From Tuesday’s inbox…
A Busy Spring at SRI Education
From the publication of a groundbreaking new book about online learning to new research about learning afterschool, our dedicated team of researchers has been busy digging into some of the nation’s most pressing education issues. New research and ideas from SRI are fostering innovation and informing educational practice and policies to strengthen learning. In this issue of SRI Education Notes we highlight some of those efforts.
Denise Glyn Borders
Vice President, SRI Education
:: Blog Posts
New Research Describes Challenges to Afterschool Learning
SRI Education has published the first part of the 5-year National Science Foundation-funded Afterschool Science Networks study. The report presents case studies of science activities in California afterschool programs and identifies roadblocks to science learning. The research makes clear that a lack of time, staff capacity, instructional materials and meaningful external supports are limiting science learning in afterschool settings. Learn more in this Q&A with SRI’s Ann House, project director for the study. Read the journal article, Learning from Science.
Next Generation Science Assessments
Seeking to accelerate and deepen science learning, California and other states have adopted the new Next Generation Science Standards for K-12 students. With the support of a $2.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation, researchers at SRI will join with other leading research organizations to develop a new system of assessments that align with the new standards that teachers can use to inform instructional decisions. The work will begin with a focus on middle school physical science and develop a model for what three-dimensional assessments can look like. Learn more about the NGSS project. Read about the new assessments on the SRI blog by Angela DeBarger.
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SRI Writes the Book on Online Learning
A new book — Learning Online: What Research Tells Us about Whether, When and How explores whether online learning is helping students learn and examines the latest research about online learning. The book also describes the ways online learning is being used in a wide variety of contexts and settings, and explores key issues and practices for its effective implementation. “Learning Online makes clear that technology alone is not enough,” says Barbara Means, co-director of the Center for Technology in Learning at SRI Education and the lead author of the book. “If there is one message, it’s that learning takes place among people with differing learning characteristics, from different backgrounds and circumstances, and from a broad range of activities. We need thoughtful, rigorous research in each of these contexts, not broad statements about online learning being ‘good’ or ‘bad.’” At a time of explosive growth in online learning, this new book provides educators, policymakers and researchers with a much needed guide that can be used to inform decisions about design and implementation of digital learning opportunities. Learn more or order your own copy.
What’s happening with Early Leaning?A Q&A with Shari Golan, Ph.D., co-director, SRI Education Center for Education and Human Services
This is a really exciting time to be involved in early learning. The Obama administration has made the education of young children a priority. Many states have been investing in pre-K and related strategies. The philanthropic community is also investing in early learning as a means of improving student achievement and promoting lifelong success. The emphasis across all of these efforts is on increasing access to high-quality early learning environments and programs. The infrastructure needed to support these opportunities is immense. It includes research, evaluation, technical assistance, professional development, and family engagement.
Mixed Findings on Blended Learning
New research by SRI Education examining blended learning models finds some evidence of benefits. But SRI researchers caution against drawing early conclusions about impact on student achievement. The report highlights significant foundational challenges to successful implementation of the strategy. “The implementation of blending learning models in many schools is still in its infancy and there has been limited comprehensive research up to this point,” says Robert Murphy, Director of Evaluation Research in SRI Education’s Center for Technology in Learning. The blended learning report, which was funded by the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, was conducted by researchers at SRI in 2011-2012 at five selected school sites in California and Louisiana. The research details findings about infrastructure and technology, elements of software design, perceived benefits to teaching and learning and student productivity. The report highlights implications for practice, describes best practices and provides recommendations for future research.
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