Dr. Hasan Deniz, Associate Professor of Teaching and Learning, is leading the way in translating recently developed science and engineering education standards into well-defined and evaluated curricula. Deniz received a two-year $299,986 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop, test, and teach others about modules that address key content standards in science education and how those standards align with Common Core State Standards for English language arts. The project, "Developing Integrated Elementary Science, Engineering, and Language Arts Curricula Aligned with Next Generation Science Standards [NGSS]," involves Deniz and his team of master elementary science teachers, university professors including science, engineering, and science teacher education faculty, and a science education postdoctoral or graduate student.
The NGSS - a collaborative of the National Research Council, the American Association for Advancement of Science, the National Science Teachers Association, and Achieve - was an important milestone for science educators, as previous standards are about 15 years old and do not capture advances in science and engineering fields.
The NGSS focuses on content areas in science and engineering in which all K-12 students should be competent. They involve three dimensions: (1) Practices, or behaviors needed to engage in scientific inquiry; (2) Crosscutting Concepts, which refers to application of learning across various science disciplines; and (3) Disciplinary Core Ideas, or essential learning components in physical sciences, earth and space sciences, life sciences, or engineering, technology, and applications of sciences that are teachable and applicable and meaningful to the student and society as a whole.
The two-year project involves three phases of module development, evaluation, and training. Specifically, Deniz and his team will develop and field-test a module for particular grade levels and then provide professional development to elementary teachers in Clark County School District. Embedded within these phases is the intentional positioning with English language arts content standards to create a cohesive educational experience for K-12 students.
Ultimately, Deniz sees the modules as a tool for altering both learning of and attitudes towards science and engineering: "The goals of this project are to improve elementary teachers' and their students' conceptions of the nature of science and engineering, as well as explore how implementation of these modules changes students' attitudes towards STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] education in general."
Dean Kim Metcalf envisions this project as having expansive outcomes: "Dr. Deniz's work of operationalizing the NGSS into comprehensive and piloted modules will be a national exemplar for other states needing to implement the standards in their school systems. The College has a distinct opportunity to shape pedagogy and instructional outcomes at a national level."