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Education school collaborates to transform science textbooks

Transforming K-12 science textbooks will be the focus of a new Center for Curriculum Materials in Science, a collaborative effort that includes the U-M School of Education. A $9.9 million, five-year grant from the National Science Foundation funds the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)-led center.

In addition to the School of Education, the work will be carried out in collaboration with Northwestern University, Michigan State University, Chicago Public Schools, Detroit Public Schools and the Lansing School District. The hub will be at AAAS in Washington, D.C., with the work performed at each of the universities and adjacent school districts.

Not confined to ivory towers, the center collaborators will work closely with their local school district partners to connect university research and teacher
training with the realities of the classroom.

According to Joseph Krajcik, lead investigator at the School of Education, university faculty need to work collaboratively with practicing teachers to make changes that will help all students learn.

"Such partnerships help to develop materials that teachers can use in classrooms, meet national standards and can make a real difference in helping students learn enduring ideas in science," he says.

The center will draw on the materials development and teacher education expertise of the universities to address some of the problems previously identified by AAAS in its series of critical evaluations of middle- and high-school science textbooks.

The center's goal is to improve science curriculum materials, making sure they reflect sound research on student learning and take advantage of the most effective teaching strategies and technologies. Another goal is to ensure that materials support credible standards for what students should know.

A critical national role for the new center is the development of a cadre of experts in science curriculum materials R&D. Each university partner will expand its graduate and postdoctoral programs in science education to include coursework and research opportunities in the analysis, design and use of science curriculum materials. Recruitment of students for the new programs is underway, and interested applicants can visit http://ScienceMaterialsCenter.org.

The new center will "foster essential research and development aimed at helping all students learn what they need to know to thrive in our science-based world," says Jo Ellen Roseman, acting director of Project 2061, the AAAS education reform initiative.

In addition to Krajcik, other members of the team include Roseman, who will serve as director of the Center for Curriculum Materials in Science; George DeBoer, AAAS; Brian J. Reiser, Northwestern University; James Gallagher, Michigan State University; and Ron Marx, U-M.

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