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5 Research on New Learning Systems In the committee's view, a significant increase in the amount of effective learning time devoted to mathematics, science, and technology will probably involve extensive use of computers and telecommunications. In this chapter, we discuss three targets for development that hold promise for improving both the quality and the amount of time devoted to education in mathematics, science, and technology. There is, however, an important related question about the application of modern technology to education: if improperly used, it may aggravate rather than relieve disparities among groups regarding their knowledge about mathematics, science, and technology. Surveys of computer use (Center for Social Organization of Schools, 1983-1984) indicate that more computers are being placed in the hands of middle- and upper-class children than poor children; where computers are found in the schools of poor children, they tend to be used for rote drill and practice instead of the cognitive enrich- ment that they provide for middle- and upper-class students. In addition, female students have less involve- ment with computers in schools, irrespective of class or ethnicity, and this problem grows worse in secondary school (Miura and Hess, 1983). RESEARCH ON INTERACTIVE COMPUTER SOFTWARE Computer microworlds provide new capabilities for teaching science and technology because they make apparent things that students usually cannot see (diSessai 1984). For example, with the DYnaturtle program (diSessa, 1982 White, 1984), which models a universe obeying Newton's laws, children try to control objects moving in a 39 ;

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40 frictionless world and thus learn to reexamine their intuitive notions about relationships between moving bodies; in Steamer (Stevens and Roberts, 1983), the student can see inside the pipes and boilers of a steam plant that in the real world covers two huge rooms; in a circuit simulation (White and Frederiksen, 1985), the student can see how voltage changes depending on differ- ent configurations of a circuit, because voltage is color coded. More generally, it is possible to speed things up, slow things down, provide microscopes and telescopes, represent abstract properties, and reconfigure space in ways that science laboratory experiments or demonstrations ordinarily do less well. Microworlds also create environments in which doing mathematics and science makes sense to students, that is, in which learning is intrinsically motivating (topper and Greene, 1978; Lepper and Malone, in press). For example, in Geography Search, groups of students sail off to the New World to look for treasure. But as they sail, they must compute their latitude and longitude and keep track of their food and supplies so they don't run out before returning home. In Ice Cream Price Wars (Collins, 1985), groups of students run competitive ice cream stands, and they must calculate how to make the most money and defend their pricing strategies to other students in their group. At the same time, microworlds can be used to facilitate active learning by using effective tutoring strategies. As noted above, reasoning is hard to learn without active work and without using an instructional system--a teacher, peers, an interactive workbook, a computer system--that provides suggestions and advice. Several promising lines of research in developing tutoring strategies and prin- ciples have been mentioned above, for example, Anderson's set of principles (Anderson et al., 1985) in the domain of geometry and the work of Reif and others in devising strategies that guide learners in understanding problems in physics. There are several computer-based prototypes in this area (Burton and Brown, 1978; Anderson, 1981; Sleeman and Brown, 1982; Anderson et al., 1983). Such tutoring systems are not traditional computer-assisted instruction that guides a learner through a lesson, but rather systems that follow a learner's reasoning processes and give advice when the learner is working unproduc- tively. m us, they seem to improve the use of time by intervening when the learner has reached an impasse and is engaging in a long, frustrating, and unproductive

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41 sequence of work. However, much remains to be learned about when and how to intervene so as to make the tutoring maximally effective. Further understanding of how computer-based microworlds and tutoring systems should be designed to enhance mathe- matics and science learning requires the development of pilots to serve as experimental settings for the testing of alternatives. The committee therefore recommends a systematic program for the development of pilot educational systems using computers to create microworlds and tutoring strategies that engage learners in science- and mathematics-linked tasks and thereby advance both the acquisition of knowledge and the learning of reasoning and problem- solving skills. RESEARCH ON MICROSYSTEMS Research reviewed earlier in this report and in the report of a subgroup on noncognitive factors in education (Cole, 1985) makes it evident that coordinated attention should be given to a category of activities that, for lack of a better term, might be called Microsystems research. Microsystems research is distinguished from the microworlds approach discussed in the preceding section in that it explicitly concerns itself simultane- ously with the curriculum content and the social organi- zation of instruction. Three kinds of Microsystems are of special interest: within-classroom activity centers, community-based after-school centers, and mixed insti- tutional structures. Successful methods of classroom instruction frequently involve breaking classes into smaller activity groups that combine theoretical understanding with hands-on familiarity. Unfortunately, these conditions have been maintained only in hothouse environments (Moll and Diaz, 1982; Hawkins and Sheingold, 1983; Goodlad, 1984; Peterson et al., 1984). One reason may be that the simultaneous effects of such contributory factors as materials production, school organization, teacher training, and small group dynamics--especially the question of group heterogeneity discussed earlier--are not well understood. Even programs with demonstrated success, such as the activity-based elementary school curricula of the 1960s, currently languish in obscure places and end up being used only because individual

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42 teachers make heroic efforts or an especially well educated parent group creates a demand. We recommend research on how to create hardy - varieties of effective activity-based instructional systems for mathematics and science education so that they will be taken up and institutionalized in a wide variety of school systems. There is agreement that more time on task is needed for American students, but the public's willingness to expand the school day or the school year is limited. Assigning homework is an unsatisfactory amplifying technique because those students who need it most tend to get the least effective support outside school. It may be time for a significant experiment in organizing educational after-school activities for children, using such settings as community centers, churches, libraries, and the school facilities themselves. A variety of prototypes that suggest the range of possible activities and institutional arrangements already exist (Mall and Diaz, 1982; Woodson, 1982). What does not exist is an overall understanding of the potential and limitations of such activities. Research should be designed to exploit the potential and discover the limitations of various forms of after-school activity centers through the development and evaluation of several pilot models. One promising model is offered by San Diego's Community Resource and Research Center (Diaz, 1984). Children from two minority group communities go to local centers to practice basic skills in the process of becoming ~com- munications experts. or Computer experts.. Each center resembles within-classroom activity centers, raised to the level of a community educational setting; each center involves children in an interlocking set of interesting activities with microcomputers (including computer-based message systems) as part of the mix. The centers require that parents take initiative to enroll their children, and the children must sign a contract promising to become expert enough to teach others in their community--starting at home. Systems that cross institutional boundaries such as school-community programs and school-museum programs (Fantini and Sinclair, 1985) also hold promise for mathematics and science education. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS, 1984) summarized a large number of exemplary educational programs serving women and minorities; it is clear from the report that much informal knowledge has been gained

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43 from practical experience on how to create educational programs that are successful with these populations. Many of the programs exhibit a key structural property: they create a system of education that is integrated both vertically (from early education through later years) and horizontally (they coordinate and draw support from a range of departments/institutions/bureaucracies). For example, the Community Educational Resource and Research Center of the University of California, San Diego, brings adults, college students, and high school students into a single activity setting after school, creating vertical integration. Horizontal integration is achieved by involving multiple parties responsible for some part of children's education: the community. m e problem with such systems, even when they are demonstrated successes, is that they are difficult to fit into existing bureaucratic arrangements. AS the AAAS report notes, demonstrations of success based upon short- term funding of experiments does not insure uptake within the originally sponsoring institutions. Innovative educational successes have had long-term social failure built into them (AAAS, 1984; Stage et al., 1985). This history suggests a requirement for sophisticated systems analysis on how to create mixed institutional systems for mathematics and science education that are sustained rather than diminished by bureaucratic and social structures. the university, the school system, DEVELOPING A SYSTEMS APPROACH TO IMPROVING MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE EDUCATION Education is a major industry with a minor research and development activity. Expenditures for education amounted to $226.5 billion (S136.5 billion for elementary and secondary schools) in 1983 (U.S. Department of Com- merce, 1984), while investment in educational research and development was less than one-tenth of one percent of that amount (National Science Foundation, 1985). This contrasts to national defense and health, in which research and development represent 15 percent and about 2 percent of total expenditures, respectively. Industry investment of its own funds in research and development averages 2.6 percent of net sales, with highs of 7-10 percent in industries concerned with the manufacture of drugs, computers, and communication equipment (National

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44 Science Foundation, 1982). Even the lowest-investing industries, foods and textiles, spend four to five times as much on research and development as does education. Moreover, this large, complicated, and subtle enterprise has almost no systematic approach for applying new knowledge and technology to the design of better learning situations (Raizen, 1979~. There is irony in the circumstance that the transfer - and use of knowledge from the mathematical and scientific disciplines, through the evolution of agricultural, medical, and engineering schools and of industrial and governmental development centers and laboratories, has led to the economic and technological advancement of the United States and improved health for its citizens, yet the transfer of information about the teaching and learning of mathematics, science, and technology has been severely limited. More is known than is used. As the committee's review indicates, the past decades have seen a cumulation of knowledge from several per- tinent disciplines and the development of new technol- ogies, but application to science and mathematics education, as to all education, has been episodic, unsystematic, and limited in scope. A new approach is needed, one that combines the changes taking place in mathematics and the sciences with new knowledge about human learning capabilities and different learning settings, at the same time taking advantage of the potential of computers and related information tech- nology. At present, there is no mechanism to serve the function of integrating the new knowledge and technology deriving from different sources and applying them to the development of improved systems for the teaching and learning of mathematics, science, and technology. In other enterprises, this integrative function has been called systems design and engineering. The term probably originated in the telecommunications community, was continued and expanded in the aerospace industry, and has since been widely used wherever it has been recognized that proper design involves more than just assembling various components that have been developed in isolation. Designing components to function optimally for overall improvement of a system requires that the properties of the system and the functioning of each component must be considered as an entirety before individual components are reconfigured. Modern educational activities, too, should be considered a system in which improvement of components in .,

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45 isolation may not lead to improvement of the overall system. The various components that make up the system of educational activities are common to all subjects and levels and are schematically represented in Figure 2. Of the major components illustrated, the area of technology is changing most rapidly, under the impact of current developments in computers, displays, interactive input- output devices, and communications and storage networks. New techniques for improving cognitive development, motivation, communication, and instructional processes have also evolved rapidly, as researchers into the fundamental aspects of these human faculties and behaviors gain knowledge that can be employed in developing teaching and learning methodologies. With respect to the content areas of precollege education, probably none is developing more quickly than mathematics and the sciences. University researchers, responding to the needs of the marketplace and the government, to the advent of new technology that makes possible qualitatively different research, and to the most basic drive for inquiry--the need to understand--are developing new facts and techniques that must be transmitted to new generations of students if they are to be as productive as possible in engineering, medicine, economics, agriculture, and the many other fields pertinent to human advancement. The rapid advances in technology, cognitive science, and science and mathematics knowledge present new oppor- tunities for improving the system, but only if mechanisms can be developed that would facilitate the integrated application of these advances to education. There is an important and instructive lesson for education in the history of systems engineering for the communications and aerospace industries. Although systems engineering has become a discipline in itself, it is significant that even now university programs devoted to communications and aerospace do very little research in systems integration engineering for these technologies Papers that appear in the literature in this field are largely the result of the efforts of scientists and engineers in industrial companies and independent research laboratories devoted to communications or aerospace, that is, organizations closer to the end product and its users. For education, too, more is needed than the existing university-based research activities. It is not enough that mathematics and science content or the theories underlying the development of displays, .

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47 computers, communications equipment, and associated software are the subject of university research. Nor is it sufficient that new knowledge is being uncovered about the cognitive processes and social structures underlying teaching and learning methodology and that curriculum development and the application of computer information systems to education are taking place. There remains a strong need to bring together researchers from all these and associated fields--mathematics, the physical and biological sciences, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and information sciences, among others--who have an interest in and dedication to integrating these various components into educational systems. It is important for such individuals to work with creative school adminis- trators, curriculum developers, and teachers to design more effective learning structures. Examples from other fields also suggest that the success of such an endeavor requires an environment in which innovative approaches can make use of the latest output from the content, -methodology, and technology areas and can be tested in realistic settings--that is, in classrooms, schools, and school systems. The idea of developing mechanisms equivalent to systems design and engineering in education is attrac- tive, although the limited successes of such an approach with systems involving political, social, and behavioral (as well as technical) elements are warnings against excessive expectations of success. It is arguable that evolving combinations of market, political, and bureau- cratic structures provide the best means for achieving effective education, better than is achievable through deliberate planning of a systemic sort. The committee is sensitive to the limitations in the social arena of systems design and engineering adapted from industries based on highly developed technologies, yet there remains the need to design each single component in concert with the other components of the educational system. There may be several ways of accomplishing this integrative function. One that has proved effective in other fields is a free-standing entity different from any that currently exists in that it would use a systems approach to educational improvements rather than retrofit individual pieces, such as a new curriculum or an inno- vative form of classroom organization, into structures that may or may not be able to accommodate them success- fully. Whatever the mechanism, the following character- istics are seen as essential to the integrative function:

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48 (1) Because the anticipated work needs to draw on developments in several fast-moving fields, the setting must be able to attract researchers from the scholarly disciplines within the natural, behavioral, and social sciences as well as engineering and technological experts and creative educational researchers, developers, and practitioners. {2) Interdisciplinary terms should be used to design, develop, and test comprehensive teaching and learning models in science and mathematics, taking advantage of the most advanced research and technologies. (3) Experiments and findings arising from local school operations need to be assessed and extended--for example, practices from schools that consistently produce Westinghouse National Talent Search winners and results of state initiatives such as those going forward in Arizona, California, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. (4) Connections with schools must be established so that new educational models can be evaluated in the reality of the classroom and effective implementation strategies for widespread use of successful innovations can be developed. tS) An efficient communications network is necessary through which administrators, teachers, university faculty, book publishers, and public bodies can keep in touch and collaborate with important findings and developments, possibly through an electronic/photonic network tied into the communications common carriers. The design of an institution or mechanism with the capacities to integrate new knowledge and developments from disparate fields and apply them to educational improvement in a systemic manner is a complex undertaking Characteristics of the new entity must be defined; means must be found for establishing it so as to embody the desired characteristics; relationships with existing institutions that are crucial to its mission or appear already to perform certain parts of it must be worked out. For example, some questions that need to be addressed in the formulation include: How should the integrative institution or mechanism be organized so as to be buffered from the pressures exerted on and by existing hierarchial structures in education, yet enable it to work effectively with both schools and institutions of higher education? .

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49 . What kinds of staffing patterns would encourage constant regeneration of innovative approaches--e.g., balance between permanent staff and short-term visiting researchers and practitioners in the mathematics/science/ education fields, or opportunities for young researchers to work with senior scholars? What size and structure of budget would be needed, and what would be appropriate funding sources-- federal, private foundations, states and large school districts, consortia of industries that provide new equipment in the computer/communications fields, or, more likely, a mixture of several of such sources? ~ What kinds of linkages need to be created to schools to ensure that effective classroom practice becomes part of the store of knowledge going into improvement efforts, that newly developed learning and teaching models undergo realistic testing, and that effective models are widely adopted and appropriately implemented? What kinds of linkages need to be created with the many institutional entities that produce relevant knowledge, develop alternative educational components, and work with schools and teachers? Examples of such entities include mathematics, science, and engineering departments, behavioral and social science departments, and schools and departments of education in institutions of higher education; research centers and regional laboratories supported by the Department of Education; state education authorities and various state subunits providing services to schools; and the textbook and computer hardware and software industries. What institutions or organizations exist in other social service fields that might provide instructive guidance for developing a systems approach to improving mathematics and science education? Would it be useful, for example, to assess the successes and failures of the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (see the MDRC Annual Report, 1984), which is concerned with developing and testing a variety of employment programs, or the Clinical Center of the National Institutes of Health, which brings scientists and clinicians together for studies of specific diseases? In sum, the committee finds that current efforts to improve mathematics, science, and technology education take a piecemeal approach rather than integrating available knowledge and technology. Therefore, we

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50 recommend a serious effort to design appropriate models for education analogous to systems design and engineering institutions in other fields that would use a systems approach in applying pertinent research and development to overall educational improvement. As a necessary first step, we recommend that the Department of Education, in concert with the National Science Foundation, convene a task force or similar group to think through the best means for carrying out the integrative and systems design function that is missing in current efforts to improve education, including consideration of such issues as organization, staffing, budgets, and linkages to other institutions.