CAREER: Investigating Core Issues in Learning Progressions Research

Principal Investigator: 
Project Overview
Background & Purpose: 

The proposed project investigates two core questions in regard to the theoretical validity and consequent utility of learning progressions (LPs): (a) to what extent do the well-defined learning paths described by LPs actually account for the development of students’ knowledge in a domain? and (b) in what ways do the learning paths for content and practice influence each other in an LP? These questions will be explored in the context of two, recently developed, alternative LPs in genetics (Duncan et al., 2009; Roseman et al., 2006).


The study will be conducted with high school students in a mid-low performing diverse public school in a suburban setting.

Research Design: 

The project uses a comparative research design and will generate evidence that is descriptive [design research] and associative/correlational [quasi-experimental]. Original data will be collected on high school students using assessments of learning, observation [personal observation and videography], and survey research [semi-structured or informal interviews and face-to-face].

The study compares two learning progressions in genetics. Two sets of instructional materials will be developed. We will be using the Evidence-Centered-Design framework to develop assessment items targeted at the common constructs on both learning progressions. Items will be of multiple forms including forced choice, ordered multiple choice, and short answer. Interview protocols will also be developed using similar assessment tasks. We will be using IRT models to establish item difficulties and student ability levels in the two conditions.


Findings will be posted as they become available.

Other Products: 

The project will produce curriculum materials, assessments, and professional development materials.