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CAST Awarded $2.5 Million to Develop Science Resources

U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs logo

Thursday, July 30, 2015

CAST has received a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs to scale the use of digital science notebooks in grades 4 through 6. 

With the five-year award CAST­—in partnership with Arizona State University—will create a suite of tools and resources for educators to implement the evidence-based Universally Designed for Learning Science Notebook (UDLSN) in their instruction.

UDLSN, which was developed and studied at CAST, has shown the potential to improve students’ engagement and academic performance in activity-based science learning. The tool is especially effective in providing instructional supports for students with disabilities, in part by providing teachers with the timely data they need to adjust instruction.

“By using UDLSN, teachers of elementary- and middle-grade students can help their students develop the science thinking and procedural skills needed to succeed in later grades,” says Gabrielle Rappolt-Schlichtmann, CAST’s Co-President and the Principal Investigator on this project. “When content gets more complicated. In doing so, they will meet the expectations of Next Generation Science Standards.”

The notebooks give students a tool to record, organize, analyze, and interpret data. In a randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of Educational Psychology (November 2014), students who used UDLSN showed improved science content learning outcomes and better science-learning behaviors as compared with traditional paper-and-pencil science notebooks. Students and teachers also reported higher levels of interest, feelings of competence, and autonomy when using the UDLSN.

The grant was one of just three funded this year under OSEP’s Stepping-Up Technology Implementation program.



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