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This NSF-funded project (DRL-1251562, 1252416, 1252373) sought to improve understanding of practices critical to the design of science curriculum materials for implementation in a broad range of educational contexts. Researchers from TERC, the Lawrence Hall of Science, and the University of Pittsburgh collaborated to explore and codify practices that enhance the success of efforts to design K-12 science curriculum materials for large-scale implementation. Investigators from these three organizations conducted and synthesized results from a series of retrospective and live-design practice, broad and ‘deep dive’ studies, with the goal of articulating a conceptual model of educational design for large-scale use.

The overarching research question was: Across phases of design, (analysis, development, and evaluation) what processes and strategies are critical to successfully obtain large scale implementation with significant impacts on learners? More specifically, this project was undertaken to understand how designers:
  • Design for Deep Understanding and Rich Performance: In science, a core goal is the ability to understand deeper issues and to be able to apply knowledge and skills flexibly to solve problems. How can we create designs which effectively challenge and support students, aware that, as the populations of students and teachers expand and diverge, this challenge multiplies?
  • Design for Social and Cultural Experiences: Educators and students in the US exist in diverse sets of cultural, linguistic, and physical contexts (with radically different instructional support available), which requires that educational materials are flexible to help adjust for and leverage the constraints. How can we create designs that leverage the productive use of local context and resources?
  • Design for Implementation in Diverse and Resource-Limited Settings: Rich and rewarding educational materials will not be implemented beyond boutique projects if they are not viewed as practical for the districts, schools, and teachers who choose them. How can we create designs that are viewed and experienced as practical with varying organizational goals and policies, new educators, crumbling infrastructures, and poorly organized educator professional learning communities
The project has formally been completed, but the reports are still available on the products page and the team members are still interested in this line of work.