Completed Projects

EVALUATION OF THE DISCOVER, EXPLORE, AND ENJOY PHYSICS AND ENGINEERING (DEEP) PROGRAM

Funded by: Texas A&M University Department of Physics and Astronomy

During the fall of 2014, the ERC conducted an external evaluation of the Discover, Explore, and Enjoy Physics and Engineering (DEEP) program at Texas A&M University.  Currently in its second year, DEEP was established in 2012 by the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Texas A&M.  The goal of the program is to enhance undergraduate and graduate students’ learning and research experience by incorporating active learning, service learning, and teamwork.  A key component of DEEP is to encourage undergraduate student participation in high-profile outreach activities, such as the annual Texas A&M Physics and Engineering Festival, fall and spring DEEP Showcases, and TAMU Physics Shows, under the guidance of DEEP graduate mentors from the Departments of Physics and Astronomy and Aerospace Engineering.

The evaluation addressed the following DEEP objectives:  (a) increase undergraduate participants’ knowledge of physics and engineering concepts, (b) positively impact undergraduate student participants’ analytic and hands-on skills in conducting research, (c) enhance undergraduate student participants’ communication skills, (d) encourage undergraduate student participants’ teamwork skills, (e) improve graduate student participants’ leadership skills, and (f) increase graduate student participants’ teambuilding skills.  Surveys and interviews were utilized with undergraduate students as well as graduate mentors to examine the impact of program activities on participants’ communication and teamwork skills.

EVALUATION OF THE MITCHELL INSTITUTE PHYSICS ENHANCEMENT PROGRAM (MIPEP)

Funded by: Texas A&M University Department of Physics and Astronomy

The Education Research Center (ERC) recently conducted an external evaluation of the Mitchell Institute Physics Enhancement Program (MIPEP). 2014 Summer Institute.  The goal of MIPEP is to improve Texas high school students’ mathematics and science performance by providing rigorous physics training to high school physics teachers from across the state of Texas through intensive, 2-week summer institutes that encompass interactive classes, problem solving, labs, and hands-on demonstrations.  Recruitment efforts for the Summer Institute target current high school physics teachers who have little to no background in physics.

Systematic lab and lecture observations, pre- and post-perceptional surveys, pre- and post-content knowledge assessments, and participant reflections were used to examine the impact of the 2014 Summer Institute activities on participants’ knowledge of physics content and research-based instructional practices.

STUDENT COLLABORATIVE PRACTICES IN INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE PROGRAMMES

Funded by: International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO)

The Education Research Center (ERC) at Texas A&M University conducted a literature review and curriculum document analysis of student collaborative practices in International Baccalaureate (IB) programs. Collaboration is identified as an integrated part of learning components and assessment models in curriculum across IB programmes. For this study, ERC researchers (a) conducted a best evidence synthesis of research on teaching and assessing student collaboration in K-12 settings, (b) analyzed IB curriculum documents for essential elements of collaborative practice, and (c) made recommendations for the enhancement of student collaboration in IB programmes.

BRIGHT BEGINNINGS CURRICULUM REVIEW

Funded by: United Way of Greater Houston

The Education Research Center (ERC) at Texas A&M University conducted a complete curriculum review of Bright Beginnings’ professional development (PD) for early childhood center directors and staff by:

a) exploring PD offerings, teachers/directors PD perceptions and PD attendance

b) offering recommendations regarding how Bright Beginnings could effectively employ fewer third-party trainers while maintaining current program integrity and standards, and

c) providing cost efficiency recommendations.

TAMU EDUCATOR PREPARATION COLLABORATIVE FOR ENHANCING COLLEGE AND CAREER READINESS IN TEXAS SCHOOLS (TAMU COLLABORATIVE)

Funded by: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

The Education Research Center (ERC) designed a project to work with multiple cohorts of preservice teachers participating in the Secondary Graduate Certification Program at Texas A&M University (TAMU) to integrate the College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) and provide opportunities for preservice teachers to create and teach CCRS-based lessons.  The ERC, during the 2013-2014 academic year worked with the project's fourth cohort of preservice teachers.

EVALUATION OF THE COLLEGE READINESS FIELD TEST ASSIGNMENTS (CRAFT)

Funded by: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

Conducted a statewide evaluation of the effectiveness of the College Readiness Assignments—project-based assignments based on the College and Career Readiness Standards, designed to assist students in achieving college readiness. Systematic classroom observation, interviews and surveys will be used to examine three program components:

a) the planning, design, implementation and management of the field-testing of the CRAs

b) the partnerships between public institutions of higher education and public schools

c) the implementation of professional development for the CRAs.

EVALUATION OF THE COLLEGE AND CAREER READINESS INITIATIVE (CCRI) FACULTY COLLABORATIVES

Funded by: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

Conducted studies to evaluate the effectiveness of four faculty collaboratives that were sponsored by four different institutions of higher education with the goal of the CCRI Faculty Collaboratives was to design activities to ensure preservice teachers received preparation closely aligned with the CCRS so future educators would be better able to prepare their pre-secondary students for college or career paths.

EVALUATION OF MITCHELL INSTITUTE PHYSICS ENHANCEMENT PROJECT

Funded by: The George P. and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy

Conducted the program evaluation for Texas A&M’s Mitchell Institute Physics Enhancement Program (MIPEP). Summer 2013 was the second year of the program which sponsors 18 high school physics teachers for a two-week intensive physics summer institute. The goal of MIPEP is to help teachers develop a deeper understanding of physics concepts, instructional strategies, and laboratory-based experiences.

EVALUATION OF THE MATHEMATICS, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY TEACHER PREPARATION (MSTTP) ACADEMIES

Funded by: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

Conducted studies to evaluate the effectiveness of more than 15 teacher preparation academies focused on mathematics, science and technology located across Texas at institutions of higher education (including, Texas A&M University, Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi, Texas A&M University–Commerce and Tarleton State University). Academies were established with the goal of increasing the number of highly qualified mathematics, science and technology teachers, while also improving the quality of certified teachers in these areas.

NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR ADMINISTRATORS AND TEACHERS IN QATAR INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS

Funded by: Qatar University

Conducted a needs assessment of professional development for administrators and teachers in Qatar Independent Schools through the use of interviews, surveys and systematic classroom observations. The results provided a baseline for the creation of the National Center for Educator Development in Qatar.

EVALUATION OF TEXAS CHARTER SCHOOLS 2009 – 2010

Funded by: Texas Education Agency

Conducted an annual evaluation of public charter schools in Texas for the 2009 – 2010 academic year. This evaluation differed from the most recent prior study in that it focused on the classes of district (campus) charter schools and open-enrollment charter schools.

EVALUATION OF PATHWAYS PROJECT

Funded by: Texas higher Education Coordinating Board

Conducted an evaluation of a state "pathways to college" project—an initiative of a state's higher education agency within one of the nation's largest states—that was established for the purpose of creating a partnership between local secondary and post secondary institutions and for improving curriculum alignment between high school and post-secondary institutions.