September 1, 2001
The goal of the JASON Project is to engage students in lifelong learning through a unique opportunity to learn about earth systems, life on earth, and technologies used to study the earth-space system. The project aims bring educators and students together to construct their own knowledge base by putting science concepts and skills to work in a media-based anchor. It provides teachers with instructional tools that bring together academic standards, the rich research environment of a new curriculum topic each year, and student performance measures that support state standards and assessment initiatives. It aspires to help teachers meet two kinds of learning objectives: (1) to increase student learning of content-specific information, and (2) to engage students in complex, difficult tasks that lead to the development of scientific thinking and problem-solving skills.
The JASON Project has been growing steadily in the last twelve years, today reaching a diverse population of approximately 25,000 teachers and 1 million students around the country. These two populations are diverse in terms of ethnicity, community profile (geography and income), teaching experience, number of years in the JASON program, students' achievement levels, as well as teachers' and students' experience with technology and science.
Based on JASON multimedia resources, the diversity of its population, and the JASON Project's long-term presence (12 years) in the education field, the Center for Children and Technology (CCT), with the JASON Foundation for Education's ( JFE) staff, decided to focus directly on demonstrating JASON's impact on diverse populations of students and teachers across the country in the coming years. We agreed that it was important to develop a pre-planning evaluation phase, a one-year evaluation of JASON's impact on a small representative sample of students and teachers, and a multi-year large-scale evaluation of the impact of the various JASON resources on students and teachers. The purpose of the pre-planning evaluation and one-year pilot evaluation study is to help us design a multi-year evaluation program responsive to the needs of JFE.
To develop an evaluation study, CCT staff conducted a pre-planning evaluation phase ( June 1 to July 31, 2000). During this time we:
- Attended the JASON National Educators Conference on June 21-23, 2000, in Milwaukee
- Met with JASON staffs
- Familiarized ourselves with the JASON curriculum and web site.
We observed the training of trainers and teachers for the JASON XII curriculum. We learned more about the JASON on-line learning community and the varied online resources and activities available to both students and teachers, and we developed an understanding of the kinds of assessments that will yield relevant information about students' learning. Based on this pre-evaluation, it was CCT's understanding that JFE was most interested in demonstrating JASON's impact on diverse populations of students and assessing student's inquiry skills over time.
The one-year comprehensive evaluation of student learning in the JASON multimedia environment used the following assessment techniques:
- Administration of a pre/post-science inquiry problem-solving task
- Videotape assessment of students' year-end project presentations
- Administration of school/district demographic questionnaires
- Teacher and student surveys
- Interviews with teachers and administrators
- Classroom observations.
School, Teacher, and Student Profiles We worked with nine science teachers and 269 students from eight middle schools located around the country: in Arkansas, Texas, Michigan, Ohio, California, New York, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. These eight schools reflect the diversity of learning contexts in which Jason is being implemented such as student background and ability and teachers' experience in using JASON.
- Serve 6th, 7th and 8th grades
- Mainly low and middle income families
- Range in student/teacher ratio
- Vary in achievement levels from below average to above average
- All teach science, though some teach other subject as well.
- Mainly white and female
- Average 20 years of teaching experience
- Average 8 years technology experience
- Average 5 years JASON experience
- 269 JASON students participated in this study
- Diverse socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds
- Most identify science as their favorite subject (82%)
- Have participated in JASON for one year (55%), two years (17%), three years (5%), four years (4%), and five years (3%)
Based on our students' surveys (N=262), we found that the JASON students learned about the following topics this year:
- Volcanoes (260)
- Lava tubes (211)
- Plate tectonics (201)
- Hawaiian culture (196)
- Animal adaptation (186)
- Weather/climate (182)
- Hawaiian ecology (169)
JASON classes engaged in the following scientific activities:
- Lab experiments (209)
- Library research (207)
- Group projects (206)
- Data collection (203)
- Internet research (200)
- Live science broadcast (191)
- Built models (181)
- Made posters (179)
- Drew conclusions based on data (178)
- Developed hypothesis (174)
- Went on field trips (155)