September 1, 2003
This report presents the evaluation findings for Year Three of EDC's Center for Children and Technology's multi-year evaluation of the JASON Multimedia Science Curriculum (JMSC) for the U.S. Department of Education Star Schools Project. The focus of this year's evaluation was on the impact of the JMSC on diverse student populations, namely, upper elementary and middle school students labeled special needs, at-risk, and gifted and talented, as well as those in heterogeneous mainstream classrooms. The schools and student populations were diverse in terms of geographic location, socio-economic status, linguistic background, race, and ethnicity, and included one school on an Indian reservation, one where 75% of the students came from Spanish-speaking homes, and one on a military base. Researchers conducted interviews, observations, surveys, and assessments at the nine school sites around the country, in a study that involved 12 teachers and over 600 students.
Researchers found that six main themes emerged:
- JMSC influenced students' perceptions of scientists, doing science, and being scientists.
- Hands-on activities from the print curriculum supported student engagement and motivation, helping students be able to grasp complex scientific ideas by making them concrete.
- Multidisciplinary components of the JMSC provided coherence in students' learning through capturing their interest and providing opportunities for collaboration.
- Students appreciated the variety of experiences and access to knowledge that the multimedia components (videos, Live Broadcast, digital labs, Internet research, and other online activities) provided them; students claimed the affordances of multimedia helped them learn better.
- Students with varying literacy levels were able to access complex scientific concepts.
- JMSC use resulted in an understanding of key JASON XIV scientific content, concepts, and technologies.