Learning sciences institute partners in two education research grants

UIC’s Learning Sciences Research Institute is a partner in two science education research grants totaling $2.8 million.

The institute will collaborate in a $1.8 million study, backed by the U.S. Department of Education, that examines online assessments to help teachers diagnose student understanding of science subjects.

The multi-year study will investigate middle and high school science classes through an analysis of existing assessment tools focused on students’ conceptual understanding.

Based on their analyses, the researchers will refine the existing assessment and develop and test the modified and new materials. Data to be collected include students’ responses on the assessments, classroom observations, and interviews with students.

The institute’s project partners are SRI International, which was awarded the grant, and FACET Innovations.

Louis DiBello, research professor of learning sciences, will head the UIC team, which includes Don Wink, professor of chemistry, Bill Stout, visiting research professor of learning sciences, and James Pellegrino and Susan Goldman, co-directors of the institute and distinguished professors of liberal arts and sciences, psychology and education.

In another project, a $1 million grant awarded by the National Science Foundation to the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, will include the Learning Sciences Research Institute and a group of educators, climate scientists, computer scientists and psychologists in the development of a climate change education program.

The grant supports the establishment of a national Climate Literacy Zoo Education Network and computer-based programs to teach people about climate change and its impact on animals.

Goldman is principal investigator for the UIC group, which includes Pellegrino; Leilah Lyons, assistant professor of learning sciences and computer science; Tom Moher, associate professor of computer science; Tom Theis, director of the Institute for Environmental Science and Policy; and Steve Forman, professor of earth and environmental sciences.