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Principal Investigator: Polly Hubbard, Karen Mutch-Jones and Gilly Puttick

Funders: National Science Foundation

The Accessing Science Ideas (ASI) project is developing and researching content enhancements that support science learning of middle school students with executive function learning disabilities. These content enhancements are designed to accompany two Full Option Science System (FOSS) curriculum units. Content enhancements do not change instructional content but rather ‘enhance’ it by making it accessible to all learners through explicit, concrete, and creative reinforcement of concepts.

After piloting and revising the content enhancements, ASI researchers will study approximately 150 science classrooms. Half of these classroom teachers will incorporate the content enhancements during unit instruction. Researchers will compare the impact of content enhancements on students' scientific reasoning, content knowledge, and confidence. In addition, they will make comparisons between students with learning disabilities who did and did not use content enhancements and further identify ways in which these particular enhancements influenced accessibility to the curriculum and opportunities to improve science understanding.

The research will also measure the extent to which the content enhancements and training increase science teachers' understanding of executive function challenges, their ability to identify aspects of lessons that are most challenging for students with executive function learning disabilities, and their knowledge about approaches to address students' needs. Project researchers anticipate that the students who will benefit the most from content enhancements are those who find it difficult to organize, remember information, shift between concrete phenomena and abstract concepts and find it difficult to see relationships among ideas. They expect that these supports might have a positive impact on all students in inclusive science classrooms and will provide useful evidence and suggestions for teachers, curriculum developers and teacher educators.

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