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Pilot Study: Creating a Special Collection of NSF-Funded Learning Resources to Support Core Ideas in High School Biology: 1555550

Principal Investigator: Mary Marlino
CoPrincipal Investigator(s): Tamara Sumner
Organization: University Corporation For Atmospheric Res

This project will develop, implement, and research a special digital collection to supplement the teaching of core ideas in high school biology. The collection will focus on concepts that underpin the majority of curricula currently in use in the United States. The collection will also serve as a model for a comprehensive source dedicated to disseminating information about NSF-supported learning resources for targeted audiences of teachers and learners. The project focus is on high school biology because: 1) The contemporary research base on teaching and learning calls for all students to be deeply engaged in authentic science practices. In many schools teachers are actively seeking online resources to meet this need. 2) Biology has near universal enrollment by students. Consequently, teachers are seeking online supplemental resources to differentiate their instruction to meet the diverse learning needs of students. 3) Through existing partnerships, this special collection can be integrated into a digital high school biology curriculum and its impact on teachers and learners can be studied. States and school districts increasingly are asking teachers to use open education resources on an institutional scale, driven by the desire to control costs, the need for more personalized learning experiences, and the need to adapt curricula to meet the demands of new math and science standards. A comprehensive online source of NSF-supported educational materials will address this national need by providing teachers, learners, parents, and the public with open access to high-quality, research-based STEM materials. The immediate broader impact will be access to 300 high-quality biology resources by Denver Public School teachers and 800 students, many of whom are from non-dominant backgrounds. It will provide a scalable model for public access to NSF-funded educational materials in other STEM domains and can serve as a foundation for future development of special collections. Longer term impacts will be more accessible, high-quality educational collections available to educators, learners, and the general public.

Work will proceed along two tracks: in the development track, the collection of resources will be built using existing infrastructure tools for collection development, curation, and maintenance. In the research track, studies will be conducted to address scaling the collection and improving use for multiple audiences. The development track will: (1) Develop policies and resource selection criteria; (2) Identify NSF-supported materials and evaluate their appropriateness for inclusion; (3) Populate the collection and describe resources; (4) Configure and operate existing technical infrastructure for collection development and dissemination; and (5) Disseminate the collection to multiple open education repositories and directly to teachers and students. The research track will generate design guidelines and know-how for scaling this model collection to larger online sources capable of serving multiple audiences and communities. Project activities will: (1) Identify factors that contribute to repository value for broader audiences, including factors to be considered when instrumenting digital collections to support data-intensive research; and (2) Generate new knowledge on user behavior of STEM teachers and students, and examine the relationship between collection development policies, resource selection criteria, descriptions, and usage.

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