The 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress highlighted stagnant and declining performance in mathematics in both 4th (14% proficient) and 8th (7% proficient) grades for students with disabilities. Mathematical understanding is critical for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and information and communication technology (ICT) careers. Disparities are even more severe in critical areas, such as fractions. Conceptual knowledge in fractions mediates fraction performance between students with and without specific learning disabilities (LD) such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia. In fact, researchers report 4th to 6th graders with LD begin their study of fractions with diminished engagement and conceptual understanding compared to their peers and show significantly less improvement in solving problems and application of computational procedures over time.
The Dream2B video game is designed to supplement students who have not demonstrated proficiency in the conceptual understanding of mathematics. The game was developed during the 2020 – 2021 academic year through a collaborative effort including researchers Matthew Marino, PhD., and Michelle Taub, PhD., at the University of Central Florida and Jessica Hunt, PhD. at North Carolina State University. In addition, Amy Hackenberg, PhD. at Indiana University Bloomington and Steve Price, PhD. at Portland State University provided peer review of the initial game design documents. The game, which is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) #1949122, is based on a curriculum developed by Dr. Hunt during an early career award at NSF. It is Internet browser-based and can be played either at school or in informal settings.
The game is aligned with the Universal Design for Learning theoretical framework. This framework challenges curriculum developers to increase the accessibility of learning materials using multiple means of engagement, representation, action, and expression. The research team is currently preparing to launch a beta-version of the video game for feedback from our core consumers: elementary school students, teachers, and their parents or guardians.
The “Interdisciplinary Coaching As a Nexus for Transforming how Institutions Support Undergraduates in STEM (iCAN)” is an exploratory project that occurred over two years. iCAN relies on coaching and mobile technologies (e.g., tablets & smartphones) to help undergraduates with disabilities achieve success in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The project team systematically investigated how a successful model for enhancing undergraduate STEM learning and persistence at Landmark, a small rural college in Vermont, can be migrated to the University of Central Florida. The project benefits both the graduate students who are pursuing a Master’s degree in Exceptional Education and undergraduate STEM majors. It provides practicing teachers with insights regarding how to better prepare students to be college and career ready.
RET Site: Collaborative Multidisciplinary Engineering Design Experiences for Teachers (CoMET)
Our RET site program at UCF will expose middle school to high school science and math teachers to various aspects of IoT technologies from design to manufacturing in an effort for them to experience the complete lifecycle of hardware and software, i.e., building blocks of IoT. The teacher participants will gain a new insight into this cutting-edge engineering research through the application of scientific knowledge, hands-on experiments, and development of their teaching modules, which will enrich their classroom teaching.
Project Adapting College Classrooms to Equally Support Science Students (Project ACCESSS) will take an important and significant step towards increasing the impact of improved instruction in active learning courses, particularly for students with executive function disorders such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder or autism spectrum disorder.