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Center for Educational Technologies projects have ended (except Challenger Learning Center) and are no longer funded.

Classroom of the Future™ Researcher Offers Three Papers for AERA

Wed Dec 12 2007

An educational researcher at the NASA-sponsored Classroom of the Future has had three papers accepted for presentation at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association in New York City March 24-28.

Karen Chen is lead author on three papers that detail studies undertaken at the Classroom of the Future™.

Chen and Bruce Howard, assistant director of the Center for Educational Technologies®, are the authors of a paper studying the e-Missions™ offered through the Challenger Learning Center®. "The Impact of the Learner-centered Simulated Learning Environment on Middle School Students' Science Learning" examines how the distance learning e-Missions help children grasp science. This kind of learning environment allows students to access satellite data and images and retrieve, interpret, and design investigations. The study involved 267 middle school students. Chen and Howard used an experimental design to examine the cognitive and affective effects of the learner-centered simulated learning environment on students. They found significant positive changes in students' perceptions toward scientists. Students were more likely to view scientists as "normal" people after the students participated in this type of learning environment.

This study has implications for the use of the simulated learning environment to promote understanding of scientific knowledge, increase science-related career awareness, and inform effective teaching practice.

Chen is joined by Laurie Ruberg, associate director of the Center for Educational Technologies; John Hull, a professor at Bethany College; and Judy Martin, implementation researcher coordinator at the Center for Educational Technologies, as authors of "Promoting STEM Teaching Practices and Student Learning: A Longitudinal Impact of Professional Development." This paper examined the effect of the NASA Explorer Schools program on students.

The Classroom of the Future was charged with evaluating the NASA Explorer Schools program since its inception in 2003. The evaluation of the first three cohorts of the program wrapped up earlier this fall with a final report.

This study employed a mixed-method design and used data from student surveys, teachers' electronic portfolios, focus group interviews, and state report cards. The study found a connection between teaching strategies and technology usage with subjects that emphasized students' skill development, and a correlation between the use of technology and students' liking STEM topics. The authors also recommended ways to enhance STEM teaching practice and student learning.

Chen's third paper, "Design Principles for 21st Century Educational Technology: Connecting Theory and Practice," is coauthored by Howard and Manetta Calinger, educational outreach liaison at the Center for Educational Technologies.

In this study the authors examined two sources to create a set of design principles for technology-enhanced learning environments. One source was the How People Learn framework (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000). The second was a series of interviews conducted with pacesetters in the field of educational technology as part of a NASA-funded project at the Classroom of the Future. With the knowledge gained from these two sources, the authors created a set of design principles that guide the evaluation of how educational technologies are used or help instructional designers in creating exemplary ways to implement technologies.