Toward meaningful interdisciplinary education: High school teachers' views of mathematics and science integration. Weinberg, A.E. & Sample McMeeking, L.B.

School Science and Mathematics, 117 (5), 204-213 (2017)


Numerous national initiatives call for interdisciplinary mathematics and science education, but few empirical studies have examined practical considerations for integrated instruction in high school settings. The purpose of this qualitative study was twofold. First, the study sought to describe how and to what extent teachers integrate mathematics and science curricula in their classrooms after having participated in an intervention to promote and support mathematics and science integration. Second, the study was intended to expand our understanding of the barriers to and factors that enable integrated approaches in high school classrooms. The theoretical component of this study builds on and adapts previous models of science and mathematics integration to introduce the Intradisciplinary, Cross-disciplinary, Mutlidisciplinary, Interdisciplinary (ICMI) framework for identifying and defining classroom integration strategies. Findings include a description of several distinct practices high school teachers related to integrated instruction as well as the trade-offs teachers considered when making decisions related to integrated curricula. The implications of the findings for researchers and practitioners are discussed. Finally, we propose the conceptualization of “interdisciplinary pedagogical content knowledge” in mathematics and science as an area of focus that will enable teachers to successfully move toward interdisciplinary instruction.

Student perceptions of interest, learning, and engagement from an informal traveling science museum. Sample McMeeking, L.B., Weinberg, A.E., Boyd, K., & Balgopal, M.M.

School Science and Mathematics, 116(5), 253-264 (2016)


Informal Science Education (ISE) programs have been increasing in popularity in recent years. The National Research Council has laid out six strands that ISE programs should try to address, including increasing interest, knowledge, and allowing participants to engage in scientific activities. Past research suggests that informal settings can increase interest in science and may lead to knowledge gains. This study examined the impact of a unique ISE program that resembles a traveling museum and offers small-scale, interactive experiences. Affective outcomes and self-reported learning outcomes of the students who participated in the program were examined. In general, students reported increases in science interest and some knowledge gains. Students also reported they thought the program allowed them to engage in science. There were differences in student responses based on grade level, with intermediate elementary students more likely to report greater knowledge gains and more likely to see the educational value of the experience. Interestingly, middle school students were more likely to value the social aspects of the experience, another important aspect of ISE. This study provides some insight into the connections between the different ISE strands of informal science education and offers suggestions for future research.

Linking Biophysical, Socioeconomic, and Political Effects of Climate Change on Agro-Ecosystems. Balgopal, M., Klein, J.A., Brown, C.S., Sample McMeeking, L.B., Morgan, J.A. & Frasier, W.M

Journal of Geoscience Education, 62:3, 343-325 (2014)


To meet the sustainability challenges of the future, we need leaders who are trained to work well in diverse, multidisciplinary teams and a populace that understands the biophysical and socioeconomic challenges facing humanity and how to meet the needs of its diverse stakeholders. With a goal of increasing climate literacy amongst college students, we developed a cooperative jigsaw activity to encourage students to explore the complexities of joint decision making when taking into account multiple perspectives. We found that undergraduate science (natural science and natural resources) students were engaged, drew on a variety of types of evidence to support claims about managing rangelands impacted by climate change, and referenced both complex social and natural systems in their post assessment.

An Organizational Model to Distinguish Between and Integrate Research and Evaluation. Activities in a Theory Based Evaluation.
Sample McMeeking, L.B., Basile, C., & Cobb, R.B.

Evaluation and Program Planning, 35, 508-516.  (November, 2012).


Theory-based evaluation (TBE) is an evaluation method that shows how a program will work under certain conditions and has been supported as a viable, evidence-based option in cases where randomized trials or high-quality quasi-experiments are not feasible. Despite the model’s widely accepted theoretical appeal there are few examples of its well-implemented use, probably due to time and money limitations necessary for planning and a confusion over the definitions between research and evaluation functions and roles. In this paper, we describe the development of a theory-based evaluation design in a Math and Science Partnership (MSP) research project funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF). Through this work we developed an organizational model distinguishing between and integrating evaluation and research functions, explicating personnel roles and responsibilities, and highlighting connections between research and evaluation work. Although the research and evaluation components operated on independent budgeting, staffing, and implementation activities, we were able to combine datasets across activities to allow us to assess the integrity of the program theory, not just the hypothesized connections within it. This model has since been used for proposal development and has been invaluable as it creates a research and evaluation plan that is seamless from the beginning.



Effects of a Teacher Professional Development Program on the Mathematics Achievement of Middle School Students.
Sample McMeeking, L.B., Orsi, B., & Cobb, R.B.

Journal for Research on Mathematics Education, 43(2), 160-182. (2012, March)


The effect of a 15- to 24-month in-service professional development (PD) program on state accountability mathematics test scores for middle school students was examined. Results showed that students’ odds of achieving a score of Proficient or better increased with teacher participation in the PD program.

Evaluating Long-Term, Complex Professional Development Programs: Using a Variation of the Cohort Control Design.
Sample McMeeking, L., Cobb, R.B., & Basile, C.

Evaluation & Research in Education, 23(4), 273-285 (2010)


This paper introduces a variation on the post-test only cohort control design and addresses questions concerning both the methodological credibility and the practical utility of employing this design variation in evaluations of large-scale complex professional development programmes in mathematics education. The original design and design variation, which adds a pre-test measure and gain scores for both pre-treatment and post-treatment conditions, are compared theoretically for their respective controls on threats to internal validity, and practically for their comparative ease of implementation in field settings. We conclude that the design variation adds important controls to selection bias that the original design cannot. From a utility perspective, however, there are trade-offs, because this design variation requires more data collection observations, more complex data management and certain psychometric characteristics for the outcome measure.


"Participatory Action Research Experiences for Undergraduates". The American Education Research Association Annual Meeting (April, 2015) Sample McMeeking, L.B, Balgopal, M.M., Weinberg, A.E., & Boyd, K.J.


We present a new conceptual model situating research experiences for undergraduates within a context of participatory action research. The purpose of the theoretically grounded Participatory Action Research Experiences for Undergraduates (PAREU) model is to act as a second year addition to traditional, lab-based research experiences where undergraduate science students, social science experts, and community members collaborate to develop research with the goal of enacting change. In addition to providing practical benefits for communities with needs solvable by scientific research, the model builds on and expands student skills gained from traditional research experiences. Deep and sustained engagement among scientists, social scientists, and community leaders is expected to empower community members, create better informed citizens, and improve their ability to solve problems.

PDF of paper: PARE AERA_2015

PDF of poster: PAREU AERA_2015

"Computational thinking: A scoping review of the existing scholarship and research" The American Education Research Association Annual Meeting (2014) Weinberg, A. & Sample McMeeking, L.B.


Efforts to advance computer science education at the federal, state, and corporate levels advocate a focus on computational thinking (CT). This emphasis on CT has resulted in a vast amount of literature devoted to the discussion or study of its concepts. This paper presents a study that employs the Cochrane Collaboration Guidelines to systematically aggregate, scrutinize, and analyze the body of literature around this emerging concept. Preliminary findings suggest the need for further development of the concept of CT and the need for increased rigor in the research methods and reporting standards. The findings are intended to be used to computer science educators, policymakers, and researchers as they make decisions that could influence practice, policy, and future research directions.

"Participatory Action Research Experiences for Undergraduates". The American Geophysical Union Annual Meeting (December, 2013). Sample McMeeking, L.B., & Weinberg, A.

Abstract [ED43B-0772]:

Research experiences for undergraduates (REU) have been shown to be effective in improving undergraduate students’ personal/professional development, ability to synthesize knowledge, improvement in research skills, professional advancement, and career choice. Adding to the literature on REU programs, a new conceptual model situating REU within a context of participatory action research (PAR) is presented and compared with data from a PAR-based coastal climate research experience that took place in Summer 2012. The purpose of the interdisciplinary Participatory Action Research Experiences for Undergraduates (PAREU) model is to act as an additional year to traditional, lab-based REU where undergraduate science students, social science experts, and community members collaborate to develop research with the goal of enacting change. The benefits to traditional REU’s are well established and include increased content knowledge, better research skills, changes in attitudes, and greater career awareness gained by students. Additional positive outcomes are expected from undergraduate researchers (UR) who participate in PAREU, including the ability to better communicate with non-scientists. With highly politicized aspects of science, such as climate change, this becomes especially important for future scientists. Further, they will be able to articulate the relevance of science research to society, which is an important skill, especially given the funding climate where agencies require broader impacts statements. Making science relevant may also benefit URs who wish to apply their science research. Finally, URs will gain social science research skills by apprenticing in a research project that includes science and social science research components, which enables them to participate in future education and outreach. The model also positively impacts community members by elevating their voices within and outside the community, particularly in areas severely underserved socially and politically. The PAREU model empowers the community to take action from the research they, themselves, conducted, and enables them to carry out future research. Finally, many of these communities (and the general public) lack the understanding of the nature of science, which leads to ignorance on the part of citizens in areas of science such as climate change. By participating in science/social science research, community members gain a better understanding of the nature of science, making them more informed citizens. The PAREU model is theoretically grounded in decades of research in social science and documented impacts of student research experiences. In addition to providing practical benefits for communities with needs solvable by scientific research, the model builds on and expands student skills gained from traditional REU programs Deep and sustained engagement among scientists, social scientists, and community leaders is expected to create better informed citizens and improve their ability to solve problems.

"Theory Baed Evaluation to Distinguish and Integrate Research and Evaluation Functions in Large-Scale Programs". The American Education Research Association Annual Meeting (2012) Basile, C.G & Sample McMeeking, L.B.

Paper Presentation in section 20.077-2. Current Studies in Program Evaluation to Improve Student Achievement Outcomes.  Division H- Research, Evaluation and Assessment in Schools.