Stimulating Understanding of Computational science through Collaboration, Exploration, Experiment, and Discovery for students with Hearing Impairments
Project Proposal
For Students!
For Teachers!
For Interpreters!
What's New?

[Note: the information on this page contains the project description as submitted to the National Science Foundation]

I. Goals and Objectives

It can take ten years or more for new ideas in science to be incorporated into the curriculum of schools. Given the rapid advances in science, new ways must be found to link reSearchers, educators, and learners. — from NSF’s Grand Challenges

a. Defining the Need: Computational science – applying numerical and computer techniques to the solution of scientific problems – is one of the newest methodologies in scientific reSearch. With the increased capabilities and decreased cost of computer hardware, the ability of scientists to build and use computer models and simulations to study interesting scientific phenomena has become a major part of scientific exploration. The methodology of computational science can be roughly visualized from the graphic below:

In this process, a scientific problem is identified and then expressed in mathematical terms, creating a mathematical model. This model is then expressed using one or more computer codes and submitted for solution on one or more types of computer hardware "platforms." The solution, whether it be large amounts of numerical data, or a "rendering" of that numerical data into an image or animation using visualization graphics techniques, is then used to understand the scientific problem. Typically the solution suggests refinements and new experiments that can be done computationally and/or in the laboratory.

Educational efforts in preparing students to use these increased computational capabilities, while improving, have proceeded slowly with respect to technological improvements. In the early 1990’s, the National Science Foundation (NSF), in recognition of the insufficient efforts being made nationally to look at the problem of computational science education, assembled a task force to study the situation. The resulting report (NSF ASC-9018011, 1991) states that while the "United States is considered to have the best graduate education program in the world, ...undergraduate and K-12 education in the US are not in the same unassailable position." The report states: "given the success in using HPCC [high-performance computing and communications] to enhance graduate science, mathematics, and engineering education, we need to turn to analyzing what steps are needed to use HPCC to significantly improve the quality and pace of undergraduate and K-12 education."

Partly through the efforts of groups like the Shodor Education Foundation, the NSF has made tremendous strides in the past decade in supporting national efforts to improve the use of HPCC technologies in undergraduate and K-12 education. Through programs like the Shodor Computational Science Institute, SuperQuest, the collaborative activities of the Maryland Virtual High School, and consortia such as the National Computational Science Alliance (NCSA) and the national Education, Outreach and Training Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (EOT-PACI), we have learned a great deal about how HPCC technologies can improve science and mathematics education. We have also been able to identify some of the barriers to a more systemic integration of these technologies.

While we still have a long way to go to ensure that important technologies such as computational science are as common as overhead projectors, we have made progress. We have not, however, addressed computational science education issues for all students, for instance, those with hearing-impairments. The reality is these students, in both mainstreamed and residential facilities, miss out on many educational opportunities that are available to other students. Teachers of these students, even if they are adequately trained in science, mathematics, and/or technology, must additionally cope with developing a high level of proficiency in sign language, understanding the unique language needs of hearing-impaired (HI) students, and otherwise dealing with issues not typically found in "regular" secondary classrooms. Given the heavy workloads and increasing demands on teachers, especially special education teachers, it is difficult for even the motivated teacher, without support, to adequately prepare to use new teaching strategies and technologies.

Based on our conversations with others in the field, our national-level involvement in computational science education, and our Search of the literature, we believe this to be true: HI students and their teachers are not even on the radarscope when it comes to computational science technologies. This a classic case of the "rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer." In this case, the "rich" are academically-talented hearing students, for whom a number of programs exist, and the "poor" are those students with physical impairments, especially those in residential programs.

Shodor-run pilot workshops have shown HI students, provided with the same opportunities now available to the nations’ most fortunate students, can develop substantial skills in the use of computational and communication technologies, and thus remain competitive with their hearing peers, but they experience unique obstacles. We observed, for example, that the students and teachers in the pilot program were continuously hampered by the simple frustration of having to spell out letter-by-letter a large number of the key concepts and working vocabulary of computational science, such as "computational," "scientific visualization, " and "supercomputer." I m a g i n e, as a r e v i e w e r of this p r o p o s a l , having to c o n s t a n t l y change your v i s u a l p r o c e s s i n g speed to a c c o m m o d a t e someone who t y p e d some concepts as c o m p a c t w o r d s, and o t h e r s letter b y l e t t e r. It is worse when you are not even familiar with the words you are trying to process. The analogous situation will not improve, however, without serious and significant work on the preparation of appropriate curricular materials that take into account the distinctive learning styles and challenges facing HI students and their teachers.

The goal of Project SUCCEED-HI is to develop quality materials to enable teachers to integrate computational science into the instructional programs of HI students. We propose to create a set of curricular materials (approximately 6-12 complete "modules" per year) to provide hearing-impaired students and their teachers with appropriate and authentic experiences and opportunities to learn about and do meaningful computational science. By authentic we mean using the technology in the same manner as the professional scientist. By appropriate we mean using the technology when the problem being studied can be studied better using technology than with "traditional" techniques. A complete module includes:

  • a scientifically authentic and appropriate computer model, accessible either on a stand-alone computer and/or via an interactive Web page;
  • background readings for both student and teacher. Student background readings will be written to ensure that difficult linguistic constructs are minimized without sacrificing content;
  • teaching strategies and other support materials for the educator, including suggestions for integrating the activity into existing curricula, use of the activity in extracurricular/summer settings, and ideas for activity modifications;
  • glossaries of appropriate technical signs, available using standard print notational systems as well as computer-based (CD-ROM) animations;
  • other supporting materials as required.

We are submitting this proposal because:

  • we believe we have innovative ideas on how to ensure that students with hearing-impairments and their teachers can take advantage of local, state, and national efforts in computational science education;
  • we believe we have the expertise in computational science education required to ensure its success;
  • we believe we have the expertise in the issues related to education of students with hearing-impairments;
  • we believe that we have assembled the right scientific, educational, and technical team needed to do this work.

b. The Shodor philosophy on technology in education: As scientists and educators, we have a core philosophy that drives all of our efforts, including:

  • Computation and communication technologies ought to be used, as much as possible, in the same ways by learners and leaders as by professionals. Our experience convinces us that learners do just as well with a professionally-used software packages as with a piece of educational software. We see no reason to "dumb-down" the technology we use at the pre-professional level.
  • Technology will never replace teachers, but teachers who use technology effectively will replace those who don't. The key here is helping the teacher to understand what is effective, when it is effective, and how to make it effective. Technology, used at the right time and in the right way, is an extremely powerful tool in the hands of the skilled educator.
  • Technology is like a steamroller: you can either drive or become part of the road. There is consequential pressure on educators to become technology-savvy. We work to harness that pressure to help teachers become pro-active rather than reactionary. If the goal is to use technology, we need to help teachers understand how professionals in the "real world" are using technology.

Given all of the scientific and educational technologies available, which ones have the most to offer? All of the scientists and educators at Shodor are "classically-trained," meaning we finished our education before computation became an important and common-place reSearch tool. We became computational scientists and educators because we saw this one technology as the most effective technology available to do better science and better science education.

c. Motivation for this proposal: The motivation for this proposal comes from our strong desire to ensure the equal participation of HI students in cutting-edge technological innovations and educational opportunities. We are encouraged in this effort by "lessons learned" from our and others efforts to incorporate computational science education into middle-, high-school, undergraduate, and graduate programs. While we still have a long way to go before educational practices in "traditional" schools are in sync with existing technologies, we strongly believe that nontraditional students are even farther behind, and that gap needs to begin to narrow now. There is a point where the gap widens such that it will be difficult to close.

During the summer of 1997, as a part of the Burroughs Wellcome-funded Project SUCCEED, Shodor offered a two-week intensive workshop for a small group of local middle school HI students, conducted entirely in American Sign Language (ASL). The purpose of the workshop, from our perspective, was to see how receptive this group of students might be to computational science technologies. Several things became clear to us in this pilot offering: while our computational approach to science was of great interest to the students, and their motivation to "succeed" was quite high, our existing written materials for hearing middle school students proved too difficult (due to language constructs) for use by hearing-impaired students. Further complicating the situation, even with our expertise in both computational science and ASL, we were frustrated by the lack of (or inappropriateness of) technical signs to communicate the very precise concepts in the discipline of computational science. Assisting in the workshop was a young, recently-graduated student from the Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD) on the campus of Gallaudet University. Even with his native abilities in American Sign Language (ASL) and the high-level abilities of the course instructor (Gotwals) in computational science, ASL, and educational interpreting, we often resorted to fingerspelling and other time-consuming linguistic constructs to try to communicate modeling concepts.

Our conclusion based on this pilot test is that the difficulties faced by "regular" teachers who wish to integrate computational science technologies would be an order of magnitude higher for teachers of students with hearing-impairments, chiefly due to lack of language-appropriate materials and lack of technical signs for computational science education. This proposal looks to "level the playing field" for those teachers.

d. Computational Science: What is it, and why do we care? For quite some time, computation played a subservient role in analyzing data from experiments or in evaluating various approximations from theory. Science can no longer be divided simply along the lines of experiment and theory. Computational science has arisen as a new way of doing science, enabling observations that are not possible in any other way.

Computational science is also an important method for teaching and learning science. Many of the really interesting events of science are those that are difficult to study experimentally because they: occur too quickly (such as molecular interactions in chemistry); occur too slowly (such as population dynamics); are too costly to replicate in the laboratory (wind tunnel modeling); are too dangerous (rapid combustion experiments). With computational science, not only can the events be simulated, but also the experimental variables can be modified and the event can be re-enacted to observe the effect. This is an exciting and empowering hands-on process of learning that gives the students rapid feedback on their experiments and helps to develop scientific intuition.

Computational science has been defined in many ways. We define it as the correct and efficient match of application (science), algorithm (mathematics), and architecture (computing) which enables one to do science or engineering on a computer.

Notice that, as a part of the overall structure that leads to the model, the areas of experiment, theory, and computation form the sides of the triangle leading to the model. Just like the "fire" triangle (spark, fuel, oxygen), if any one of these three components is missing, you don’t have a "fire". Theories suggest experiments, which suggest computations, which suggest new theories and experiments, in a continuous process. Computational science, therefore, requires an understanding of the theoretical and experimental side of science, not just the computational aspects.

Mathematicians, scientists, engineers, and educators have long advocated a wider inclusion of authentic models and simulations in K-12 education for several reasons:

  • because practicing mathematicians, scientists, and engineers use such models or simulations in ever-increasing numbers, their use in education would help close the gap between how science is done and how science is taught.;
  • the use of such models, whose output is largely visual, enables the study of phenomena that are otherwise inaccessible to most students (for the same reason they would be inaccessible to most scientists). The visual nature of computer models is of particular use when dealing with fundamentally visual learners.

Our experience clearly demonstrates that these reasons to incorporate emerging technologies in education are valid if the technology is used in an authentic and appropriate way, demonstrating its effectiveness for both the educator and student. Modeling does not replace the lab; at times, the experimental aspects are augmented by the model, and at times the lab augments the model. In addition, we believe that the teachers are unlikely to use the technology in class if they are not using the technologies as part of their own professional development and practice; the students will see little value in the technology if used in class only, or if the teacher cannot profess its practical utility in real-world applications.

We care about computational science because we believe that the significant scientific breakthroughs of the 21st Century are going to be those problems that require a vital computational component, or those that can only be solved computationally. We believe that it is imperative, for our nation to be competitive on the global stage, that our educational systems provide students and their teachers with the appropriate and authentic technological innovations for them to be ready to compete.

e. What are the barriers to effective integration of computational science?: Among the barriers impeding educators from incorporating an effective computational science into their schools, we note four of the most frustrating:

1) Computational science is a developing discipline. Most pre-college teachers, as well as faculty at the undergraduate level (especially those in schools of education) are unfamiliar with numerical models and their origins in their own fields of expertise, and even less familiar with those in other disciplines.

2) Computational science is inherently interdisciplinary. Teachers need to work together in developing and delivering courses in modeling or courses which integrate modeling. Unfortunately, most schools have an artificial hierarchy that works against collaborative efforts.

3) Computational science instruction requires computing and networking requirements that strain the resources of most secondary institutions. Educators with little or no computational experience will not be able to utilize the necessary resources to engage their students in computational science efforts in effective ways without training and support.

4) Teachers teach as they were taught. Having learned in a more "traditional" lecture/test format, the open-endedness of computational science, its interdisciplinary nature, and its dependence on teamwork and collaboration, make it a very challenging venture for even the most progressive teacher.

f. How can computational techniques be used in the classroom?: An example of computational science and its use in the classroom is perhaps instructive. We’ll use one from medicine with a social sciences/historical perspective:

Medicine and History: The Study of the Bubonic Plague in the Middle Ages: We recently finished working with a group of local non-academically-gifted sixth-grade students on a large project based on the Middle Ages. In the course of their reSearch, the students came to understand that the bubonic plague, or "Black Death," was a major event, affecting society, economics, politics, and all aspects of life. We worked with the students, the classroom teacher, and (electronically) with one of the leading experts in plague epidemiology at the Center for Disease Control in Colorado. In this collaborative effort, the students developed a simple computational model of the bubonic plague. The model looked to capture the conditions as they existed in the Middle Ages -- medical care as art, no understanding of vaccinations or sanitation -- and to determine if the model could approximate the epidemic spread through Europe.

The epidemiology portion of the project began with a simple model that uses a 1927 algorithm known as the SIR algorithm. This time-based model looks at three populations -- susceptibles (S), infecteds (I), and recovereds (R) -- and the change in those populations over some period of time. The model, designed using the STELLA® modeling architecture, implements a system of three ordinary differential equations that are time-dependent:

dS/dt = -rSI dI/dt = rSI -aI dR/dt = aI

In the STELLA® implementation, we looked at the dynamic (time-based) change of the three populations as they are influenced by each other and by the disease-specific constants of infection probability (r) and recovery rate (a). Students began their study of epidemiological modeling with this simple model, using data for the influenza virus. The goal was to take this basic model, and, remaining faithful to the SIR algorithm, develop a complex model that included a changing population of people (susceptible, infected, and recovered) as well as changing populations of healthy and infected rodents and fleas, the carrying vectors for the bubonic plague. The ultimate goal was to determine how well the model approximates the death and destruction caused by this epidemic between the years 1347-1350.

The students, their teacher, and their parents were extremely enthusiastic about what computational science allowed them to do: tackle a difficult content area (epidemiology) and its underlying mathematics (differential equations) on a real-world scientific problem (bubonic plague) in the context of a project in history and social studies. The group of ten children, a balanced mixture of girls and boys drawn from a culturally diverse school, quickly developed the important skills of collaboration and communication. As in all of our workshops, we used a "one-computer, one-team" approach. The computer, then, became the tool that allowed the students to interact with each other to do the science.

g. What are some of the additional challenges in teaching students with hearing-impairments?

Blindness separates people from things; deafness separates people from people. — Helen Keller

Childhood hearing impairment is a serious stumbling block to the normal educational process (Schein and Delk, 1974). The average age for identification of hearing impairment in children is three years (Bess and Humes, 1995). Ninety percent of deaf children are born to hearing parents (Schein and Delk, 1974). Often, hearing parents lack the appropriate skills to communicate effectively with their children; thus, language development is not facilitated as with normal hearing children. Language development is crucial to the socialization, education, and well-being of every child. Developmental delays in language, expressive and receptive speech, and cognition are significantly correlated with the degree of hearing loss ( Bess and Humes, 1995).

If one could state the biggest problem in teaching HI students, it is this: the educational system must spend considerable time and effort to enable the students to understand others and express themselves with the same language system. The language problem prevents these students from interacting with their environments in a way equal to their peers. Contrary to popular opinion, these students have limited exposure to print in a meaningful context. The notion that one can just have a hearing-impaired student read along in the textbook (or on a Web page!) as a solution to communication difficulties is ludicrous. Howell (1984) and Reynolds (1980) noted that the predominant cause of reading problems among deaf individuals is the lack of vocabulary and grammar of the spoken English language. Vocabulary deficits are huge in most HI students (Howell, 1984). Because there is no normal "written" system for the various sign systems (there are notational systems, such as the Stokoe notation), even native users of ASL have no written language. There is a poor correspondence between ASL and English, making transitions to written English difficult.

Regardless of the symbol system, a language system for developing and expressing thoughts and ideas is not automatically perceived and learned in the presence of hearing loss (Bess and Humes, 1995). It is for this reason that hearing impaired children often exhibit notable lags in educational achievement when compared to normal-hearing children (Bess and Humes, 1995). For most of our hearing-impaired children, language must be taught because it cannot be acquired naturally.

II. Project Design

In the sections above, we have described the current state-of-the-art of the technology and its use in education, and the particular challenges involved in teaching HI students. The remainder of this proposal describes our plan for creating and adapting materials and approaches to ensure that HI students are brought into the mainstream of technology use.

a. Project Impact

The design of this project works to harness computational technology for the education of hearing-impaired children. The development of curricula in computational methods for HI students will occur only with a concerted effort on the part of experienced and dedicated scientists and educators. Students can tackle relevant and interesting problems in the science classroom; improving science instruction entails marshaling the resources needed to make this happen.

Computational science is an effective tool that helps to minimize misconceptions students have of the unseen world. Including computational techniques in today's curricula will introduce students to a new realm of scientific problem-solving being used by many scientists today and one that will be needed by virtually all scientists in the future. It will improve teaching by emphasizing problem-solving processes in the classroom. All students can make the best use of their understanding and enthusiasm for science by using the computer and computational methods as an ever—accessible laboratory. Knowledge of these techniques, coupled with the rapidly improving power of the computer, will allow students to Search for solutions in a safe and cost-effective manner, limited only by the computational resources and their own imaginations. We envision a time in the not-too-distant future when every science student will have access to high-performance computing tools. This project will help build the foundation for that future.

b. Project Deliverables: This proposal defines a baseline level of effort sufficient to produce a significant set of materials -- case studies, enhancement/enrichment activities, supplemental labs, projects for independent group reSearch, science fair ideas, summer camp activities -- that all include one or more computational components. The materials that we develop, while emphasizing scientific and mathematical explorations, will provide "natural" opportunities for science and mathematics teachers to seek out the skills of others, such as English teachers, a collaboration of particular significance for teachers of hearing-impaired students. Our experience in educating hearing-impaired children, including lessons learned in the NSF-funded "Access to English and Science Outreach Project" (AESOP, Dr. Harry Lang, PI), strongly suggests a high correlation between writing and comprehension.

A portion of the reSearch in this project revolves around the issues regarding appropriate and authentic technical signs. Teachers of the hearing-impaired face an additional challenge above those who teach hearing students: not only must the teachers of the hearing-impaired understand the concepts of computational science, they must also be provided with guidance on how to render that concept in "grammatically correct" ASL. Following the model developed by Drs. Caccamise and Lang in their Technical Signs Project (Caccamise, et. al. 1997), we intend to develop a CD-ROM entitled "Technical Signs for Computational Science". This disk will contain video clips showing the sign, descriptions of how the sign is used, and other appropriate information concerning the sign. We also hope to take advantage of some of the new Web-based technologies, such as avatars and 3D animations, as a way to evaluate technical signs and as a way to distribute them to the larger community.

The desired outcome of this project also includes background and supporting materials for teachers, including links to existing standards, ideas and "lessons learned" for the use of these materials, and self-assessment and student-evaluation tools.

Finally, the plan includes development of a set of pilot test evaluation tools to evaluate the effectiveness of our materials and teaching strategies during future and continuing reSearch.

The instructional materials we propose to develop will have several essential features:

  • The materials will, first and foremost, enable the teacher to teach with professional competence and confidence by providing sufficient background information and links to further resources including lesson plans, classroom scenarios, experts, and mentors.
  • The materials will be based on the forward-looking national standards for science and mathematics. Teachers are under considerable pressure to meet specific objectives in local, state, or national standards. In developing these materials, we will pay close attention to the national standards in science and mathematics.
  • The materials will be adaptable to specific classroom and student situations, and the teacher will have the resources to be able to make the necessary adaptations. Some students are more or less interested in certain subject areas, and events may occur that require modification of the syllabus. Therefore, the materials will be made as modular as possible, with appropriate examples for presentation and ordering.
  • The materials will be useful not only to HI students, but to "traditional" students as well. We have already developed a large set of computational science curricular materials, and have ready access (in our partnership with the National Computational Science Alliance, NCSA) to a large database of others. We see these models as being useful to encourage collaborations between hearing and deaf students in a mainstreamed environment, and/or being used in "deaf-only" situations, such as residential schools. Fundamentally, kids are kids -- materials developed for one "kind" of student will be adaptable for others. There are, however, specific, crucial issues which this project will address in working to make materials and resources appropriate for HI students.

The result of our efforts will be stand-alone (CD-ROM) and network-accessible teaching resources in full support of the use and incorporation of simulations for precollege HI students, enabling an authentic use of technology that provides exposure to computational methods and the excitement of scientific inquiry, observation, and discovery.

All of the materials developed will be tested with students in various settings, including in a regular classroom, in after-school settings, and in summer camp enrichment activities.

c. Project Methodology:

The key strategy in the implementation of the project design is to move electrons, not people. We will use the same electronic collaborative technologies used in scientific endeavors, the entire slate of technological resources, such as email, electronic whiteboards and notebooks, real-time video, and the like. All email will be archived onto a Web-page using MHonArc; chat sessions will be saved and converted to Web pages; a participant-modifiable electronic calendar will be created and made available; and other collaboratory tools will be utilized. New collaboratory tools are being developed regularly, and we will use them as appropriate. A virtual "presence" will be established and used frequently.

We recognize, however, the need for a number of "non-virtual" activities to occur. These include all of the ramp-up training activities as well as visits to Barton College and the Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf (ENCSD) to observe and help teachers as they work with students.

While these are not separate entities, we have chosen to describe the training activities, development of curricular materials, and the procedures for collecting, evaluating, and recording technical signs in three sections:

1. Training activity: Twice each year, a training activity for the team is provided. This activity might involve (especially in the early stages) training on the technologies, techniques, and tools of computational science, training on specific issues of teaching science and mathematics to hearing-impaired students, and/or sign language-related topics. We hope to use a "watch one, do one, teach one" model, in that the pre-service and veteran teachers working with us in Year One will become the trainers of new teacher- in Years Two and Three. These training activities will be scheduled late fall and at the beginning of the summer, with "spot training" activities scheduled during teacher in-service days. We expect to have training sessions with both pre-service and veteran teachers jointly and separately, working to accommodate the schedules of both groups. A portion of the training will also be conducted asynchronously, through on-line instructional materials for our team

2. Materials Development: the process begins with the selection of some number of topics and concepts to be taught. The veteran teachers on our project team will have the responsibility of identifying those concepts that are most amenable to development as computational science modules. For example, the six-grade teacher in the bubonic plague project, a veteran of Shodor computational science workshops, recognized that a computational approach to the effect of the plague in 14th century Europe was both appropriate and authentic. Once "trained", we expect our teachers to be looking for authentic and appropriate areas for integration of computational science.

In the early stages of the project, the computational science educators will develop, in collaboration with the teachers, the computational model and other supporting materials. As the team become more skilled in the modeling aspect, that work will be assumed by small teams working collaboratively. Once a topic area has been chosen, we see the pre-service teachers as providing a good deal of the reSearch and development work.

Working collaboratively via electronic means, a prototype computer model will be developed, or an existing model will be evaluated and modified as needed. As the model takes shape, beginning curricular materials -- case studies, student handouts, scenarios, etc. -- will be developed by the team. In an iterative fashion, as the model improves, the curricular materials will also continue to evolve to fit the improved model.

During the development process, other project teachers will have on-going opportunities to look at the work being developed, ask questions, make suggestions, etc., very much a "peer review" process. Likewise, development team will look for opportunities to try the developing materials with students, either as a part of their regular curricula and/or during extracurricular programs. As described below, we expect to have access to students with hearing-impairments for sizeable portions of the calendar year.

While this development team is working, other development teams are also working on their topic. We envision at least two separate modules being under development at any one time. We expect early modules to be small in breadth and depth, allowing developers time to enjoy some success with simpler modules before moving on to larger modules.

As described above, a critical concern in the development of materials will be ensuring that they address linguistic "realities" of "typical" students with hearing-impairments (Luetke-Stahlman and Luckner, 1991 and Luetke-Stahlman, 1986). Some examples of linguistic modifications of importance include:

    • breaking up long sentences
    • reducing concept density (particularly important in technical materials)
    • keeping cause-and-effect expressions very simple in form
    • for technical words, making meaning and application absolutely clear and use context as a memory aid
    • avoiding passive voice verbs
    • avoiding the use of idioms

3. Technical Signs

There exist several resources for technical signs in computer science, most notably Jamison’s Signs for Computing Technology. There are, however, several problems in simply using the signs in this and other technical sign compendiums. First, there is not always a complete "match" between a word as it is used in computer science as compared with how the word might be used in computational science. Signs in ASL often represent concepts, and a particular word might have different conceptual meanings in different disciplines. In addition, new words and concepts are emerging rapidly, and we believe that it is important for us to provide a "strategy" for classroom teachers to deal with the reality of an evolving science. For example, we have been unable to identify any technical sign for the concept of "scientific visualization," a relatively new technique that means the application of computer graphics techniques to large datasets that are the end-product of most computational models. There does not, to the best of our knowledge, exist any sign for "supercomputing." One of our recent undergraduate interns from Gallaudet University used the compounding construct in ASL to create (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) a sign for supercomputer, combining "superman" and "computer." For this project to be successful, we believe that it is essential that we begin the process of identifying those technical signs needed to communicate the concepts of modeling and simulation. As such, we have included on this project team experts in technical signs, experienced interpreters, and a hearing-impaired scientist/science educator.

The procedure for collecting and analyzing technical signs is as follows:

  • once a term or concept is identified, our "sign team" will look to determine if a sign exists and if it is appropriate in a computational science context. Examples include terms such as supercomputing, stochastic, Monte Carlo, platform, approximations, and valid. We expect teachers to help with the identification of concepts and terms that they identify as being challenging to render into ASL.
  • if it is determined that a sign does not exist, or that the existing sign is not valid in a computational science setting, several possible signs or sign combinations will be discussed. These options will be produced using Web-accessible videoclips and/or 3D animations. Deaf scientists, sign language interpreters, and others will be solicited through various listservs and other discussion groups to visit the site, review the signs, and provide feedback to the project staff. This process was used quite successfully by Drs. Caccamise and Lang in their Technical Signs Project, using videotaped signs.
  • once a sign has been evaluated and recorded, it will be added to our glossary of computational science technical signs.

The experience of Drs. Lang and Caccamise in their Technical Signs Project (Caccamise and Lang, 1996), our review of current reSearch (Battison, 1978, Hoffmeister & Wilbur, 1980 and Shroyer, 1982), and the day-to-day experiences of all of the educators, interpreters, and scientists in this project should provide a rich resource for this portion of the project.

d. Timelines: the timeline calls for two three-day workshops (November and June) for veteran teachers, pre-service students, and interpreting professionals, to be held on the campus of the Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf. We will also hold one-day quarterly meetings for all North Carolina participants beginning in November of each year of the project. The entire project team will meet in person at Barton College once a year. It should be emphasized that major portions of the collaborative effort will be conducted electronically, following our strategy of moving electrons rather than people. We specifically wish to minimize the time and expense of travel for out-of-state

e. Product Dissemination: Publication and dissemination of authentic science and mathematics education materials is one of the missions of the Foundation. While the materials developed for this project are "demonstration" in nature, we believe that the materials produced will be of great interest to educators in the field. We have a commitment from the National Computational Science Alliance and the EOT-PACI to assist in the development of the materials, to make these materials part of the national computational science educational resource repository, and to incorporate them in other Alliance outreach efforts. All materials, reports, and "lessons learned" will be maintained on a Web server, accessible not only to project staff but also to the larger community. Notice of these materials will be posted to a wide variety of on-line groups, and their availability included on such pages as Shodor’s Computational Science Education Reference Desk. We will present our work at national meetings, such as SC99, meetings of teachers of hearing-impairments (Convention of American Instructors of the Deaf), and other state, regional and national audiences.

III. Participant Recruitment and Selection

a. Students with hearing-impairments: Fundamentally, we have the same access to students, via the Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf, as do the teacher education majors at the Barton College. ENCSD is a K-12 residential facility located a short drive from Barton College and approximately 75 miles from Shodor. In addition to this program, we have good relationships with programs for mainstreamed students in the Durham Public Schools (Lowes Grove Middle School and Southern High School). We are also in close contact with the two other state-supported residential schools in North Carolina -- the North Carolina School for the Deaf in Morganton and the Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf in Wilson, both of which have voiced strong support for the work in this proposal.

In addition to our access to the students during the academic year, there is a large summer camp effort sponsored by a local civic group, the Durham Sertoma Club. Currently, plans are being made for Shodor, under the on-going Project SUCCEED, to offer a 15-hour workshop to campers this summer (1999) through ENCSD/Sertoma’s "Camp Imagination" program. The purpose is to add to our knowledge base and experience in using computational science with HI students, in anticipation of beginning the work described herein during the fall.

b. Teachers of the hearing-impaired: in addition to those pre-service and veteran teachers who are part of the development/design team, we also anticipate being able to enlist the support of other teachers in the three schools for the deaf as well as other pre-service teachers at Barton College. These educators will help provide a "reality check" on the appropriateness of developing materials, helping us to determine if the materials are suitable for a wide variety of audiences. In addition to local educators, we anticipate soliciting input and feedback from remote educators via electronic communications technologies.

IV. Project Evaluation

"When the cook tastes the soup, that’s formative; when the guests taste the soup, that’s summative." — Bob Stake, evaluation theorist

Carefully planned, extensive evaluation is a critical element in the success of this project. By performing ongoing evaluation through all stages, timely comments on each element will be used to modify and enhance future project events. The goals of the evaluation are to ensure that the materials, strategies, and "lessons learned" are of sufficient quality to support efforts beyond this one. Evaluation of Project SUCCEED-HI will be conducted by Dr. Ann Howe, an independent educational evaluator with expertise in science education, curricular change, and technology integration.

1) Formative Evaluation

Formative evaluations will be conducted by our evaluator. The evaluation will help identify the processes of the program that need modification or improvement, and will be shared among the project staff using the electronic collaborative technologies. The formative evaluation will have two basic components: an implementation evaluation and a progress evaluation. The purpose of the implementation evaluation is to assess how well we are conducting the work as planned and as described in this proposal. The progress evaluation will serve to determine how well we are meeting the goals of the project. Some of the questions to be answered during the formative evaluation include:

  • Are the project goals and objectives being met?
  • How can the program be improved?
  • What adjustments in the program might lead to better attainment of the objectives?
  • What aspects of the program are working the most effectively?
  • Do we have the right people on the project team?
  • What measures and designs could be recommended for use during the summative evaluation of the program?

2) Summative Evaluation

In addition to formative evaluation efforts made during the course of the project, summative evaluation will be conducted by Dr. Howe and included in the final report to be submitted to the National Science Foundation. The summative evaluation will describe the design, implementation, and results of the project. Relevant questions to be answered during the summative evaluation include:

  • Was the project successful? What were its strengths and weaknesses?
  • To what extent did the project meet the overall objectives and goals?
  • What components of the deliverables seem to have the greatest potential use and effectiveness?
  • Do the reSearchers know more now than when they started?
  • How does this compare to other computational science programs at the pre-college level (such as SuperQuest, Adventures in Supercomputing, etc.)
  • Were the results worth the cost of the project?
  • Do the results support or not support further efforts?

We might add one important note about the evaluation process. The process will itself be part of the collectible data for both the formative and summative portions of the project. Our evaluator is an experienced educational evaluator, with particular expertise in science and technology; she is not, however, expert in the content field of computational science or education of hearing-impaired students. As such, we are eager to measure her learning curve as she works to help us conduct the evaluation for this project.

V. Qualifications of Staff

There are five main components of the project staff: 1) The Shodor Education Foundation, Inc. computational scientists and educators: 2) University Consultants; 3) Teachers of HI students; 4) Local sign language interpreting professionals; 5) Evaluator serving a dual role as evaluator and instrument designer.

1. Scientists and Educators at The Shodor Education Foundation, Inc.: The Shodor Education Foundation, Inc., is a non-profit 501(c)(3) education and reSearch corporation dedicated to the reform and improvement of mathematics and science education by the incorporation of appropriate computational and communication technologies. Our name recalls the role of the hammer in the shodering process of making and applying gold leaf: we work to extend valuable educational resources and opportunities as far as possible. We place a special emphasis on enabling authentic science and mathematics explorations at all educational levels, developing numerical models and simulations integrated with the curriculum, professional development, and network access to support their use in learner-centered environments. The Foundation was started in 1994 as a way of extending the work of the Carolinas Summer Institute in Computational Science, an NSF-funded Undergraduate Faculty Enhancement (UFE) project that introduced computational science and modeling to teams of faculty from 16 primarily undergraduate universities and historically black colleges and universities in North and South Carolina. The success achieved by those first workshops and the subsequent support of the Shodor Foundation can be measured, in part, by the Undergraduate Computational Engineering and Science Award program of the US Department of Energy: More than 40% of all awards given to recognize outstanding curricular materials supporting the use of numerical models and methods at the undergraduate level were won by staff or graduates of our workshops. In 1996, the Shodor Foundation was recognized by the NSF Division of Undergraduate Education as a Foundation Partner for our efforts and dedication to the revitalization of undergraduate education. Shodor is a charter member and maintains the web server for the NSF-affiliated Corporate and Foundation Alliance.

1. Robert R. Gotwals, Jr., Project Leader and Computational Science Educator: Mr. Gotwals holds degrees in chemistry and science education for HI students, and taught at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, the New York State School for the Deaf, and Gallaudet University. He also has extensive experience as an educational interpreter. As a chemistry teacher in a magnet program in Maryland, Mr. Gotwals led several teams to national championships in the SuperQuest Supercomputing Contest, an NSF-sponsored program to introduce secondary students to high-performance computing. He helped develop and present formal courses in computational methods and modeling/simulation. He made active use of computational techniques in teaching chemistry and developed a number of stand-alone activities for computational chemistry. Mr. Gotwals, a braille transcriber and teacher for almost 30 years, is currently using electronic technologies to teach braille literacy to a national audience, and computational quantum chemistry to undergraduate faculty in North Carolina’s premiere reSearch universities. He is currently active with the local deaf community, and works with the Duke University Center for Emerging Cardiovascular Technologies as a mentor to NSF ReSearch Experience for Undergraduate (REU) hearing-impaired undergraduate students. Mr. Gotwals brings to this project the expertise, experience, and drive necessary to develop the project, to provide the hands-on training, to coordinate follow-up activities, and to assist the teachers with developing high-quality materials and teaching strategies.

2. Dr. Robert Panoff, Senior Computational Scientist: Dr. Panoff is a computational physicist and president of The Shodor Education Foundation, Inc. A leader in national reform efforts to integrate HPCC technologies in science education, he designed and directs the NSF-funded Shodor Computational Science Institute. Dr. Panoff continues an active reSearch program in computational condensed matter physics while defining and implementing educational initiatives at Shodor. His reSearch specialties are stochastic optimization, quantum simulations of strongly-correlated systems, and computational science education.

At Kansas State University and Clemson University from 1986-1990, he developed a fully interdisciplinary computational science and engineering course. He served as director of the Carolinas Institute in Computational Science, an NSF-funded initiative in Undergraduate Faculty Enhancement, 1991-1993. His work has won several major science and education awards. His interactive simulations were used as the basis of an international science collaboration demonstrating network technologies involving four of the schools from the Department of Defense Dependent Schools, for which he received a letter of commendation. Dr. Panoff is also PI for Project Interactivate, a computational approach to teaching middle school mathematics, funded by the Department of Defense Dependent Schools; Project Interactivate was selected in 1998 by the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse to be listed among the Digital Dozen, the top web-accessible materials in math and science education.

3. Marjorie A. Rudinsky, Educational Specialist and System Administrator: Ms. Rudinsky holds degrees in engineering and history, taught at the United States Military Academy, and is experienced with curriculum development, system administration and web site development. As an assistant professor at West Point, she envisioned, then empowered seniors to write a software program that automated an annual course assignment process impacting over 1,000 students. As course director of a two-semester world history course taught to over 700 students each year, she designed curriculum and taught incoming faculty. She has written portions of Shodor's Braille web pages and brings the educational experience and commitment to extend these educational materials to teachers and students.

2. University Consultants:

1. Dr. Harry Lang, Deaf Science Educator, National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID): Dr. Lang is an internationally-known deaf scientist and educator, with over thirty reSearch and theoretical papers on teaching science to deaf students. For the past three years, he has focused on identifying the characteristics of effective teachers, an analysis of teaching and learning styles, and an examination of the factors that contribute to effective teacher training. He teaches a graduate-level methods course for science and mathematics education for deaf students. He is the director of Project AESOP, an NSF project to promote the teaching of science to HI students. He is a member of the National Science Teachers Association, National Association for ReSearch in Science Teaching, Association for the Education of Teachers in Science, Foundation for Science and Disability, Science Education for Students with Disabilities, and the American Educational ReSearch Association.

2. Dr. Frank Caccamise, Technical Signs, NTID/RIT: Dr. Caccamise has been involved in the development of sign language instructional materials for technical communication since 1975. From 1975 through 1993 he served as Project Director of the NTID Technical Signs Project (TSP). This project resulted in the development and dissemination, on a national basis, of both sign language videotapes (59 videotapes for 24 technical areas) and books (11). He has continued his collaborative work in this area, and this work has included the publication of a sign language book for science and mathematics terminology and two sign language videotapes for secretarial terminology. Currently he is nearing completion of a sign language book for legal and social work terminology. In addition, he is co-investigator in a pilot project to investigate electronic publishing and multi-media formats for technical sign language materials. He has co-authored numerous publications and presentations explaining and supporting the importance of the natural sign language vocabulary development process to the development of sign language instructional materials, including a 1978 publication in the American Annals for the Deaf that was recently selected to be one of 17 publications included in the 1997 150th Anniversary Issue of American Annals of the Deaf.

3. Dr. Edgar Shroyer, Director, Education of Deaf Children program, UNC-G: Dr. Shroyer, in his role as Director of the Program in Education for Deaf Children, will serve to mentor and guide the education students working on this project. He is the author of numerous articles on deafness, deaf education, and educational interpreting, and has authored a book Signing English: Parents, Teachers and Clinicians. He holds degrees in elementary education, education of the deaf, and special education and rehabilitation.

3. Teachers of HI students: Three veteran teachers from ENCSD and three to five deaf education majors from UNC-G will be selected at project start.

4. Local sign language interpreting professionals: Kathy Beetham, President, Interpreters Inc.: Kathy Beetham is president and lead interpreter for Interpreters, Inc., a Durham-based company. Ms. Beetham holds all of the national certifications from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID). She has worked with Shodor staff through an NSF ReSearch Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program at Duke University Center for Emerging Cardiovascular Technologies. Ms. Beetham has considerable expertise in scientific and technological interpreting.

5. Project Evaluator: Dr. Ann C. Howe, Project Evaluator: Dr. Howe has been active for many years as a leader in science education reSearch, in science teacher education and in national professional organizations. She was Professor of Science Education at Syracuse University, Head of the Department of Mathematics and Science Education at North Carolina State University and Chair of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Barton College of Maryland. She has published in the leading journals in science education and is first author of a textbook for teachers, "Engaging Children in Science", now in its second edition. Over the past decade she has served as evaluator on projects funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, school districts, state agencies and private foundations. Her most recent work has been in evaluation of projects focused on implementation of computer technology as an instructional tool in science education.

VI. Description of Participating Organizations

We are convinced of the effectiveness of collaborative efforts. We have begun to form an impressive team consisting of computational scientists and educators, pre-service teachers, veteran teachers, technical sign experts, and external evaluator. Each of these brings vital talents and experiences to the project:

The Shodor Education Foundation, Inc. - computational scientist/educators: provide the content expertise in the areas of application, algorithm, and architecture. In essence, the scientist provides the content infrastructure around which all other efforts coalesce. The computational scientist will typically serve as the leader of the design team, especially in the early stages, although as others develop their expertise and understanding of the technologies, they may move into a leadership role as well.

Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf - veteran teachers of HI students: clearly, veteran teachers bring a crucial number of insights necessary for any successful curriculum development project. They are the "front-line troops," and as such represent the focal point of change in any educational reform effort. In essence, these teachers serve in a wide variety of roles. They perform a "reality check" function for the design work -- the buffer between what the computational scientists would like to implement and what is practical and feasible in most situations. They are also the ones being held accountable for what happens in the classroom. They know what the content is to be taught at various levels, clearly understand the resources (materials, time, access to computer rooms, etc.) available to them, and have a sense of other obstacles to the integration of new techniques. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, they know the kids. This is especially true of teachers of HI students: their understanding of the diversity of sign systems used by children in the same classroom, the presence of additional impairments (learning disabilities, low-vision), the additional demands on students’ time (speech therapy, etc.), and other specifics are critical to our effort.

Barton College - teacher education professionals and pre-service teachers of HI students:

a. teacher education professionals: critical to this effort is the involvement of teacher education professionals, especially those in a program specifically designed to prepare teachers of the hearing-impaired. In addition to their expertise in teacher preparation and in education of the hearing-impaired, these teacher educators will provide critical guidance, insights, and guidance on how the new technologies of computational science might be integrated into existing teacher preparation curricula.

B. pre-service teachers of students with hearing-impairments: we have included this group for a number of reasons, the first and foremost being that we believe strongly that one teaches as one was taught. We recognize that significant efforts to introduce modern technologies into the classroom will probably not come from the 20-year veteran, but from the teacher new to the classroom. New teachers bring some interesting dynamics to the design project. First, many of the students who are currently in teacher preparation programs have been exposed to computing technologies from a young age. Second, these students bring a youthful exuberance to the effort. In our many efforts in working with young students, we might say "in this project, we’re going to look at using a supercomputer to implement an optimization of a benzene molecule." The typical response of students is "ok", "sure, let’s do it", "wow, a supercomputer!" We feel strongly that it is critical to capture the young teachers’ exuberance and willingness to explore the full range of technologies available. Finally, we will be looking to this group to provide one more resource that practicing teachers typically do not have: time. As described, a group of education majors will perform a consequential amount of the "legwork" -- review of the literature, collection of materials and ideas, initial design work of models, etc. -- during the academic year and in a full-time role during the summers.

National Technical Institute for the Deaf and Interpreters, Inc. - Technical sign experts: technical sign experts, both sign linguists and practitioners, are probably the critical link to the success of this project. As we learned during our pilot workshop, computational science offers considerable linguist challenges to the classroom teacher and sign language interpreter. We expect that the products of our technical sign experts to be useful not only in the context of the curricular materials being developed, but also in the wider community of hearing-impaired science and computing professionals and their interpreters.

External evaluator: for this project, the external evaluator will provide critical assistance in the overall development efforts. As an expert in the science education field, she brings substantial value to the program in terms of her abilities to objectively evaluate the materials and the instructional strategies needed for their implementation. She is not, however, expert in the fields of computational science or education of HI students. This can be viewed as a potential liability, but we view it as a potential benefit. It is their sense, as well as hers, that the kinds of questions she needs to have answered are the same ones as the teachers will need. These form an important part of the development of integration strategies.

VII. Planned Products

Planned products are described above in the Project Design section.

IX. Conclusion

The use of technology innovations in education is a reality that all educators face. We believe strongly that HI students must have access to knowledgeable, motivated, and well-supported educators and authentic and appropriate educational resources. We believe that the match of computational science and the needs of HI students is the right one.

Project personnel are highly qualified, motivated, and eager to enhance the ability of teachers of HI students to teach science, mathematics, and technology using computational science. We are convinced that the materials and strategies developed in this phase will provide a national foundation for the authentic and appropriate use of computing in science for our students. We believe that the collaboration formed is the right one, that now is the right time, and that the right resources are in place to accomplish the goals and objectives described.


Developed by
The Shodor Education Foundation, Inc.

Copyright © 1999-2001 by The Shodor Education Foundation, Inc.

This project is supported, in part,
by the

National Science Foundation

Opinions expressed are those of the authors
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