NSF-Funded Study Examines Effectiveness of New AP Science Courses | SRI International

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National Science Foundation-funded Study to Examine if New AP Science Courses Advance Student Progress onto Science and Engineering Career Track

AP science classResearchers from University of Washington, SRI, and The George Washington University to Provide First Evaluation of Inquiry-based AP Science

October 29, 2012–The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Associate Professor Mark Long of the Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington a $2.6 million, four-year study of redesigned Advanced Placement (AP) science courses. The study will be done in collaboration with Dylan Conger of the George Washington University's Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration and Raymond McGhee Jr. of SRI International.
The research teams will focus on both implementation and student outcomes resulting from the revised AP science curriculum developed by the College Board in collaboration with NSF and the National Research Council. The new curriculum is designed to emphasize the development of scientific inquiry skills rather than just the acquisition of limited knowledge across many content areas.
The study's findings will provide the first experimental evidence on the effects of taking an inquiry-based AP science course and whether it impacts students' educational progress and success in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects. The findings will be useful for the College Board, educators, and policymakers seeking to strengthen the teaching of science in high school.
“This study comes at a time when districts and schools are rapidly expanding their AP offerings and encouraging all students, especially those coming from underrepresented minority groups, to take challenging courses,” said Raymond McGhee, Ph.D., senior researcher in the Center for Education Policy at SRI International. “Since student success in science is so important to future success, we anticipate that our study results will inform educators and policymakers as they develop programs to support college readiness.”
As part of the research project, SRI will collect interview, survey, observation, and administrative data from participating teachers and students. Researchers will analyze the data to provide feedback to educators.
Using a randomized control-trial design, UW and GW researchers will determine the effects of inquiry-based content on students and whether it has an impact on their ability to conduct scientific inquiry and overall educational performance and aspirations.
The project will take place in 40 high schools across the nation, and the study will include more than four thousand 11th and 12th grade students.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DRL-1118851. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

About the Evans School of Public Affairs

The Evans School of Public Affairs is the pre-eminent school of public policy and management in the Northwest, nationally ranked as a top 10 school of public affairs. Educated to work across intellectual and political boundaries, Evans School graduates are rigorous thinkers and highly skilled managers who promote innovation in the public interest. With dedication to both research and teaching, Evans School faculty members influence policy and management across a range of policy arenas.  Visit http://evans.uw.edu for more information.

About the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration

The Trachtenberg School is a focal point for public affairs education, research and public service at The George Washington University. Building on a rich tradition of education for public service and on its location in the nation's capital, the Trachtenberg School offers highly-ranked Masters and PhD programs for students wishing to pursue public affairs oriented academic programs. Learn more about the school's highly-ranked Masters and PhD programs at www.tspppa.gwu.edu.