Project abstracts

The GFI research projects tackled an array of issues using innovative methods of engagement for faculty educators and pre-service populations.  Their successes in the 2011-2012 academic year are summarized below.

Attracting and Training Future Physics Teachers with Project-Based Instruction

Vera Margoniner, CSU Sacramento

In Fall 2011 we piloted the usage of a learning assistant (LA) program to implement project-based instruction in my Introduction to Astrobiology class of 82 students. The full GFI proposal can be found here, but in summary, the project goals are to: 
  1. recruit future K-12 physics teachers by turning them on to the excitement of teaching;
  2. provide training to these future physics teachers;  
  3. provide the general education students with a more authentic scientific inquiry experience;
  4. allow students to learn how to learn so that they can become life-long, independent learners, who are more scientific literate than our current general population.
Graduation rates and the retention of teachers (which tend to leave teaching during their first years) should also increase as a consequence of the LA program. 

This pilot experience was a great success. Five physics majors worked as LAs and loved the experience so much that they all want to repeat it. All five (!) are now considering K-12 teaching as career (2 were already committed to teaching but 3 more are now interested).  As you can see from their survey responses the astrobiology students clearly loved the experience and were very proud of their projects.  Also, a short video documenting the experience is found here: 

Bernie Dodge, Donna L. Ross, San Diego State University

Jessica K. Parker, Sonoma State University

Dirk Baron, Penelope Swenson  CSU Bakersfield


Geospatial tools, such as Google Earth, Google Maps, and Fusion Tables, dramatically bring the world to students. Textbook based tables, maps, and texts offer orientation and direction yet do not actively support students in developing spatial relationships. Through workshops and modules developed using geospatial tools, CSU pre-service teachers explored their local area and their world in new, dynamic ways, eschewing the flat maps and outdated textbook tables.  They used the geospatial tools and other technologies to enhance lessons to increase engagement.


At Sonoma State and CSUB there were Showcase events where the pre-service teachers presented and shared.  SDSU will have their Showcase event in the fall.  Photos, learning objects, lesson plans, resources, suggestions for effective workshops, and more are available on the links below.

 To see more

From San Diego State, several resources:

From CSUB, additional resources:

From Sonoma State, even more resources:

BirdsEye Detectives Website:

Flipping Classrooms with Noyce Scholars

Ed Himelblau, Liz Meyer, Chance Hoellwarth, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo;
Meredith Ashbran, Long Beach Unified School District
Teams consisting of one high school teacher and two pre-service teachers supported were asked to flip one science lesson and record their reflections on the process.  Three teams (2 in San Luis Obispo and 1 in Long Beach) flipped high school chemistry classes.  The most important product of this this project is the reflections of the teachers and pre-service teachers throughout the flipping process.  Our hope is that teachers considering flipping their classrooms will find these reflections to be helpful guides.  Many of the pre-service teachers involved in the project are supported by the Robert M Noyce Scholarship for STEM teachers.  Recently, the results of this project were presented at the National Noyce Meeting in Washington D.C.

An Integrative Mathematics/Science/Technology Approach to Sustainability

GFI Team from San José State University: 

Dr. Resa Kelly,
Dr. Ellen Metzger,
Dr. Ferdinand Rivera,
Ms. Michelle Steever

The goal of this project was to have preservice science and math teachers learn to develop a standards-based lesson plan that emphasized climate change or sustainability as it fit with each student’s unit plan (main topic). In addition, the students were asked to incorporate relevant technological tools that they learned throughout their Methods courses into their lesson. The Math and Science Methods students presented their lessons to each other and to a group of eleven in-service teachers.  These lessons have been posted to a wiki-space page and some have been posted on the San José State Science Education Resource Center’s website under Technology Corner

Learning Videos: Making Instructional Planning Visible

Marika Manos, California State University, Long Beach;  
video stil

Brian Foley, California State University, Northridge; 
Mark O’Shea, California State University, Monterey Bay

The complexities in the K-12 classroom lead to difficulty in transferring knowledge about how teachers think when they develop instructional plans. Videos of teachers engaged in planning offers a way for expert teachers to make their thinking visible. These videos can be used by teacher educators can better support pre-service teachers. The goal of our project is to create a website to showcase videos expert teachers in the process of lesson and unit planning, as well as creating classroom management plans and technology supports for instruction and student learning. To achieve the goal we put out a call for teachers to video themselves during collaborative planning (2-4 teachers working together).  Teachers receive an honorarium for submitting their video and accompanying materials and additional reward if theirs is selected for the showcase.  

Learning Videos: Making Instructional Planning Visible to Pre-service Educators

Making Teachers “Appy”: Encouraging a Maker Philosophy for Pre-service Teachers

GFI Team from UC Berkeley: Eric Eslinger;
CSU Fresno: Lance Burger and Kien Pham

We taught pre-service teachers how to create interesting mobile applications using Google App Inventor  for Android phones. Students used App Inventor as a form of expressive media to encapsulate and demonstrate their mastery of a concept as part of a project-based learning environment. 

We encouraged our pre-service teachers to develop the self-confidence and initiative to take ownership of technology in a way similar to a maker or hacker, since we believe that teachers who have experienced the design, creation and revision of new software might be able to take those experiences and use them to shape how they orient toward new technology in the classroom. We want future teachers to become not only consumers of technology, but flexible creators and adapters of new technologies for their own classrooms.

This workshop, which met for fifteen hours over five sessions in March, taught students to develop mobile applications for education, encouraged them to look at their devices as authoring tools, and improved their self-confidence with respect to their ability to use and create new technology. More information can be found at .

Math of Khan

The goal of the Math of Khan project is to develop and evaluate instructional activities which (1) make use of Khan Academy (KA) mathematics videos, and (2) are intended for pre-service teachers (PSTs) of mathematics. The project had distinct yet complementary implementations at five CSU sites. The activities included PST analysis of Khan videos for mathematical content & curricular alignment, PST production of mathematics instructional videos, and surveys of PST impressions of Khan videos as classroom tools.

Analysis of site-specific data and cross-site synthesis are on-going. However, an initial look across the five implementations indicates that Khan Academy mathematics videos may be useful tools for teacher training. Specifically, they are potential laboratories for fruitful PST analysis of the presentation of mathematical content. Furthermore, data indicate that KA resources may best be viewed within a curricular framework (i.e, as curricular materials). This view of KA videos highlights important questions about implementation (the enacted curriculum) and teacher training (preparation for enacting the curriculum).

Teams Enacting Classroom Innovation

Funded by a grant from the Google Faculty Institute, the Teams Enacting Classroom Innovation (TECI) Project supports teams of pre-service teachers, cooperating teachers in grade 6-12 classrooms, and university faculty / supervisors in the development and implementation curriculum units that integrate technology-rich, high-leverage practices in mathematics and science teaching and learning. The project directors for the TECI project are John Keller (California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo), Tara Barnhart (California State University, Fullerton), Mark Ellis (California State University, Fullerton) Kelly Estrada (Sonoma State University) and Polly Diffenbaugh, (Stanford University).
CSU Fullerton TECI Site (includes files from May 2012 TECI Symposium @ CSUF)
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo TECI Site (includes video file from May 2012 TECI Symposium @ Cal Poly)

Katherine Bates CSUDH
Matthew d’Alessio CSUN
Gini Oberholzer Vandergon CSUN
Sean Walker CSU Fullerton

In the Spring of 2012 we did a rotating roadshow, giving a total of 9 hands-on workshops on three CSU campuses. Our goal is to introduce ways of engaging university students in STEM content by using technology. Our main outcome is to have University faculty try one new technology technique to enhance their teaching. Some of the technology we introduced at these professional development workshops included using many of the Google suite of tools for formative assessments and for student collaboration, introducing ways to use video tools for student sharing of lectures and content, and ways to incorporate calendaring, websites and technology resources into faculty pages. 

We had a total of  24 faculty participants from science and engineering departments as well as faculty from education that are directly involved in teacher training. More than 90% of them tried at least one new technique in their classroom and documented their experience for the project. Some of these are documented on our website: (Video clips of the workshops are also available there). 

Faculty reported that it took a surprisingly small amount of time to develop the new course materials (> 75% spent 30 minutes or less). The majority of faculty chose to implement activities that enhanced student-to-student communication in their classroom, though projects that improved their ability to deliver content or communicate to from faculty to students were also adopted. We experimented with different models of compensation ranging from a flat stipend ($400) to participation in a raffle for a free iPad. All workshops included free lunch. Most faculty reported that they were satisfied with the level of compensation (regardless of the model) or would have attended if the compensation were less. 

The workshops have spawned independent "brown bag" series about teaching on all three campuses.

Jeanne Grier, Jill Leafstedt, California State University Channel Islands; 
Cathy Reznicek, Ventura County office of Education

The UDTech project aims to develop teaching modules to prepare teachers in using universal design concepts paired with technology in their instructional planning.  Our goal is have teachers design lessons that are accessible to all students through the use of technology and the concepts of Universal Design for Learning. This learning module is designed for  preservice teachers as they learn about planning for instruction.

The first round of implementation with UDTech was conducted during spring 2012. Two classes of pre-service teachers used the learning module within their teacher preparation courses. The response from students and faculty was overwhelmingly positive. Students successfully integrated Universal Design principles and Technology into their lesson planning. They also demonstrated a strong understanding of UDL within class discussions.

In the coming year UDTech will be revised based on feedback, such as reducing text, recording screen casts of presentations and creating instructor guidelines. It will be implemented and evaluated with a rubric designed to assess the effective use of UDL and Technology in lesson plans.

UDTech Learning Module