Current and Continuing Research Projects
Here is a sampling of the current faculty research. Please feel free to get in touch with any of us for more information, questions, or ideas for collaboration.
ConnecTions in the Making: Integrating Science and Engineering to Design Community Solutions
Kristen Wendell, in collaboration with Dr. Tejaswini Dalvi at UMass Boston and local teachers and administrators, the ConnecTions project supports teachers in learning to integrate engineering design with science inquiry in elementary classrooms, in a context of solving local problems that matter in their students' communities. Some of those problems have been identified in collaboration with scientists and engineers from Boston's MBTA transit system, the "T." The project team has co-developed six new curriculum units with collaborating educators and is conducting classroom studies on student reasoning and practice as the units are enacted.
Hip Hop Making Spaces
Tufts PI Brian Gravel, funded by NSF
This collaboration between Drexel, Olin College of Engineering, and TERC explore the relationships between the five elements of hip hop and computational making practices in STEM. Through the design of workshops that draw from hip hop principles, culturally sustaining pedagogy, and aspects of STEM-rich making, we explore youth identities and STEM learning.
The Hybrid Labs Project
PI Julia Gouvea and Aditi Wagh, funded by the Davis Foundation
The Hybrid Labs project is developing undergraduate biology laboratories that couple computational modeling and experimentation and training graduate student TAs in new pedagogy. Research in the project will study both undergraduate students' and graduate TA's learning of practices in science and approaches to teaching.
Investigating Proportional Relationships from Two Perspectives (InPReP2)
Professor Andrew Izsák with Co-Investigators Sybilla Beckmann and Laine Bradshaw at the University of Georgia
The InPReP2 project is investigating how future middle and secondary school mathematics teachers develop quantitative understandings of multiplication, division, and fractions that they can then use to build understandings of ratios and proportional relationships and applications to linear equations and statistical samples. The study focuses on two perspectives on ratios and proportional relationships, one of which has been largely overlooked in past mathematics education research. The two perspectives are developed in mathematics content courses that future service teachers take as part of their preparation programs. The project examines the future teachers' reasoning as they participate in these courses and compares their facility with proportional relationships to that of future teachers in a "business as usual" content course at a second university.
Tufts PI Brian Gravel, James Adler, and Tim Atherton, funded by NSF
Re-Making STEM is a professional development collaboration between Tufts University, TERC, Olin College of Engineering, Malden Public Schools, and Cambridge Public schools. Together, researchers and teachers are exploring the idea of "computational making" within STEM disciplines to examine how computational thinking, computational tools, and multiple ways of knowing come together in "making" to provide powerful opportunities for learning.
Dynamics of Learners' Engagement and Persistence in Science
Dynamics of Learners' Engagement and Persistence in Science is funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. The project looks across educational experiences from elementary school to university to find examples of students' engagement in science, in particular moments, lasting for days, or even personal transformations over a semester. Within each of these, we are studying what contributes to that engagement—how it begins, how it sustains.
Early Childhood and Elementary Mathematics Research
Bárbara M. Brizuela
Professor Brizuela's research covers two main areas: children’s mathematical representations and early algebra. Her research on children’s mathematical representations investigates children’s early learning of mathematical notations including written numbers, graphs, tables, algebraic notation, representations for space, data, and measurement, and idiosyncratic notations. It builds from the assumption that conventional knowledge is built on prior understandings. From this assumption, it follows that children’s ideas about mathematical notations could be constitutive of their later conventional understandings. One of the central tasks of the investigation is to document how children initially represent numerical and mathematical understandings and how and why their expressive repertoire changes over time. Early Algebra covers many topics in mathematics, including the four operations, but it does so in novel ways. Consider the operation of addition. By second grade most students are being taught to add 3 to another number. They have probably not been asked to consider expressions such as "n + 3″, where n might refer to any number. In using expressions to describe relations among numbers and quantities, young learners go beyond computational fluency and begin to develop the ability to make mathematical generalizations using algebraic notation. Early algebra does not aim to increase the amount of mathematics students must learn. Rather, it is about teaching time-honored topics of early mathematics in deeper, more challenging ways. Our position is that children who become familiar with algebraic content and practices from an early age and in meaningful contexts will do better in mathematics, regardless of the criteria used.