Federal grant to enhance math and science learning for all children

August 19, 2010

A $400,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education will support a two-year University of Cincinnati research project to build and enhance student learning in science, particularly elementary and middle-school aged children with learning disabilities and behavioral disorders.

Researchers in UC's College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) are developing an interactive software suite that would be shared by teachers around the nation via cloud computing - a network that shares resources and services. They're calling it the Interactive Field Investigation Guide, or iFIG.

The system is being designed around mobility, so students can use it at home, at school or even in field-based science projects. The iFIG will be utilizing Apple Inc. products including iPod touches, iPads and iPhones. "We're hoping the iFIG system will encourage teachers to engage students in authentic, problem-based learning activities that provide students content as well as capture their interest through real-world problem solving," says James Basham, UC assistant professor of teacher education and a researcher in the UC FUSION Center in CECH.

The iFIG will feature three key componentsThe system will also be usable from any computer connected to the Internet. The technology will be developed around the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework, which emphasizes proactive instructional design that gives all students an equal opportunity to learn. For instance, if a child is struggling with reading, he or she can listen to audio text as well as click on vocabulary resources to support learning. The iFIG is being designed for children in urban schools with mild to moderate learning disabilities and emotional/behavioral disorders.

Basham says the system will be designed in partnership with the Boston Museum of Science's "Engineering is Elementary" curriculum. "The Boston Museum of Science has one of the largest STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) curriculums in the country, serving more than a million students and 16,000 teachers in all 50 states," Basham says.
About The Steppingstones Grant

The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Education's Steppingstones of Technology Innovation for Children with Disabilities - under the Technology and Media Services for Children with Disabilities Program. The program supports specific, technology-based innovations to improve learning for children with disabilities.

What is Cloud Computing?

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines cloud computing as "a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction."

About the UC FUSION Center

The UC FUSION Center, housed in the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services, is a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education research and outreach center that supports innovative teaching and learning for all students, including those with disabilities and diverse learning needs.

About CECH

UC's College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) has been dedicated to excellence in teaching for over a century. The college prepares students to work in diverse communities, provides continual professional development and fosters education leadership at the local, state, national and international levels. UC was also recently highlighted as a national model in teacher education by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) - the national organization that ensures quality in teacher education.

University of Cincinnati

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