, however, whether a research center will facilitate good communica~cions and coordination between scientists and
OCR for page 63
63 educators. Crossing institutional barriers is partic- ularly difficult, especially if centers are located on university campuses where school administrators and teachers are not likely to be viewed as having equal status with researchers. Last, product orientation, for example, getting out research results, developing improved teaching methods, or creating better curricula, may be a positive result of the research center option, particularly if the center has some specific problem-solving missions defined from the outset. A funding agency can have an important role in establishing a product orientation, as with the cur- riculum projects of the 1960s, but it has to avoid over- management that decreases the flexibility of a center. What kinds of problems of science and mathematics education could most a~rantageo~ly be addressed through research centers? Drawing on the needs outlined in Chapter 2, likely areas include: a o o o research and development on the content of science and mathematics curricula; analyses of the role of school and classroom contexts in shaping mathematics and science curricula and instruction; development of new testing approaches and methodologies; and research on how prospective and practicing teachers develop knowledge and understanding of subject matter and associated improvement of preservice and inservice education. For each of scheme areas, centers should be charged with carrying out research, development, and--most important--application is a variety of educational settings. The work should be organized around problems, development of solutions, and the application and imple- mentation of solutions, not around broad-based research questions. As a strategy for encouraging fresh ~riew- points, a center might offer temporary appointments for 1 to 3 years. Consideration should also be given to creat- ing some centers based on linkages to the areas of prac- tice, egg., schools, state agencies, university services, textbook publishers, etc. , rather than trying to develop the linkages as a consequences of what is produced.
OCR for page 64
64 Recruitment of Top Scientists and Educators A second large-scale option for a sponsoring agency is a program that concentrates on recruiting eminent dive ciplinary scientists, education researchers, and practi- tioners. This kind of model was used by NSF in the cur- riculum projects of the 1960s (described in Chapter 3~. The curriculum projects were initiated jointly by promi- nent scientists and the NSF staff after after ~satis- factory curricula were identified to be a major problem in mathematics and science education. As the reform movement gained momentum, more top scientists and mathe- maticians were recruited to participate in curriculum development. The scientists and mathematicians designed the projects, recruited others including outstanding teachers, and led the development process. Strong leadership by a sponsoring agency is always likely to be an important factor in encouraging eminent scientists and educators to become project 1eadersO Em- phasis needs to be placed on giving leading researchers scholars, and practitioners a wide degree of flexibility and discretion in order to encourage their participa- tion. Given a fixed amount of program resources' this strategy is likely to result in ~ smaller nether of projects being funded than would be the ease for a less proactive grants program, since eminent participants will expect (and can obtain for other activities) appropriate resources to plan and carry out their ideas. If the strategy is successful, it is likely to im- prove the climate for interdisciplinary research because of the participation of highly regarded individuals O Resource commitment and in8ti=tiO~1 support also are likely to be positively affected by recruitment of top scientists and educators. However', other Biceps are needed to ensure successful interdisciplinary activity in science and mathematics education through this Tracery. ~ potential problem with this model is in gaining a balance in the qualifications and status of scientists and educators9 particularly since scientists have not usually had high regard for educators. Problems of eom- mur~ica~cion and coordination among project participants may be further accentuated if Ache participants from the various disciplines and specialties do not have respect for the expertise or views of others in the interdis- ciplinary team. This situation can result in domination by one perspective, a criticism sometimes made of the 1960s curriculum projects.
OCR for page 65
as A recruitment strategy might be considered for the following types of activities identified as needs in Chapter 2: o development of new theories of instruction in science and mathematics that incorporate recent knowledge about reasoning in these fields; o uses of new instructional technologies for improv- ing the organization of schools and classrooms for teaching mathematics or science; o development of new testing approaches and method- ologies; and o change in the content of science and mathematics curricula that takes account of new knowledge and procedures in a discipline, new instructional technologies, and new knowledge about the devel- opment of student cognitive skills. Campaigns to Increase Awareness A third large- scale program option for 8 sponsoring agency is to develop a campaign to increase the awareness of scientists and educators of the need for interdisci~ plinary research. Much attention has been driven to such indi cators of the inadequate quality of precollege sci- ence and mathematics education as declines in course enrollments, achievement test scores, and competent teachers. Many scientists and educators are fully aware of these indicators and have some interest in the associ ated problems. Not many, however, are aware that the com- plexity of most of these problems calls for an interdisci- plinary approach, nor do they have any reason or incen- tives for participating in interdisciplinary research. An agency could develop a program to explain the nature of the problems in more detail and outline the con~cribu- tions that could be made toward developing answers O A variation would be a targeted campaign aimed at scien- tists and educators previously identified as having a strong interest in science and mathematics education. Such a campaign could involve professional scientific and educational organizations and societies through confer- ences, publications, and networks. Most important it could provide support for dissemination and application of successful examples of interdisciplinary research ~ n science and mathematics education. Such demonstrations, and perhaps the publication of some serious histories of
OCR for page 66
66 successful efforts, are needed to provide evidence of the value of interdisciplinary ac~civity for improving educa° tion. The suggested program, through emphasizing the im- portance and effecti~renass of interdisciplinary research, would improve the clients for increased involvement of talented scientists and educators. Areas likely to benefit most from such a strategy include: o o o o reformula~cion of the conic of precollege sci- ence and mathematics curricula based on new Knowles edges concepts, and procedures in Ache relevant disciplines; development of educational software in specific subject areas; research on teachers' understanding of ache con- cepts and processes of a discipline and how it is acquired; analyses and development of effective methods for teaching reasoning in specific disciplines to student witch different aptitude and character- istics . Demonstration Schools and Classrooms A meti~m-scale program option is support of demonstra- tion schools and classrooms. Existing schools and class- rooms could serve as hosts for interdisciplinary research and teaching projects in science and mathematics educa- tionO This option could be viewed as having similar objectives and participants as the interdisciplinary research centers but, instead of the University campus, the school would be the host institution and th@ class" room the locus of the activity. Although such projects would be oriented toward application--demonstration teaching, ongoing assessment, and local curriculum improvement--they could also gener- ate new theory and models for research. An objective of these projects would be deco ozone research frost university campier to schools and classrooms so as deco take ad~ran- ~cage of the rich experience base of teachers. In this model' researchers with combined science and education backgrounds might have a role similar to clinicians or research professors in teaching hospitals coerced to medical schools. The schools and classroom, while a
OCR for page 67
67 source of data for research, would also be a source of ideas and new approaches to research. his program option is apt deco foster several condi- tions related to effective interdisciplinary research. Leadership and involvement of school administrators and teachers would be more likely than with any of ache other options, but successful involvement would require that school administrators and teachers have time away from other responsibilities to participate in the project. The strategy would be particularly useful for interdisci- plinary projects centered on understanding education practice in schools and classrooms. As with research centers, ache sponsoring agency could specify the expected products of the demonstration, or the grant could be more open-ended, with participants defining goals and out- comes . Agency support for demonstration schools would need to provide adequate resources for involving scientists and researchers from a cooperating university as well as participants from the school. Interdisciplinary projects in demonstration schools--like the research centers°- could be an effective way to develop coordination and communication hong participants. Lee locus of the project in a school could have the advantage of lowering the status and authority barrier between scientists and educators. This kind of project could lead to strong support from cooperating institutions, but it would probably need careful planning and development, in the early stages especially, so that participants would indeed gain recognition for their work and products O The areas that might benefit most from demonstration schools and classrooms are issues involving learning context, which include: o teaching reasoning in specific subject areas; o assessing the-effec~cs of new technologies on organizational change in schools; o studies on the importance of learning contexts for curriculum and instructional methods; o developing effective models for learning groups and activi~cy°based instruction; and o pro; acts that involve com~unit~r organizations and institutions in Improving student learning.
OCR for page 68
68 Institutional Incentive Grand Institutional grants represent another medium°scale program option for encouraging interdisciplinary re- searchO The specific research problem or topic can be selected by the applying institution or -the sponsoring agency. lathe funding level is considerably more modest than that required to support a research center An existing morel tor tn18 option is the Materials Research Group (MRG) grants recently begun by NSF. Five MRG grants were folded in fiscal 1986 9 each for about $1.5 million for 3 years. The grants are designed as intermediate projects between individual investigator grants and the Materials Research Laboratories O A goal of the program is to involve new institutions in multi- disciplinary materials science researehO Each institu- tion must propose a project that involves a number of investigators from different disciplines. Institutional incentive grants for interdisciplinary research in science and mathematics education would hare many of the positive elements of the research centers, bloc each project would involve less funding commitment by an agency. Like research centers, institutional &rants would provide incentives for universities and other insti- tutions to take the lead in developing interdisciplinary teams. They may encourage institutions to provide more rewards and recognition for interdisciplinary activi`*cy in education than has been typical in the past. Art incen A ~ tire grants program would provide a sponsoring agency with a means of ensuring that funded projects have inter- disciplinary participa~cion and a product orientation that is consistent with the purposes of the ageney'~ programs _ - In order to encourage scientists to participate in such a grant program, an agency could identify and pub- licize its interest in interdisciplinary research prob- le'es that have theoretical or application linkages to existing disciplinary research. For example, research- ers working on the psychology of motivation might be attracted to working on ache problem of declining enroll meets in science and mathematics at the high school level. Identifying potential interdisciplinary research problems would involve scientists and educators through linkages to their existing interests and work. This approach might help dispel the belief that researchers are necessarily changing their field of research when they work on educational problems. -
OCR for page 69
69 Several areas seem promising for institutional incentive grants: o educational software for science and mathematics; o teacher knowledge and unders~canding of subject matcher and strategies for improving teaching; a- effective models for activity-based learning groups and laboratory instruction; o effects of home and school environments on learning; o pro] ects that involve community organizations and institutions in improving stuten~c learning. Problem- Spec if lo Grants A program option possible even under stringent budget constraints consists of grants awarded ~ ointly to two or more investigators to conduct interdisciplinary research on a specified problem. The projects can be closely coupled to priorities that are set by the agency. Where can be several grand relates to one problem area--as exemplified by the joint NSF-NIE grants of several years ago to support research on cognitive development and learning--or several different problem areas can be iden- t~fied for which proposals are invited. An agency could provide for several kinds of grace categories for spe- cific kinds of disciplinary collaborations, for example, in physical or life science and cognitive science9 in mathematics and curriculum research, or in laboratory- based instruction in science and developmental psychol Ogy O This program option counts mainly on agency design to develop interdisciplinary research teams. The program is likely to attract interest from researchers who are already working on similar research problems, while adding the dimension of interdisciplinary collaboration. Such an approach may be most fruitful when a clearly defined problem exists that should be addressed through interdisciplinary research. It also may be a way of encouraging researchers to team up with practitioners in investigating and improving current practices in schools or in testing experimental materials or instructional methods. Since each grant would be defined by a problem, quite specific products (research papers, reports on improved practices) could be expected.
OCR for page 70
70 In~cerdisciplinary research conducted under a problems specific grants program could address several areas O o the effects of learning contexts on curriculum Assad instructional o`ethod~; 0 effective olodels for 1earnislg groups in science labora~cories and other acti~rity°based ins~crucQ tion; o development of educational software for -science and mathematics; and o evaluation of the effects of new instructional t@chr~ologies on change in mathe~cics arid science education. Fellowships and Grants for Scientists and Educators Another small-acale option that can be adjusted to match available resources is a program of small fellow- Ships OF grapes. Such a progras' allows young scientists and educator who may have ideas and interests but have not as yet established ~che~el~res in specific research in a discipline to become in~roived in interdisciplinary re- search. ~ variant is to offer fellowships to established professionals to acquire the tools of another special~cy in order to conduct interdisciplinary research. For examples NSF's program of postdoctoral fellowships in plant biology, run by the Divisions of Molecular Bio- sciences arid Cellular Biosciences, awards 20 2-year fellowships for approximately $25,000 per year to new Ph O D O ~ floor related fields who propose a research pro] act in plant biology. During the period of their fellowship, they are expected to acquire the knowledge and tools necessary to continue interdisciplinary work. This program option offers incentives for involving a new cohort of scientists and educators in interdisciplin- ary work. It can be Nan as ~ separate program or built into some of the large scale options, such as the center model . It is a long- range strategy that is flexible and carries low risks. This program option can also be used for grants to established professionals to develop lead- ers of interdisciplinary research in education. The grants might vary in duration from 1 to 5 years. This program option offers a wide variety of in~cer- disciplinary research possibilities in science and ma~che- ma~cics education, including:
OCR for page 71
71 o new Ph.D.s in scientific fields could do research relating to education, such as development and testing of curriculum and instructional tech- nlques for educating prospective and in-service teachers in specific scientific or mathematical concepts or skills; o Ph.D.s in psychology could test theory and prac- tice for assessing student learning in science or mathematics; o established scientists, teachers, social scien- tists, administrators, education researchers, and curriculum writers court work as part of an inter- disciplinary ten, receiving grants for 50 to 7S percent of their salary, to work in a variety of organizations, including the interdisciplinary centers, demonstration schools, and institutional projects discussed above. LONG-RANGE PlANNING Any particular collection of programs, no matter how well designed initially or funded, needs to be examined periodically. As the experience of the last 30 years demonstrates, reform in mathematics and science education will not be lasting if it is based solely on responses to intermittently perceived crises. The National Science Foundation (1983) stated the following objective for current reform effort: The improvement and support of elementary and sec- ondary school systems throughout America so that, by the year 1995, they will provide all the nation's youth with a level of education in mathematics, science and technology, as measured by achievement scores and participation levels (as well as other non-subjective criteria), that is not only the highest quail q attained anywhere in the world but also reflects the particular and peculiar needs of our nation. To obtain this ambitious objec~cive, education research programs should: o be serial and systematic; o hairs well-defined intermediate goals; o make effective use of existing facili~cies and programs; o be specific in their plans of action;
OCR for page 72
72 inclutd reasonable time limits; o include ~ verification or assessment scheme; arid o Minoan stability and comaitomn~c at least until the intermediate goals have been a~ctained. In order to dLe~relop Ache appropriate goals and sub- goala, specific plan of action, verification schemes, and needed staying power, an agency need to design a multitiered procedure that will accumulate a synthesis of specialized expertise,, perspec~ci~res, priorities 9 and capa- bili~ciesO At every stage of design, verifications and review, a wide variety of experts should be involved in formulating objectives and outlines for alternatives O For the improvement of curricula and instruction, for example, plating and review should bring together ex- perts in the subject utter, cognitive science, teaching and learning research, computer applications, and text- book developo~ent,, school administrators, teachers9 stu- d@nts, faculty fro. institutions of higher education who teach lower-division courses, and employers from indu~- try; and social scientists familiar with implementation problema9 developers, and individuals in Ache bwls~ess of working with teachers and schools. Review Assad redesign should continue as the development of a-lterna~cives pro- gresses so as to provide a bait is mechanism for con- tinuing improvement of mathematice9 science, and tech° ROIO~ shroud interdiscipli~ research.
Representative terms from entire chapter: