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CAST, KU Win Grant to Improve Middle-School STEAM Tool

Corgi logo and OSEP logo: IDEAs that work

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

CAST and the University of Kansas (KU) have won a 5-year, $2.5-million grant from the US Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs to extend and enhance their work to improve students’ knowledge, motivation, and higher-order thinking in middle-school science classrooms using a promising technology tool.

The tool—named Corgi for “co-organize”—helps students co-organize their learning in a digital, Google App environment. Building on prior work accomplished with funding from the National Science Foundation, the partners will conduct design-based research to assess the effectiveness of Corgi’s features in improving student outcomes in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math) fields.

Researchers will also create a Corgi Implementation Studio to support the more widespread and effective use of this promising tool. Teachers will receive face-to-face and online professional development, instructional coaching, and competency-based micro-credentials, with a special emphasis on using the inclusive principles and guidelines of Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

Corgi guides students through assessing what they know about a concept, how it compares and contrasts to others, prompts discussion, questions and deeper knowledge of concepts in a collaborative environment. Previous peer-reviewed research has shown Corgi is effective as students have shown significant gains in learning science and US history using the tool. Students with disabilities were also found to make substantial improvements.

“This new iteration—which we’re calling Corgi 2020—has the potential to improve student outcomes in middle-school science,” says Principal Investigator James Basham, who holds a joint appointment as CAST’s Senior Director of Learning & Innovation and Associate Professor of Special Education at KU. “Working closely with learners and teachers will enable us to create a truly scalable tool for tomorrow’s classrooms.”

“Corgi is a great example of effective co-design and design-based research, where we work directly with end-users (in this case, teachers and students) to enhance the relevance and effectiveness of their classroom resources,” said Linda Gerstle, CAST CEO.

Corgi is available online for public use at The latest round of funding will help researchers and educators make an enhanced version available to even more students.

“This sustained funding of Corgi has allowed us to build around what we’re learning are the needs in the field,” Basham said. “We’re truly working in partnership with schools to see not only what has scientific rigor, but to effectively design tools that work for today’s classrooms. Corgi 2020 is looking at what we know has shown to work and scale it in a way that can be self-sustaining.”

About CAST CAST is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to transform education design and practice “until learning has no limits.”

About the University of KansasKU is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. The university's mission is to lift students and society by educating leaders, building healthy communities and making discoveries that change the world.

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