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Dr. Ellen Yezierski Awarded $1.9M NSF Grant

Working with Roy Tasker of VisChem fame, the Yezierski group will conduct professional development for 64 U.S. high school chemistry teachers at Miami. Yezierski and her team will investigate teachers’ use of VisChem animations in their classrooms. The project will not only reach tens of thousands of students and move them from describing phenomena to explaining their molecular-level causes, but will also advance our understanding of teacher and student learning in high school chemistry.

Dr. Ellen Yezierski Awarded $1.9M NSF Grant
This is a late-stage Design and Development proposal in the Teaching Strand which addresses the teaching and learning of Chemistry at the secondary level, Grades 10-12. There is a critical need to transform chemistry teaching and learning from an emphasis on description of phenomena to deep understanding consistent with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). This project will develop teachers' knowledge and skills to help their students build accurate molecular-level mental models to explain phenomena as opposed to the overemphasis on description with abstract symbolism and language. Three chemistry teacher cohorts (N = 64) will participate in intensive institutes to learn the research foundation and pedagogical moves for the VisChem approach. The approach uses carefully produced dynamic visualizations with teaching strategies informed by a cognitive learning model. Key to VisChem is communication of internal visualizations using storyboards (drawings with explanation) of chemical and physical changes. The project will use an iterative research design examining teacher and student learning in the institutes and how they implement the learning in classrooms. Data collected will include teachers' storyboards, classroom videos, and pre/post student assessments. An advisory board will provide iterative feedback to incrementally improve the institutes during the project.

The Discovery Research K-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of innovative resources, models and tools. Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.